Sunday, October 12, 2008

Question of the Day: Why does Kuwait's Ministry of Higher Education sponsor students in acquiring degrees that hold no current value in Kuwait?

To this day, I have met many young, bright individuals who have graduated with honors from distinguished universities in the US, UK and other countries abroad with majors such as biomedical science/engineering, interior design, environmental biology, culinary arts, health physics and other technical as well as very untraditional yet gloriously interesting fields that these Kuwaiti men and women have excelled in.

Some students are continuing their studies and are presently acquiring their Masters and PhDs to legitimize themselves as professionals in their field and people in society. Others were fortunate enough to dip their fingers in their family's cookie jar and start their own business based on their unconventional yet much adored major. However, many return to Kuwait and either opt for a low paying government job that is similar to their major or, like many educated individuals here, snag a job at an investment company or bank and call it a life well lived.

"Whatever your major was in college, in Kuwait, it's just business, business and more business," a good female friend of mine told me the other day. At 24 years of age, my friend holds a BA in Marketing and is six months away from earning her MBA from a country in the MENA region.

I have observed many young and quite disgruntled Kuwaitis drive back and forth from mundane, unsatisfying jobs. "I go to work, put in my hours, and then I'm off to do the things I like," another friend and a passionate engineer said to me recently, "I like building things and creating stuff. The projects that I accomplish in the evening are my challenge, not my morning job."

It's sickening how much untapped talent we have here in Kuwait. It's sickening how some Kuwaitis are hopping on a plane to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation in the United Arab Emirates for their big break instead of having access to a government-owned fund here in Kuwait to further their dreams.

What shame.

Girl Talk - Bounce That
Girl Talk - Let Me See You
Girl Talk - No Pause
Girl Talk - Give Me a Beat
Girl Talk - Hold Up
Girl Talk - Still Here
Peter Bjorn & John - Let's Call It Off (Girl Talk Remix)
Grizzly Bear - Knife (Girl Talk Remix)

at 9:00 AM


  1. Blogger K.thekuwaiti posted at 10:36 AM  
    MOHE told me they wouldn't give out sponsorships for Telecommunications (my degree).. they suggested I switch to English or Television/Radio. So another questions would be, why doesn't the MOHE sponsor students in acquiring useful degrees.
  2. Blogger Jewaira posted at 1:36 PM  
    We need qualified thinkers and planners in government.

    Interesting article I read today:

    "This is the reality of the region’s baby boom: 100 million young people in 14 countries between the ages of 15 and 29. For better or worse, they will increasingly drive cultural, social and economic change throughout the region over the next decades.

    But they are also frustrated and ill-prepared to face the future. Schools and universities often fail to prepare them for a global economy and to compete with highly skilled workers from the West and upwardly mobile ones in the developing world.

    At the same time, young people are far more than the objects of their parents’ hopes and frustrations. They also are seen as a vast, largely untapped, consumer market. Their tastes and political and religious predilections are the subject of intense scrutiny by governments, international financial institutions and think tanks."
  3. Blogger Bodie Broduas posted at 4:18 PM  
    The moral of the story is that MOHE don't know what they are doing. More importantly, how did u find spliced Girl Talk tracks?
  4. Anonymous pearls posted at 10:27 PM  
    aham shay punch in and out and you're right any talent becomes a hobby at the end of the day ma agool illaaa ay shay
  5. Anonymous Dalal Arch posted at 11:24 PM  
    In Kuwait the only jobs that seem respectful enough and meet the very high financial aspirations of a young Kuwaiti graduate have to be related to finance, project management or real estate.
    Kuwait has this very strong communist attitude towards the quality and the nature of the job you do and the salary you deserve. The range of salaries you get from the government is very small and hardly increases over time. It doesn't really matter what you do or how devoted you are.
    I just graduated as an architect, and what seems to be a very promising career choice in a region that has the highest rates in development in real estate and infrastructure; I'm faced with cheap and untrained labor as competitors that are willing to do the most work with the lowest quality for the lowest salaries. Young Kuwaiti architect head towards 3 options; governmental jobs that pays decent salary for short hours but with minimum creativity and hardly any design work or simply work, or a job in a consulting office that has also minimum design work, and is relatively related to architecture and construction, but pays at least 200 KD less than a governmental jobs and acquires you to work at least 3 hours more everyday. and last but no least, working in a field related to finance and business management that has nothing to do with architecture but pays well and the hours seem reasonable.
    Many people compensate for the lack of creativity in their professional careers by holding galleries and exhibitions selling items like clothing or accessories. Which is a good way to express ones abilities and skills, but we need to take things to the next level.
  6. Blogger Jandeef posted at 8:52 AM  

    Lack of innovation and society's investment in it. Even when you have the next big great idea, you're ridiculed, much less funding it.

    Also, lack of a competitive marketplace and creative destruction. Our society clings to jobs and specializations of the past at the expense of being able to keep up with the world.

    Small business is said to be the driving force for the economy. Here, although it's attainable, however the procedures are tedious. Thus I think you'd find youths resorting to mundane jobs, be it government or private.
  7. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 11:17 AM  
    Your question is the same one we former MOHE Scholarship students asked ourselves way back in the day too. And at no time were we ever smacked in the face harder with this question than when we graduated, came back to Kuwait to do our paperwork all gung-ho heigh-ho heigh ho it's off to work for a better future for our country we go, and were then dumped unceremoniously into the torturous and stagnant grind of the Kuwaiti workforce.

    My currently radical opinion is this: in order for the highly trained and qualified creative Kuwaities to be able to successfully integrate with the system and REALLY and TRULY implement their training for the benefit of this country, we need to have "cleaners" come in first to eradicate the crap and crappy people perpetuating the destructive cycle that exists. "Cleaners" a la CIA acid-pouring agents dispatched to "sterilize" the crime scene, who would metaphorically use the same technique to radically change things within the government and its agencies so that the fresh Kuwaiti blood can come in and do what they were trained to do. The reason I say this, is because from everything I have seen and experienced in the past 8 -10 years since I have been back from the US, there is no point in training and educating all these wonderful, talented, and bright Kuwaities when you don't know what to do with them and the valuable resource of their talents are being squandered amidst the overwhelming corruption and the intractably damaged infrastructure.

    Devil's advocate scenario:

    Why stay amidst this mess if you are a highly creative, innovative, down to earth, upwardly mobile and highly educated Kuwaiti, whose government has invested thousands - THOUSANDS in you and your education without real or sensible regard as to what to do with that when you are done? What kind of a productive life are you really going to lead in a system that in reality now DOESN'T WANT you to contribute to it, is REJECTING YOU because it is so mired and stuck in its own highly senseless and pathologically detrimental patterns leading to it's increasing destruction and breakdown? All one has to do is take a look at Qatar and the UAE with open eyes to understand who the forward thinkers pushing a policy of growth that embraces innovation and creativity really are in this region.

    An example: I work with some bright, tireless, brilliant and selfless Kuwaities ferociously interested in cooperation on scientific and medical research and projects. They get funding from government agencies such a KFAS and the Ministry to pursue their work. And then the Ministry - or various officials with the power to do so - make alterations to the project - or completely STOP certain parts of it, that render the whole thing invalid and all the work that has been done already (funded by the government agencies) is wasted and the project becomes DEAD, goes nowhere or nowhere that makes any difference to anyone. Most of the time, its because of one DUMBASS who wanted to exert his power just because he could, or because of wasta, insecurity, or some kind of stupid, childish, sense of competition, entitlement and lack of power.

    So, here I am, and I work for the government in what is considered within Kuwait to be an elite and desirable position. My country paid for me to be educated and to be on par with any other professional with the equivalent education abroad. No, I cannot complain about my salary. But that is it. There is no growth in my job, no real productivity, no real utilizing of my skills or training received from excellent academic institutions of higher education in the US. And when I want to do or try something, when I have a new idea I am shot down by those who don't want me to and am told to do my job no more, no less.

    Here I am ten years down the road from where you guys are, you fresh faced, brilliant, creative, new Kuwaiti US graduates, and here is my once cute fresh face smashed up against the proverbial Kuwaiti brick wall.

    It sucks. I am mad as hell.

    And guess what! Guess where I am! I am thinking about starting myself one of those cute little Kuwaiti cake business, just like all the other 50,000 cake and cookie businesses out there too. That is my option.

