The preceding study describes the beginnings of the literary movement in the Gulf region and presents the range of problems that appear in the regional literature. In this young and unknown literature reference is made to history as well as to social, political and cultural changes taking place in these countries. Without profound knowledge, a full understanding of the significance would be impossible.
The selected works have intentionally not been translated to allow the reader an independent analysis. The author offers an outline of modern short story writing from the Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Emirates and Kuwait) for all those interested in modern Arabic literature.
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- United Arab Emirates
- Ibrāhīm al-Mubarāk – Shitā’
- Asmā’ az-Zar‘ūnī – ‘Andamā yamūt al-faraḥ
- Su’ād al-‘Arīmī – Tāj as-samān
- ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd Ahmad – al-Baydār
- ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ash-Sharhān – Ḥufra dūna qā’
- Muḥammad al-Murr – al-Ab
- The Kingdom of Bahrain
- ‘Abd Allah Khalīfa – ad-Darb
- ‘Alī Sayyār – Shams lā tushriq kullu yawm
- Farīd Ramaḍān – al-Bayāḍ
- Fawziyya Rashīd – Min arshīf al-waḥda
- Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Malik – Mawt ṣāḥib al-‘araba
- Munīra al-Fāḍil – Wisān
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Ibrāhīm an-Nāṣir – Arḍ bilā maṭar
- Umayma al-Khamīs – Salmā al-‘Umaniyya
- Amīn Sālim Ruwayḥī – aḍ-Ḍaḥiya
- Khayriyya Ibrāhīm as-Saqqāf – Wa ikhtalafat al-khaṭwa
- ‘Abd ar-Raḥman ash-Shā‘ir – ‘Araq wa ṭīn
- Fawziyya al-Jār Allah – al-Wāḥida ṣabāḥan
- Sultanate of Oman
- Ḥamad bin Rashīd bin Rāshid – ‘Azzān
- Sa‘ūd bin Sa‘ad al-Mudhaffar – Ḥayāt rubbama ḥadītha
- ‘Alī bin ‘Abd Allah al-Kalbānī – at-Taqālīd
- Numayr bin Sālim Al Sa‘īd – Da‘wa ḥuḍūr
- Muḥammad al-Yaḥyā’ī – Kharzat al-mashī
- Yūnis al-Akhzamī – Yawm ṣamt fī Maṭraḥ
- State of Qatar
- Umayma Ismā‘īl al-Anṣārī – Khawāṭir fatāt ṣaghīra
- Ḥasan Rashīd – Ba‘ḍ al-ḥaqīqa
- Ḥiṣṣa al-‘Awaḍī – Amal
- Ḥiṣṣa Yūsuf – Wa badā’ hadīth akhar
- Maryam Muḥammad ‘Abd Allah – Bidāyat aṭ-ṭarīq
- Nāṣir Ṣāliḥ al-Faḍāla – Ṣafā‘ ar-rūḥ
- State of Kuwait
- Thurayya al-Baqṣamī – ‘Arūs al-qamar
- Sulaymān al-Khulayfī – Zawāj
- Laylā al-‘Uthmān – Zahra tadkhul al-ḥayy
- Laylā Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ – Jirāḥ fī al-uyūn
- Munā ash-Shāfa‘ī – Usṭūra
- Walīd ar-Rujayyīb – Nujūm aqal … nujūm akthar
The present book has appeared as a response of the interest in the contemporary Works of the writers of the Gulf countries: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Kingdom of Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, State of Kuwait and State of Qatar.
In the study preceding the selection of texts I described the beginnings of the development of the press which played an important and influential role in the creation of short story writing. I tried to present as well the range of problems that appear in the literature of the region together with examples of short stories.
In the presented outline of this young and unknown literature reference is however made to history as well as the rate of the social, political and cultural changes taking place in these countries since without this knowledge a full understanding of the significance of their works would be impossible. The aim is simple to present an outline of Contemporary short story writing in the region of the Gulf.
