Q8Sultana's Blog...

Generally I can be found roaming somewhere in the world. I'm originally from Hungary, I grew up in Kuwait, I did my BA in the States, my MA in the UK, and now work in Hungary, but still return to Kuwait regularly :o)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trees

One thing I find extremely beautiful in England is nature. I guess one advantage of the continuous rain is that everything is so vibrantly green, and wonderful. I especially like trees here. There's many kinds I've never even seen before and they are extremely tall. Trees here seem to grow much taller than in Hungary, not to mention Kuwait :o)

Anyway, here's some pictures of trees and clouds and the sky :o)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Kuwait is the Al Sabah and the Al Sabah is Kuwait."

-Rosemarie Said Zahlan: The Making of the Modern Gulf States. Page 95

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Opinions?

Bedouins

I came accross a wonderful descriptions of bedouins in one of my readings. It describes how they used to live and their values and their image of themselves:

It is simplistic to translate the term ‘badu’ as pastoral nomads because the word involved something more than animal-herding and nomadism. Although nomadism was an essential component of the notion of badu, it was not the determining factor which allowed a group to be so classified. It can be argued that within the context of Arabia, all animal-herders were badu, but not all badu were pastoral nomads. This was true of the nineteenth century and it is still valid in the twentieth century.
Being sedentarized (meaning to have moved to a city/town) does not necessarily mean the loss of badu identity and values.
The term badu referred to a cultural category which included both the pastoral and the sedentarized nomads. Both shared a set of images of themselves with regard to their tribal origin, values, attributes and qualities. The badu often had elaborate genealogies defining their ancestors and lines of descent which they located in a distant past. These genealogies were ideologies of descent invoked to justify their high status arising from their links with ancient Arab tribes. They emphasized their asil (nobility) and the purity of their origin uncontaminated by contacts and marriages with outsiders. In their oral poetry, they had images of themselves as pure Arabs of traceable and unmixed origins, an asset which guaranteed superiority vis-à-vis other groups.
In addition, the badu held a set of values regarding the ideal life-style. They despised occupational specialization and regarded activities other than animal-herding and raids as humiliating and dishonourable. They regarded farmers and artisans as humble, subservient, and weak. The true badu was someone who was able to enhance his ascribed status, i.e. his nobility, by achieving a set of valued attributes. To have asil without these achieved attributes would immediately place individuals and groups outside the badu category.
The badu valued their independence and despised submission to higher authority. Although they recognized the authority of their own sheikhs, they did not perceive it as oppressing, binding, or requiring total submission.
Other aspects of badu values included those relating to hospitality, defending the weak, and eloquence. The badu thought of themselves as generous and capable of providing hospitality – to the extent of sacrificing their only animals to honour a guest. Also, they asserted that a generous badu could be identified by the smoke coming out of his tent as a result of continuous food preparations for his guests. He would always help the poor and provide for them and extend his protection to all those asking for it. The badu believed themselves to be the speakers of pure language which was not contaminated by contact with foreigners and non-Arabs. They believed that eloquence was reflected in their ability to compose qasaid (oral poetry) in which their memories, deeds, and battles were preserved. These were the self-images held by the badu.
Within the category of badu, further internal distinctions can be observed. There were those asil badu (noble), a group consisting of the camel-herders. Their nobility of origin, coupled with the military superiority which their camels guaranteed in raids and tribal battles, granted them the highest position in the statues hierarchy.

The sheep- and goat-herders were also badu, but from a group inferior to the asil badu as they lacked the means to demonstrate their military supremacy in the desert.
The distinction within the badu groups depended little on material wealth and much more on non-material assets and attributes. This was clear in the marriage patterns of the asil badu. It was always more honourable to marry off one’s daughter to a poor, but asil badu, rather than to give a girl in marriage to a wealthy sheep-herder or a prosperous merchant or farmer from the towns and oases. It was also preferable for someone to marry a badu woman of the same group or compatible groups with whom equality of origin and status could be guaranteed.

At the bottom of the badu society were the Sulab – often hunters of gazelles and ostriches and believed to have no known tribal origin. They never participated in raids and tribal wars. Their property and belongings were not considered to be worth plundering by the strong camel-herding tribes as this would not constitute an activity which would honour those who engaged in it. The Sulab were also guides and travel companions. They were known for their gentle manners and their women were reputed to be the prettiest in the whole desert.


Madawi Al-Rasheed: Politics in an Arabian Oasis. Pages 118-121.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Things to show your visitors in Kuwait

Here's a list of places that might be of interest to newcomers and visitors to Kuwait:

1. Kuwait Towerz
2. Liberation Tower (only open during the indenpendence day/liberation dayholiday in February)
3. Parliament (http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/08/day-24.html)
4. Grand Mosque
5. National Museum/Sadu house
6. Liberation Museum(http://www.miskan.com/2005/07/memorial-museum.html#comments)
7. Tareq Rajab Museum(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-favoritemuseum-in-kuwait.html)
8. Pearling ship museum (in SAS hotel)
9. Qurain House
10. Dickson House (Opposit the Fish market next to Souq Shark)
11. Aquarium/Scientific Center (shark feeding: Monday 6pm or 7pm - it's inthe What's On section of the Arab Times)
12. Failaka Island
13. Arab Fund Building(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-favoriteoffice-building-in-kuwait.html)
14. Entertainment City(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/08/entertainment-cityyipppppy.html)
15. Red Fort(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-favoritefort-in-kuwait.html)
16. Stock Exchange(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/08/room-full-of-screaming-sweaty-men-all.html)
17. Mirror house(http://q8sultana.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-favoritehouse-in-kuwait.html)
18. Souq Mubaraqiya in Kuwait City
19. Friday Market
20. KOC Museum - Ahmadi
21. Museum of Modern Art
22. The scientific museum
23. Camel race
24. Camel-farm

Did I miss anything?

