The Kuwaiti press, which is characterised by relative independence and openness, holds a special position on the Arab media scene due to widespread private ownership of the papers in the country. Some of the Kuwaiti press houses have become large informational and commercial establishments, in which newspaper publishing is just one of several business activities.
The Kuwaiti press also has an important position among its Arab peers since it raises controversial issues relating to other countries in the region, such as terrorism, tensions among the Arab states and corruption scandals, which the press of these countries has difficulties raising.
However, the Kuwaiti press is facing some major challenges, which could jeopardize its achievements. The Kuwaiti parliament passed a new press law in 2006, which provides for imprisonment for one year in addition to fines in cases of blasphemy pertaining to "God, the Prophets, his household, the wives of the Prophet, or the basis of the Islamic faith"; in cases of offences that amount to a call for toppling the regime by force or "illegitimate means". The law carries penalties reaching life sentence and in the case of insulting the Emir of Kuwait, it states that the court may impose a fine ranging between $17,000 - $70,000 US$, but no imprisonment.
Did you know?
The first newspaper to appear in Kuwait was the monthly Kuwait in 1928. Already in 1958 Kuwait had a newspaper specialised in news relating to the oil industry, called the Oil Newsletter.
A widely distributed pro-government newspaper. Al Anbaa delivers an uncritical coverage of local news and an extensive supplement on business and sport. It has some well-respected columnists such as Salah Al Sayer.
Language: Arabic Established: 1971 Published daily
The leading independent, liberal newspaper in Kuwait, which has become increasingly critical of the government. Besides news coverage on regional political issues of special interests for the Kuwaiti readers – in particular Iraq, Lebanon and Iran – Al Qabas hosts some of the most respected columnists in Kuwait, such as Abdel Latif Al-Duaaij and Dr Ahmad Bishara.
Language: Arabic Established: 1969 Published daily
The editorial line of the independent, liberal Al Rai Al Aam often backs up the government. Besides a good coverage of local news, it delivers extensive coverage of the Kuwaiti financial market and hosts respected columnists such as Dr Sajed Al-Abdali.
Language: Arabic Established: 1965 Published daily
An independent, strongly liberal newspaper, with close ties to both the ruling family and Saudi Arabia. Its editor-in-chief Ahmad Jarallah, who received a letter bomb in 2004, on a regular basis writes painfully straightforward front-page editorials backing the West, bashing the Islamists and attacking Iran. Al Seyassah is distributed in many Arab countries, such as Lebanon and Egypt, where Kuwaitis spend their holidays.
Language: Arabic Established: 1974 Published daily
A conservative newspaper with close ties to the ruling family. Besides the extensive coverage of the activities of the monarchy and the government, Al Watan opens its pages to some influential columnists such as Dr Isam Al-Fulaij, a leading Islamist.
Language: English Established: 1961 Published daily
The oldest English-language newspaper in the Gulf, Kuwait Times delivers an all-round news coverage of both local and international issues and varied opinion pages, which makes it one of the few English-language newspapers in the Arab world that is not only to be read by a narrow readership of expatriates, foreign press and diplomats. Kuwait Times publishes 16 special pages for the expatriate community: eight in Malayalam and eight in Urdu. The paper hosts some of Kuwait’s very respected columnists, such as Dr Sami Al Rabaa.