Kuwait to test tourists’ DNA before letting them in

Post by Mark

Kuwait is taking homeland security to new heights — or, as some see it — new lows.

Later this year, the Persian Gulf nation will require its citizens, temporary residents and tourists to submit DNA samples to a $400 million security database.

Kuwait’s National Assembly passed the law in July, a month after an ISIS suicide bomber killed 27 people and injured 227 in the country’s capital.
“We are prepared to approve anything needed to boost security measures in the country,” Jamal al-Omar, a parliament member, told Agence France-Presse.

The government will collect saliva and blood samples from anyone living there. Tourists will have to submit their own samples before entering the country.

Disobeying the law will cost you. Those who refuse to provide samples can face up to a year in jail and a $33,000 fine; falsifying DNA samples will result in seven years behind bars.

While the Kuwait’s department of criminal evidence insists that the database won’t affect personal freedoms, the law has sparked outrage. Some travelers tweeted that they won’t be returning to the country anytime soon. [Source]

This is going to be great for the local tourism industry.

Update: Newsweek has also posted about this [Here]

Visitors to Kuwait will also have to provide DNA samples to the government. When arriving by plane, visitors will stop at a center at Kuwait International Airport to have their DNA sample taken. Bruce Schneier, a prominent American privacy and cybersecurity specialist, says that the collection will likely be a standard cheek swab.

For citizens, the Kuwaiti government will have mobile centers to collect samples. Anyone faking the DNA samples faces up to a maximum seven years in prison.

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95 comments, add your own...

  1. bask says:

    It won’t happen. Even if all the MPs approve it doesn’t make it legal. We are not living in some jungle. Western embassies will be the first to oppose its citizens to comply, then it will be followed by international media and communities lobbying against it. I wouldn’t trust 1st world countries in having my DNA sample, so imagine Kuwait!!!

    • Aussie says:

      “We’re not living in some jungle”

      Are you sure mate ? because you’ve added later “1st world country specially Kuwait”, and have you seen how people drive ?

      Have you seen any country where people pay bills according to their citizenship ?

      Well.. Think twice

  2. S says:

    How is this productive?

  3. Riba says:

    What tourism industry?

  4. A Gitey says:

    Lol. I like your sarcasm

  5. Syed says:

    What is the problem if they take DNA sample???

  6. AR says:

    What is the big deal giving a cotton bud saliva swab when walking into immigration ?
    It should only take a few seconds if they have a process in place…

    • Mark says:

      you think the issue here is that this process takes time? the issue is about privacy not time!

    • bask says:

      Imagine a rookie or messed up government official uses your DNA as evidence?! Imagine a breach in the facility? Who will control what? Do u trust governments in General, so imagine an Arab state in hold of such thing….thats a recipe for a disaster.

      • Yousiif says:

        True that is all relevant however how could DNA testing be miss used in-correctly? I have no idea, just wanting to know.

        • aaa says:

          Well the main thing I can think of is parentage. Like having 2 people with mismatched DNA who are supposed to be related then making that knowledge public to shame them. Another one could be falsified evidence since now they have everyone’s DNA on record and now suddenly your dna was rubbed off a swab and discovered on some crime scene.

  7. Sakar says:

    Currently they are taking finger prints, what difference will this make in terms of Privacy.

  8. ManoftheMoment says:

    Please let’s not have the discussion along the lines of ‘If you haven’t done anything, you have nothing to worry about’. You do have something to worry about. Privacy is a very hot button issue. So if you don’t understand why people are up in arms try Googling Snowden.

  9. lolguy says:

    The issue will arise once they start using these for paternity tests. What if paternity is proved? Will they start granting citizenship?

    What if it turns out someone does not really belog to the family they claim they belong to? Will citizenship be revoked?

    It’s a whole Pandora’s box waiting to be opened.

  10. bojaij says:

    The law will be enforced exclusively on Kuwaitis. The government is issuing a more secure passport for the citizens and they claim that need the DNA info to store it on the passport chip. This will – hopefully – allow the EU to drop the Schengen visa requirement for Kuwaitis and makes it easier to travel through electronic entry gates. I have not heard anything about this law being applied on non-Kuwaitis, residents or tourists.

  11. FromBahrainToKuwait says:

    Ridiculous as expected! Just shows the glaring non-coordination between different entities, and ad-hoc rule creation.

    Who is the “advisor” to the Govt here for such stupid laws? Don’t they do a fact-checking or comparison to best practices in other countries? That’s what you should be doing if you have an incompetent lawmaking team – learn from others who have done it successfully.