While surely none of the museums can be compared to lets say the British Museum or the Louvre, they are still nice, and so far none of the visitors we had in Kuwait complained of being bored.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ramadan Greetings

Every year I make a point to send all my Muslim friends an e-card at Ramadan.
It only takes 5 minutes, and I do the same at Christmas and even Diwali (for Hindu friends).

This is the email I got back from one of the recipients of my Ramadan Greetings sent out last week:

one of the primary reason i anxiously await the arrival of ramadan is to hear from u...i can always count on that sweet lil something from u...surprising that i can count on ur ramadan congrats more than most other muslims i know, but it only proves to show the true character of a person. and u r a precious gem! at least to me....

This email has definitely made my day :o) Better yet, my whole month!

I loved Ramadans in Kuwait. I think they're the best part of the year. Even if one is not from a Muslim family, you can totally feel it in the air...
Here in England unfortunately you can't feel anything...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MBC1

A friend of mine is in the Ramadan show on MBC1 entitled صحوة زمن
I'm dying to see an episode, but of course I haven't been able to locate a TV with MBC1 on it.
Does anyone know if it's possible to stream MBC1 on the internet somehow?
I found a bezillion online TV channels, but no MBC1 :o(

My course

So, finally I have a little time today. I'm awful at time management, and the workload for my classes seems like it's going to be so huge that if I waste one day not doing my readings and what not, I will be screwed and will end up having to pull all-nighters already...(this was a description of the past 5 days)

Our MA group is very small, there's only three of us specifically studying Gulf studies. (There's only around 20 people in total doing their masters at the department of Middle East studies).
There's one Italian girl, a Kuwaiti guy and me. Both are very nice. For the Kuwaiti guy, I have to say I've met very few Kuwaitis with such dedication. It only took us a few minutes to come up with a list of people we both know, even though he's somewhat younger than me. Small small Kuwait...
The professors are also excellent, our advisor/coordinator is a Canadian, and he loves to assign us 300 pages to read for each class.

I'm also giving yet another attempt to actually learn Arabic. According to the back of the book, by the time I finish the book, I will reach "the treshold of an advanced level of proficiency" in Arabic. We'll see about that :o)
A little disturbing, the back of the book also says that it will "gradually introduce students to Egyptian Arabic, the most widely spoken dialect in the Arabic-speaking world."
I'm not too keen on sounding like a saeedy (or saeediya?) :o)

A little history lesson

I was reading for one of my classes called "The Making of the Modern Arab Gulf" and I came accross something I haven't heard of before in a chapter describing British Policy in the Gulf.
According to my book, when they were negotiating the borders of Kuwait and Saudi in 1922, Saudi got two-thirds of the territory claimed by Kuwait. Also known as the the Treaty of Uqair. I found a site describing the events surrounding the Treaty here.

Weird coincidence, but Hungary also lost two-thirds of its territory at the Treaty of Trianon, after World War I, in 1920...of course it was a somewhat larger terrotiry than in the case of Kuwait.

This class is looking to be very interesting. For next weekI have to present a reading on Merchant families in Kuwait. I seriously can't wait to get to the library tomorrow to start reading :o)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Please drive on the left :o)



Well, I’ve been offline for quite a while now, first because my boyfriend was visiting Budapest and I only went home to sleep and change clothes, and then because I was without internet since arriving in the UK, for more than 2 weeks now. But finally I’m back in cyberspace…

First of all, Ramadan Kareem to everyone!


Well, my first few days here in the Southwestern part of England were quite hectic. I was supposed to live in one of the university’s accommodations, but the room they allocated for me was so bad, that I even considered leaving all together. Then, hamdulillah, we found a perfect room in a freshly renovated house with its own bathroom, and best of all, its own fireplace. It’s small but really cute. In that other place I would have been too scared to take my shoes off or sleep in that bed, it was so nasty. I lived in several dorms before, but I think I’ve grown out of them and just gotten too comfortable.
The room is in a house that will eventually have 8 people living in it, but so far it’s just 3 Greeks, another Hungarian and me. The other rooms haven’t been let yet.
The best thing is that everything in the house is brand new, and we’re the first tenants.
The town is pretty big, it has quite a long shopping street, and because of the university and another college it’s full of young people. Actually it seems like most houses on my street are also let to students.
Here are some pictures of the house…


…and my room window from the outside…
…and my desk and my computer…
…and the view from my window… Oh, and my fuzzy little roommate Jack. He arrived in a box last week from my boyfriend… :o)