Stories by Zain

Post by Mark


Zain have just started an interesting project, they’ve found a creative way of using instagram to tell children stories. Their first story is called Zain and the Stars and you can read it by going to the instagram account @zain_andthestars on you phone. Once you open the account you start reading the story by scrolling down. They’ll be uploading a new story every month under a different account with the hope of having a large library of good Arabic books by the end of the project. Whenever there is a new story they’ll be announcing it on their @zainkuwait account but for now, check out their first one by visiting @zain_andthestars from your phone.

Note: The stories are in Arabic

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List of Banned Books and Audiovisuals in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Late last month I posted about how some schools are banning the book Harry Potter. Well I now have the full list of books banned which I’ve shared below. This list was created by the Ministry and the Foreign Schools Committee. The list below is for 2014-2015, if there are any spelling mistakes I’m sorry but I had to type the list below manually since I only received a print version not a digital one. In brackets I’ve also mentioned who was behind the ban and you’ll notice the schools have banned more books than the Ministry but that could be because they’re following the Ministry’s guidelines. One thing to note is that schools are recommended to follow this list and not obliged to follow it except for the books banned by the Ministry. Check out the full list below:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Ministry of Private Education Guidelines

Post by Mark

Yesterday I posted about how Harry Pottery is now banned in Kuwait and awhile ago a reader emailed me the Ministry of Education’s guidelines for books to be excluded from schools. Check out the list below:


Ministry of Private Education Guidelines

In accordance with the Ministry of Education’s guidelines, please find below a detailed list of the types of books and/or materials to be excluded from the School’s teaching materials and subjects.

This includes but is not limited to classroom libraries, Library collection, textbooks & Scholastic orders.

I. Books with a Religious Domain that:
1. Personify God, messengers, prophets, angles and companions of the messengers
2. Distort the messengers, their families, disciples, and traditions
3. Allege religious mistreatment between Jews, Muslims and Christians
4. Assert religion as an instigator of aggression, terrorism, activism or invasion
5. Show places of worship in an inappropriate way
6. Claim Mohammed as the “founder” of Islam
7. Describe the immigration to Mecca as, “flight” or “escape”
8. Claim Mohammed was the author of the Quran, or calling the Quran the “teachings of Mohammed”
9. Claim that Islam and other religions were spread by force
10. Offend Islamic and other religions’ traditions, the companions, scholars, and laws and legislators
11. Adopt missionary connotations when talking about religions
12. Teach Darwin’s theory of evolution or the “Origins of Species”
13. Exaggerate the differences between religious sects in Islam and other religions
14. Spread information about witchcraft, reincarnation and the transmigration of souls
15. Rephrase the Quran or other religious books by adding verses and/or chapters to it

II. Books with a Political Domain:
1. View the Arab Israeli conflict with bias and/or sympathy towards Israel
2. Focus on Jewish persecution, during the holocaust, excluding the oppression of other races’ by Hitler
3. Falsify and misinterpret the history of Arab countries
4. Denounce the policy of the State of Kuwait and its sovereignty and attack the GCC and Arab states
5. Rename the Arabian Gulf, the Persian Gulf
6. Claim the islands in the Arabian Gulf as Iranian territory
7. Claim Iran has sovereignty over the Kingdom of Bahrain
8. Distort Arab and Muslim history
9. Claim that the Crusades were caused by religious persecution of Muslims and/or Christians
10. Misinterpret Kuwait’s relation with Arab and other countries

III. Books with a Cultural Domain:
1. Show naked or immoral pictures or photos
2. Contradict Islamic law
3. View marriage as solely a sexual relationship instead of a holy union
4. Condone the eating of pigs
5. Condone the consumption of liquor, alcohol, and drugs
6. Divide or split the social unity of society

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Harry Potter Now Banned in Kuwait

Post by Mark


According to a contact of mine at one of the top English schools, their librarian last week received an official letter from the Ministry stating that Harry Potter books are now banned in Kuwait and all copies should be removed from the library. Whats interesting is that previously Harry Potter books were the only magic books that were actually allowed but it looks like that’s no longer the case.

Update: According to a friend who works at the library of a different English school, they weren’t requested to remove Harry Potter from their shelves.

