I WAS part of the first scholarship students sent to France after finishing high school. We were 14 students from the elites among the Kuwaiti youths.
The late Khaled Al-Masoud — the brave Minister of Education at the time — concluded the agreement on the university education of Kuwaiti students in France. At present, a few ministers like him are mired in darkness, compared to the days we lived in Kuwait in the second half of the 20th century.
We were astonished by the scenes we saw in the capital of light — Paris, where we studied the French language at an institute near the famous French Bastille Square. This is where the last French King along with Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded.
At the time, the queen wondered why the French people were rebellious and went out to hold demonstrations. They told her: “Because we cannot eat bread!” She then asked them: “Why not eat croissants or brioche?” The revolution of the French people intensified until her head and that of her husband’s were cut off. It was an immortal popular revolution whose slogans were: “Equality, Freedom and Brotherhood”.
I decided to go on vacation after a long break from traveling. I used to go on vacation at least four times a year. In order to relieve myself from the valiant decisions of our young minister, I went to Paris via Frankfurt.
I was amazed at the number of passengers at the airports — Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle. Compared to our almost deserted airport, those are flourishing airports even though we live under the same conditions. Travelers from the four corners of the Earth pass through the European airports, but our airport is limited to our Asian and African Arab brothers (Egyptians) and a few of the people of the country.
What matters is that I lived beautiful times and moments in a country overflowing with civilization. I decided to restore my youth through a tour of the city of Paris on an open top double decker bus where I sat on the upper deck.
I saw or re-watched the most beautiful old buildings I have ever seen in my life — very huge buildings constructed on thousands of square meters of public places; such as churches, municipalities, parliament, presidential palace and royal palaces.
Whenever I got off at the successive bus stops, I contemplated on those immortal buildings and their beautiful statues. I did not see anyone kneeling or worshiping those statues!
It is a message for the backward people of this society whose great grandfathers used to kneel to Hubal and the ugly statues similar to him. We heard them shouting with their disapproving voices when they saw a statue or replica of a famous personality like the late Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem — the father of contemporary Kuwaiti Renaissance.
I did not find their screams and loud voices convincing, because their thoughts were aligned with that of the outdated fundamentalist party which bids and orders… Nevertheless, the catastrophe is that the members of our ‘irrational’ government succumbed to these reprehensible voices. This is the reason behind my sadness in Paris, father, mother, grandmother and the glamorous world…
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil