Thursday, January 06, 2005

Are We Stingy?

Reprinted from the New York Times (registration required)

Gulf Arabs Wonder: Are They Being Stingy With Aid?
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

CAIRO, Jan. 3 - The newspaper Al Qabas in Kuwait set off a debate spreading throughout the country and beyond on Monday by suggesting that Kuwait deserves its reputation for being cheap and oblivious to people who go there to work as servants, given the relatively low level of aid it has donated to the tsunami victims at a time when the state treasury is bursting with an oil bonanza.

Noting that the bulk of the nannies, drivers, menial laborers and other servants who keep most households running in the emirate come from Southeast Asia - imported workers easily outnumber the native population - some Kuwaitis agree that the country and its Persian Gulf neighbors need to be doing much more.

But the campaign to shut down Islamic charities accused of financing terrorism has left many people confused about where to turn when they do want to donate money. And a few extremist Friday Prayer leaders and other religious commentators fueled the uncertainty by suggesting that the tsunami destruction was the wrath of God.

Gauging the extent of private donations for the region proved difficult because nobody seems to be collecting the information. Many donations are channeled through the government-backed Red Crescent societies, but senior officials either did not return phone calls or said they were too busy to make a tally. There were random charitable acts around the region.

In an echo of the debate about skinflints that occurred in the United States over the government's level of aid, though, a front-page editorial in Al Qabas on Sunday said gulf Arabs had an obligation to dig deeper in their pockets for the people of Southeast Asia because of the longstanding ties between the two regions.

"We have to give them more; we are rich," Waleed al-Nusif, the editor in chief of Al Qabas, said in a telephone interview. "The price of oil doubled, so we have no excuse."After the paper's editorial appeared, the Kuwaiti cabinet raised its announced donation on Sunday to $10 million, from $2 million, having previously doubled it. Kuwait is expected to run a budget surplus this year of roughly $10 billion, and Mr. Nusif noted that the government had just distributed an estimated $700 million to the Kuwaiti people themselves, the public share of the unanticipated revenue.

He said Kuwait should give a minimum of $100 million, not least because many of the country's 1.29 million foreigners of a total population of 2.25 million come from the devastated regions.
"They built Kuwait, and they raised our children," said Mr. Nusif, noting that before successive oil booms, India and other countries opened their doors to Kuwaitis, who were then relatively poor. The paper also advised Kuwaitis to check with their housemaids to see if they wanted to phone home in case family members were dead or missing.

It was not the kind of reminder necessary for an older generation of Kuwaitis, Mr. Nusif said. "Our fathers were more generous than we are," he said. "They had suffered more."
The editorial became the hot topic in diwaniyas, the nightly salons where men gather to chew over the issues of the day.

"We should show more sympathy, especially since we have a budget surplus and these are our neighbors in Southeast Asia," said Saad al-Ajmi, a former Kuwaiti minister of information. He believes more private donations will be coming.

The Qabas editorial did not cite Kuwait alone in seeking to fatten donations. It said all the Arab gulf countries benefiting from huge oil revenues should give more. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have each pledged $10 million, while Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, raised his country's cash contribution tenfold, to $20 million, on Monday night.
Most pledges from the gulf Arab nations were made in the first hours after the earthquake, and as the scale becomes apparent, more money will be pledged, officials said.

The Islamic Development Bank in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, said it would distribute $10 million in emergency aid to Indonesia, the Maldives, Somalia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. The Thai Embassy in Kuwait said some people were dropping by to give money, with one business phoning to say it wanted to bring $14,000.

The Kuwaiti Embassy in Jakarta announced that it was chartering a ship to deliver aid to devastated Aceh Province in Indonesia. In Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Dr. Saleh al-Tuwaijri, vice president of the Saudi Red Crescent Society, said the government's $10 million donation would go directly to sister organizations in the affected countries. He said that per capita giving in the gulf was generally high, but that ordinary citizens faced obstacles to making donations because so many private charities had been closed under American pressure on suspicion of helping finance terrorism. No replacement mechanism has been established, which makes public fund-raising difficult, he said.

In Kuwait, some charities drew fire by advertising that they were collecting money for Muslim victims. Indonesia, the hardest-hit country, is the most populous Muslim nation. "I don't know why only Muslims, when disasters do not differentiate between religions in choosing their victims," Muhammad Mousaed al-Saleh, a columnist, wrote in Al Qabas. The daily paper published a religious ruling, saying donating to non-Muslims is permissible.

The view that wanton behavior provoked the quake was the subject of Friday sermons in Saudi Arabia and of other religious commentaries. "Asia's earthquake, which hit the beaches of prostitution, tourism, immorality and nudity," one commentator said on an Islamist Web site, "is a sign that God is warning mankind from persisting in injustice and immorality before he destroys the ground beneath them."

