Traveling To Kuwait? Get Ready For A DNA Test!

Filed Under: Travel

Different countries have different immigration procedures. Some countries make you pay cash for a visa on arrival. Some fingerprint you. Some question the hell out of you.

And then there’s Kuwait, which will soon require everyone in the country (including visitors) to undergo a DNA test.

Per the Kuwait Times, the new DNA testing will go into law this year, and is intended to create an integrated security database. The government claims it won’t include genealogical implications or affect personal freedoms and privacy, but rather will just be used for criminal security purposes.

Kuwait Airways 747 at London Heathrow

The DNA tests will be conducted through specimen samples, either through saliva or a few drops of blood:

DNA tests will be done through specimens taken from individuals to match their DNA in paternity cases or as suspects in criminal cases. Specimens are often taken from saliva or through a few drops of blood placed on special cards. Specimens are then tested in labs according to international scientific and technical methods using special DNA examination equipment.

This will be required for visitors as well, with a DNA testing facility at the airport:

From Visitors: Collection will be done at a special center at Kuwait International Airport, where in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Department, airlines and embassies, visitors will be advised on their rights and duties towards the DNA law.

Yes, the test will be mandatory for visitors. As the executors are responsible to collect and examine samples, we will notify relevant authorities about whoever refuses to give a sample so that they could apply the measures stipulated in the law. We will also coordinate with various airlines and foreign embassies in Kuwait so that all visitors can have a good idea about the law and the possible consequences of rejecting its procedures.

The government insists that the DNA tests will only target non-encrypted genes which aren’t affected by disease, and the law bans access to any medical information, since it would violate individuals’ privacy.

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Bottom line

While I enjoy watching the results of DNA tests on TV…

DNA-Test-1 DNA-Test-2

…I’d rather not be subjected to one when visiting a country. I get what they’re trying to do with protecting their country, but this might just be one step too far for visitors.

I still want to review Kuwait Airways, though that really only requires connecting in Kuwait, which wouldn’t subject one to the test.

While I doubt Kuwait is at the top of most peoples’ travel bucket list, would a DNA test at immigration impact your willingness to travel somewhere? 

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. I absolutely just crossed Kuwait off any potential travel list. I understand security, but I refuse to undergo a DNA test to visit a country. Far too many ways that information could be misused or leaked.

  2. I think this goes too far for me. I probably would not visit Kuwait for this reason alone. It’s not high on my to-do list anyway, but it is unlikely to stay on the list at all unless I am not understanding this entirely.

  3. Lucky, will this affect transit passengers who come from the US to travel to the Indian subcontinent but connect through Kuwait.

    Another ME country off my list.

  4. I refuse to be fingerprinted when I transit through the US. They’ll only get my DNA covertly.

  5. This test is ridiculous, and it’s in the name of “security”. It isn’t all that far-fetched, tho, since other countries, including the USA, have everyone’s finger print information and/or iris scans. This is probably the wave of the future. The question is, would it upset people AS MUCH if a country like the US or the UK enforced it first?

    Therein lies the bigotry.

  6. I’ll never live, work, visit, travel through their country, of fly their national carrier if they enact this.

    Total boycott.

  7. Have zero desire to get DNA tested for an entry requirement into a country. Won’t ever be visiting Kuwait, not that it was high on my to do list of countries to visit anyways.

  8. What is funny is that they say Privacy is really important and this is proven by Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the new law. However: revealing someones DNA is punishable by a maximum of three years in prison (Article 9), Article 10 of the law also states that “Individuals forging DNA documents or knowingly using fake ones will be punished by a maximum of seven years in prison and article 11 of the law states that “ individuals who damage the DNA database will be punished by a minimum of three and a maximum of 10 years in prison”. So in theory if you cause damage to the system you are subject to a sentence more than 3 times the length of sentence you would get if you leaked someone’s DNA.

  9. “The question is, would it upset people AS MUCH if a country like the US or the UK enforced it first?

    Therein lies the bigotry.”

    – big·ot·ry
    noun: bigotry; plural noun: bigotries
    intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.

    Since the USA and UK are doing it as well (in a different form), how can it be bigotry? Clearly we as a society and government accept these methods of gathering information, so we don’t hold different opinions from Kuwait at all in this case. In this sense, bigotry is an incorrect term to use.
    As for the “different form” I reference above, the USA uses fingerprints, not DNA. There is a lot less information in fingerprint information than genetic, ethnic, and medical information stored in DNA. If a fingerprint is an ATM card, useless without knowing what bank it goes to and the pin number, then DNA is not only the ATM card, but the keys to the vault, the pin codes, all transactional history, the addresses and social security numbers of the beneficiaries, and all the rest of it. I see no reason any government, including my own, need that information. But since Kuwait wants to play that game of DNA data bank, lets imagine if the USA did it. How many terrorists would be immediately known the names, lineage, citizenship, and family members within minutes, how could this information be used to track down people who attacked our own? How many victims in plane crashes, suicide bombings, and the like be identified quickly and easily? How many people would stop overstaying their visas, immigrating illegally to the USA and committing crimes? I can guarantee one thing, the world would be a lot more docile and safe if that information was readily available, but that information would also cost freedom, people could use it to exterminate entire nationalities, ethnicities, hell, obsolete as they are, kill off entire royal lines so there is absolutely no way a kingdom could ever regain power. Its a double edged sword, one Id rather not exist, like nuclear warfare, than be used to protect the planet. The consequences of this information being in ANYONES hands other than our own is too great a cost to bear.

  10. Nope, not comfortable. I wasn’t planning on going to Kuwait, but this would definitely be a problem for me. And this is coming from someone who took a DNA test for fun.

