Kuwait was never a colony and the Kuwaitis have always been free to manage their affairs among themselves as they see fit and develop their unique cultural characteristics in their own way. The Kuwaiti of the pre-oil era survived, in the harshness of the desert or sea, through a mix of finely honed skills and highly developed social organization based on family, can and tribe, which provided the economic and political support necessary for survival. In return for this support, the individual gave unquestioning service and loyalty to his group. This gave rise to clan –based networks, which are still extremely strong and provide the basis of social relations between Kuwaitis today.
The Kuwaiti child was taught from an early age to serve and protect older family members and also, to ensure cooperation between clans, not to embarrass the family, The degree, which a young Kuwaiti was successful in learning his role was reflected in the amount of (face), he earned. The concept of face has the same meaning as respect and reputation in the west, except the face has intensity about it that is almost inconceivable to a westerner. But face accrues not only to the individual but also to the group, and a youth is considered mature once he view personal success as being synonymous with the success of the family or group.
Face is expressed through hospitality, generosity and loyalty to family or particular group. A Kuwaiti spends his life building his personal and social face and the sense of face lies behind many social behaviors in Kuwait.
The dewaniyah or parlour has existed in Kuwait since time immemorial. The term originally referred to the section of a Bedouin tent where the menfolk and their visitors sat apart from the family. In the old city of Kuwait it was the reception area where a man resaved his business colleagues and male guests. Today the term refers both to a reception hall and the gathering held in it, and visiting or hosting a Diwaniyah is an in dispensable feature of a Kuwaiti man’s social life.
As a social event, adiwaniyah takes place in special room or annex, which is usually, separate from the rest of man’s house. Only men are present and they sit around on soft benches or cushion, conversing casually, smoking, nibbling snacks and relaxing the evening, The host’s job is to be hospitable and entertain his guests, and the reputation of a man Diwaniyah is one of the prime ways in which he achieve’s face.
There are also more formal Diwaniyah, which specialize in particular interests, such as politics or science.