"Civilization is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, then races, peoples and nations, into one great unity, the unity of mankind."

- Sigmund Freud


A Letter to Mr. Al-Hayef, Opponent of Women's Rights


During a two months trip to Kuwait last April and May as a visiting consultant I enjoyed my stay in Ramada Hotel in Riggae, attending the 2nd International Medical Genetics Conference, and monitoring the excellent development of the medical services. The visit coincided with the high-profile parliamentary elections and the death of Sheikh Saad Al-Abdulla Al-Salem Al-Sabah. Among the 27 women candidates in the election, Dr. Aseel Al-Awadi and Dr. Rola Al-Dashti earned thousands of votes, most of them from male voters. The new cabinet which was appointed by the Emir and headed by Sheikh Nasser Muhammed Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah included two distinguished women ministers. This choice garnered overwhelming national, regional and international attention and support. One of the newly elected members of the parliament called Mohammed Hayef Al-Mutairi, was

Parliamentary Member Mohammed Hayef is alone in his refusal to stand for the Kuwaiti national anthem!!

stringently opposed to the appointment of women and their entry into government. During the Kuwaiti national anthem at parliament, he refused to stand, and instead looked at the ground to voice his dissent. He was the only person to behave in this odd fashion. His behaviour upset many people in Kuwait and I found it be very repulsive. His deplorable behaviour consumed me to the point that upon my arrival to New York's JFK airport, the absurdity of Mr. Al-Hayef's actions caused me to lose my handbag on my way to another flight to Canada from Laguardia airport.

Mr. Al-Hayef should look around him and to sense a measure of pride for the achievements of Kuwaiti women in all fields. He is also invited to read the article entitled "Exceptional Gulf Women" published in the Ambassadors Magazine (Issue 20--Vol 2, July, 2006) and a book by Haya Al-Mughni (1993) entitled Women in Kuwait: The Politics of Gender, published by Saqi Books in London. 

Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed with members of the new cabinet including two women ministers (2008) with the the portfolios of Minister of Education and Minister of Communication and Public Affairs.


Mr. Al-Hayef has to be proud that in his country has birthed the following twelve highly intellectual Kuwaiti women with truly exceptional and unique achievements:


1) Sheikha Latifa Fahd Al-Sabah

The widow of the Sheikh Saad, the 14th Emir of Kuwait, is doing an excellent effort in all humanitarian fields and offering her support for both young women and men to pursue their studies.

Sheikha Latifa
2) Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah, PhD

 The Under Secretary of Ministry of Education has been influential throughout her career. She was responsible for the September 1990 press conference in Cairo with the international media. At this event, Egyptian doctors who had fled Kuwait were invited to describe the suffering which happened to Kuwaitis as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggressive madness. She has also been a vocal supporter of the development of higher education in her country. 

Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education with President George W. Bush.


3) Dr. Faiza Al-Khorafi, PhD

The famous professor of Chemistry and the former 9-year President of Kuwait University was a teacher and mother figure to more than 3,000 Kuwaiti graduates, men and women. She recently received the award for the Top Gulf Woman of the Year for 2008 from Council for Gulf Relations. She is the sister of the Chairperson of the Parliament, Mr. Jassim Al-Khorafi, and also the mother of an elected Member of Parliament - Mr. Mohammed Al-Ghanem. She is also the cousin of Prof. Nigma Al-Khorafi, the distinguished clinical psychologist and the editor of two academic textbooks.

Dr. Faiza Al-Khorafi


4) Dr. Sadika A. Al-Awadi, MD

The founder and director of the Kuwait Medical Genetics Center and the Kuwait Down's Syndrome Society who succeeded to construct an ideal medical center with distinguished Kuwaiti women staff are doing an excellent job in both the clinical and laboratory fields. Her centre is considered a truly exceptional and unique scientific tower in the Gulf region.

Dr. Sadika Al-Awadi, Director of the Kuwait Medical Genetics Center between her assistant Dr. Leila Bastaki and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ali Al-Seif, during the First International Medical Genetics Conference held in March 2006


5) Mrs. Munira Al-Mutawa

The Secretary General of the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped who has been doing a noteworthy humanitarian job for those with physical or mental handicap for a long time.

