Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Kuwait : Bidoun

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Kuwait : Bidoun, 2008, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Bidoun means 'without' and connotes those whose legal status is unclear, who are undocumented and may effectively be stateless. Whilst the Kuwaiti Government claims that most the Bidouns are concealing their nationalities out of deceit, the Kuwaiti bureaucracy was quite lax about requiring documentation before 1986 and many Bidouns actually worked in the government machinery (especially armed forces), studied at schools, were treated in the healthcare system and travelled freely before the tightening up of ID requirements by the Government. Some Bidouns therefore 'missed out' on the opportunity of become citizens by not applying in the 1950s-1960s for registration or may have travelled for work to Kuwait without passports from their countries of origin before its independence in 1959 and remained.

Historical context

The Kuwait Government itself has given the figure of 107 thousand for the population of Bidouns in Kuwait. Usually they are Arabs who have long lived in Kuwait and who either have no documentation or do not declare it in order to maximize their chances of remaining in the country. Bidouns have suffered discrimination in all avenues where documentation has increasingly come to be required, especially since 1986, in order to demarcate the privileges of citizenship from migrant workers: education, health, employment and travel.

Current issues

However, the Government has made some attempt in recent years to face this issue of discrimination and citizenship, for example by approving free education for Bidoun children since 2004, beginning to address their health needs and facilitating a process by which some could become documented as citizens. However, the process required proving residency prior to 1965, and hence still excluded the vast majority (roughly 10,000 have received citizenship in this manner thus far). Statelessness for Bidouns therefore continues to weigh heavily on the enjoyment of their human rights in Kuwait.

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