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Art Events Mags & Books People

BTS: The Largest Sand Sculpture Festival Ever

Ten years ago, Kuwait held the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, the Remal International Festival (@remalfest). The festival took place at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds and covered an area equivalent to six football fields. Now a decade later, Damon Langlois, the creative director behind the project is releasing a book called “Stories in Sand” that documents his experience.

Damon was a five-time world champion and Guinness World Record holder for the tallest sand castle before getting hired to come to Kuwait and lead the project that would be based around the Arabian Nights. He spent over seven months researching and designing the scenes before bringing together 72 of the world’s best sand artists to reimagine the stories from 1001 Nights.

The sculpture park was constructed out of only sand and water, it was a major artistic feat, and extremely risky. The artists were all reminded of this when the park was destroyed by a devastating three-day storm halfway through the build. At the time, it was the worst storm to hit Kuwait in over 50 years.

I remember reading that “some” sculptures had been damaged, but now I realized how bad it really was. The destruction caused Damon and his team to feel defeated after all the hard work had been washed away. But, they were able to recover and complete the project, and the park eventually opened in January 2014 before closing 4 months later in April.

Damon’s book “Stories in Sand”, is part art and part storybook. The initial print run is set at only 260 books and contains 276 pages filled with behind the scenes and final creation photos and stories. There are limited copies of the book so if you want one you need to act fast. I’m assuming they will get sold out quickly after this post which is why I already ordered my copy. The book doesn’t ship to Kuwait directly so I had to put my Shop&Ship address instead.

If you want to pre-order a copy, here is the link to the Kickstarter.

For my old posts on the Remal Festival, click here.

Categories
Interesting Mags & Books

The Story of Takween Bookshop

I just read a nice little article by Bothayna Al-Essa on her story of how she opened Tawkeen Bookshop. It was a pretty entertaining read and she basically explains how things first started, and some of the struggles she had.

If you’re looking for something to read, check it out.

Categories
Mags & Books

Benny’s Books Monthly Book Subscriptions

Benny’s Books is a new business that’s opening its door tomorrow (April 23rd) on World Book Day. Their mission is to provide children aged 0-12 with access to curated books that ignite their imaginations and inspire a lifelong love for reading.

I posted about another book box subscription service a few years ago but that business isn’t around anymore. Benny’s Books is a similar concept where for a monthly fee they’ll mail you curated books of their choosing every month. Their prices will start as low as KD9.6 per month and that includes the shipping cost.

The baby book club includes 3 engaging books featuring cuddly characters and vibrant illustrations designed to stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage an early love for books right from the start.

If you’re interested in signing up for finding out more, check out their instagram account @bennysbookskw

Categories
Mags & Books People

Kuwaiti Author Featured on Andy Cohen’s Show

Dalal Khajah is a Kuwaiti author and the Co-Founder of Manservants, a US-based company that allows women to order chivalrous gentlemen for launch events, red carpets, or just for a girls’ night out.

The company started off as a joke that Dalal and her colleague took too far, but then it went viral and took off to become a serious and successful business that now serves Palm Springs, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York. Each ManServant is trained in their signature service, which includes, but is not limited to, pouring drinks, serving compliments and adoration, taking photos, and waiting on the women hand and foot.

ManServant Guide to Modern Chivalry” is a book that was born out of the business. It’s a book that details how men should treat women in the 21st century from doing laundry, carrying shopping bags, cleaning the bathroom, or watching the kids.

The book has just been released and is already garnering media attention, including Dalal being invited onto the show “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” a few days ago. If Andy looks familiar, it’s because he also hosts “The Real Housewives.”

I downloaded the book on my Kindle and it’s fun little book thats not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s also reasonably priced, at just $10.99 for the Kindle version and $20 for the hardcover.

