27 03, 2019

Visiting The Kuwait National Library

2019-03-28T07:58:31+03:00Mar 27, 2019|23 Comments

Around 4 years ago I passed by The Kuwait National Library. The library wasn’t officially open then but I had a meeting with the team there and before my meeting started, I wandered around a bit and explored what I thought were all the English books they had in this very small section near the meeting room. I wasn’t that impressed.

Since then I’ve been meaning to drop by again but never did, partially because I wasn’t impressed the first time but also because their opening hours are terrible, 9AM to 1PM during weekdays.. basically when everyone is at work. But, I did manage to finally drop by the library this morning and I’ve changed my mind, I now love the place.

The national library is spread out over three floors not including the ground floor. I’m sure the way the books were divided kinda made sense, but I was just wandering around exploring and randomly looking for English books. So this is the thing I didn’t realize the first time I was there, there isn’t just one section where all the English books are located. Instead, the library is divided into different areas like Encyclopedias or books about Kuwait etc.., and in each of these areas you’ll find an English books corner.

There were a handful of people in the library when I was there (because everyone has a day job obviously), so I was able to just walk around the different floors and sections, randomly exploring without disturbing anyone. I’m not sure I managed to see all the areas but even if I did, I really do have to go back and spend a lot more time there.

My favorite sections were probably the books on Kuwait section as well as the newspaper archives section. If you check my instagram story I shared some videos of that section. The newspaper archive section had these massive books of different Kuwaiti newspapers from the 60s, 70s, 80s etc.. and you just flip through them, every page of the book is a page from a newspaper. They’re so good and there were so many of them so I really want to go back and flip through more of those books.

There was also this very cool section with shelves that opened and moved with a touch of a button, there was a section where employees were busy digitizing books using these super cool laser scanners (pictured above), and there was even a rare books section.

I really love old books, especially ones related to Kuwait so I really did enjoy just sitting on the floor and flipping through random books. You can’t take the books out of the library, but that’s really not an issue for me and if anything, I prefer it since the books will always be there to check.

Their opening hours are terrible and that really is my biggest issue with the place. I really want you all to pass by and check the library out, but I also know that the majority of you have jobs and aren’t going to want to take a day off just to explore a library. But if you can, then they’re open from Sunday to Thursday, 9AM to 1PM. The library is located right next to the Sadu House and the National Museum [Google Maps]. Everyone can access the library, and it’s free. You just need to give them your Civil ID card at the door.

If you follow me on instagram (@mark248am) then check out my story today, I’ll also have it as a highlight for a few days in case you read this post late.

The National Library of Kuwait’s website is nlk.gov.kw

25 11, 2018

Kuwait Books Ban Overturned

2018-11-25T10:42:57+03:00Nov 25, 2018|22 Comments

Over 4,300 books have been banned so far in Kuwait since 2014 with 700 of them being banned just this year alone. Random books like the Little Mermaid were banned as well as books written by local authors. The book bans were so absurd that New York Times last month published an article about it which you can read [Here]

Over the weekend, local designer Mohammad Sharaf installed a book graveyard next to Kuwait’s Annual Book Fair to protest the banning of the books. The book graveyard got removed by the authorities quickly but the pictures went viral sparking a conversation on the subject again.

Now Alqabas newspaper is reporting that the appeals court have overturned the Ministry of Information’s book ban stating we live in a different time where the world is a much more open place. This is obviously great news so I really hope its true. I’m hoping this ruling could possibly encourage someone to open up a large bookstore in Kuwait. The book fair was incredibly packed when I visited it with people buying books so there definitely is a market.

18 11, 2018

Kuwait’s 43rd International Book Fair

2018-11-18T09:47:25+03:00Nov 18, 2018|19 Comments

bookfair

The 43rd International Book Fair launched last week during the big storm and is going to be on until the 24th of this month at the Mishref Fairgrounds. I dropped by on Friday and it was extremely packed, like I’ve never seen the fairgrounds that packed in my life.

This is the largest book fair that takes place in Kuwait and its spread out across three halls. Around three aisles in one of the halls are dedicated to just English books but the rest is all in Arabic. For more information on the fair, click [Here]

2 10, 2018

From Orwell to ‘Little Mermaid,’ Kuwait Steps Up Book Banning

2018-10-02T12:14:32+03:00Oct 2, 2018|36 Comments

Yesterday the New York Times published an article relating to Kuwait, but like most of the times we make the news, it wasn’t for a good thing. The New York Times had an article on the increase of book bannings that have gotten so extreme, we’re actually banning books that are not banned in Saudi Arabia. If that’s not absurd I don’t know what is.

Some of the books that were banned were written by local authors, so it’s not just foreign books that are being affected by this recent banning. Over 4,300 books have been banned so far since 2014 with 700 of them being banned just this year alone. Check out the New York Times article with more details on this [Here]

7 02, 2018

Sharks & Rays of the Arabian/Persian Gulf

2018-02-07T09:03:05+03:00Feb 7, 2018|2 Comments

A couple of months back I attended a “Marine Mammals of Kuwait” seminar which focused mostly on dolphins and whales. It was kinda upsetting because it turns out we don’t have that much data on the whales and dolphins located in our waters. We don’t even have a proper database that archives sightings and we have too many local organizations that don’t seem to work or share data together. I actually had a huge rant I wrote right after attending the seminar but decided against posting it because I’m trying not to let shit like this get to me.

Sharks & Rays of the Arabian/Persian Gulf is a book I found out about after attending the seminar. I was sharing my frustration with a friend of mine and she told me about a Kuwaiti biologist who had a deep interest in sharks, so much so that she published this book that documents the sharks and rays in our waters. The book was only available on Amazon or The Palms dive center, so I didn’t end up picking it up until a few days ago when I found out that the book was now available at the Scientific Center gift shop.

The book costs KD10 with 60% of the income going to support sharks and rays research around the Arabian Peninsula. So if you care just a little bit, then you should really pick up a copy of this book.

19 11, 2017

English Books at the International Book Fair

2017-11-19T11:06:04+03:00Nov 19, 2017|6 Comments

In case you weren’t aware, there are English books being sold at the International Book Fair that’s taking place at the fairgrounds. If you visit hall 6 there are two aisles dedicated to just English books. I passed by over the weekend and picked up some beautifully illustrated English books myself: I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat and We Found A Hat. They cost KD4 each on Amazon but they were being sold for KD3 each at the fair. So pass by the if you’re looking for English books.

For more information on the fair including the timings, click [Here]

15 11, 2017

Kuwait’s 42nd International Book Fair

2017-11-15T16:30:07+03:00Nov 15, 2017|5 Comments

bookfair

The 42nd International Book Fair starts today at the Kuwait International Fairground. This is the largest book fair that takes place in Kuwait and is spread out across three halls. The book fair will be there for the next 10 days so if you’re interested in checking it out and need more details, click [Here]

30 10, 2017

Join a Book Club

2017-10-30T09:47:59+03:00Oct 30, 2017|2 Comments

The local blog Black Coffee has compiled a list of local Arabic and English book clubs. According to their post, there are 16 Arabic book clubs and only 3 English ones which are Book Therapy, Q8 Readers and The Divan. That discrepancy might explain why we don’t have a large English bookshop, just not enough English readers compared to Arabic ones. If you know of any more let me know in the comments.

For the full list of book clubs click [Here]