Kuwait's emergence as an independent political entity dates
back more than 380 years ago, to 1613. This has been established
by new research initiated by the Kuwaiti government after
the liberation of the country from the Iraqi invasion. According
to Dr Abdallah Al-Ghoneim, the President of the Centre for
Kuwaiti Research and Studies the new research proves that
Kuwait existed as early as 1613 and not 1752 as formerly
This was substantiated by other evidence also. In a letter
found in the British archives, addressed by Sheikh Mubarak
Al-Sabah in 1913 to the British Political Resident, the
former says "Kuwait is a land of the poor in which
our grandfather Al-Sabah dwelled in 1613." Evidence
also includes a letter sent by Oman's Imam Naser Bin Murshed
in the 1730s to the Kuwaiti government, appealing for help
against the Portuguese. Kuwait had then sent two ships loaded
with weapons and ammunition.
In the 17th century, the Bani Khalid were the overlords
of eastern Arabia and their domain stretched from Kuwait
to Qatar. In about 1672 Barrak Bin Ghuraif, the Amir of
the Bani Khalid, built his kout (a small house in the shape
of a fortress situated near water) in Qurain, a small fishing
community. This may have been in the area in Kuwait City
known today as Wattiya.
The Utub, a federation of Arab families, were driven out
of Al-Aflaj in central Arabia by the drought in the 17th
century. They learned sea-faring and then scattered into
various Arabian Gulf ports before coming to Kuwait in the
early 18th century. They settled here under the suzerainty
of the Bani Khalid.
Family disputes within the ruling Bani Khalid in 1722 gave
the Utub in Kuwait a chance to practice some independence.
After 1752 further internal disputes among the Bani Khalid
and the rise of the Wahhabis, their bitter enemies in central
Arabia, gave the Utub of Kuwait de facto independence. In
about 1756 they elected Sabah Bin Jaber as the Amir of Kuwait
to administer justice and the affairs of the town.
As the regional influence of the Bani Khalid waned, Kuwaits
lack of protection made the rise of a strong local power
necessary. The Utub had changed from nomads to settlers
since their move from Al-Aflaj and the first Al-Sabah was
chosen by the other families as their leader.
HH the Amirs fifth son, HH Sheikh Abdullah-Al-Sabah
was selected to succeed his father. Under his stable rule,
Kuwait transformed into a prosperous and influential independency.
In the latter part of the 18th and early 19th centuries
Kuwait became a major port of call on several international
Pearls were Kuwaits only natural resource and each
year hundreds of pearling ships such as sambuks made for
the lucrative pearl banks to return at the end of summer.
Shipbuilding and using imported materials, became an important
industry. In winter, large trading dhows set out for India
to return with merchandise (and mail) which was loaded onto
desert caravans bound for the Mediterranean. Caravans from
southern and eastern Arabia also passed through Kuwait on
their way to Syria. Kuwaits markets were crowded with
Bedouins selling their products and services or buying imports
for resale in the interior.
HH the Amir, Sheikh Jaber I Al-Sabah (1812-1859) ruled in
consultation with the merchants of Kuwait, and managed to
maintain good relations with all the major powers of the
day. However, as Kuwait prospered throughout the 19th century
its independence came under threat from regional and European
To counter growing Turkish ambitions, HH the Amir, Sheikh
Mubarak (1896-1915) signed treaties with the global powers
of that time. The country prospered greatly under HH Sheikh
Mubaraks rule. Hundreds arrived to settle in Kuwait,
attracted by its orderly administration and increasing commercial
But trade declined sharply in Kuwait from the 1920s onwards
due to the worldwide recession, Kuwaits reduced importance
as a major link in 20th century international trade routes,
and because of hostilities from the Ikhwan, tribesmen from
the interior of Arabia, who were only finally defeated in
1930. Kuwaits pearling industry, which once boasted
800 pearling ships, almost disappeared with the introduction
of Japanese cultured pearls and the worldwide fall in demand
for luxury goods following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
However, in the 1950s and 1960s, Kuwait underwent a transition
from a small Amirate to an internationally influential modern
state because of the oil boom.
The Rulers of the Al-Sabah Dynasty
Sabah I Bin Jaber: 1756-1762
2. Sheikh Abdullah I: 1762-1812
3. Sheikh Jaber I: 1812-1859
4. Sheikh Sabah II: 1859-1866
5. Sheikh Abdullah II: 1866-1892
6. Sheikh Mohammad I: 1892-1896
7. Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah: 1896-1915
8. Sheikh Jaber II: 1915-1917
Salem Al-Mubarak: 1917-1921
10. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah: 1921-1950
11. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah: 1950-1965
12. Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah: 1965-1977
13. Sheikh Jaber Al-AhmadAl-Jaber Al-Sabah: The present
ruler, who ascended the throne in January 1978.
The Discovery Of Oil
||The first exploration well
was drilled in Bahrah when a geophysical exploration
was carried out. Oil was first discovered in Burgan
in 1938. Because of the Second World War exports did
not start until 1946. As oil exports increased, Ahmadi
-- named after HH the Amir Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
-- was created near the oil fields as a township for
oil company personnel.
|The oil embargo in 1973 resulted
in substantially improved oil prices. In 1975 the government
took 100 per cent control of the States oil resources.
The resulting massive inflows of funds were spent on
developing the countrys infrastructure and in
improving living standards.
|Modern infrastructure rose
from the arid desert as roads, ports, factories, power
generating stations, and desalination plants came into
being. The population increased as thousands of foreign
technical advisors and workers arrived to service the
huge development schemes. Many Kuwaitis, members of
a privileged minority, found themselves in new roles
as importers, contractors, landlords and government
The governments role in the economy and administration
naturally increased under the impact of the new wealth and
development. Modern business laws were promulgated. A new
administrative order was devised as the government expanded.
Though Shura (consultation) had always been a part of political
life in Kuwait since the reign of the first Al-Sabah ruler,
the government began developing a new style of constitutional
Though Kuwait had been an independent political entity for
more than two centuries, it gained international recognition
as a sovereign state in June 1961. A few weeks later Kuwait
joined the Arab League. In 1963 the country became a member
of the United Nations.
The State of Kuwaits Constitution was ratified on
November 11, 1962. Its National Assembly was convened under
the Constitution on January 29, 1963.