    • dxb says:

      You’re being ridiculous. This isn’t your country. You’re a guest in this country. Show some respect to the government that allowed you to enter this country and work here.

      • aaa says:

        Well this is my country and this is a stupid law *goes on strike for a week and gets paid 1000 KD to sit in starbucks*

      • Ed says:

        Why don’t you show some respect to this guy and allow him to express his opinion?

        Is it so ridiculous that he wants Kuwait to learn from developed nations and improve?

        • dxb says:

          It’s disrespectful when you’re a foreign worker in someone else’s country, yet have the nerve to bash the government and locals. That’s basic decency especially in the Arab world, we have a saying about this “ياغريب كون اديب”

          • Mark says:

            You’re actually being disrespectful here not him. He’s not a slave, he has a right for an opinion even if it is different than yours.

          • KK says:

            Basic decency in Kuwait? Do you even know what decency is?

            Foreign workers are now not allowed to vocally oppose any government initiatives if they’re not from that country?

            You ever heard of freedom of speech? Or does that only apply to Kuwaitis in Kuwait?

      • djeli says:

        piss off. if we are born and raised here or even lived most of our lives here – then it our country and i know a good chunk of kuwaitis who would consider me so.

        whether the govt and you agree of disagree – i couldnt give a shit about.

    • Sulaiman-COOKIEEEEEE says:

      How about u talk to us about the crap laws being passed on ur side of the world? Like banning acohol which is a PRIME income to the Bahrain economy, we all know Kuwaitis and Saudis go to Bahrain (5alna sakteen a7san 3an al balawi al thaniyah). So habibi keep ur nose out of other country’s business.

  12. adly says:

    Guys,this is from the NY Post, one of the most unreliable sources of information in the world. This will NEVER pass or be implemented in a million years. It was probably a proposal by one guy in parliament or on a talk show, and got picked up by one of the news wires and the rest is history…..

  13. Whatprivacy says:

    What privacy are you talking about, this is done for security measures. You should be more worried about your emails and photos online that co’s have access to ! Not ur DNA, it’s pathetic that you’re worried.

  14. 69 says:

    I bet they were waiting for a ‘boogie monster’ to pull off an attack (suicide bombing) like this so they could take away our privacy. They’ve always wanted this but couldn’t justify it.

  15. Yousef says:

    Once again, what a stupid, invasive, and impractical law to put in place. This is an extreme breach of privacy, and has several severe consequences if put in place. Collecting everyone’s information and storing it digitally in one place is never a good idea; especially at a time when the Panama Papers leak and San Bernardino shooter issue have shown us the downfall, or importance, of cyber security.

    To help explain, let’s look at two scenarios that could occur if this law were to be enacted. Let’s say there two individuals: Al and John. John has been digging up dirt on the government/powerful company’s shady dealings and he needs to be “dealt with” before the people really see what’s going on. Al is a criminal, whose DNA was recently identified at a crime scene. Because they have both these individual’s DNA on record, the government could theoretically swap the names on the two DNA records, making it seem John’s DNA was the one found at the crime scene, and frame him for that crime and take him to jail – effectively “shutting him up”.

    Now let’s assume the government is less sinister, and does not use the information in this way.. very possible as well. DNA records can show lineage and ancestry information of each individual. Now say an extremist group has an agenda against people with a certain background and believe they shouldn’t even be alive, or that they need to “pay” for something that happened thousands of years ago. The extremists manage to hack the system giving them the information of every person currently in the country. With that information they can go around killing these people, because they’ll have their names, addresses, phone numbers… pretty much everything they need to track them down.

    Obviously these are extreme examples, but everything in between is also possible. When thinking about a law like this all possibilities need to be evaluated because these examples will seem “unlikely” until they happen, and that’ll be too late.

    The US and UK have a similar programs in place used to aid forensic science; however, the DNA records they have are of convicted criminals, suspects, and volunteers – which makes sense, as volunteers can do what they want, and criminals forfeit their civil liberties once they break the law. To put it into perspective, the US has a population of about 300 million people, and only 15 million people have registered DNA records – just 5% of all the people there!

    There’s a reason Kuwait is the first country to put forth a law like this, and it’s because the law doesn’t make sense! The government needs to stop treating everyone here like criminals. If this does in fact go through, we’re one step away from having cameras and microphones installed in all houses under the guise of “security”.

  16. Husain says:

    Im sure this law was drafted after consulting geneticists and security experts in a public forum about the ethicacy of the protocol. Right?

    • bask says:

      Oh certainly! Actually they have enough data and scientific reasoning that the CIA and Secretary of State in the US are holding a world congress in Kuwait trying to acquire the learning and take it be to North America and the Europe. Kuwait is starting a global phenomena and who knows, maybe instead of aiming to become a food capital they could become the word geneticists security capital! :) Seriously!