  11. I’m seated right now at Kuwait airport waiting from over 1 hour to get the visa and still another hour to go at least, most horrible and disorganized airport, feels like a 4th world country (if exists)
    I can’t imagine how long it will take if they start DNA test, you may have to sleep at the airport

  12. @William Diaz Hey Willima, I also have a dictionary entry for you:

    Pronunciation: /ˈnətjäb/
    (also nut job)

    A crazy or foolish person.

    PS: One might actually take your point more serious, if you would work on your presentation.

  13. Wired UK ran a feature on DNA hacking as the main story back in June 2013. Even then, they were predicting that DNA could be synthesised from samples taken of saliva on discarded coffee cups or hairs and then used to incriminate someone at a crime scene. With the advancements in technology since, I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with a (necessarily fallible by nature) computer database of our most unique identifiers.

  14. Meh, if people think the NSA isn’t already collecting DNA samples, they are delusional. Kuwait is simply being upfront about it, rather than systematically lying to their citizens…as does the USA…

    That said, have zero desire to visit Kuwait…

  15. Laws? I see what you guys using that word are doing. Laws only apply if the King wants them to, and if there’s no law, well, we will make one up. I used “we” here in the royal sense, not the multiple personality disorder “we,” preferred by psychotics and politicians worldwide.

    Kuwait? We should have let Saddam keep it.

  16. Yikes…

    I don’t like this at all.

    Kuwait isn’t high on my list to visit but they are totally off of my list now. My concern is, will other counties follow Kuwait?

  17. @losingtrader

    Kuwait is one of the freest countries in the middle east, and the freest in the Arab world.
    Per Wikipedia,
    Kuwait is among the Middle East’s freest countries in civil liberties and political rights. Freedom House rates the country as “Partly Free” in the Freedom in the World survey. Kuwait is the only Gulf state that is ranked “partly free”.

    The system of governance that exists in other gulf countries doesn’t exist in Kuwait.

    As for the DNA Test, I find it absurd, for citizens, residents and especially visitors. . I heard that it will be challenged in the courts over there on the grounds that it is against their constitution.

  18. For those who think this has to do with “finding Jews”, I’m sure the Kuwaitis can’t be that stupid. I mean, I guess it’s possible.

    But Jews and Arabs are Semitic peoples. If they’re trying to find Jews based upon DNA, they’re goooonnna have a bad time.

  19. Having been to Kuwait, I think the difficult part is going to be what form and how logistically they take a DNA sample. Right now, when you enter Kuwait, you have a line to wait in for a visa. You make your way to a desk area, hand your passport over, and wait until the immigration officials are done with it. You pay their fee, and off you go. If the airport is busy, this can be a long process – even if you are fast tracked. I cant imagine how long the lines will be when they add the DNA component. While I respect the right of every nation to secure their borders, this seems to be to be a bit over the top. If I had to go for work, I’d go, but I wouldnt go on my own until the system has had some time in place.

  20. I always think that US asking for fingerprints of all foreign visitors is a bit too far. In Kuwait at least I can spit…

  21. Lol at the all the people saying “I will never visit it now!” or “It wasn’t at the top of my list but I’ll certainly not visit it now!”. Y’all were never going to visit there anyway unless you had accepted a job there, so stop acting like this is something you were going to remove from your bucket list.

    At the end of the day, it’s basically the UAE and Bahrain without booze and Oman without the more authentic culture. It’s airline, which used to be industry leading, has practically fallen behind all it’s other Gulf Arab neighbors (even Bahrain’s Gulf Air offers a superior product). Really, there is no reason to visit, and no reason to puff up your chest and act all high and mighty about not visiting either.

  22. This is a slippery slope. First the US started asking for fingerprints and iris scans. Now Kuwait is asking for DNA scans. Israel interviews you on your entire work history including work product normally under NDA. Soon countries will be asking people to share data on their phones (on the pretext of preventing child pornography) at entry. Others will start making you sign a waiver that it is legal for the govt to snoop on all your internet activities. Others will make you sign waivers that you will pay for any emergency medical services you use during your stay if the need can be tied back to a genetic tendency in your DNA. Others will ask you to implant a tracker chip in your arm for the length of the stay(to track visa overstayers). Where will it end? Will people just stop travelling and use the internet for all work. Here too the internet is no longer uniform. It has broken down into national walled gardens so soon we will be back in a 19th century world where people are no longer citizens of the world and are under the control of their govts.

  23. I had to give a DNA sample BEFORE I went to Kuwait, but then again I wasn’t exactly flying there commercial. Enjoyed seeing some very nice cars in the mall parking lot. Otherwise spent my time surrounded by sand.

  24. @Bob

    Were you camped out in the desert? Kuwait has shopping malls (yes, more than one), restaurants, sky scrapers, a corniche, international hotel chains, beach front resorts, water parks…it’s built up as just about any other major area in the GCC is just as urban.

  25. @Aaron he means for Desert Storm there wasnt much left after Saddam. I would not go there either. This is about finding out who is Jewish

  26. @Rand

    Um, while Saddam and co. did quite a bit of damage to the country before they left in 1991, they didn’t exactly raze it to the ground after the occupation. Even then there were many built up areas to the country. And how do you know he is referring to Desert Storm to begin with?

    And on what are you basing the theory that this is about finding out who is Jewish? Are they going to stop well known Bahraini Jews from entering the country?

  27. This is being challenged in the constitutional court now. A lot of people are not only concerned about privacy but how much it will cost to implement. For people, who say it’s because they want to know if a person is jewish or not, is absolutely wrong. They don’t really care if you are jewish or not. Plus, most things in Kuwait take a long time to process and implement. I hope the constitutional court would rule against it and stop this law.

  28. This law is being implemented to find, and stop, illegal immigrants. People from neighbouring countries bring in their nephews or other family members and register them as their children. Just so that person can benefit from both countries.

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