Son car­ries on fa­ther’s tradition of modernity and devel­op­ment

An in­ter­view with Ah­mad Al-Fad­hel

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Nawara Fat­ta­hova

KUWAIT: As part of our se­ries, Can­di­date Speaks, Kuwait Times met can­di­date Ah­mad Al-Fad­hel, who is run­ning from the third con­stituency. He is the son of MP Nabeel Al-Fad­hel, who passed away last De­cem­ber while still in of­fice. He es­pouses the same mod­ern ideas as his late fa­ther, who hoped to make Kuwait the most de­vel­oped country in the re­gion.

“I have many is­sues that I would like to work on if I en­ter the par­lia­ment. I have var­i­ous so­lu­tions and law pro­pos­als for var­i­ous prob­lems in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health, econ­omy, cul­ture, sports and re­forms in the par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment,” Fad­hel told Kuwait Times.

On ed­u­ca­tion

“I would work on two is­sues - the sys­tem and the cur­ricu­lum. We need to change the sys­tem of rote learn­ing and in­stead teach chem­istry, physics, math­e­mat­ics and other sub­jects, in­clud­ing events such as World War II. Stu­dents should learn about ma­te­ri­als, num­bers and other ac­tiv­i­ties that will help them in­ter­nal­ize the knowl­edge, as they do in Swe­den. We also need to train teach­ers,” Fad­hel noted.

On sports

“The gov­ern­ment is tak­ing care of sports com­pletely, and this is a very old prac­tice. To­day sports, cul­ture and arts should be an in­dus­try, each with its own mech­a­nism. We should have pri­vate teams us­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties. There should be in­vest­ment in real es­tate to grab the at­ten­tion of in­vestors, even if they don’t like sports. The gov­ern­ment should give in­vestors land on which they can build sports cen­ters, where pro­fes­sional play­ers can train and par­tic­i­pate in pro­fes­sional leagues,” Fad­hel ex­plained.

These leagues should be based on schools and dis­tricts. “We have 52 ar­eas, and each of them has a school and co-op. The co-op will pay for the equip­ment of the play­ers, while the Pub­lic Au­thor­ity for Youth will ar­range to bring the train­ers. This is the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for tal­ent scouts. In the US, they search for tal­ent in schools, then they adopt them and make them join col­lege or pro­fes­sional teams. We can have com­pe­ti­tions in the six gov­er­norates and the win­ners of each gover­norate will play in the play­offs, which will be broad­cast on TV,” Fad­hel added.

On schools

“Teenagers usu­ally dream to be pop­u­lar. Through school sports, we will of­fer them pub­lic­ity through a weekly pub­li­ca­tion that will pub­lish ar­ti­cles with their pho­tos. The con­di­tion is to be an ex­celling stu­dent. Here, we con­nect ed­u­ca­tion with fun and hob­bies. And from the start, they learn that there is no gain with­out work.”

On Cul­ture

“We need to stop the cen­sor­ship of cul­ture and artis­tic work. If some­body is against some­thing, he can re­ply with an­other piece of work that shows his opin­ion - not by ban­ning it. At the same time, we should have cer­tain cri­te­ria to en­sure artis­tic works suit our cul­ture and so­ci­ety. For in­stance, a movie can’t have kiss­ing scenes, but we should be al­lowed to see po­lit­i­cal theatre. I don’t mean books de­tail­ing how to make a bomb for in­stance - these are dan­ger­ous and not al­lowed in any country,” Fad­hel stated.

On Cen­sor­ship

“We should scrap the ban on mu­si­cal con­certs and par­ties. If some­body doesn’t like bal­let, he doesn’t have to at­tend a per­for­mance. Also, gen­der seg­re­ga­tion at the univer­sity is wrong. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, men and women work in a mixed en­vi­ron­ment. We are in a civil country ruled by law and not only re­li­gion. If we don’t have en­ter­tain­ment, the young gen­er­a­tion will eas­ily be at­tracted to bad be­hav­iors or crim­i­nal­ity. Who­ever doesn’t want to at­tend con­certs can stay at home.”