The selection of Authors and short stories has been extremely problematic. The writers presented are individuals who I have come to know personally along with their literary output during many years spent in Kuwait and the possibilities this afforded me to travel to other countries of the Gulf.
In the countries of the Gulf writers expressed to a greater or lesser degree an interest in the promotion of their works in the world. They have given me their book and interviews which explains the more numerous and broader works in the present book.
The book contains a selection of texts available neither in Europe nor in the majority of Arab countries. This is a result of the fact that the publishing market in the Gulf countries differs from that of the remaining Arab countries in as far as the writers themselves publish their own books which in accordance with popularity appear in the book shops of the given country. As a result of the relatively limited quantity of published works these writers are not as known as widely read Egyptian or Syrian authors. Therefore in a lot of cases there is a need to make direct contact with the writers themselves which is no simple matter for an orientalist considering the difficulties associated with travel in these countries. Therefore the assembled material presented in the book is unique and innovatory. ← 7 | 8 →
The selected works have intentionally not been translated or annotated to allow each reader the chance for independent analysis and interpretation. My work is an attempt to assemble in a single book texts and information on the subject of Modern short story writing in the Gulf countries.
Krakow, January 2016
A new, modern literature is being created in the countries of the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, slightly later in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar, under the clear influence of contacts with Arab countries like Egypt, the Lebanon or Syria, together with contacts with Europe. Its origins go back more or less to the 1930s, when the Arabs in those countries were trying to gain independence.1 Despite the fact that the cultural and literary revival in particular countries did not take the same route, it did have common elements such as the sense of unity of old culture and language.2
An extremely important factor in influencing the development of contemporary Arab literature in the countries of the Gulf was to be the numerous contacts with Europe. The manifestations of these contacts were varied: the sending of Arabs to Europe to acquaint them with modern civilisation, or religious mission activities, which set up their educational and scientific centres. Besides, the countries also started to organise primary and higher education.
In Saudi Arabia education was already in the process of development under King ‘Abd Al-Azīz Al Sa‘ūd. On the tenth of November 1957 the first university was founded in Riyadh.3
As far as the United Arab Emirates are concerned at the moment independence was gained there were in the region of 60 schools. The Al-‘Ayn University campus was founded in 1977.6
In Qatar the Ministry of Education was set up in 1956 before the country gained independence. Qatar University was founded in 1973.7 And finally the Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat was founded in 1986.
The alumni and the graduates from those newly organised schools and universities constituted the seeds of the first intelligentsia in this area. Young people gathered at Literary Clubs and wrote for the arising and developing newspapers and magazines. It should be stressed that it was journalism that played a particularly important role in the development of short narrational forms - which were, and still are the literary lifeblood of the Gulf region. The editors of these newspapers and magazines were very often authors themselves, and so propagated the short story, which in concentrating on one event seemed to be the most proper means of addressing specific social problems. Equally the writers themselves felt more comfortable following directly through them the quick changes occurring in the country and society, without loosing currentness.
The first newspaper to appear in 1908 on the market in Hijaz was the weekly Al-Ḥijāz published in two languages: Arabic and Turkish. The newspaper Al-Qiblah, the first edition of which appeared in 1916, played an important role in literary life there. From 1924 the newspaper Umm al-qurā was published, which fulfilled the function of an official state paper in Saudi Arabia. Articles devoted to literature were also published in it. Subsequently other titles started to appear: from 1931 Ṣawt Al-Ḥijāz, on whose pages the works of debut writers were published. In 1936 there arose the first literary journal Al-Manhal, and Jarīda al-Madīna which was founded in 1936 also published short stories. It was right on the pages of Ṣawt Al-Ḥijāz that the short story Al-ibn al-‘aq (The Disobedient Son) written by ‘Azīz Ḍiyā’ was published in 1938. This is a depressing tale of a son who decides to leave his poisonous and invasive mother.