If you want to buy the book or just find out more about Dalal and Manservants, head over to @manservants_co or their website manservants.co

Categories
Mags & Books

Hunting for Rare Books in Sulaibiya

I found out about Nawaf (@bo7mood58) through a friend of mine a few years ago. Nawaf has a warehouse filled with boxes of old books and magazines which he’s acquired over the years from various sources and he sells them on his instagram account. But, a few of times a year, Nawaf also opens up his warehouse for people to visit in person.

This year, Nawaf is opening his warehouse daily for the whole month of February.

I’ve been to a few of those open days over the years and I’ve always left with lots of great books. It’s a very chill atmosphere, the books are laid out on the floor and you just sift through them one by one. Once the piles start to decrease, Nawaf brings out another box of books, so every time you visit you’ll find a different bunch of books. You can also find old newspapers, and every now and then, boxes of VHS tapes or records.

Majority of the stuff is in Arabic, but there are plenty of old English books and magazines as well.

The hospitality is great, Nawaf usually has a box of disposable gloves for you to wear (highly recommended since most of the books are dusty), as well as water and sweets. He’s really nice and friendly, and he doesn’t try and price gouge you or anything either.

Here is a pro tip, once you get there, put on disposable gloves, grab an empty carton and a stool if one is free, and move them around with you from pile to pile as you search for books. When you find an item you like, put it in your empty carton. Once you’re done searching for the day, take your carton to Nawaf and he’ll price the items for you. You can pay by cash or payment link.

If you want to visit the warehouse, it’s going to be open daily in February from 4PM to 10PM. Location of the warehouse is in Sulaibiya, Block 6, for the exact Google Maps location, here is the link.

Categories
Mags & Books

Kuwait International Book Fair Starts Today

The 46th book fair started today at the Kuwait International Fairground and will continue until December 2nd. The fair is located in halls 5, 6, and 7 but most of the English books are located in the last two lanes of hall 6.

For me the star of the fair has to be the new book published by Maraya Publishing in collaboration with Cinescape and titled “Screens & Memories Since 1954”. The big book with nearly 450 pages covers the history of cinema in Kuwait and is filled with photos, posters, information and an unlimited pool of nostalgia. The book is in English and Arabic and costs only 15KD which is really a steal for what you’re getting. Maraya Publishing are also located in hall 6, in wing #72 and the guys manning the booth are super friendly and knowledgable.

The timings of the book fair is as follows:

Daily: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Friday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

@kifexpo

Categories
Mags & Books

New Book: ABC’s of Kuwait

“ABC’s of Kuwait” is a new alphabetical rhyming book about Kuwait which I picked up before my vacation at the Ecru Pop Up. It’s written by Bibi Salem Al-Sabah and illustrated by Nada Dalloul and it’s a book for both children and adults alike. Every spread is a different letter with multiple words and tidbits relating to Kuwait.

If you’re interested to pick up a copy the price is KD8 and the book is available online here but also at @cycokw @little_bees_books @lildreamerskw

Categories
50s to 90s Mags & Books

Ian Fleming Hunting in Kuwait – 1960

In 1960, Ian Fleming the British writer best known for his James Bond series of spy novels was invited to Kuwait by the Kuwait Oil Company. He was commissioned to write a book on Kuwait which he did and called “State of Excitement: Impressions of Kuwait”. However, the Kuwaiti government disapproved of the final manuscript, which they found condescending, and the book was never published.

There are two known copies of the book, one at the Lilly Library in the Indiana University, and another carbon copy sold at auction in 1997 to a private collector. I was given a photocopy of the book last year after trying to get access to one for nearly 5 years. Even though I never have the time or patience to read a book, I made sure I read this one because I knew how lucky I was to get a copy. As difficult it was getting a copy of the book, it was as difficult trying to find any photos of Fleming’s visit. Like the book, they seemed not to have existed, until now.

The photo on top is of Ian Fleming in Kuwait in 1960 on a hunting trip. I got the photo from the British novelist Louise Burfitt-Dons who recently published a book called “Our Man in Kuwait“, a fiction spy thriller based on true events from 1960.