Mrs. Munira Khaled Al-Mutawa, Secretary General of the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped


6) Dr. Samira Al-Saad, PhD

The founder and director of the Kuwait Center for Autism since 1984, and the winner of an international prize for her over 20-year contribution to this field.

Dr. Samira Al-Saad receives an award from the Parliament Leader, Jassem Al-Khorafi


7) Dr. Soad Al-Sabah

The renowned poet and literary figure and the first Arab women recipient of an award from the Arab Association for Human Rights. The award was collected by her daughter  Sheikha Omnia Al-Sabah which was presented on the Silver Jubilee of the association. The president of the association, H.E. Mohammed Al-Fayeq said that she is a model for Arab women and an inspiration to all forms of development in the Arab world. She has contributed both morally and financially to many initiatives in the region. He said Dr. Soad's dream was always "bread for all, water for all and love for all."

Dr. Soad Al-Sabah Dr. Soad's daughter Sheikha Omnia receiving an award on behalf of her mother.


8) Dr. Aseel Al-Awadi and Dr. Rola Al-Dashti

They are among the 27 women candidates who ran for the 2008 parliamentary elections. Drs. Aseel and Rola were received with respect and dignity from both their peers and the public and left a lasting impression among all Kuwaitis for their significant contribution to women's rights. We must be proud of the landmark roles they are playing in Kuwaiti society. The Bedouin women who came out in large numbers to participate in their first elections as both voters and candidates is a testament to their desire for change. Dr. Aseel is a professor of Political Ethics at Kuwait University and the only woman running as part of the liberal National Democratic Alliance.

Kuwaiti candidate Aseel Al-Awadi during an election campaign rally on May 10, 2008. Dr. Rola Al-Dashti, a candidate in the last parliamentary election with supporters at the entrance to an election station.
At polls in Jahra City, Kuwaiti women waited to vote for the first time in the historic June 30, 2006 election. Women make up more than half of those eligible to vote. (Yasser al-Zayyat/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images)


9) Mrs. Sara Akbar

She is a well known chemical engineer who has over 25 years of experience in the Kuwait oil industry since 1981. Mrs. Akbar is known for being the only woman on the frontlines of the battle to extinguish the 700 oilfield fires of 1991 which were set alight at the end of the first Gulf War by the Iraqi army.


10) Mrs. Lulua Al-Mutawa

Her ground-breaking role as one of the founders of  Kuwait's Social-Cultural Women's Society is unforgettable and iconic. The organization which was established in 1963 has been a chief advocate for women's political, social, and economic participation in Kuwait for 45 years.



11) Ms. Munirah Mohammad Buruki

Kuwait's first woman pilot is a brave 19-year old graduate of the Royal Jordanian academy for aviation. A significant accomplishment by all measures, Ms. Buruki symbolizes the will of Kuwaiti women to overcome obstacles and embrace new challenges.



12) Female Police Officers

Saad Al-Abdulla Police Academy will be accepting young female university graduates as students this year in order to become police officers. Now, there are many women that serve as members of the elite forces responsible for dealing with bomb threats in Kuwait.

Women are now serving in the Special bomb squad of the Kuwaiti police. Here they are working on the K-9 unit to investigate a bomb scare


Dear Mr. Mohammed Hayef Al-Mutairi


At the end, my advice to you is that, rather than looking to the ground, you should stand up and look around you and be proud of the thousands of Kuwaiti women, some from your own tribe, that have made great achievements in every field. While acknowledging the tremendous success of these 12 trailblazing Kuwaiti women, one must not forget the many other in every field including, business, journalism, politics and international relations. It is important never to forget that many of these women have Bedouin parents and grandparents of whom most are jubilant of their achievements. And the next time the national anthem is being recited, rather than isolating yourself in your own world--one that subjugates and under-appreciates 50% of the population of your country--you should rejoice in their contribution that helped set Kuwait's march towards progress and development.



Prof. Talaat I. Farag
Former adjunct professor, Dalhousie University, Canada.
Founder and director, The Ambassadors Research Foundation
Email: tfarag@dal.ca.