chapter  5
20 Pages

Public Property Law in Kuwait and the popular movement that never started

The 2008 Diwaniyya Demolitions
ByJames C.A. Redman

The diwaniyya (pl. dawawin or diwaniyyat), or household guestroom, is enmeshed in local understandings about socialization and inseparable from Kuwait’s brand of participatory politics. When it was announced by the government in early 2008 that the thousands of dawawin that had been illegally built on state property would be demolished there was an immediate furore over the whole spectrum of interests that was on the verge of being impacted. Through the enforcement of Legislative Decree Number 105 of 1980 Concerning the System of State Property, the government not only exacerbated the tensions growing between it and the National Assembly but also made itself the target of caustic press coverage and further strained relations between the country’s ha{lcdcedilla}ar/bad{lcumacron} communities. Yet, the issue unexpectedly ceased to be of concern the very moment that the removal squads were mobilized. The present study traces this brief, odd chapter of a longstanding Kuwaiti institution – the diwaniyya – in order to examine exactly how it became embroiled in a tug of war between the government and the National Assembly, and then see why what should have become a movement never became popular.