Chapter 13 in Flemming’s book is called “Hunting the Hubarra” in which he discusses a hunting trip he went on in the Kuwaiti desert. Louise’s father, Ian Byres is the one who arranged that trip and took the picture above. In the photo is Ian Fleming on the left, John Collins on the far right who was the public relations officer at KOC, and I believe the person in the middle is a Kuwaiti called Khalid based on what I read in the chapter. Fleming didn’t enjoy the hunting trip, they weren’t able to catch a hubarra (a kind of bird) and blamed it on overhunting in Kuwait. He found the trip a total waste of his precious time and the chapter ends with him going off on a tangent criticizing Lebanon for over 2 pages.

I obviously can’t make copies of the book or upload it online, but I have shared the contents page above you can get an idea of what the book contains.

Categories
Mags & Books

Jarir at The Avenues is Now Open and it’s Huge

Jarir at The Avenues opened a couple of days ago and it’s wayyyy larger than I expected it to be. Because the main entrance is where Johnny Rockets used to be I assumed they might have taken over just that space. Instead, it turns out they’ve actually taken that whole wing of Avenues from where Johnny Rockets used to be, all the way back to where Nando’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill were located.

It’s huge!

Categories
Mags & Books

Kuwait International Book Fair #1

The poster below is of the first-ever Kuwait International Book Fair that was held 47 years ago in Kuwait back in November of 1975 (source). The current book fair taking place at the Fair Grounds is #45 and I passed by it last week to check it out.

This year the event looks a lot better than before since the standard booths seem nicer, or maybe they’ve changed the carpet but either way, it just looks visually better overall. There are English books but not many and isolated to a small corner in one of the halls. It’s still worth passing by and checking out especially since it’s going on for another 6 days. For timings and more info check out my previous post here.

Categories
Mags & Books

Kuwait International Book Fair Starts Today

The 45th book fair started today at the Kuwait International Fairground and will continue until November 26th. The fair is located in halls 5, 6, 7 and 7B and the timings are as follows:

Daily: 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Friday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Categories
Events Mags & Books

Kuwait International Book Fair is Coming Back

After taking a break for a couple of years because of covid, the Kuwait International Book Fair is going to take place again this month.

The 45th book fair will be taking place at the Kuwait International Fairground from November 16th to the 26th in halls 5, 6, 7 and 7B. Link

Categories
Mags & Books

The New CAP Bookshop

The CAP Bookshop which carries books by publishers Assouline, Phaidon, Taschen, and Thames & Hudson has moved locations for the third time. Back in 2021, they moved to a larger location next to the CAP gallery in Shuwaikh and now they’ve moved once again, this time to the ground floor next to the main entrance.

I think their new location is the best one so far since it looks great but also feels cozier than the last one. If you’ve never been to the bookshop before, they mostly carry books related to architecture, art, design, fashion, photography, culture, and travel. They also have really great kids’ books mostly by the publisher Phaidon

If you want to pass by and check the bookshop out, here is the location.

Categories
Mags & Books

10 Years, 10 Books: The Changes to the Landscape of Kuwaiti Literature in English

Arablit, the magazine of Arabic literature in translation published an article yesterday on how the Kuwaiti English literature landscape has changed in the past 10 years. Accompanying the article, Arablit also shared a list of 10 important Kuwaiti novels (in English) from the last 10 years which included:

    Taleb Alrefai’s The Mariner, translated by Russell Harris (2020)

If you want check out the article and the full list of books in detail, here is the link.

If you want to buy any of the books, the links above lead straight to Amazon although most of the books are also available locally.

Thanks Zaydoun

Categories
50s to 90s Mags & Books

Al-Manara Bookshop

While prepping for my previous post on Pinot, I was going through some old emails and found one where he sent me photos of the old Al-Manara Bookshop that was located in Salmiya next to The Video Club.

Al-Manara was a fairly popular bookstore but there aren’t any photos of it available online. It’s one of those places you never thought about photographing and eventually it’s gone. The photos were taken on March 28, 2008 with a Nikon Coolpix P1.

via Pinot