During the course of the Second World War the Saudi press stopped publishing. Its activities were renewed after the end of hostilities. On the market during the 1960s, besides the old titles there appeared the new ones: Akhbār Aẓ-Ẓahrān, Al-Fajr al-jadīd, Al-Aḍwā’, Al-Khalīj al-‘Arabī and Quraysh. It is worth emphasising that the period from 1945 to 1964 was unusually profitable ← 10 | 11 → for the development of literature in Saudi Arabia. After 1964 on the pages of the press literary cultural subjects gave way to information from the world of politics and economics.8
As far as Kuwait is concerned the first journal appeared on the 20th November 1928 and was called Al-Kuwayt. It was printed in Iraq and its publisher was the writer and historian ‘Abd Al-Azīz Ar-Rashīd. The journal was a monthly of a religious, literary and historical character. It was on its pages in 1929 that Khālid Al-Faraj published the first Kuwaiti short story entitled Munīra (Munira). In the short story the heroine on her family’s advice marries her cousin. She is, however, unhappy because she can not have children. This results in her personal value crisis as a woman and a member of Arab society. Tragedy is furthered by her husband’s constant complaints about the absence of an heir. Munira driven to despair resorts to various methods, consulting with magicians and giving into their spells. These people use her however and psychologically and physically ruined she commits suicide.
The next journal Al-Kāẓima came into being in 1948 and was printed in Kuwait. It had an already mature literary, scientific and social profile confronting as things happened with the activities of Kuwaiti writers. Next to appear were journals like: the weekly Al-Fukāha founded by the writer Farḥān Rāshid Farḥān in 1950 and the monthly Ar-Rā’id in 1952. Currently literary subjects are discussed within the pages of Al-Bayān, the organ of the Kuwait Writers’ Union.9
In Bahrain, as in other countries of the Gulf, the press has played an important role in the development of prose. Among the titles worthy of mention are to be found: the newspaper Al-Baḥrayn, where next to the political and economic news are published poetry and literary articles. It was on its pages that Muḥammad Yūsuf published the first Bahraini short stories e.g.: Ḥā’ira (The Distressed One), Ash-shā‘ir (The Poet) or Bayna sāriq wa bakhīl (Between a Miser and a Thief). Later appeared the subsequent titles: Al-Qāfila, Al-Waṭan and Ṣawt Al-Baḥrayn. An important stage in the development of Bahraini literature was the creation in the 1960s of the literary journal Al-Aḍwā’.10 ← 11 | 12 →
In Qatar the first short narrational forms were to be found in the magazines: Ad-Dūḥa, Al-‘Ahd and Al-‘Urūba.11 In Oman there are such titles as: daily ‘Umān, Ash-Shabība or the cultural-literary journal Nizwā.
The first literary attempts by the young generation of United Arab Emirates writers were published within the pages of the journals: An-Naṣr, Az-Zamālik, Ash-Shabāb and Al-Ahlī. In the 1980s appeared the daily Al-Ittiḥād, the weekly Akhbār Dubaī and the monthly Al-Majma’. The author of the first short story entitled Qulūb lā tarḥam (Merciless Hearts), which appeared at the end of the 1960s was ‘Abd Allah Ṣaqr Aḥmad.12
The first attempts at prose met in time a rising level of social consciousness. Thus, short stories were able to certify social injustice, they also were able to show the author’s attitude towards reality, as his voice represented the hidden drama of the members of Arab society, particularly that of women. Those initial short stories concentrated round the dramatic conflict-ridden social reality. The development of action was clearly foreseeable from the outset, because of the fossilised structure and unchanging mechanisms of Arab society depicted. The realistic presentation of the world was accompanied by the underdeveloped form of the story. The authors tried to show some social tragedy, which was the effect of the backwardness, miscomprehension or underdevelopment of the Arab world. Short stories depicted chiefly mere facts and events. Slowly, however, many writers, as a consequence of widened horizons and reading introduced new techniques of depicting the world portrayed, and enriched their adroitness in writing with new means of expression. Besides the dry, meaningless storytelling, there appears regressiveness to the past as a means of portraying contemporary problems. The differences between the time of action and the age, as well as the social position of the characters deepen, which is used to show social and personal view differences resulting from the changes brought about by the times.
