This is a story of my grandfather, aged 19 years at that time. He was a native citizen of Kuwait, where there was no major economic activity to undertake. At this time, the main thriving industry in the country was sea diving for pearls (Ray 14). For this reason, he ended up spending much of his time at the sea just like his fellow countrymen. At that time, the country was under severe devastation. Unemployment was high, especially, for the young generation, and for this reason, money was a problem.
Kuwait is a country located in the Northwest corner of the Arabian Gulf. It is bordered by a vast desert on the West and the Gulf Coast on the East. The country has many advantages and popularity since it has an access to the world through the sea. It has become a link connecting many other countries, through its ports. John Kuwait port is located on one of these coasts. This port served an instrumental role during his time. With no other source of income, majority of young people trooped to this port so as to earn a living.
Once here, they would be engaged in diving and fishing activities. They used to dive for pearls. It is at this time that my grandfather made a small bought for his fishing and diving endeavors. He used to do this with his brother. Spending time at the sea became a routine for them. Despite all their efforts, the income they received was not much. It was just enough to sustain them and keep them going. After spending around nine months in this new trade, my grandfather decided to shift gears. This was mainly motivated by the meager earnings they were getting.
The next landing point for him was working with a group of men. This was a relatively large group with organized operations. They had a large ship with which they ventured and explored the sea. The group was composed of between ten to twenty people. The main undertaking of this group was diving for pearls. The members used to take turns in diving. While some men went into the search for pearls under the sea, the others would wait for them on the surface. Those who waited on the surface would wait for a signal from the “Ghais” so as to pull them out. “Ghais” in this case referred to those who went diving under the sea in search of pearls. Upon obtaining the pearls, they would trade them with other countries in exchange of other products. This became a better source of income for my grandfather as it was more rewarding.
Together with my grandfather, the group used to venture into the sea to search for pearls as well as to fish. The time taken in one trip was long and required adequate preparation. Therefore, they were expected to remain in the sea for around three months. At the eginnning, my grandfather’s mother was not willing to let him carry on with the group. She feared that something bad might befall him while at sea. However, it became necessary for him to go for the family’s survival since he was the only source of income.
A trip started in June 1932. They aimed to collect as much pearls as possible and also to engage in fishing. This particular trip was not successful at first due to the bad weather at the sea. However, the weather became better and they caught a lot of fish. By the time the second month was ending, they had plenty of pearls and fish, and everybody was satisfied. They were happy that their trip had turned out to be a success. However, their joy was short-lived as my grandfather pushed the basket containing their collections into the water by mistake. As a punishment, he was tasked with fishing an equivalent of the fish they had caught. Nevertheless, it was a challenge, however, he managed to do it, and everybody’s joy was restored.
This trip marked the end of his job as a fisherman and diver. He had spent a total of seven good years in this job. Despite all the time spent in this industry, his family’s living conditions did not improve much. They still continued to languish as a family. There was thus a need for a change.
As a country, Kuwait has staggered financially all this time. The country relied basically on the pearl industry. Other external help came from the British. With pearl diving as the only main activity, not much progress could be achieved for a country. All these came to a stop when Sheikh Ahmad took over the leadership of Kuwait. He was a visionary man and foresaw a greater future for the country. When the pearl diving industry became threatened around the end of 1920, he shifted his attention to oil exploration.
It had been noted that the country could harbor petroleum reserves for some years. The discovery of oil showed future perspectives in other neighboring countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. The topographical landscape of Kuwait was similar to that of Saudi Arabia. For a long time, some large black patches had been observed on the desert land of the country. This increased people’s hope that there was a possibility of oil in the country. The realization of this dream became closer in the year 1934. It was at this time that Sheikh Ahmad signed an oil concession, the first in the history of Kuwait. This agreement gave the Kuwait Oil Company the right to undertake oil prospecting activities.
The culmination of these activities came on 22nd February 1938 when oil was finally discovered in the country (Wheeler 71). With this discovery, there was a turnaround in the lives of the citizens. The economy took a sharp turn and started improving in addition to the living conditions. It was in this new Kuwait that my grandfather got another chance in life. He was among the many direct and immediate beneficiaries of this discovery. After quitting his job as a diver and fisherman, he got a new job with the newly formed Kuwait Oil Company. In this company, he got a job as a security guard, and this greatly improved his life. This job gave him a higher and better salary than the previous ones. With this new job his life changed drastically. His living conditions improved as well as his way of life. He could now provide for all his family’s needs without much hassle.
The same change was witnessed in the lives of almost all the citizens. Things improved and life became better for everyone. The discovery of oil in Kuwait brought a positive change for the entire country and its citizens.