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All Gone Arabia

Post by Mark


A few weeks back I briefly mentioned that I was launching a business soon. Well the business is called supersoulxxx and although I won’t go into details on it in this post, I did want to mention an event we’re hosting in Dubai in a few days.


We’re bringing the creator of the All Gone book to the Middle East for the first time along with limited quantities of his book. All Gone is created and published by Michael Dupouy and is a collection of the finest in street culture ranging from sneakers and apparel to skateboard decks, toys and so on. The book in itself is very limited in number, just like the featured items hence the title ‘All Gone’.

So if you are in Dubai on the 11th of March come by pick up a copy and get it signed by Michael Dupouy.

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The National Library Bookshop

Post by Mark


I hadn’t heard of this bookshop until my friend took me to it recently. It’s supposedly one of the oldest bookshops in Kuwait and it’s called “المكتبة الوطنية” which translates to The National Library. They sell Arabic books and comics, mostly new but they also have a bunch of really old stuff.


While flipping through one of the old comics I found the Hardees advert above. My very first memory of Hardees is that kids meal box, I think I was around 6 years old and I remember getting it from the now demolished Hardees near my house in Salem Mubarek Street.

If you’re interested in checking out this old bookshop it’s located in Souk Mubarkia, here is the location on [Google Maps]

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The story behind Wizr, Kuwait’s Greatest Driver

Post by Mark


Back in October I wrote about Keith Wells, a British journalist who was living in Kuwait back in the 70s. Keith used to work for Arab Times and in his spare time he also used to write books about Kuwait, including a witty series on a character named Wizr who was Kuwait’s greatest driver. Between 1979 and 1984, Keith released three Wizr books which I’m lucky enough to own all three. A few days ago Keith got in touch with me and I asked him if he could tell me how it all started. This is what he shared with me:

I originally wrote the stories for the Arab Times which became very popular. Then I met Peter McMahon at a party, and he hadn’t read any of the stories and asked, “Who is this Wizr character?” “I said, he’s the young, trendy Kuwaiti guy with the scarlet Transam with the eagle decal on the bonnet.’ So Peter picked up a sheet of paper,scribbled away for a minute or two, then held it out and asked “Him?” It was perfect. Thereafter we became close friends. I’d write a story, take it to his flat every Friday, and he’d give me the cartoon from the week before’s story. He somehow drew exactly what I’d imagined. The combination became very popular indeed and after a month or two we were approached by Tony Jashanmal, who owned a department store on Fahed Salem St, and Bashir Khatib, who owned the Kuwait Bookshop to publish a book full of the stories. We had a 3 way partnership to print the book at The Arab Times and Launched it at the British Embassy Garden Fete in November 1979, a week or so before I married Suzi. We sold 428 copies in about two hours… amazing.

We carried on for just over a year, then Peter was murdered by Saddam Hussein’s goons, long sad, sad story… but the upshot was that I sort of lost the fun, we put out the second Wizr book with cartoons we hadn’t used in the first one. And the third book with odd scraps and recycled pics. By then it was getting a bit heavy with the Iran Iraq War getting very dangerous and I left the Arab Times and took a very low profile job teaching at the university of Kuwait. After 4 years there I went back to the paper and wrote more stories with an Indian cartoonist called Edgar, but they were never collected in book form. I left Kuwait in June ’87. We emigrated to Oz in Oct 1989, and the following March I had a massive heart attack in a small town in southern Queensland. After recovering, we spent the rest of our working lives doing PhDs in Communication Studies, and setting up Comm Depts in various universities and colleges in Macau, Singapore, Morocco, The Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

I’ve been a bit of a hermit since retiring in ’07, but am beginning to re-emerge and was very surprised and grateful for the interest in Wizr and Dozi and his pals. Someone told me a few years ago that the fabulous cartoon of Dozi with the two rubber stamps “PERHAPS” and “PERHAPS NOT” is to be found in many offices to this day. Peter would have loved that.

– Keith Wells

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Comedy in Kuwait back in the 50s

Post by Mark


The lovers of humor and comic stuff had the chance in Kuwait back in the fifties to enjoy it through the comic magazine “Al-Fukaha” which means humor in English.

“Al-Fukaha” magazine was released in October 1950, the chief editor was Farhan Rashed Alfarhan and the owner was Abdullah Al-Khaled Al-Hatem.

