I have never in my life been afraid to cross a road, not even in Eygpt until now. My apartment has a view of the Persian Gulf, and there is a beautiful walkway beside the gulf, the problem is that you have to cross Gulf Road. So let me tell you something about Kuwait:
- The rate of traffic accidents in Kuwait is four times more than in most industrial countries.
- The total number of dead during the past 10 years has reached 3,000.
- Kuwait ranks third in the number of deaths caused due to road accident
Contrary, to what I thought, there are actually a ton of alcohol-related crashes because the rich buy bootleg alcohol and then go out and drive. And it’s my understanding that every Kuwaiti is rich. Not to mention that no one here wears seatbelts and children often ride unrestrained, in their parents lap or I’ve even seen them with half their bodies out of the sunroof. When I asked why they don’t restrain their children someone told me because if you lose a child it’s God’s will!
God forbid you would have to take personal responsibility. Luckily I’ve found a cab that actually has seat belts in the back seat. So, I always call the same guy.
Back to the gulf road, I hadn’t been out of the house all weekend and I needed to go to the grocery store and I needed some exercise, so I decided I want to walk along the path by the gulf. Normally, traffic just bullets past on that road and Kuwait has very few crosswalks and even if you are in the crosswalk you don’t necessarily have the right of way. So there is a crosswalk but it’s quite a ways down. So far I’ve seen three crosswalks in Kuwait and I think maybe 5 curb cuts.
It’s Ramadan so early in the evening there has been less traffic, so I decided to go for a walk. Now even the able-bodied people in my office have difficultly getting across the road and come back saying I got missed by an inch. They also say that people speed up when they see you crossing and I have experienced this on other roads. And we all know I don’t run so well and the last thing I need is to be run over by another car.
I waited and when it was clear, I made it across the first two lanes, but then I had to step over a ditch, some bricks and a hedge to get into the median. To get out of the median I had to step over another hedge, down from the curb and over a ditch and then I had to get across the other two lanes of traffic. But guess what? I made it! I walked about a quarter of a mile, bought a bottle of water at a stand and then walked back and made it across again. If your a foreigner and you are killed by a Kuwaiti because of poor driving they give your family $10,000. Not enough money in my book.
Kuwait is sitting on 10% of the world’s oil reserves and is one of the few countries that shares it’s oil wealth with it’s citizens. Of the 3.5 million people who live in Kuwait approximately 2 million are foreigners and most are here to serve Kuwaitis. It is the largest welfare state in the world. As a Kuwaiti, you receive I think someone told me $200,000 when you marry and then another sum for each child from the government. I believe you only get the money if you marry a Kuwaiti or someone from a Gulf state, but I’m not sure. Information is limited.
You would think with all the money they have they could afford to put in some crosswalks or curb cuts, but since Kuwaitis don’t really walk anywhere they only drive why should they spend money on something that only benefits the foreign population?