Kuwait: A Legacy of Corruption Confronted

October 15, 2012

With its parliament dissolved for the third time in less than a year, Kuwait is mired in a deep political crisis. As politicians face allegations of accepting bribes worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri reinterprets her country’s history of corruption.

Following last week’s dissolution of Kuwait’s parliament, the third in less than a year, a former MP announced yesterday that more details about a longtime bribery scandal will be disclosed. The scandal, which some have called “the Kuwaiti Watergate,” continues to swell, with allegations that at least 13 pro-government MPs accepted bribes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Gulf country has been mired in a deep political crisis since last year, when two members of Parliament were accused of receiving $92 million from unknown sources. While citizens prepare for general elections, the Kuwait Transparency Society is holding a discussion around a new anti-corruption bill.

In the midst of the present turmoil, Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri has taken a look at her country’s history of corruption, which she traces back to the early 1980s, when one of the largest stock market crashes in history rocked the nation following a speculative bubble. Her short video, Rumors of Affluence, focuses on what she calls “acts of the ultra-rich that are talked about but have yet to be verified,” and includes a monologue she has written, informed by her research on the period and derived from personal stories told to her about Kuwait’s financial sector.

Voice, direction and videography: Monira Al Qadiri
Music: Traditional Kuwaiti percussion (artist unknown)
Script: Inspired in part by the documentary “Souk Al-Manakh” and in part by current events.