Kuwait’s profound culture and heritage is reflected in its art, literature, music, dance, theatre and films. Some of the distinctive features of Kuwaiti culture come from the Bedouin traditions of the nomads who once inhabited the now rich country. Kuwait was controlled by the British as early as 1899, when the two countries signed a treaty giving the British extensive power over the area in return for protection and an annual subsidy. It wasn't until 1961 that Kuwait finally became independent. The country is the oldest directly elected parliament of the Arab states in the Gulf, although there is not universal suffrage. The government is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the Al-Sabah family.
Kuwaiti literature is based on ancient folklore, and is usually depicted through songs that are sung during public and private occasions. Kuwait has retained a vital music industry, both before the Persian Gulf War and after. Kuwaiti’s music reflects the diverse influences of various peoples on the culture of Kuwait, including East African, Indian, Sri Lankan and Filipino music, highlighting the kingdom’s growing immigrant communities.
Most books on Kuwait focus on the kingdom’s role in the first Persian Gulf War between Iraq and the United States. It was Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait which prompted the American retaliation, and the strategic importance of Kuwait in terms of Middle Eastern geopolitics is debated by various authors. Majid Khadduri’s War in the Gulf, 1990-91 offers a local perspective on the conflict.