An important moment in the cultural life of the Gulf was the establishment of Literary Clubs - it was here that discussions on cultural and literary problems were conducted. In Saudi Arabia it being Al-Jama‘iyya al-‘arabiyya as-sa‘ūdiyya li-l-thaqāfa wa al-funūn, in Kuwait Ar-Rābiṭa al-Udabā’, in Bahrain Usra Al-Udabā’ wa Al-Kuttāb, in the United Arab Emirates Ittiḥād Kuttāb wa Udabā’ Al-Imārāt, an-Nādī ath-Thaqāfī in Muscat. ← 12 | 13 →
The mission of the contemporary Arab writer was stated by Dhū-Nūn Ayyūb in the introduction to the first collection of short stories from 1937, entitled Rusūl ath-thaqāfa (The Messengers of Culture): „The most important duty for writers is to present pictures that are faithful to what they see: the events, characters, social systems, national laws and folk traditions, which are not written down but obeyed by society. They should criticize, not fearing the consequences, the backward systems, cruel traditions and customs, and at the same time uncover and analyse their reasons and basis.”
The short story developed in the new Arab literature of the Gulf after poetry. As far as the problems are concerned those traditional topics depicting the amazing past of these countries, society and family relations were joined by new ones characteristic for the Gulf. The main ones being the discovery of the crude oil and the subsequent economic boom, political, social and cultural changes, the inflow of a large number of immigrants, the place of man from the Gulf Region in contemporary Arab and world society, or freeing from old alliances: the sea and the desert.
The most graceful subject of the stories is love: often filled with the aroma of folklore and enshrouded with mystery. The younger generation of authors frequently consciously relates in their works to the tradition of the desert. In the new form the motif of romantic love of the Udhra tribe from the Hijaz desert, is constantly repeated. At present this subject is often related to the strict norms of traditional social divisions, concerning both equally men and women. At the beginnings the dramas of alienation and cruelty were never talked about, but later they started to awaken social attention and interest.
The female problem in Saudi prose takes up a lot of room. The writers presented portraits of mother, mother-in-law, wife, sister, divorcee or widow. They wrote about her problems connected not solely with a good marriage, but also her limited educational possibilities. Interesting works devoted to this problem include Muḥammad Amīn Yaḥyā’s short stories: I‘tirāf (Confession) or Al-‘Īd (Holiday).13 The case of egoism relating to the marriage of daughters is well illustrated by the short story Al-Mutarahhiba (The Nun) by Muḥammad ‘Alī Maghribī.14 In another story entitled Al-muṭallaqa (The Divorcee) Sa‘d Al-Bawārdī shows a woman hurt ← 13 | 14 → by fate, and forced into a marriage with a man whose only attribute is money. In the works by Halīl Al-Fazī‘ entitled: Az-zawja ath-thāniyya (The Second Wife) and Al-jidār al-khashabī (Wooden Walls) the women represent different psychological types, and have originated from different social backgrounds. They are sensitive women, with broad imaginations and a sensitive reception of the surrounding world. In contemporary Saudi literature women also spoke out on the subjects directly concerning them. Here should be mentioned, among others, Jamīla Faṭānī and her collection of short stories entitled Al-intiṣār ‘alā al-mustaḥīl (Victory), Ruqayya Ash-Shabīb and her collection Hilm (The Dream) and Fāṭima Al-‘Utaybī and her interesting collection entitled Iḥtifāl bi ‘anni imra’a (I Celebrate for I am a Woman). In many families there still took place the old way of treating a woman like an object; women who were barely able to lead their own lives as they had no way out of the trap. This is why they revolted so often, and were even able to kill to get freedom and dignity back as is shown in the story of the Kuwaiti writer Laylā Al-‘Uthmān15 entitled Min milaff imra’a (From the Diary of a Woman).
