Bidoon (social class)

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


Kuwait considers the Bedoon illegal immigrants.[2] The Kuwaiti government believes the Bedoon are foreign nationals from neighboring countries.[2] Although many Bedoon are genuinely stateless, there is no evidence that some Bedoon are foreign nationals hiding their true nationalities. Kuwait recently discovered the true nationalities of 6,000 Bedoon, most of whom were Saudi citizens.[3][4]


The Bedoon are categorized into three groups.[5] 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.[5] 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.[6][7][8] The Kuwaiti government preferred to register these people as "Bedoon" rather than to reveal the politically-sensitive recruitment policy in the armed forces and police.[5] At the time, the Bedoon status conferred many economic benefits.[6][5] The third group is composed of children of Kuwaiti women married to Bedoon men.[5]

In 1985, the Bedoon 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 Bedoon which provides a human pool for Iraqi refugees, draft dodgers and infiltrators to blend after getting rid of their identity papers.[9] In 1985, the then emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah escaped an assassination attempt. Later that same year, the government changed the Bedoon's status from that of legal residents without nationality to illegal residents.[9]

There are 110,729 officially registered Bedoon in Kuwait. According to the Kuwaiti government, only 34,000 Bedoon are eligible for Kuwaiti citizenship and the remaining Bedoon are expected Iraqis and Saudis.[10]


Kuwait recognizes the Bedoon as illegal residents.[2] Human rights organizations have criticized Kuwait for its handling of the issue. Many Bedoon 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 Bedoon students. The Bedoon currently account for 40% of the Kuwaiti Army.[11]

There are 110,729 documented Bedoon. Documented Bedoon are at risk of persecution or breach of human rights;[12] undocumented Bedoon are.[12]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

Only 15% of the population in UAE enjoy the privileges of citizens.[13] According to the UAE government, there are 10,000 Bedoon in the UAE. Exact numbers of the Bedoon in the UAE are not known and range from 10,000 to 100,000.[14]


  1. ^ World Migration 2005 Costs and Benefits of International Migration. International Organization for Migration. 2005. p. 53.
  2. ^ a b c "BBC Talk Show about Bedoon (29:07)" (in Arabic).
  3. ^ "الكويت : 4600 من "البدون" أظهروا جوازات سفرهم السعودية" (in Arabic).
  4. ^ 6,131 illegal residents adjusted status through mid-July 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 7.
  6. ^ a b "Country Information and Guidance Kuwaiti You Bidoon" (PDF). pp. 26 & 32.
  7. ^ "Government of United Kingdom" (PDF). p. 4.
  8. ^ "Stateless Bedoons Are Shut Out of Kuwait". The Christian Science Monitor.
  9. ^ a b "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 8.
  10. ^ "صالح الفضالة رئيس جهاز معالجة البدون: لدينا وثائق عن 67ألف يدعون أنهم بدون وهذه بعض الوثائق" (in Arabic).
  11. ^ "Challenges of Security in Kuwait" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "United Kingdom Government - Bedoon" (PDF). p. 2.
  13. ^ „The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen,“ by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Buchbesprechung von Richard Bellamy in: New York Times, 11.1.2016.
  14. ^ UAE turns to deportation to silence regime's critics