An American Woman in Kuwait [NOOK Book]

Overview

An American Woman in Kuwait is a travelogue written by an American lawyer who accompanied her husband, a Ph.D. immunologist, to Kuwait. The trip spanned almost six months, during the cooler parts of the year, from November 2004 to May 2005.

Kuwait is a tiny nation covered almost entirely by barren desert. Its huge petroleum reserves and strategic location have made it a playing field on which great military conflicts have been settled during ...
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An American Woman in Kuwait

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Overview

An American Woman in Kuwait is a travelogue written by an American lawyer who accompanied her husband, a Ph.D. immunologist, to Kuwait. The trip spanned almost six months, during the cooler parts of the year, from November 2004 to May 2005.

Kuwait is a tiny nation covered almost entirely by barren desert. Its huge petroleum reserves and strategic location have made it a playing field on which great military conflicts have been settled during the past two decades. The country, located at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, became one of the wealthiest nations in history following discovery of oil in 1938 and development of the oil fields brought its citizens an unparalleled level of personal comfort.

During the time span of a single generation, Kuwaitis made the transition from a society based on animal herding, fishing and local trade, to an ultra-modern welfare state, offering its citizens lifetime security and comfort at a level unimaginable to most of the world’s population.

This remarkable rags-to-riches transformation has had adverse consequences. One particularly ugly effect of wealth on Kuwaitis and their culture is a sense of entitlement, which has evolved into arrogance and contempt for people who are less fortunate. Unskilled laborers, primarily from Bangladesh and Pakistan, hired on contract to perform menial jobs, are paid subsistence level wages and often treated brutally. Brutality towards those who are perceived as inferiors, including women, is an aspect of Kuwait masked by the veneer of modernity.

Stephanie C. Fox strips away this veneer to explore features of the nation not widely known or appreciated by the public worldwide. A major focus of her work is the degree to which the traditions and prejudices of the tribes from which Kuwaitis claim ancestry act to maintain an inferior status for women. Outwardly, Kuwait appears enlightened with respect to issues of women’s rights. The rigid dress codes and other restrictive laws regulating the behavior of women in Saudi Arabia are absent. Many Kuwaiti women hold prestigious and high profile positions, particularly in academia. Inwardly, many of these same Kuwaiti women live their private lives much as they have for centuries, entirely available to their husbands while at home.

While in Kuwait, the author lived among Kuwaitis, ate traditional foods, mingled with Kuwaitis, studied Kuwaiti history, visited most of its museums, and spent a weekend with her husband at the Wafra Farms Oasis as Kuwaitis celebrated their Independence and Liberation Day holidays. She was even lucky enough to meet Kuwait’s most famous woman suffragist, Rola A. Al-Dashti, Ph.D., who later became a member of the country’s National Assembly.

Stephanie made friends with Kuwaitis. She and her husband met people from Kuwait’s large community of expatriates – Egyptians, Turks, Syrians, even one man from Saudi Arabia, which led to a hilarious encounter.

The author, armed with a digital camera and a laptop, recorded everything she saw, heard, tasted, smelled and touched. Keeping a detailed journal of her experiences led to a book full of photographs that catalogues various aspects of Kuwaiti life and history. At the back of the book are a glossary of Arabic words with a bibliography of the books and articles she read while in Kuwait.

Kuwaitis business customs are described as the author had a rare opportunity to attend a diwaniya, something that is usually closed off to women. Kuwaiti hospitality is also detailed, as she was able to visit many homes, some of them on several occasions.

The restaurants of Kuwait range from casual to formal, fast food to gourmet, and open to closed – in small rooms along the perimeter of a given establishment. The food varies widely in cuisine, quality and presentation, the most memorable item being one called “Genius Meal” – in homage to American liberators.

Their cat, a Kuwaiti war veteran herself, accompanied Stephanie to Kuwait. She was named Scheherazade. Stephanie’s husband, David D. Haines, Ph.D., encountered their pet as a U.S. Army officer during the aftermath of the war in Kuwait, on Failaka Island. The cat was just a kitten playing with a cluster munition, and this warning saved the lives of the men in his unit, so he adopted her. An American Woman in Kuwait is also the perfect guide for anyone traveling with a pet in the Middle East.

The book is a gloves-off, unvarnished description of life in this desert nation that many Westerners will find similar to that in their home countries. However, the book reveals that the trappings of a modern state are woven into deeply conservative social values that remain aggressively intolerant of concepts such as gender equality and individual freedom.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013899551
  • Publisher: QueenBeeEdit
  • Publication date: 3/8/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Stephanie C. Fox, J.D. is a historian, writer, and editor. She is a graduate of William Smith College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, and she lives in Connecticut. Ms. Fox has written several books on a variety of topics, including the effects of human overpopulation on the environment, Asperger’s condition, and travel to Kuwait. She runs an editing service called QueenBeeEdit, which caters to politicians, scientists, and others. Her areas of interest include – but are not limited to – women’s history, biographies, women’s studies, science fiction, environmental studies and environmental law, international relations, Asperger’s condition, and cats. She is currently at work on co-authoring the political memoir of an Iranian woman Reformist politician.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Highly recommend readers digest this fascinating story by Dr. Da

    Highly recommend readers digest this fascinating story by Dr. David Haines' spouse. Stephanie C. Fox, J.D., chronicles her travels with Dr. David Haines, a UCONN Ph.D. / Immunologist, in this insightful cultural travelogue. Hope to see more collaborative writings in the future by this courageous team as they advocate for individual rights internationally and Veteran's in the United States.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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