In fact Kuwait ranks as the top Arab country in the HDI (Human Development Index). Unlike its "Big Brother", Kuwait is categorized as a developed country and also has the highest literacy rate of the Arab world.
Here's some things that work in Kuwait but Saudi lacks altogether or drags way behind in:
What it ultimately comes down to in my opinion is the amount of rights these two countries give their women. A country is as strong as its women are.
Women contributing to society is behind Kuwaits success and advancement.
By allowing women to live with equal human rights in society the country has prospered after the devastating incidents of the Gulf war.
Some recent advancements in women's rights in Kuwait:
Women can have their own passport without approval from husband which remains only a dream to Saudi women due to the
Women are allowed to vote and in 2009 four were elected to parliament. There are female ministers in Kuwait, but there is one as deputy minister in KSA too.
In both countries education of women is seen as important and they make up 70 % of the university students, yet Kuwait is the one enabling the women to use their knowledge for the benefit of society. The employment rates for women are 42.5% vs 14.5%. Saudi women tend to find jobs mainly as teachers, of other women, so benefiting the society as a whole and being seen working in public is very rare in KSA. In Kuwait, women are visible in public and working in various places in society.
What is the factor that enables Kuwait to take these major steps, yet Saudi always seems to need "babysteps" for any kind of progress? The answer can't be just the size differences. Kuwait has transformed itself from a bomb stricken land fill to a flourishing and modern Arab country proud of its heritage.
Saudi-Arabia could definitely take some lessons from its Little Brother!