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)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Used books shop in Kuwait city

Did anyone know there's a used books bookshop in Kuwait? On Fahad Al Salem street in Kuwait city.

And best of all, they have a website where you can search their book collection and even reserve books you like. You just have to go pick it up within 5 days.

Here's the link to Q8Books.

Has anyone been to the shop?

The site is cute, although it seems somewhat like a hobby rather than a real hardcore business.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Got milk?

I thought they only had this in Tom & Jerry cartoons :o)

Imagine if milk was left out like this in Kuwait, it would turn into Labneh :o)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Water Towers

Back in the day, Fadibou had a post about the blue-white striped water towers that can be seen in various parts of Kuwait:

Well, today in the library I found a book called Kuwait: The Making of a City by Stephen Gardiner, and here's the bit it had about the the blue-white striped towers as well as the Kuwait Towers. Apparently there were 4 sets of the blue-white striped towers complete by 1977, and the Kuwait Towers are the the fifth set of water towers.
Water tower design in Kuwait is unique, revolutionary and more remarkable than any in the world. How did it happen?...
In 1965, the Swedish firm of VBB, headed by the architect, Professor Sune Lindstrom, was called in to provide this complex and ambitious work of engineering and design. By 1977, it was complete, and what we see if it are five groups of marvellous forms, standing about at various strategic points like enormous pieces of city sculptures. Constructed of concrete, coloured, or pure white, or, in the case of the country’s Islamic symbol, the Kuwait Towers, partly decorated, these giants have strong associations with the abstractions of geometry that brought order to the disorder of natural forms…
Together with the Kuwait Towers, the four groups of water towers won the Aga Khan 1980 Awards for excellence in design.
Stephen Gardiner, Kuwait: The Making of a City (p 121-123) (1983)

There's a whole lot more about how Islamic architecture was applied to the towers. What I don't understand is why they call the Kuwait Towers "the country's Islamic symbol."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

One step forward, two steps back...

There's been some coverage in the Kuwaiti newspapers in the past few months of a proposition of forming a national women's football team. Of course it was immediately opposed by Islamist MPs, saying it was against religion, contradicting Kuwaiti social norms and traditions.

Today when I read the following in a book written in 1971, I couldn't help but laugh at the optimism of the time:

It hardly seems credible today that there used to an anti-sports attitude in Kuwait. Moreover, the early Muslim teachers preached against public exposure of shoulders, chest and thighs - which sounded the death knell for sports. In particular, in the old days schoolgirls were never permitted to participate in any form of physical exercise. In the past they were veiled, their bodies enshrouded in black, gruesome cloaks almost before they reached puberty. Today it is common and seemly for schoolgirls to take part in public sports. At the first Arab school sports held in Kuwait, in November 1963, at the Shuwaikh Secondary School Stadium, some 70,000 spectators watched girls from local schools give an impressive gymnastics display....
All this represents an enormous step forward.
John Daniels: Kuwait Journey (1971)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Parachutes

I remember trying to catch these little parachutes when I was a child...

It was quite hard to get one to stay put long enough on a strand of grass...


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Are you superstitious?

I'm reading a really cool book by Haya Al-Mughni called Women in Kuwait: The Politics of Gender. While the book is mostly about the history of feminist organizations in Kuwait, the first two chapters are more of a historical background. I found something very interesting in Chapter 2: The Lives and Experiences of Kuwaiti Women (before oil).
Here's an excerpt:

The Practice of Zar and the Search for an Alternative Source of Power
There is historical evidence that women (in Kuwait) believed in witches and in jinn and practised zar (spiritual possession). They believed that witches could fly at night and many went so far as to claim that they had seen a witch fly. They also believed that jinn hide at night, waiting at every street corner, sometimes taking the form of sheep...
Far from being mere superstition, the practice of zar involves the manipulation of power relations in favour of the powerless. In other words, 'spirit possession is a form of bargaining from a position of weakness'. In her account of Kuwaiti women during the 1930s, Robertson reports:
Some women are astute enough to profit by the belief in demons. They tell their husbands or friends that the devil which possess them wants a silk garment (thob), or a sheep or something of the kind, and because of the superstitious fear of such spirits, the women generally receive whatever they demand.
Hence, through the intermediary of spirits, women were able to make demands in men which might otherwise be denied. Such an astute practice gave women the chance to exercise their malice and manipulate men without running the risk of being punished.
But women did not simply attempt to make indirect demands on men; they went so far as to claim supernatural powers. Old Kuwait was filled with tales of witches, and women found pleasure in spreading such stories, however fictitious they might be, as if to validate their own power and make men fear them. It worked: the more women made up stories about each others' supernatural powers, the more men were inclined to believe them.
The idea that these stories were meant to spread was that a woman could ruin a man's life if he made her unhappy and that women have as much power as men to destroy someone. Men indeed fear such power.
The fact that Kuwaiti men tolerated such malicious practices on the part of women was partly because they themselves believed in jinn.
Haya Al-Mughni called Women in Kuwait: The Politics of Gender, pages 50-53
So, do Kuwaiti women today still use such means to manipulate their men? Are people still so superstitious? I hear many stories of evil eyes, and black magic and spells, but how widespread are these practises?