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Sunday , January 17 2021

Magazine goes down the drain

Of the many things that the resigned Minister of Information, either alone or with government blessing marginalized, eliminated, or silently sabotaged was the Al-Arabi Magazine which has been the bright face of Kuwait for more than half a century, just as he marginalized and ruined the TV band and paralyzed the role of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, trivialized the role of television as an important media and alienated people from the radio.

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The name of Al-Arabi magazine has been associated with Kuwait since its independence, and I am certain that its role was not less than the role of generous aid that Kuwait provided to the sisters countries whose traces were lost, and the effect of “Al-Arabi” remained, but it seems that it will be forgotten, just as the rest of its periodical publications have folded such as Al-Arabi Scientific, Al-Arabi Book, and Al Arabi Al-Sagheer Magazine.

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The publication of the magazine started when the Kuwaiti government decided to publish a magazine about Arab culture, and Dr. Ahmad Zaki was chosen as its editor in 1958. He chose Oscar Mitri and his friend Salim Zabal to join him.

 Zaki also sought the contribution of the most prominent Arab writers, poets, scholars and thinkers of his time, such as Taha Hussein, Abbas Mahmoud Al-Akkad, Naguib Mahfouz, Nizar Qabbani, Abdel-Hadi Al-Tazi, Ihsan Abbas, Youssef Idris, Salah AbdelSabour, Jaber Asfour, Farouk Shousha, and others, so its issuance became a distinct cultural symbol, and with the  departure of M. Suleiman al-Askari, the era of decline began, with respect to those who came after him, as I am talking about government policy, not about people.

Al-Arabi used to hold seminars on a regular basis, focusing on important topics for discussion about research papers and papers submitted by experts and academics concerned with Arab affairs. This stopped a long time ago, with the budget often scarce.

The colleague, poet, Saadia Mufreh, bemoaned the situation of “Al-Arabi”. She was once one of her most active editors, sponsoring a campaign entitled “Save Al-Arabi”, and was surprised by the flood of tweets on her Twitter site, sympathetic to her campaign, and it seemed to her whoever wrote to her tries to save the magazine with his own words, and by remembering his story, or the story of his father, or his mother, grandfather, or grandmother with “Al-Arabi”, as if every reader of “Al-Arabi” had a distinct beginning and an unforgettable story with it, which was once a largescale civilized project.

Al-Arabi was not satisfied with preserving its brilliance for more than half a century, and, as our colleague Saadia says, did not abandon its traditions of editing, writing, selecting subjects and frequenting undiscovered areas on a large scale, but rather remained young before suffering from the sudden weakness that sensed by its loyal readers. Al-Arabi is now on the verge of going to the final resting place. The printed issues have been reduced to less than half, its website has been discontinued, and its unique surveys neglected. As for why the conditions of the magazine, which was a warm embrace of the pens of the most important thinkers, writers and poets, deteriorate? The answer is with those who have discredited our entire cultural heritage on behalf of the religious state, which is empty and has no depth.

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e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf

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