Walid Tabtabai, a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, said the earthquake was a message.
"We believe that what occurs in terms of disasters and afflictions is a test for believers and punishment for the unjust," he wrote in a column in the newspaper Al Watan.

26 comments:

  1. zaydoun, its good when u hear people like Tabtabai and the Islamic website say this stuff!! Shows you how much they lost track of the world, they're f*cking idiots!

    I agree with AlNisif, read my post about the same subject, and was inspired by ur previous post about the min7a

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  2. Interesting article by Neil MacFarquhar.

    I wonder why people are criticizing different countries about how much money they're donating. At first, the United States was looked at as stingy, they really didn't know what the extent of the damage was, that's why when most countries first started to pledge money, the money seemed really low. The same with Kuwait, none of us knew what the extent of the damage was until more reports started coming in about the level of damage and loss of life.

    After the days went by and people began to see what the level of damage was and how much people lost, then countries began to donate more. Countries were being criticized at first without anybody knowing anything about the situation.

    If you want to invest your money in something, you want to know what you're investing in, not invest your whole life savings without knowing what the whole situation is. It's the same situation in this case. Countries didn't know what was going on, which was why the pledge was low from a number of different countries at first, but it's increasing because of the awareness of the effects of the tsunami.

    The people who are quick to judge that Kuwait is stingy should look at what Kuwait has done. Kuwait always sends aid and help to Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and a bunch of other countries that's never highly publicized. People who are quick to assume Kuwait is stingy are the same people who should put their money where their mouth is. The more they talk, the more they have something to hide.

    This is supposed to be a humanitarian effort, not a popularity contest.

    Kuwait's donating money, whether $2 million or $10 million, Kuwait is helping out. Kuwait might send more money later on but give people time, don't be so quick to judge.

    What did Walid Tabtabai say? "We believe that what occurs in terms of disasters and afflictions is a test for believers and punishment for the unjust,"

    Get the fuck out of here with that bullshit Tabtabai. What did those people who lost their lives do to deserve such pain. When we were invaded by Iraq, was Tabtabai preaching the same shit he was saying about the tsunami? No, he was busy holding on to his beard for dear life and escaping to Saudi Arabia.

    People who use their religious convictions to scare people to donate money out of fear rather than the goodness of their own heart piss me off.

    People who misconstrue a great religion like Islam to benefit themselves should...I don't what they should do, but I'm getting sick and tired of people using this tsunami thing to their advantage. I'm tired of people accusing this or that country of being stingy. Just stop all the finger-pointing, stop all the preaching, stop everything, sit down and think about how fortunate you are to be alive. Breathe!!!

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  3. يسلم تمك ripped_heart
    and thank you Z for this article !

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  4. I first heard of such criticism when I was watching CNN and they specified KUWAIT!!!
    It made me angry because I know we are a country with a heart and I really hope the government will step up and do more.
    I just wanna know if any charities are doing anything, I watched something on Dubai TV about some sort of telethon for the Tsunami victims, are we doing anything similar?

    Oh yeah and Happy Birthday Zaydoun :)

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  5. ripped_heart
    Couldn't have said it better. Exactly my feelings as well.

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  6. Kuwait refurbished several countries. We dont need to defend ourselves from people who know one side of the story.

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  7. First of all even befor i read this article i have to say this:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
    HaPpY BiRthDaY TO YoU
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MR.Zz
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.

    :) wish you a great year with many million years ahead
    manen7eremsh

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  8. ripped-heart
    thank you
    i really agree with you.

    If people around the world think that kuwait is not donating to the tsunami affected countrys i don't blame them.although they don't have the right to do such a thing but my point is that kuwaitis who are sending the help are not organized.
    First ; we are not helping these country so other can see that we are helping our friends on earth so when the donations are dilivered the media is not there . hatha 6abe3 al kuwaitieen yesawoon al kheer min wara al 7ejaab.
    Am i Wrong kuwaitis?

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  9. Isn't it funny how some people can explain everything through religion?

    If muslims suffered: it's God testing their will
    If non-muslims did: God is punishing them

    And it's in all religions, not just Islam. The first Sikh guru (i.e. prohoet) had two followers: one was visiting a prostitute and found a gold coin on his way out of the brothel, and the other one had an accident on his way to the religious lesson and was deeply hurt. So his followers asked him why this should happen? Why did God not protect the good guy and punish the bad? His explanation: the one who found the gold coin was going to find a treasure, but God punished him by reducing it to just one coin. While the one who had the accident was supposed to die, but God rewarded him by saving his life!

    You can always find a twisted explanation!!

