Kuwait History: From Al-Sabah to oil

Kuwait History: From Al-Sabah to oil Last updated on Tuesday 20th April 2010

The present Al-Sabah dynasty was established in Kuwait in the mid-eighteenth century -- about 1760. Kuwait was nominally a province of the Ottoman Empire, ruled from Constantinople. This was observed on paper but seldom in fact.

When the Turks threatened to take actual control of the country in 1899, the ruling Sheikh sought and eventually received British protection.

The "Kuwait Oil Company" discovered oil in Kuwait in 1938, but due to the eruption of World War II, it was not exported until 1946. The large-scale exploitation of oil reserves turned Kuwait into a large trading centre.

Kuwait remained a British protectorate until 1961 when it became independent under Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. However, when Iraq claimed the emirate in the early 1960s, it once again received British protection.

In July 1961 Kuwait joined the Arab League and in 1963 became a member of the United Nations. Also in 1963 the first legislative elections were held and Sheikh Abdullah, the Emir of Kuwait, inaugurated the first National Assembly on 29 January1963.

In 1966 Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia settled the "neutral zone" border dispute by dividing it equally between them. The "Central Bank of Kuwait" was created in 1969; a Social Security Law and a Law of Reserves for Future generations were passed in 1976. Oil changed the entire country in a few years and population's educational standards and life expectancy rose. Kuwait played a major role in establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) consisting of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman in 1981.

A campaign of terror started in the early 1980s; the American embassy was bombed and a Kuwait Airways plane was hijacked; two bomb explosions claimed the lives of many innocent civilians in two sea-front cafés. There was also an assassination attempt in 1995 against His Highness the Emir and another Kuwaiti civilian airliner was later hijacked. Kuwait, like most Arab states, supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).

Iraqi allegations of Kuwait and the UAE deliberately overproducing oil were followed by Sadam Husein moving his troops to the Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders. In the early hours of the 2nd of August 1990, the Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and occupied the country until its liberation on the 26th of February 1991.

Kuwait has since then embarked on a continuous process of redeveloping and reconstructing itself to overcome the destruction of devastation caused by the Iraqi invasion and occupation. This process managed so far in salvaging basic amenities, restoring facilities in a determined bid to return the country to normalcy.

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