UAE grants citizenship to stateless Kuwaiti Bidoon actor

UAE grants citizenship to stateless Kuwaiti Bidoon actor
2 min read
02 October, 2023
The UAE had decided to grant citizenship to a famous comedian from Kuwait’s stateless Bidoon minority, after Kuwait refused to several times.
Kuwait's stateless Bidoon have long protested discrimination against them [Getty]

The UAE has granted citizenship to a stateless Bidoon actor from Kuwait.

Ahmed Al-Onan, a famous Kuwaiti actor known for appearing in comedies, was granted Emirati citizenship after he made several requests to the authorities for Kuwaiti citizenship, all of which were denied.

Al-Onan belongs to Kuwait’s Bidoon minority, who are denied citizenship and social and economic rights. They are believed to number around 100,000 and suffer extensive discrimination in housing, healthcare, education, and employment.

Kuwait says that they are "illegal residents" but the Bidoon and their ancestors are indigenous to Kuwait and have lived there for generations. Their ancestors lived in remote areas of the country and failed to register for citizenship when Kuwait became independent from the UK.

Al-Onan was born in Kuwait and has lived there all his life. Some Kuwaiti social media users said that an old television interview Al-Onan gave, in which he praised UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, was the reason why he was given UAE citizenship.

After he was granted citizenship, Al-Onan thanked "all the sheikhs of the UAE, first among them the head of state Mohammed bin Zayed".

Following the UAE decision on Al-Onan, Kuwaiti activists drew attention to the continuing plight of the Bidoon, and the necessity of finding a "legal solution" to their issues.

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The activists said that as a result of Kuwaiti state policy, skilled people like Al-Onan were fleeing to Europe and other Arab countries.

While the issue of the Bidoon has been discussed in the Kuwaiti parliament many times, no solution has been reached because the Kuwaiti "Central System for the Remedy of the Situation of Illegal Residents", which deals with Bidoon affairs, has insisted that they should be denied citizenship.

The Central System has been criticised as an "abusive" body by Amnesty International.

Last March, Bidoon activists began an open hunger strike against the continued discrimination against them.