In this article I examine why Kuwait and other migrant-receiving
countries in the Persian Gulf have failed to enfranchise migrant workers and
their descendants through citizenship. I contend that the increasing exclusion of
expatriate workers from these societies can be understood in comparison with the
disenfranchisement of the stateless populations to which these governments are
host. I argue that nationalist narratives that portray these groups as threatening
to the host societies have been extremely significant in creating an atmosphere
of increasing isolation and exclusion for both expatriates and stateless peoples.
I conclude by examining what the Kuwaiti case tells us about how notions of
membership and belonging develop and the significant role of historic and
political circumstances in shaping these notions.