Bidoon (stateless)

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Not to be confused with Bedouin.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sulaibiyah[2] and Al Jahra[3]
Related ethnic groups
Bedouins · Arabs

Bidoon also known as Stateless Arabs[3] (Arabic: بدون‎, bedoon al jinsiya) are stateless people from the Arabic bidūn jinsīyah (Arabic: بدون جنسية‎, without nationality).[4]

Kuwait identifies the Bidoon "illegal residents".[5] In May 2014, the Kuwaiti government discovered the true nationalities of 6,051 Bidoon, most were Saudi nationals hiding their passports.[6] In November 2013, the Kuwaiti government discovered the true nationalities of 5,268 Bidoon, most were Saudi nationals.[7] Kuwait's Bedoon are mostly descendants of nomadic Bedouins.[8] It is believed most Bedoon are Saudis hiding their original passports.

During the 1980s, the Bidoon constituted between 80-90% of the Kuwaiti Army.[9] Until 1990, the Bedoon accounted for 80% of the Kuwaiti Army.[10] According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, most of Kuwait's Bedoon are refugees.[11]

The term "Bedoon" is used mostly in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain,[8] and Iraq,[12] where the stateless populations have been a problem.[13] In Bahrain, the term "bedoon" is used to describe stateless descendants of Iranians.[8] Although some of the bidoon are originally bedouin, the two terms have different meanings.[14][15]


Kuwait's Bidoon are mostly descendants of nomadic Bedouins.[16] In the 1960s to 1980s, Iraqi/Saudi Bedouins formed 80-90% of the Kuwaiti Army.[9]

In Bahrain, most Bidoon are descendants of Iranians.[8][12] Most of Bahrain's bedoun are Muslims but some of Bahrain's bidoon are Christians.[12] Following the invasion by Iraqi forces into Kuwait, a third of the 300,000 stateless living in Kuwait before the invasion either fled to Iraq or produced evidence showing their true citizenship (mostly Iraqi, Saudi or Syrian). In the last few years, many organizations heavily criticized Kuwait for its handling of the issue.[17]

In 2011, Kuwaiti courts ruled that stateless people are allowed to be issued birth, marriage and death certificates.[18] Prior to that time, bedoun were impeded in seeking education and employment by the lack of such documentation.[19] In 1980s, the Kuwaiti government did issue some administrative documents to bedoun.

Bedoon rights[edit]

The Kuwaiti government has recently naturalized 4,000 of the 120,000 bidoons in the country.[20]

In Bahrain, stateless people are denied the right to hold legal residency,[8] are not allowed the right to travel abroad,[8] buy houses,[8] and to hold government jobs.[8] Recently, the Bahraini government issued regulations preventing them from sending their children to public schools and to receive free medical care.[8] Bedouns can also get deported at any time.[8] Since the beginning of the 1980s, the Bahraini government has deported hundreds of bedouns to Iran.[8]

In the United Arab Emirates, stateless people cannot get a drivers license, go to school, obtain a marriage licence, receive routine health services (they will be treated at hospitals), or legally work.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kuwait: Whether Bedoun residents who were included in the 1965 census are able to obtain citizenship; whether Bedoun residents can access healthcare, education and employment; information on Bedoun mobility rights, including whether an individual with a Bedoun card, who was registered in the 1965 census, but who left Kuwait illegally without a passport, is able to return to Kuwait, 20 February 2013, KWT104009.E, available at: [accessed 13 November 2013]
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Fuchs, Martina (19 February 2011) "Kuwait police clash with hundreds of protesters", Reuters, archived here by WebCite
  5. ^ "Kuwait: Stateless ‘Bidun’ Denied Rights". "Kuwait considers the Bidun "illegal residents."" 
  6. ^ 6,051 illegal residents in Kuwait adjusted status by May
  7. ^ Nationality status verified for 5,268 illegal residents in Kuwait
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Iranians in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates: Migration, Minorities, and Identities in the Persian Gulf Arab States. Eric Andrew McCoy. 2008. p. 48. 
  9. ^ a b "Government of United Kingdom". p. 4. 
  10. ^ "Challenges of Security in Kuwait". p. 5. 
  11. ^ "World Refugee Survey 2009: Kuwait". 
  12. ^ a b c World Migration 2005 Costs and Benefits of International Migration. International Organization for Migration. 2005. p. 53. 
  13. ^ Staff (3 March 2011) "March 8 Parliament session to discuss vital decisions" Al-Watan Daily Newspaper; archived here by WebCite
  14. ^ Hamad, Aziz A. (1991) A Victory turned sour: human rights in Kuwait since liberation Middle East Watch, Human Rights Watch, New York, page 51, ISBN 1-56432-041-3
  15. ^ Henckaerts, Jean-Marie (1995) Mass expulsion in modern international law and practice Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands, page 97, ISBN 90-411-0072-5
  16. ^ "Kuwait: Stateless ‘Bidun’ Denied Rights". 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Saeed, Ebtessam (3 March 2011) "Bedouns plan to rally for Amir" Al-Watan Daily Newspaper; archived here by WebCite
  19. ^ Staff (6 October 2010) "Kuwait: Tough requirements of Bedoun students to be cancelled: MoE" Zawya (Dubai, UAE), archived here by WebCite
  20. ^