Laylā Al-‘Uthmān devotes many of her works to women.16 Her heroines are not only young imprisoned by their families or forced to share intimate relations with men despised chosen by their families. There appears also in her works women-mothers presented here in a surprisingly negative way, who mercilessly invade their daughters’ private lives and are the pillars of the opportunism there present, e.g. in the short story Al-qalb wa rā’īḥat al-khubz al-maḥrūq (Heart and the Smell of Fresh Bread). In Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī short stories17 from the collection As-Sidra (Lotus) the heroines do not agree with the fate allotted them, and do not obey the dogma of a woman’s total dependence on man. They often rebel, each in her own way, according to her temperament and existential dignity. The short story Yā al-mashmūm (Musk) shows the tragedy of the right to a free choice of partner which deepens consciousness of the unavoidable character of the relationship forced by contracts and financial relations, as a result of which daughters were simply sold by their families. An important place in Kuwaiti women’s literature is ← 14 | 15 → occupied by Laylā Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ’s collection of short stories entitled Jirāḥ fī al-‘uyūn (Wounds in the Eyes). It tells of the internal experience of a contemporary Arab woman and her possibilities in society. Her second collection entitled Liqā’ fī mawsim al-ward (Meeting in a Season of Flowers) expresses the painful recollections from the period of Iraqi occupation. The short stories undertake the subject of war and love in war conditions and their participation in the resistance movement.
In Bahrain female topics have been dealt with by, among others: Muḥammad Al-Mājid in the short story Jarīma fī ḥayy majhūl (Crime in an Unknown District), Hidāya Sulṭān As-Sālim in the short story Lan takrah al-fajr (You Are Not Going to Hate the Morn) as well as Fawziyya Rashīd in the collection Marāyā aẓ-ẓull wa al-faraḥ (Reflections of Sadness and Joy) and Munīra Al-Fāḍil in the collection Ar-Rīmūrā (Rimura).
The heroines of the short stories Bidāya aṭ-ṭarīq (The Beginning of the Road) or Khawāṭir fatāt ṣaghīra (Danger Threatens the Young Girl) written by Qatari authors Maryam Muḥammad ‘Abd Allah and Amīna Ismā’īl Al-Anṣārī respectively, are never indifferent or bored although almost always torn by conflicting feelings and unease. Their drama chiefly results from personal entanglement in the conflicts with the dogmatism of the traditional structures of Arab society.
Equally young Emirate literature adds its output to the subject matter of unwanted marriages which are to be found in the short stories entitled: Bushrā fī as-sittīn (Bushra is Sixty) written by ‘Abd Ar-Riḍā As-Sajwānī and Al-‘Urs (Weddings) by Salmā Maṭar Yūsuf. Salmā Yūsuf’s work deals mainly with woman and their daily problems. She tries to show in her works that a woman does not selflessly follow the will of others. The woman is forced to act so by fear or necessity as can be seen in the short story ‘Ushba (Herb), which is the story of a neglected orphan brought up by an uncle in order to receive in the future a good dowry.
Omani writers: Fāṭima Sha‘bān, Khawla aẓ-Ẓāhirī, Ṭāhira bint ‘Abd al-Khāliq al-Lawātī, Bushrā Khalfān al-Wahaybī tackle a great variety of themes in their output, and the central characters are mainly women and children. They discuss the problem of equal rights for men and women, both in the general social sphere as well as referring to their own love life.