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  10. Here's a comment from my sister overseas...i saw it, i want to post comments sometimes bess wayed qissa!!

    tell your fellow bloggers that michael shumakher alone donated 10 million.
    same as the kuwaiti gov!!! and that the stingy british public donated almost 80 million. norwegian public 180 million and they don't have khadam from sri lanka etc...not to mention the three min silence etc...the total arab donations so far has been 54!! including saudi. considering that the majority of the dead are muslims. bess fal7een yabnoon misajid and yi7ajboon il banat!! even east timor and nepal donated money!!! min wain lihum??!!
    while kuwait is generous. in this day and age aid is a duty of rich governmenrt and not a favour. it took critisim to increase our share and it's still not enough. no one is doubitng that the public is generous bess 7ikoomatna tool 3umurha zittiya

    and happy birthday. i tried to call you but you're not picking up.

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  11. Ugh. I'm so sick of our government (and almost every other Arab one) using religion in every way possible to prove whatever point they might currenlty have-- it's disgusting what excuses and idiotic explanations they come up with! When will the majority start using their mind?

    Oh, and i'm glad I found this.. I've been a Kuwaiti blogging for years and years, but I didn't think there were others too that were interested in the political aspect of things, i'm reading comments and finding -hope-. It's wonderful that not absolutely /EVERYONE/ has been brainwashed. -grin- That's why I got a blogger account!

    I feel at home.

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  12. يا اخوان الي بالكويت و اذمتكم انتو شفتو اي شي من الي قالته اخت زيدون بالكويت؟؟؟
    تلفزيون الكويت و لا جنه صاير شي ابجيرانا و الاكثر بعد الجرايد انعفست على ابو الحسن و الواحد لازم يدور على خبر الفيضان. يعني ترى هذا اهوا التخلف ابعينه و اثبات ان الطبطبائي خايف على الجم فلس عشان يخاف سفؤات المكسيك ما اتسير اببلاش

    والله عيب

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  13. أخت زيدون ,, يا اخوان الي بالكويت و اذمتكم انتو شفتو اي شي من الي
    قالته اخت زيدون بالكويت؟؟؟
    تلفزيون الكويت و لا جنه صاير شي ابجيرانا و الاكثر بعد الجرايد انعفست على ابو الحسن و الواحد لازم يدور على خبر الفيضان. يعني ترى هذا اهوا التخلف ابعينه و اثبات ان الطبطبائي خايف على الجم فلس عشان يخاف سفرات المكسيك ما اتسير اببلاش

    والله عيب
    و لا بيت التمويل بدال هالاشتثمرها مع الله كانو يسون شي حق المساكين

    و بعد تشطرو و اطلعو فيها تلفزيون الكوين ان يقولون شوفو معجزة الخالق ان اب اندونيسيا كل شي انمحى ما عدا المساجد ما صار فيها شي
    و كل البيوت الي حوالين المسجد تهدمو !!! يعني قمه بالذكاء المسجد ما تهدم لان مبني من كونكريت و البيوم الي كوتلينا من جينكو !!!!

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  14. Stingy o nos..
    And what's worse than being stingy is coming up with lame excuses for being stingy.

    Stingy Kuwitis!
    (did I emphasize on the word "stingy" enough?)

    Happy Birthday Zaydoun

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  15. Question is... what are the PEOPLE doing?

    It's one thing if the government does not extend as much aid to the Tsunami victims as they ought to have had, but I am sure the population of Kuwait can show their support in much bigger monetary numbers than the government has at this point.

    Contact www.doctorswithoutborders.org and make a donation through them. Do not consider questionable organizations like the Red Cross, or Unicef. They've gotten 'too big' and commercial lately, not to mention politcal as well. doctors without borders functions on more unbiased grassroot levels.

    Peace.

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  16. Zaydoun...

    I am not surprised there has been a lack of -public donations- from all Arabs... when there is the belief that one country does not have Arab/Muslim friends with others, then such stinginess is to be expected.

    'Nuff said, the Ummah is shamefully suffering... !@#$% this makes me mad!

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  17. باعتقادي انه لو لم التبرع بالمبلغ المخصص للمنحة .. اكثر من 200 مليون دينار سيكون افضل بكثير من أن تشفط شركات الاتصالات وشركة التسهيلات وبيت التمويل هذا المبلغ من خلال تحصيل المكالمات والفواتير المتأخرة ,, الصراحة فشلة 10 ملايين دولار بس و اتحاد المصارف يتبرع بمليون دولار ,, وايد عليهم .. ارباح البنك الوطني فوق ال 100 مليون دينار وغير بنك الخليج والتجاري .
    هذه ملاحظة الكاتب عبداللطيف الدعيج في جريدة القبس يوم امس

    ****
    * مايكل شوماخر : عشرة ملايين دولار لضحايا الزلزال.
    * دولة الكويت العظمى : 8 ملايين دولار و تمصع مجلس الوزراء فرفعها الى عشرة ملايين دولار ... والله فشله!

