Bidoon (social class)

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Total population
Regions with significant populations
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq
Arabic, Balochi, Farsi

The Bidoon (Arabic: بدونBidūn originally as bidoon jinsiyya Arabic: بدون جنسية‎, "without nationality" alternately spelt as Bidun, Bedoon, and Bedun)[1] is a social class in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iraq.[2] The Bidoon are reportedly stateless people. Several governments recognize them as illegal immigrants.


Kuwait considers the Bidoon to be illegal immigrants.[3] The Kuwaiti government believes the Bidoon are foreign nationals from neighboring countries.[3] Although many Bidoon are genuinely stateless, there is no evidence that some Bidoon are foreign nationals hiding their true nationalities. Kuwait recently discovered the true nationalities of 6,000 Bedoon, most of whom were Saudi citizens.[4][5]

On March, the 7th of 2018, The Kuwaiti Assembly passed a law that allows the Bidoons to join the army. [6]


The Bidoon are categorized into three groups.[7] The first group consists of stateless tribesmen whose ancestors had settled in Kuwait but were excluded from registration at the time of the state's independence.[7] The second group consists of former citizens of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries who abandoned their original nationality to join Kuwaiti armed forces and police in the 1960s and 1970s.[8][9][10] The Kuwaiti government preferred to register these people as "Bidoon" rather than to reveal the politically-sensitive recruitment policy in the armed forces and police.[7] At the time, the Bidoon status conferred many economic benefits.[8][7] The third group is composed of children of Kuwaiti women married to Bidoon men.[7]

In 1985, the Bidoon were excluded from the same social and economic rights enjoyed by Kuwaiti citizens as the country needed to isolate them from the rest of the society. The Iran–Iraq War threatened Kuwait's internal stability and the country feared the ambiguous status of the Bidoon which provides a human pool for Iraqi refugees, draft dodgers and infiltrators to blend in after getting rid of their identity papers.[11] In 1985, the then emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah escaped an assassination attempt. Later that same year, the government changed the Bidoon's status from that of legal residents without nationality to illegal residents.[11]

There are 110,729 officially registered Bidoon in Kuwait. According to the Kuwaiti government, only 34,000 Bidoon are eligible for Kuwaiti citizenship and the remaining Bidoon are expected to be Iraqis and Saudis.[12]


Kuwait recognizes the Bidoon as illegal residents.[3] Human rights organizations have criticized Kuwait for its handling of the issue. Many Bidoon do not have birth certificates and driving licenses. In March 2011, the Kuwaiti government announced a set of "eleven Bidoon rights".[citation needed]

In June 2011, the Kuwaiti government, in coordination with the Zakat house, launched a scholarship fund to support Bidoon students. The Bidoon currently account for 40% of the Kuwaiti Army.[13]

There are 110,729 documented Bidoon. Documented Bidoon are at risk of persecution or breach of human rights.[14][14]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

According to Article 17 of the United Arab Emirates Citizenship and Passport Law of Year 1972, any individual who resided in the Trucial States prior to 1925 is eligible to obtain the UAE citizenship.[15] Many stateless who have lived in the UAE have failed to obtain Emirati passports, either because they failed to demonstrate that they lived in the region prior to 1925, their roots cannot be traced back to the tribal region, or because they have arrived to the region after 1925. These people are generally considered immigrants from Baloch or Iranian origin by the Emirati community.

Although they are not considered Emirati citizens, their status and residence in UAE is legalized. Stateless who do not hold any passport are offered the Comorian passport for free through a citizenship by investment deal worth million of dollars with the government of Comoros and enjoy certain citizenship privileges such as free education and access to free healthcare in the UAE.[16][17] Only 15% of the total population in UAE is considered Emirati citizens and enjoy the full privileges of citizenship due to the majority of the population being expatriates.[18]


  1. ^
  2. ^ World Migration 2005 Costs and Benefits of International Migration. International Organization for Migration. 2005. p. 53. 
  3. ^ a b c "BBC Talk Show about Bedoon (29:07)" (in Arabic). 
  4. ^ "الكويت : 4600 من "البدون" أظهروا جوازات سفرهم السعودية" (in Arabic). 
  5. ^ 6,131 illegal residents adjusted status through mid-July 2014
  6. ^ Technologies, Mano. "Kuwait Local | Kuwait Assembly Passes Law To Accept Bedoons In Army". Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 7. 
  8. ^ a b "Country Information and Guidance Kuwaiti Bidoon" (PDF). pp. 26 & 32. 
  9. ^ "Government of United Kingdom" (PDF). p. 4. 
  10. ^ "Stateless Bedoons Are Shut Out of Kuwait". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  11. ^ a b "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 8. 
  12. ^ "صالح الفضالة رئيس جهاز معالجة البدون: لدينا وثائق عن 67ألف يدعون أنهم بدون وهذه بعض الوثائق" (in Arabic). 
  13. ^ "Challenges of Security in Kuwait" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 2. 
  15. ^ "UAE Citizenship and Passport Law of Year 1972, Article 17". Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Citizenship hope for UAE stateless". Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  18. ^ "The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen" by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Buchbesprechung von Richard Bellamy in: New York Times, 11.1.2016.