The prose works of writers, both male and female, of the countries of the Gulf bring the world of Arab women closer to us, as well as directly the surroundings presenting before one’s eyes the rich panorama of genre custom scenes. All of them try to grasp a fragment of the passing reality and that just arriving. In their works one can see generally two bases in relation to the past: the basis which demands changes in the name of essential progress as well as the basis of reflection, melancholy and sometimes remorse for the former, simple way of life. ← 15 | 16 →
The Saudi writer Ibrāhīm An-Nāṣir in the collection Al-Arḍ bilā maṭar (The Land without Rain) sketches interesting pictures from the lives of the inhabitants of Saudi Arabia, particularly his native Najd. He devotes his works to the conflicts between traditional customs and the reality of present time and the desire for happiness for the younger generation, which extends beyond the borders of the desert villages. The young men manage to reach the oil regions, work and earn there, since the moment of oil’s discovery became a real turning point not only in the field of economics but equally in the field of culture. The authors of the short stories became witnesses to the social and cultural changes.
The discovery of oil caused a sudden influx of foreign capital and traders, the intensified construction of new districts and exchange of information. The newly created social classes brought about an undermining of many traditional concepts. The mature generation of grandfathers and fathers still held on tightly to traditions and religion, but the generation of educated sons were open to progress and civilisation.18 Besides, the discovery of oil caused huge changes in the traditional social structure. Citizens were faced with a fiscal-social conflict. Besides which there took place a conflict between the values which were in force prior to the discovery of oil and those associated with the new era.
In the literary output of Gulf writers short stories slowly stopped being a passive relation of events illustrating traditional social life and gradually and consciously started to examine the problems of man and his place in the contemporary world. This only deepens the range of the short story as well as equally varying the time of action, the social and individual roles of the heroes’ attitudes to all the changes that are being brought in with the times. Accompanying the development of the quickly erected rich new districts there is a mixture of feelings among the older inhabitants. This is illustrated by the short story Al-hājis wa al-ḥuṭām (Phantoms and Ruins) by the Kuwaiti writer Sulaymān Ash-Shaṭṭī,19 in which the hero - an old bricklayer observes the demolition of old houses which he himself once built. In their place new buildings are being put up which reflect by their size and abundance society’s new wealth. This builder observing this feels sadness and pain. At the same time there develop in him strange feelings that together with the destruction of the last house so too his life will end. Another short story by the same author entitled Wajhān fī ‘atma (Two Faces in the Darkness) shows another valued profession in Gulf countries - that of a trader. The hero is the representative ← 16 | 17 → of a backward form of trade without agreements. He is connected to his job not only economically but also emotionally. However, the climate of the old bazaar and trade is disappearing in these countries day by day.
The problems of people who have come from the country to the town together with the problems brought connected with this are shown in Muḥammad Al-Yaḥyā‘ī’s collection entitled Kharzat al-mashī (Talisman). He clearly shows the difficulty the inhabitants of the country encounter in trying to adapt to life in the town. Often the price was too high and the weaker individuals were forced to return. His stories are filled with sad irony and compassion for simple people who are unable to find their place in the new reality.
At the basis of the literature of the Gulf lies respect for one’s past, a desire to continue tradition, but after its application to new contents and functions. Hence contemporariness is characterised by a fierce conflict between riches and the access to luxuries and possibilities of world travel associated with it, and traditional culture, which is constantly the basic factor that causes inhabitants of the Gulf to feel a degree of dissimilarity in relation to other Arab countries. The story ‘Āshiq al-baḥr (The Sea’s Lover) by Ibrāhīm Mubārak from the United Arab Emirates, is filled with an enormous yearning for the past. It tells of the life of a diver who has to give up his beloved sea. The romanticism of the story awakens in the reader a longing for former traditions and the climate of the Orient: the sea, tents, narrow streets, little cafes, traditional bazaars and earthen clay buildings. The present as understood by Emirate writers is a period of social, political and economic changes that have yet to take on a final form. The Emirate writer Sa‘īd Al-Ḥankī in the short story Humūm al-muwaṭin S (The Worries of Citizen S) shows us the unhealthy state of relations between people: falseness, superficiality and hypocrisy which has taken over the newly rich society of the Gulf. “The author in this story has included a message for the old and young generation. He considers that a lot of time will be needed for the generations to come closer to each other and to understand each other mutually as long as they are divided by a ravine.”20 Muḥammad Amīn Yaḥyyā in the short story Al-Wafā’ (Faithfulness) touches on the problem of friendship and shows its consequences. The writer in his work accentuates some noble features such as friendship and faithfulness which serve ← 17 | 18 → to bring closer the features of the society of the town of Jaddah, thanks to which he gained the nickname Al-Jaddī (inhabitant of Jaddah).
