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Heritage, culture forgotten
I had previously written an article in which I highlighted our negligence of everything related to our heritage and culture.
If we study the history of Kuwait, we will not find people who cared about the state’s documents especially the correspondences between oil companies and the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in the 1930s. These correspondences are very important as they led to the signing of the agreements for oil explorations. Since those times, the face of Kuwait had changed from a forgotten emirate to an active and effective state.
Strangely, no one cared about preserving the documents or at least maintaining a copy of those documents, even though they represent the sine qua non treaty in the entire history of Kuwait.
It was the late Yousef Ahmad Al-Ghanem, former minister of information in the 1970s who had requested Sheikh Jaber Al-Ali to preserve the heritage of Kuwait. Accordingly, Sir Archibald Chisholm was tasked with gathering the correspondences into one book. He was the last person alive among those who witnessed the exchange of the documents and the signing of the oil exploration treaty.
In a previous article, I had asked Head of Center of Researches and Studies on Kuwait Abdullah Al-Ghunaim to translate the book, including the correspondences, into Arabic in order for it to be used by researchers. A few days later, l received a response from Al-Ghunaim who said the center has translated the book into Arabic and it is available for the readers. I must express my gratitude to those responsible for this at the center.
As a more positive step, I decided to visit the center in order to have a better idea about the activities there after the center was moved to its new headquarters which is suitable for the tremendous task of the center in terms of preserving the heritage of Kuwait.
The former British prime minister Winston Churchill once said, “A nation that forgets its history has no future”. He also said, “The farther you can look back, the farther forward you are likely to see”.
This is not a mere political or philosophical point of view. Any ophthalmologist can confirm this fact. The longer back in time we can contemplate our history and figure it out, the farther we can forecast our future.
Hence, we can say that the work of the Center of Researches and Studies on Kuwait is to preserve the memories of the nation using proper scientific ways. It represents the main source for information concerning the history of Kuwait and its cultural development, as well as plays an outstanding role in maintaining the government’s archives including minutes of sessions, important documents and so on.
My visit to the center was really useful and enjoyable. I was informed about many things that I did not know. I call upon citizens and residents to visit that amazing place.
What is more important for me is to call upon families and individuals who own private museums and rare documents and manuscripts to contact the Center of Researches and Studies on Kuwait and prepare to donate those precious documents to the state in order for all citizens to have access to them and for the documents to be preserved properly.
I particularly call upon brothers Saleh Al-Misbah, Khalid Al-Mujni, Ali Al-Raes, Fahd Al-Abduljaleel, Waddah Khalid, Saud Al-Zaid and others to donate their precious possessions either now or after their passing. This is because the coming generations might not be as interested in heritage as they are.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf