Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | January 28, 2011

Faith in Accountability

Money has no real value. We use it to exchange goods and services only because we all have faith in what we collectively agree to be its worth. If we lose that faith, money is worthless.

I think a similar sort of faith exists in civic life. When people have faith that there is accountability, civic life flourishes. If there is no faith, people end up doing what they want without fear of reprisal.

Kuwait is not just corrupt but also corrupting. Most people assume that success is achieved only through ‘wasta’ or some other unfair advantage. I don’t think that’s because Kuwaitis are inherently corrupt or bad people. We just live in a state where it’s easier to break the rules than follow them and it’s infinitely more rewarding to let corruption continue than to stop it. With time even the most well intentioned person is corrupted or is at least demoralized to the point of submission.

We have simply lost faith in the rule of law.

In order for us to change we first have to reinvent the environment of civic life. To transform a crumbling neighborhood the first thing you do is replace all the broken windows. That one simple act communicates to people that the neighborhood is being taken care of and it is not being neglected.

The problem in Kuwait is not that we don’t have any laws. We do, but they’re not being enforced well enough. Before we can see any kind of progress at a political, economic or cultural level we have to start aggressively and ruthlessly enforcing the laws that are in place. Once people regain their faith in the rule of law, that everyone is treated equally and fairly, we can confidently begin rebuilding Kuwait.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by toot, Barrak Al-Babtain. Barrak Al-Babtain said: Faith in Accountability, how Kuwait lost faith in justice and in civic life : […]

  2. Yeah…I’ll have faith in the system when they start seeing me as a citizen of Kuwait as opposed to a member of a tribe, or a political party based on my view points. Until then I’m going to be extremely, yet peacefully, hostile to the establishment…

  3. I totally agree with what you are stressing both here and in the overall blog. My concern is that they all seem top-down approaches, where in order to change the way we live or experience the city is based on some sort of change in, say the implementation of the law. I am not sure if there is a bottom-up strategy that i can share here, but maybe the readers could chip in..

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