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Volume :1 Issue : 4 1975      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE 1938 REFORM MOVEMENT IN KUWAIT, BAHRAIN AND DUBAI

Auther : Dr. Mohammad Al-Rumaihi

 

         The author discusses in detail the development and course of a relatively neglected phenomena in the written history of the Arab Gulf States, namely the major reform movement which took place in Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai in 1938.

        The author states that this reform movement has been forming the period between the two world wars, and came as a result of economic, social and political change in the area. Economically, the decline of the diving – for – pearl industry, and tendency of the local population to engage in trade as an alternative, in addition to the receiving of the first oil revenues have led to the formation of a new class (the merchants) who started to accumulate capital and introduce all the cultural phenomena which accompany capital formation.

         Socially, these countries have witnessed, in the early twenties, the opening of schools for boys and girls.  Trade has also led to a greater contact with relatively open societies in the Indian continent.  In addition, the British began applying new rules and laws to these tribal societies.  Politically, the new class strived to have a say in the running of these countries.

         All the above factors led to the formation of an opposition, which called for reform.  A feature common to the reform movements in the three countries is the participation of some members of the ruling families in pushing for reform, which gave great leverage to these movements.  Personal ambition to reach power was the main factor behind these ruling family members’ opposition.  A second feature common to these reform movements was that they were not of a national character i.e. they were not anti-imperialist (anti-British) and did not call for independence.

         The reform movement in Kuwait was led by merchants and some notables.  In early 1938 they presented a reform-list to Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber, and distributed underground leaflets calling for reform and stating their demands.  In April they called publicly for reform through Arab papers, especially Iraqi.  Their demands were confined to administrative and educational reform.  A delegation met with Sheikh Jaber and asked him to establish a legislative council which would carry internal reforms while preserving the system and the regime.  The reformers were backed by Sheikh Abdallah As-Salem As-Sabah, and the British.  The right of running or voting for the council was reserved to 150 Kuwaiti families.  A council of 14 members headed by Sheikh Abdallah As-Salem was formed.  This council set a law of five articles.

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