Kuwait has been and still is playing a key role in bolstering Arab cultural awareness and identity and striving to give Arabs access to both culture and knowledge as it seeks to help protect their unique societies' arts and traditions.
This view was expressed by a host of men of letters and intellectuals here Tuesday night taking part in a seminar of the 33th Aseela International Cultural Festival. The seminar was themed "Kuwait: half a century of Arab cultural contributions". The participants were Kuwait, Moroccan, Arab, and foreign guests of the festival.
The seminar was in two sessions, one in the morning and another in the evening, both headed by Mohammad Al-Rumaihi along with Aseela forum foundation chairman Mohamed ben Isa.
Editor in Chief of Al-Arabi magazine, a Kuwaiti publication most coveted across the Arab world, Dr. Sulaiman Al-Askari said that "While we should recognize the anthropological, cultural, and historical differences among us Arabs, we must embrace and stress what we share and what binds us together against geographic division." He stressed the magazine's endeavors to encourage dialogue between Arabs of the east and those in the Arab Maghreb through holding an annual seminar. He also pointed out the compilation of a 400-page book of the magazine's surveys and articles dealing with and shedding light on Moroccan cities and culture.
He then pointed out the Kuwaiti Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs' endeavor to compile and publish the Islamic Fiqh Encyclopedia which gathers and draws comparisons among the views of different scholars on specific religious issues, a most valuable reference and resource Arabs as well as Muslims.
The National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters also prides itself on the array of its publications in all fields of knowledge and culture that meet the needs of the Arab readers and whets their appetite for more, he said.
Then there came the gem of the Arab Institute in Paris. A mere suggestion was presented by the French president 30 years ago to establish a center to help with cultural interaction between the two countries. This prompted late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to establish this landmark institute, which Kuwait still supports with millions of euro.
Kuwaiti media figure and former information minister Mohammad Al-Sanousi for his part stressed the state's realization of the strong impact media has to bring our views closer together. This was the driving force behind open and, on many occasions courageous, media bodies and endeavors in Kuwait.
He stressed those in the field must do a lot more to help Arabs embrace their shared identity and overcome what divides them. He recalled instances from his own experience of great media work and approach, giving the example of a daring face-off between supporters and opposers of the nationalization of the Kuwaiti oil sector back in 1972. This kind of transparency was a precedent for Arab media.
Mohammad Al-Khamis University's former dean of the faculty of humanities Dr. Ekdal Said Al-Alawi for his part noted the excellence of Kuwaiti publications, focusing on "Alam Al-Marifa" in particular which educated and enthralled many generations of Arabs.
Kuwait University former professor Mohammad Hassan Abdullah for his part noted that Kuwait had hosted and helped form the opinions and ideas of such Arab figures as the students of Mohammad Abdo, Jamaluddeen Al-Afghani, Rifaah Al-Tahtawi, and many more, and served as the starting point for the enlightenment movement in the Gulf region.
The seminar coincides with several exhibitions and activities shedding light on Kuwaiti cultural and other contributions held under the auspices of the Moroccan King. Kuwait is the country guest of honor of this year's Aseela Festival.
The sideline activities include crafts and folklore exhibitions, a photos exhibition on relations and exchanged visits, as well as an exhibition of contemporary Kuwaiti artistic creations. There is also an evening of Kuwaiti popular music with leading artists taking part.(end) adt.wsa KUNA 061052 Jul 11NNNN