Finally the discovery of oil changed and divided society in the Gulf countries, which had lived until then through fishing and the pearl trade. The generation of fathers and grandfathers based on the traditional model of living took pride in the customs and traditions prior to the economic boom. The young generation of sons and grandsons, brought up in the prosperity is set for the quickest possible profit and ease. The most important for it is the achievement of a high material standard. The Emirate writer Amīna ‘Abd Allah Būshhān considers such behaviour as a disease which day by day infects an increasing number of people. She describes this in the short story entitled Ẓahīra ḥāmīya (High Noon). Omani writer Su‘ūd al-Muẓaffar in his first collection od short stories Yawm qabla shurūq ash-shams (The day before the sunrise) talks about social relations and general situation in Oman prior to the government of Sultan Qaboos. This is conveyed by the very title of the collection. The brief short story Ḥayāt rubbamā ḥadītha (Modern Life Can?) touches upon important problems for Omani society. Here is the element of emigration, as well as the ongoing westernization, which the author perceives in the way young people feed themselves on hamburgers, steaks and spaghetti. Equally certain generational conflicts are revealed; the lack of understanding between young generation derived from mass culture and the generation of the fathers who are attached to their Arab roots.
The inhabitants of the Gulf understand that they have to introduce certain changes in social and family relations, while at the same time they are consistent in many areas, like in dressing habits. They are afraid of the loss of their own identity as well as the rupture of existing social relations that would lead to a situation where connections were solely based on business and money. “The authors of the short stories (…) have tried to look at the past from the angle of linking it to the present, while at the same time taking all that is the best from the past and supplementing the present with it.”21
The newly rich society of the Gulf came across equally the problem of the influx of large numbers of foreigners who came to work bringing with them other languages, cultures and religions. “Following the discovery of oil the Arabian Peninsula became a region to which people came from all over the world in order to find work. They came to build new states. They brought with themselves their customs, ways of thinking, ways of dress and many other strange things unknown ← 18 | 19 → before in the countries of the Gulf. Arab society was enriched by new experiences, while at the same time causing many political and social problems. There started to appear class differences between employer and employee.”22
The short story Ṭufūla wa ḥulm al-qabīla (Childhood and Tribal Dreams) by the Emirate writer Su‘ad Al-‘Arīmī is a protest against the throwing off of tradition. It shows the life of a man in the new social reality together with the daily choices he must make connected with it. The hero moves from the country to the town where he finds work in one of the government institutions. His new surroundings mean that he has to change his previous life, habits, way of dressing and utterance. He has to also get use to total subordinance in relation to superiors, accepting their niggling and cynical comments and orders. He was even forced to shave off his beard, which in his traditional surroundings was a symbol of masculinity. The acceptance of a new style and new reality turned out to be beyond his resilience and led to his committing suicide. This act is an expression of the condemnation of this new reality as well as the casting off of the new social relations and principles based on material gain and hypocrisy. The arbitrariness of the relations between employee and employer is shown by the short story Wisām sharaf (The Order of honour) by the Emirate writer Muḥammad Ḥasan Al-Ḥarbī. He presents the nature of the new work relations where greed and using the other person hold sway. The hero spent the best years of his life in a factory where he was given the sack when he started to sicken. This sad story ends with the death of the hero at the plant in full view of his work colleagues.