On Re­li­gious Free­doms

“The Kuwaiti con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees free­dom of re­li­gion, so any­body liv­ing in this country should be free to be­lieve in any re­li­gion. Also, they should be al­lowed to have their wor­ship places if their num­bers are large enough. The gov­ern­ment should give them land to build their wor­ship places on to prac­tice their rit­u­als. There were Jews liv­ing here in the past, but they mi­grated af­ter the rise of re­li­gious ex­trem­ism,” he said.

On Health

“We need to bring ex­pert doc­tors in all spe­cial­iza­tions from abroad for a pe­riod of three months to treat pa­tients in Kuwait in­stead of pa­tients trav­el­ling abroad for med­i­cal tourism, es­pe­cially that we now have a large num­ber of hos­pi­tal beds af­ter the com­ple­tion of Jaber Hos­pi­tal. Also, lo­cal doc­tors will gain ex­pe­ri­ence from these vis­it­ing doc­tors. This will not cost more than KD 350,000 an­nu­ally, while we are now spend­ing more than KD 800,000 for med­i­cal treat­ment abroad.”

On Re­forms

“These will tar­get two ar­eas - the par­lia­ment and the gov­ern­ment. It will also speed up pro­ce­dures and pa­per­work. We aim to re­ac­ti­vate the dis­ci­plinary court un­der the Au­dit Bureau that is in charge of sanc­tion­ing em­ploy­ees in the pub­lic sec­tor who are not do­ing their work prop­erly. To­day, em­ploy­ees are lazy and don’t work prop­erly, but they are not pun­ished,” stressed Fad­hel.

On the Par­lia­ment

“A min­is­ter should sub­mit a list of projects he is plan­ning to ex­e­cute in the next four years af­ter be­ing ap­pointed. MPs should hold the min­is­ter ac­count­able if he doesn’t meet the tar­get and grill him. This ap­plies to ser­vice min­istries and does not in­clude the min­istry of in­te­rior or for­eign af­fairs, for in­stance.”

On the Econ­omy

“The gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ment struc­ture should be changed. More than 88 per­cent of the na­tional la­bor force works for the gov­ern­ment. Our aim is to is­sue leg­is­la­tion that will re­duce this fig­ure to 40-45 per­cent within 20 to 25 years. So the 40 or 45 per­cent will work in small or medium busi­nesses. Our GDP has to con­sist of at least 40-45 per­cent of the la­bor force work­ing for them­selves, as most em­ploy­ees in the pub­lic sec­tor are not pro­duc­tive and they just wait to get their salaries. We want to con­nect your earn­ings to your achieve­ment, start­ing from the youth. We aim to have a health­ier econ­omy,” Fad­hel ex­plained.

For more than 60 years, 90 per­cent of our na­tional in­come is from oil. “The al­ter­na­tives can’t be re­al­ized in one day, and if it comes in one day, it won’t make a big dif­fer­ence. It has to be long-term and well-stud­ied with a bas­ket of rev­enue sources. So if any sec­tor falls or a de­pres­sion or re­ces­sion oc­curs, we can ab­sorb it. We won’t reach this tar­get if our econ­omy only de­pends on oth­ers’ re­sults and the in­ter­na­tional de­mand for oil,” high­lighted Fad­hel. “I want to change this so we will be more than just an oil pro­ducer. We should have in­dus­tries even if they are small. We have a strate­gic lo­ca­tion in the re­gion, and we can be a lo­gis­tics hub as we are the gate­way to Iraq, Iran, Syria and oth­ers.”

On Projects

“Kuwait can be a med­i­cal hub with the huge ca­pac­ity of the re­cently-launched Jaber Hos­pi­tal. We can is­sue re­sort li­censes with oases in the desert to sup­port med­i­cal tourism. We can also be a sports hub with pro­fes­sional clubs. Fur­ther­more, we can be an art hub - we have artists in all fields and we are pioneers in the re­gion. We can even cre­ate an art city with streets adorned with im­ages of our pop­u­lar artists and celebri­ties. We should also de­velop our is­lands to at­tract tourists,” con­cluded Fad­hel.

KUWAIT: Third con­stituency can­di­date Ah­mad Al-Fad­hel speaks to Kuwait Times. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

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