In January of this year I visited Kuwait for the first time in my life. It was not a long ahead planned visit. The decision to go was influenced by coincidental circumstances and made only 2 days before my flight took off. Because I was never in the Middle East before, I looked forward to it as a very interesting possibility to see more of this part of the world.

One of the only few facts I knew about Kuwait was from years back, 1973 to be exactly. Being an 11-year old boy I remembered that Israel was in war with some Arabic countries (the Jom Kipoer war) and due to that conflict The Netherlands were embargoed oil supply. Kuwait was one of the leading OPEC countries who denied to sell oil to The Netherlands. As a result of that our PM Joop den Uyl, took some hard measures to deal with this problem and did implement an official ‘no-driving Sunday’. Even though it took some time to get use to it, it became a special and welcome variety of our usually weekend spending. With the whole family we went to the high-roads to roller-skate and bicycle on this new ‘car-free’ playground. Together with lots of other children we had a great time enjoying ourselves in the cleanest air of the week.

At that time I was too young to realize what the political background of the issue was. The only thing I remembered was the sound of fear and fright in the voices of my parents regarding to the subject of ‘war’. Being in the middle of the cold-war and still in fresh memory the second world war, there was a lot of fear for another ‘Great War’. Unexpectedly I was introduced at that time in the world of global-politics. Especially by the honorary-consul of Kuwait, the most respectful Sir Mahmoud Rabbani. As no one else would be able to, he explained the point of view of the Arabic countries to the Dutch television viewers in a very clear way. For this achievement there was a lot of respect for him among the Dutch people. In retrospective, I think, he was one of the most unfortunate diplomats of his time. For accepting an invitation in a cynical television program, in which he did receive a copy of a funny song ‘Kiele kiele Koeweit’ (a Dutch totally innocent song about the oil crisis), Mahmoud Rabbani was heavily criticized by the Arabic countries he represented. This was really a pity; it was mainly because of him that the Dutch got so much more understanding for the problems of the Palestinians. But may be that’s the fate of a popular diplomat abroad.

Having Kuwait now visited twice, I must say that I’m still overwhelmed by the hospitality, warmness and the liberal thought of the Kuwaiti people. The second time I was accompanied by a television crew for making a documentary about a 10-year old Kuwaiti soccer player ‘Sayed’. The crew and I had a very nice time and great fun shooting the scenes with Sayed and his family all around the country. What an amazing talent has this boy! The film was broadcasted in The Netherlands already and received many positive reviews.

Due to these positive experiences I hope to visit Kuwait again soon, but at this moment I have only one (urgent!) question for the Kuwaiti Government. ‘Can you please cut back the oil supply again?’ It’ll bring back some wonderful memories of my youth and also helps the battle against Global Warming. Thank you in advance!


What an interesting piece huh? 🙂 I loved that he liked Kuwait and had positive things to say about his visits. As for his request, I highly doubt the government would consider such requests. 😛

Here is a trailer of the documentary they did with Sayed.

For more information about the documentary visit Soccertalents.

Thank you Marcel for sharing your experience with us.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 at 12:05 am

4 Responses to “A Dutchman visiting Kuwait”

  1. Mathai says:

    Nice story, also it would be nice to have a ‘no-car’ day here as well, but sadly no one in Kuwait can live without their cars 😛

  2. Intlxpatr says:

    Yousef, where do you find these things? That is absolutely fascinating, and reminded me, I was living in Germany in 1973, and we also had no-drive Sundays. It was really cool – everyone walked.

  3. Yousef says:

    Mathai yeah we can’t have a no car day.. nothing is a walking distance away anymore…

    intlxpatr I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel like to see everyone walking and no cars.

    This article was emailed in by Marcel, he wanted to share it with us 🙂

  4. Marcel says:

    @ Yousef …are you sure that you can’t miss your car for -let say..- 1 or 2 (Satur)days a month? If every country in the world would do the same, believe me… It will make a difference. We’re talking in numbers of percentages, which is much more then many scientists, working in energy-consuming, airconditioned offices ever will achieve in their search for solutions regarding Global Warming, Peak Oil etc., etc… 😉

    @Mathai Thank you for your nice comment, but I’m not that pessimistic about the public awareness of the world wide energy (related) problems.

    @intlxpatr Thanks for the compliment! May be someday in the future our children will compare our memories with their own experiences.