  17. Peace be Upon U says:

    The bottom has fallen out of Brent crude and it won’t be rising anytime soon. Isn’t
    this truly bordering on a foolish extravagance, far more than even the megalomaniac designs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
    Oil at $100 or even $80 a barrel makes sense to have but not like this.

  18. JandH says:

    LOL. Time to leave this dump.

  19. Essam says:

    I don’t agree at all with this law being implemented (both for residents and tourists), but I have a feeling that it will never be, as this seems to me to be a typical governmental spur-of-the-moment thing and they will revoke/forget it in a matter of weeks.

    • inzain says:

      They said the database would cost $400 million and I don’t know if that includes other costs like collecting it. Doesn’t seem like something they just forget about. Unless because it costs too much then great.

      • Essam says:

        What I meant was that they would forget to implement it in the first place, like countless of other laws that were supposed to be put into effect but were somehow forgotten.

  20. Wozza says:

    I really don’t understand all the fuss.

    As a foreign worker I already have to submit to a medical which includes a blood test and x-ray to get a work visa here. They take my fingerprints every time I leave the country. What difference does it make if they also take my DNA?

    It’s not worth anything.

    If someone could explain I might change my mind.

    • Dun says:

      How much more explanation do you need? And who cares if you are convinced?

      • Wozza says:

        I haven’t seen any credible explanations yet, just people spouting knee jerk reactions and going on about their right to privacy and worrying about some mythical agency using their DNA against them like we are characters in a movie.

        Get with the real world. Most countries have security services that can access your emails, mobile phones and basically track your location and know everything they want to know about you. If someone really wanted to cause you problems there are a lot of other sources of information already on-line that could be used against you much more effectively than your DNA.

        Even without the database you could be framed for a crime by putting your DNA at the crime scene. It won’t make any difference either way.

        Privacy! Anyone who uses a smart phone, especially any cloud services, gave up their right to privacy a long time ago. Your DNA should be the least of your worries.

  21. بنت الديره says:

    If taking a cheek swab is an invasion of privacy.. Why isnt everyone complaining about the security cameras in every street in London? Its okay for the british government to make sure their country is safe by tracking you every where you go, but not the Kuwaiti government? Thats as much as a security measure as the DNA testing. If Kuwait did the same thing and had security cameras in every corner, everyone would jump and cry about their “privacy”. Its sad how there are always people ready to complain whenever something that will only benefit the society is being introduced. حلال على الاجانب، حرام علينا! This DNA collection idea will help solve crimes, determine inheritence (a problem Kuwait has in the past due to forging names or children born to another father), help discover people who got their citizenship illegaly or have 2 (Mojdawajeen)

    How is taking a cheek swab any different than taking your blood type info or fingerprints?

    I personally believe if you have nothing to hide, theres nothing to worry about.

    National security is more important than anyones fear of having their lineage or whatever they want hidden revealed.

    Why worry about the minority that will be safe and unprosecuted without the DNA collection, and think about how this will benefit and protect millions.

    • Mark says:

      You shot yourself in the foot by comparing security footage with DNA. Now everyone knows how naive and uninformed your are. Great job 👌🏻

      • Ismail says:

        Mark instead of insulting the man for having an opinion, explain why you think it will be an invasion of privacy. You proceed to call everyone who disagrees with you as naive, but you don’t actually provide valid points. So why do you think its an invasion of privacy?

        • Mark says:

          Hey I didn’t insult anyone, I was just stating a fact. If a guy has blue eyes I’m not gonna say he has brown eyes. The guy is naive because he’s uninformed and I told him that. I didn’t call anyone naive because they disagreed with me or because they had a different opinion.

          Then just because you don’t read the comments doesn’t mean that I haven’t been providing valid points. This is the third time I post about this subject, check the previous two posts if you want my view in case what me and the other readers here have written isn’t enough. Then if you don’t believe us you could always use google.

          But better yet, just ask yourself, if capturing and storing everyone’s DNA is not a big deal, then why are human rights organizations and the west making a big deal out of this?

        • An educated bystander says:

          Mark, you should understand that taking DNA could benefit the public in ways you don’t understand. And if you believe no good could come from it, that means one of two things, 1- you have facts prove your point. Or it just means you believe the Kuwaiti gov will cause harm because “كلمن يرة الناس أب عين طبعة”. One cannot speak of invasion of privacy without having basic freedoms, and one of those freedoms is freedom of expression, by disagreeing with this women you have proved you don’t respect other people basic right and opinions. Once you learn how to respect other, you should think of educating yourself in this matter. And FYI, if the scary government was out of get you, wouldn’t they already have gotten your fingerprints all over a crime scene? Next time do us all a favor and educate yourself on this topic or just understand there are two sides to every argument.

