The Lebanese Kid
Updated: Feb 17
By: Omar Al-Yousef
Kuwait is a very diverse country. It has more foreigners than Kuwaitis and many Kuwaitis are mixed. This is great, but being a mixed Kuwaiti also has some drawbacks. I am half Kuwaiti and half Lebanese and I always found it nice to be mixed because it meant I could travel more. However, when interacting with full Kuwaitis, more often than not, I get looked down on and get called “the Lebanese.” Of the number of times I was made fun of for being half Lebanese, I was ashamed of who I was for years! From the sixth grade till the ninth, I was called “hummus” since it is a traditional Lebanese dish! It took a toll on me for so long and made me a very shy kid that would never speak up when talked down to. I learned that we live in a society that thinks they are better than non-Kuwaitis for no apparent reason! When I was in the tenth grade, I was made fun of for being Lebanese again, and that is when I finally snapped! I looked at the person making fun of me and said, “At least I get to travel more, I get to call another country my home, and I have family everywhere!” Since that day, I looked at my Lebanese side as something to be proud of. Although I love being mixed, many people that aren’t, don’t.
Many Kuwaitis talk as if they’re disgusted by the presence of foreigners or “non-Kuwaiti looking” people. For example, I was trying to get my driver’s license and when I was handing in my paperwork, there were two lines, one for Kuwaitis and one for non-Kuwaitis. Being mixed, I look more like a Lebanese person (very pale and white skin with soft-straight hair) than a Kuwaiti. So, I was asked to stand in the foreigner’s line (I did not know until after, that it was for foreigners). When it was my turn to hand in my papers, the woman that was working there was speaking to me in a very rude way until she asked for my ID. When I handed my ID, she gasped and said, “Oh my God, I am so sorry, I didn’t know you were Kuwaiti. You look Syrian.” When I heard that I was shocked but stayed silent because I remembered that many people in Kuwait are raised to think that it is okay to speak this way to someone who isn’t Kuwaiti, maybe because they feel the need to be more important, or maybe they actually believe they are, but that is something that has to change! Kuwaitis need to be more open and accepting of other cultures and nationalities and they need to learn not to look at themselves as better than others because of their nationality
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