  8. Anonymous Khaos posted at 6:26 AM  
    To me, a more salient question is: Why do those degrees hold no value in Kuwait?

    Of course the answer is nothing novel. It all boils down to the incompetence of the government, which is in power largely due to a culture infested with nepotism, cronyism, envy, and corruption.

    Sadly, I don't think that current citizens deserve a better government. You may think otherwise as you may be interacting with relatively enlightened people. But the unfortunate truth is that most Kuwaitis have yet to emerge from their shells of ignorance.

    If you think that the government is bad then look at some of the MPs that we have. Do constituents that elect such MPs deserve a better government?

    Granted, we have some untapped talent here in Kuwait. But if those talents are waiting for the government to tap them they're almost as bad; life's too short and the world is more than Kuwait.
  9. Blogger Erzulie posted at 6:26 PM  
    K: because they're the only judge behind what they think is useful which is rather useless considering the lack of brains almost all of the people there have.

    jewaira: that was an interesting article :) and of course i agree. and this subject is, as other people in the comments section put it, nothing new. i guess it's the first time i personally see it as an apparent reality and it's worrisome because this is the country and world my family and i will grow old with. i do know many young and very driven individuals here; although they're a very minute part of the population, they are working for the better of the country yet unfortunately, the overall situation is making them bitter and it's overriding their passion for local development while setting their aims on gaining grounds in other hopeful areas in the region i.e. uae, qatar, etc.

    bodie: :D

    pearls: i think it's up to the talented individual on whether to sharpen their skills for their pleasure (read: hobby) or as something that defines them as professionals. a while ago, my mother and i dropped by a joint art exhibition that was held at the gallery located in Abdalla Al-Salem (the one that's near the gas station and supermarket). the main man there (can't remember his name for the life of me) was an older kuwaiti who's in charge of Dar Al-Funoon. we started to chat and he said that in previous years, the process of applying and getting accepted to Dar Al-Funoon existed, "Whereas now," he shook his head, "it's basically an open door policy. people come in, take a couple of courses, mostly because we need the money and they leave with the title of 'professional artist or musician'."

    dalal: respect is another issue that is SO unnecessarily bound to one's profession. anything that involves creativity, in general, is looked down upon. and while it's understandable seeing as how it's somewhat of a true stereotype *casts a glance at the lot of actors, singers, artists, etc. whose reputation and lifestyle precedes their talent* it's also dispiriting to know how black and white that outlook is in our lovely society. maybe the finance world is the practical way to go in terms of acquiring a title that would make relatives and acquaintances beam with delight with an appreciative "aha!" and it would be an easy way to accumulate fast cash but then again, it might not be the true and best way, for the person and everyone else as a whole. and i really appreciate your frankness about what you've faced. all i have to say is that you're right, it has to be taken to the next level. actually wait, WE have to take it to the next level. period.

    jandeef: :)) it is unfair but i guess everything in life is. and although what you've said is spot on, part of me - maybe the stubborn strand i have that's rooted in my taurean nature or it might simply be naivete - i honestly do believe that if there's a will, there will be a way, a difficult one, but it's still there. and i have heard how tedious starting a small business is (now's their time to boom as all the big shots are crumbling down in depression).

    ms. baker: well. shit. i really don't know how to reply to your comment. the only thing that made me smile was the extermination of the crappy craps. we have a lot. i wish i was a dictator... *sighs*

    khaos: regardless of the civilians' nature, i don't think anyone deserves a bad government. true, there are a lot of kuwaitis here who are contributing to our country's downfall. i don't think they should be punished because of their adamant support for something that does the country more bad than good. the question is, "what got them thinking like that in the first place?" however, there are many people here who want imbeciles to well, stay that way; it's much more easy to convince an ignorant being. this is a very broad topic and branches off to a million more subjects, but in general, i don't think it's healthy to generalize in this particular situation i.e. bad vs. good government. "But if those talents are waiting for the government to tap them they're almost as bad; life's too short and the world is more than Kuwait." I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, not all human beings are the same. Some people don't need anything to succeed; this might sound ridiculous, but I do believe that some individuals are innately programmed to make anything happen for themselves regardless of their status and/or financial situation while others well, need a little bit more faith from elsewhere.

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