At first, it was printed in Kuwait. Then, they started printing it in the Syrian capital Damascus and the distribution of this comic magazine was in Kuwait.

“Al-Fukaha” that was released in 1950 continued until 7th February 1951 and then stopped. It was released again on July 20th 1954 but stopped one more time on 24th November 1958.

First time I’m hearing of this. [Link]

Thanks Farran

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Censorship of books in Kuwait

Post by Fajer Ahmed


One of my favorite things to do while growing up in Kuwait was going to the Kuwait International Book Fair. I loved walking through the aisles and aisles of mostly Arabic and some English books while having ice-cream. Since this year’s book fair is opening its doors today (Wednesday the 19th), I thought it would be fit to write about books in Kuwait.

Kuwait was the first Gulf country to hold a book fair with the first being held back in 1975. It was a platform for readers, writers, bookstore owners and publishers to connect with each other directly. Whats sad is that although other Gulf countries only recently started holding book fairs, they have already surpassed Kuwait’s book fairs with their activities and list of international writers and affiliates.

Yes people do read here even though the attention span of an average human being is probably 3 minutes thanks to social media but I am still a strong believer that anyone can get into a book if they chose a book based on their interest. With all of that said, censorship is an issue, its my issue, its your issue, its our issue! Working at q8bookstore with publishers, schools and writers has brought up the subject quite a bit, and although there may be some grounds on why censoring certain books is necessary when it comes to children, the books censored in Kuwait have often if not always not made sense in my humble opinion (I am trying to be diplomatic). Historical atlases of Kuwait and books with hocus pocus and three little pigs for example make it to the list of banned books in schools! Some of Orhan Pamuk, Haruki Murakami and motion picture books (which btw get played in the theaters) also are examples that make it to the list of banned books in bookstores!

Don’t we as citizens have freedom of speech? Shouldn’t we be able read and write what we want? The Kuwaiti constitution mentions in article 36 and 37 the freedom of research, right to publish, conduct research and so on (wont bore you here with tough legal words, that lawyers invented). But seriously who decides whats to be censored and how is it done legally? Well a lot of the information is not available to the general public but with dedicated work, Sout Al Kuwait; a non-profit organization that aims to protect personal freedoms and other constitutional rights have published a booklet on censorship in Kuwait. Here are some interesting points:

– For a local book to be sold in Kuwait it has to go through the Ministry of Information, if there is some doubt on the content of the book, it is transferred to a committee. The committee is supposed to meet once a week but according to Sout Alkuwait when they visited them in April of 2010, they had not met for 3 months and had 120 books pending (surprise, surprise)

– In the 2009 International Book Fair, 25% of the banned books were fiction (get ready for the sad part), 11% poetry and 10% scientific journals

– 24 social organization have signed a petition to review censorship in Kuwait, hopefully this time with avail

Although Mark and I will give you the freedom of speech to post as you wish under here (maybe we can have a religious debate, or lets talk about how mark isn’t Kuwaiti?), either way, I would love to hear about your thoughts and stories on censorship in Kuwait.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

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Wizr, Kuwait’s Greatest Driver

Post by Mark


Back in the 70s there was a British journalist living in Kuwait by the name of Keith Wells. He used to work for the Arab Times and in his spare time he also used to write books about Kuwait, including a witty series on a character named Wizr who was Kuwait’s greatest driver. Between 1979 and 1984, Keith released three Wizr books but sadly there really isn’t a lot of information on them nor Keith online. In fact, there is a blog dedicated to keeping Keith and his Wizr series alive but even the blog doesn’t have much info nor content. The books document life in Kuwait during that period with humor and nicely drawn illustrations.


Since The Kuwait Bookshops is closing this might be your only chance to own one of his Wizr books. In 1984 he released “The Last Wizr Book” and The Kuwait Bookshops in Muthana still has copies of it remaining and they’re selling them cheap for KD1.5 (the bookshop is selling everything for 50% off). The book was his last one on the Wizr since the illustrator he had teamed up with for the previous two books had passed away. I tried to find the other two books online and I managed to snag his second book (pictured above) on eBay for KD7.5 and his first book on the series (pictured below) for KD16. It was more than what I wanted to pay, but I somehow felt compelled to save this part of Kuwait’s history. So try to grab his last book from Muthana if you can.


If anyone has any interesting information related to Keith or his books let me know.

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