Censorship of books in Kuwait

Posted 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 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

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Fuel Prices will Triple

Posted by Mark


A letter has been circulating via social media purportedly from KNPC on the new pricing for diesel and kerosene. The new prices are nearly double triple the current prices and will go into effect starting from January 1st. The letter does not mention if gasoline prices are going to increase so I guess we’re fine for now.

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Red Bull 5pics Photography Competition

Posted by Mark


Red Bull is holding their 5pics competition for the second year in a row. If you’re a photographer (amateur or professional) and want to participate, all you need to do is register with them and share what Kuwait looks like “through your eyes” by uploading 5 of your best photos.

The prizes are
First Place: MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina Display
Second Place: Fuji Film XM1 + Lens
Third Place: GoPro Hero 4

To participate or get more info about the competition, visit www.redbull.com/5pics. Submission deadline is November 26, 2014.

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LaFerrari in Kuwait

Posted by Mark


A friend spotted the LaFerrari near the Avenues this morning. Only 499 off them were built and each costs around KD500,000 but, since it’s limited, you need to own at least five Ferraris to be even considered by Ferrari to let you buy one.

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Mondays with Matthew: Things that money can’t buy

Posted by Matthew Lodge


Around this time of year, red poppies (red flowers symbolising Remembrance) are worn with pride. They are also seen by some outside the UK as a particularly British tradition. Alongside red London buses, black taxis, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Fish and Chips, they are associated with Britain.

As a newcomer to Kuwait and the Gulf, I have asked myself what comes to mind when I think of the country which is now my home. I think of sand and the desert, of the searing summer heat, and of men in dishdashas. I think of the invasion by Saddam Hussein and more importantly Kuwait’s liberation, and last but not least, I think of oil. Those old, but still dreadful images of fires burning in the desert filling the sky with black smoke, contrasted against modern images of large, shiny and thirsty cars that drive up and down Kuwait’s Gulf road and cost less to fill with petrol than it does to buy my friends a round of cappuccinos.

These are all quick, lazy and superficial stereotypes, but the fact remains that Kuwait, with vast oil reserves that generate enormous sums of money for the country and its people, will continue for the foreseeable future to conjure up images of sand, deserts, oil and money.

In less than 3 months, I have already seen how much more there is here, just as I know the UK is about more than Beefeaters and the Union Jack, but stereotypes persist. On average Kuwaiti visitors to the UK last year spent more than any other nationality. Kuwaiti banks, investment funds and finance houses are amongst the richest in the world. The support that Kuwait gives to individual citizens, whether in free healthcare, educational scholarships, free utilities, subsidised services etc is a source of admiration (and some amazement) for those of us arriving from cash-strapped European economies where public debt remains stubbornly high and sustained economic growth frustratingly elusive.

But it’s not all about money, is it? Easy perhaps for me to say, living in an historic Residence and enjoying the privileges of being an Ambassador. However, as an individual, as a father, as a husband, I know very clearly how it is those things that can’t be bought that matter to me the most. The friendship and trust. That understanding which only develops after time spent together. The sense of a common purpose and shared interest. The desire to do the right thing, not always the easy thing. And the hope and belief that there’s something more we can achieve, something better we can build. I have seen all these things amongst the people I have met here. Young Kuwaitis excited to study abroad. Dedicated activists determined to stand up for the rights of those who might otherwise struggle to be heard. Visionary leaders with exciting and ambitious plans. None of these are easy, and certainly none are quick. All take hard work and investment – not simply of money (although that is often necessary and usually helps), but investment of energy, drive and belief. Personal commitment to get things done and make a difference, not just for you but for those around you. The close UK-Kuwait friendship, built on years of shared experience and understanding, means we can talk about the issues and challenges we all face. The business and economic partnerships are more important than ever, but it is our partnership on those things that money can’t buy that will really make the difference. In your opinion, what is the most important thing that money can’t buy?

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge

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No Time

Posted by Mark


So this is related to my previous. Originally I was planning to take just one workshop at Nuqat and be done by 1PM but halfway through my first workshop I signed up to a second one so now I end up finishing at 6PM instead. Both workshops are pretty fun so far but the most interesting thing is that at least half the people taking them are women who’ve come to Kuwait from either Saudi, Bahrain, UAE or Qatar. The Nuqat event is so good it’s attracting creatives from all over the region.

So bear with me for the next few days until I’m done with my workshops. Until then my posting is going to be very erratic.

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Posting Times

Posted by Mark

Just an FYI, for the next four days I’ll be attending a Nuqat workshop from 9AM to 1PM. That’s usually the time I post on the blog so for the next four days I’ll most likely be posting in the afternoons instead or I’ll have to start preparing my posts the evenings before which I tried doing last night but failed miserably…

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Women of the Resistance

Posted by Mark

This is a Sheila MacVicar ABC News report produced and edited from inside Kuwait City just after the Iraqi forces fled at the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War. The segment was broadcast on World News Tonight March 7, 1991. It features many of the brave women that took on a major role of resisting the occupying Iraqi forces that had taken over the besieged city.

This short report was uploaded a few hours ago on Vimeo and sheds a bit of light on some of the Kuwaiti women resistance during the 1990 Iraqi invasion. [Vimeo]


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Things to do in Kuwait this weekend

Posted by Mark


Lots of things taking place this weekend. My personal picks would be the Nuqat Creative Conference which starts today and continues on through the weekend, the Al Hamra Urban Lounge which is back again this year, there is a Winter Bazaar taking place tomorrow and on Saturday you have the brunch at The Secret Garden which shouldn’t be missed. Check out the full list of events for this weekend below:

Exhibition: Honolulu by Arwa Abouo
Ahmadi Music Group Concert
Nuqat Creative Conference
Al Hamra Tower Urban Lounge
Rooftop Movie: Rosetta

Ahmadi Music Group Concert
Nuqat Creative Conference
Yellow Parade
The English School Winter Bazaar

Nuqat Creative Conference
Kuwait Open Quiz 2014
642 Marathon
Saturday Brunch at The Secret Garden
Freestyle Football Event
Rooftop Movie: Carnage

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]

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Hyena on the 6th Ring Road

Posted by Mark


Yesterday a photo of a hyena walking down the 6th Ring Road near 360 Mall went viral. The hyena had escaped from the home of the owner and was wandering around scared before ending up near the 6th Ring Road.


The Kuwait Zoo and the Ministry of Interior sent a team to search and capture the animal which they ended up doing. The hyena is now at the Kuwait Zoo being taken care of.

via @ayman361

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If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
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