          • Mark says:

            You’re wrong though, when you disagree with someone it doesn’t mean you’re encroaching on their freedom to express. I’m not stopping anyone from expressing themselves and I also have the right to disagree with people.

            • Stan says:

              Storage of DNA is not an invasion of privacy because if it was, then what stops you from submitting your fingerprints for the visa.. The world has a database of you with your passport and your fingerprints along with it. In the end, its for identifying the perpetraitor and bringing him/her to justice. Nothing to do with privacy mate

            • adly says:

              I disagree with the fact that he disagrees with what you disagreed about ;)

    • aaa says:

      “I personally believe if you have nothing to hide, theres nothing to worry about.”

      Do you close the door when you go to the bathroom?

      If you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t close the door to the bathroom.

  22. dezrtninja says:

    this would be such a huge mess. “they” can barely handle routine govt. processes on a daily basis. can you imagine when they have hundreds/thousands/millions of samples to take/process/store/organize. dna processing is not like on CSI tv shows, it takes time and precision, both things that we are not good at. they would be so far behind on processing samples that it will be broken before it has a chance to work.

    and dna does contain a lot of private information that could be misused if someone wanted to.

  23. RT says:

    Let them start with writing correct names in english on civil ids…

  24. yousef says:

    for people who live in Kuwait, i think its a good idea to take. but for tourists that doesn’t have any criminal background no.

  25. RFLP says:

    Handling of tourist samples is fraught with uncertainties since contam of DNA samples is always a worry and unless KWI international moves to a Chek Lap Kok its own there is no use pursuing it in the chabra market of an airport it currently operates from.

  26. dfine says:

    I say get over it!!!
    sooner rather than later we will all have a microchip and we will be treated and handled like cattle, how else can you control and “protect” 7.1 Billion people….

  27. Anon says:

    Kuwait has always been a funny blend of everything:

    the past along with the future,

    institutionalized human rights abuses along with admirable national generosity,

    wisdom along with well-intended foolishness.

    Yup, nothing’s changed since the 60s. :)

  28. Matt says:

    If it weren’t considered an invasion of privacy, most governments wouldn’t require a warrant to obtain it. Then again, most countries have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly etc etc. Just another day in Kuwait. I do concede, however, that they can enact whatever bizarre legislation they want.

  29. بن نحيت says:

    Someone is being naughty lately and afraid to get caught, save yourself the hassle..wear a condom


  30. I am not going to give my opinion on wether I agree with this or not since I am not a citizen. If I don’t like it I can always leave. That said, I believe that countries like the US, UK and Russia will more than likely let Kuwait be the guinea pig for this and then follow suit after words. While the US does not have an “official” dna database it would not be to surprising if they have an unofficial one. During the Watergate scandal it was found that Nixon was recording citizens illegally. Still, i think that in the end the Kuwaiti MPs will fight the DNA database once people start losing their citizenship due to what some of the DNA results will show.

  31. YAL77 says:

    like any other law being imposed by authorities yet not much to do… then thy say we respect ppl .. yeah right

  32. hamad says:

    the problem here isn’t about is it right or wrong.. as i am kuwaiti i dont trust the government, they can play with it according to their need as they do with citizenship lately..

    most of people here doesn’t understand whats DNA and what they can do with it and what information can get from it.
    if they approve this law.. i am sure we will hear many divorce and maybe even killing cases soon.

  33. Matt says:

    Judging from from my own personal observations, they may find that a majority of the people here have 47 chromosomes. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing.

  34. M says:

    In my opinion I think this is international politics seeping its way into our country. As someone else put it in the comments above, Kuwait will be a guinea pig in this matter.

    Due to human error, a lot of mistakes can happen at a DNA database. So if the database is used for security/criminal reasons, false matches are inevitable due to the sheer size of the proposed database. This would be problematic in the case of incomplete DNA evidence at a crime scene and false matches between people, especially relatives. No to mention human “error” in the lab and at court.

    What is also worrying, is that samples will be stored. Misuse of smaples is a huge issue, considering Kuwait’s geopolitical location and the threats that face the country.

    According to the law that has pssed in this regard, they will be using International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Why don’t they apply ISO to our current ministries’ structure, observe the results and then consider this 400 million dollar investment?

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode their rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which those changes can be reversed.” by Unknown

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