    ***

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  18. Ripped Heart:

    Excellent points.

    you said:

    "The people who are quick to judge that Kuwait is stingy should look at what Kuwait has done. Kuwait always sends aid and help to Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and a bunch of other countries that's never highly publicized. "

    Yes, Kuwait and its people have donated money to Palestine... most of it ending up in Suha's shoe collection, which Kuwaitis should be OUTRAGED over and demand answers as well as insist that the amount donated meets its intended destination. If the money I donated to a humanitarian cause ended up funding such 'apathy', believe you me, I would not remain mum over it.

    It's one thing to care enough to donate, which is all good and dandy, but FOLLOW UP on it, dont just become complacent after you've given the money away. What would be the point of having donated to begin with if the money you gave was not used as you had intended it to be?

    Before I am accused of passing judgement, allow me to clarify that this applies to ANY country, not just Kuwait.

    Ok.. I'm stepping off of the milk-crate... who wants the stage now?

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  19. Ripped Heart:

    Excellent points.

    you said:

    "The people who are quick to judge that Kuwait is stingy should look at what Kuwait has done. Kuwait always sends aid and help to Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and a bunch of other countries that's never highly publicized. "

    Yes, Kuwait and its people have donated money to Palestine... most of it ending up in Suha's shoe collection, which Kuwaitis should be OUTRAGED over and demand answers as well as insist that the amount donated meets its intended destination. If the money I donated to a humanitarian cause ended up funding such 'apathy', believe you me, I would not remain mum over it.

    It's one thing to care enough to donate, which is all good and dandy, but FOLLOW UP on it, dont just become complacent after you've given the money away. What would be the point of having donated to begin with if the money you gave was not used as you had intended it to be?

    Before I am accused of passing judgement, allow me to clarify that this applies to ANY country, not just Kuwait.

    Ok.. I'm stepping off of the milk-crate... who wants the stage now?

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  20. عزيزي زيدون،

    لا اعرف الكثير عن هذا الطبطبائي غير انه أحمق و لكن مثله الكثير..سمعت أحد اخوته في الحماقه يصف زلازل تركيا بأنها عقاب من الله لتحول تركيا للعلمانيه!! مع العلم ان الزلازل كانت تحدث في نفس المنطقه منذ أيلم الامبراطوريه الرومانيه الشرقيه..بيزنطه و في ايام العثمانيين المسلمين و حتي الأن..و مازال الله يعاقب سكان تلك الأرض؟؟

    مع الكثير من التقدير لك و للزملاء المشاركين للروح الأنسانيه مقابل هذه الكارثه البشريه

    بن كريشان

    العين-الأمارات

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  21. i think people trust in any way to donate is devastated
    the campain run by a lot of writers attacking every charity and hearing about USA crack down left many people scared from even donating , i was setting in my family lunch at friday and saw them talk about the tsunami , and were they can donate , and you know what most said ? they don't know , and they should just give the poor people who clean the street , since there is no other place , i told them about the red Crescent or the sri lanka embassy
    but some do not trust the red Crescent because its a goverment agency ( who can blame them )
    and don't say online donation , a lot consider using credit card on internet is bad

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  22. Al-Nusif is absolutely right . I'm looking at the issue from a different perspective now . It's our duty to give more ..

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  23. When it comes to governments, its not a matter of who has a bigger heart, its much more simpler than complex emotions. In my opinion, its all about good press. The US may be the biggest and most organized donator so far, but I don't believe its' reasons for doing so come from the heart. This is a HIGH profiled disaster and the US came out of it looking like a hero. This is just what they needed to balance out the hell they've caused in the Middle East and around the world. I hate to generalize, and as much as I'd like to think otherwise, I know better than to think the US, or any of the governments truely care.
    Don't sit around and wait for your government to respond to something like this and then simply complain and criticize thier efforts. Take it a step further, and call up the red cross or crescent and ask how you can donate. Thats what we did.....and it doesn't have to be money, one could donate clothes, blankets, maybe even books for schools....be creative!

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  24. Walid Tabtabai, a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, said the earthquake was a message.
    "We believe that what occurs in terms of disasters and afflictions is a test for believers and punishment for the unjust," he wrote in a column in the newspaper Al Watan.
    - Dude, may you burn in hell for your mistakes! The Quran says that the devil can hide anywhere - even behind long beards. Walid Tabtabai is definately proving the truth to that. Where is his compassion?

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  25. This site gives a breakdown of how much nations are contributing, what their GDP is, per capita spending, etc. http://www.nakagawa.ca/ascorbic/tsunami/

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Keep it clean, people!