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Reviews 17 May, 2022

Review of Shafiq al-Ghabra's The Nakba and the Emergence of the Palestinian Diaspora in Kuwait

Majd Abuamer

​Assistant Researcher, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies

The book The Nakba and the Emergence of the Palestinian Diaspora in Kuwait falls within the purview of academic studies on Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian diaspora. Such studies have differed in their approaches, with some focusing on suffering and the process of purification, the Nakba phase, and refugee camps and the resistance movements within them. Other approaches examine the legal conditions of Palestinian refugees under International Law and international organizations, the distinctive nature of Palestinian refugees' experience, issues of identity and integration, and other topics.  acrobat IconIn a contribution to the last two groups of academic studies, both of which involve discussion of diaspora communities generally and the Palestinian diaspora in particular, Professor of Political Science Shafiq al-Ghabra employs the technique of oral history to shed light on a topic which is still open to further research, namely, the experience of the Palestinian diaspora in Kuwait, including its emergence and its direct association with the Palestinian Nakba of 1948. Palestinians first began working in the Gulf states in the 1930s. In particular, the year 1936 marked a milestone, in that it was the first year in which there came to be a notable Palestinian presence in the Gulf. This was the year when – at the request of Sheikh Abdullah Jabir al-Sabah – the Mufti of Palestine, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, sent a mission of five Palestinian teachers to Kuwait. Waves of Palestinian migration to the Gulf increased after the Nakba of 1948 and the Naksa of 1967, particularly given the lack of work opportunities in the countries bordering directly on Palestine. Unlike other Arab states, the Arab Gulf countries have not treated Palestinians as refugees and have not granted them preferential residency privileges. Moreover, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) does not operate in any of the Gulf states.


* This review was published in Vollume 4 No. 1 (September/October 2021)  of AlMuntaqa (pp. 109-116).

** AlMuntaqa is a journal released by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), devoted to providing English speakers with access to a selection of the best research in the social sciences and humanities coming out of the Arab academy. Articles in this journal were originally written in Arabic for the ACRPS’ other peer-reviewed publications journals.