The literary output of the Gulf that concerns immigrants is small when one considers that they make up the majority of the Gulf’s population. The indigenous inhabitants try to isolate themselves from the new comers, especially from Asian countries. One example could be the Kuwaiti writer Walīd Ar-Rujayyib’s short story entitled Ta‘luq nuqṭa tasquṭ… ṭaq (The Drop Rises and Falls…Drip, Drip) in which the hero arriving illegally to his dreamt of Kuwait - the place full of dreams of fortunes. However after a few weeks he undergoes a psychological crisis for he realises the impossibility of achieving his desires. Finally he accepts his fate as somebody condemned to menial work which will bring neither money nor guarantee a quick return home. In other stories Walīd Ar-Rujayyib describes „normal” citizens who lose the sense in life as a result of the injustice of relations between employers and employees - who on the whole are exploited ← 19 | 20 → and preoccupied by work which barely guarantees them a vegetating existence.23 The problem of disillusioned and disappointed immigrants is continued by the Kuwaiti writer Fahd Ad-Duwayrī in the short story Rajul al-fundūq (The Man from the Hotel) in which the hero breaks down because of lack of work and takes to stealing in order to survive. Laylā Al-‘Uthmān’s story entitled Nashāṭ tajassusī (Spy Acts) also deals with this subject matter telling of the bitter fate of those lonely, weak and exploited immigrants, whose share becomes finally a premature - often by unknown hands - death. The above mentioned short stories deal with the always actual problem of credulous immigrants, who believe in the possibility of becoming rich quickly, and what often leads to a destruction of health and financial ruin for them and their families.
Short stories devoted to servants are to be found only in the output of writers of Gulf countries. Their heroes are ordinary Indian or Asian servants. This subject was the outcome of the huge influx of labour force from poor Asian countries with the aim of making money. The writers in their works showed the problems connected with their presence in Arab houses. The greatest writers’ concern was immense and long term influence on the up-bringing of children. Servants were usually of a different faith, spoke in a different and poor language as well as represented different traditions. Besides which the servants knew the secrets of their masters and mistresses or were intertwined in personal relations with their employers. It is worth remembering here the works of Kuwaiti authors: the short story Munā 13 (Muna 13) by Ismā‘il Fahd Ismā‘il or Ṭufūlatī al-ukhrā (My Second Childhood) by Laylā Al-‘Uthmān. In the story Munā 13, a poor girl servant is used by the rich master. The employer’s wife starts to be jealous and accuses her of being late home because of flirting with traders. This was put the husband off the girl, but the effect is the reverse and the husband all the more is fascinated. As a result of her severe protest because of fear of the wife the servant rejects the master’s advances, who in an act of revenge cuts off her long hair - the symbol of femininity. Sulaymān Al-Khulayfī’s short story entitled Ya’kulūna ‘alā sufra sākhina (They Eat at a Warm Table) concerns the touchy subject of romances with servants. This subject becomes especially painful when the witnesses to such situations are innocent children.
The young generation of Arabs from the Gulf tries to free itself of two elements: the sea and the desert - being their time immemorial natural life environments. ← 20 | 21 → The sea was, is and will be a great might for them. Extremely many references to the sea as to everyday reality can be found particularly in works of literature in which the subject of old Kuwait is voiced. The sea then was the main motor of life providing food, employment, recreation, freedom, hope and a subject for a story. In the short stories the sea does not appear purely in a descriptive form, but appears as the all present backcloth for the life of fishermen, pearl divers, smugglers, travellers or women doing their housework, playing with children and those they love. From this period come the colourful stories about fantastic phantoms and unusual phenomena accompanying the element, which are recorded in the short stories.24
In the short stories of the Kuwaiti writer Laylā Al-‘Uthmān, the sea is the fundamental element of dependence, identification and love for the fatherland. In the short story Zahra tadkhul al-ḥayy (Zahra Conquers the Village) the heroine adds to the suffering and alienation of the resident, autonomous population the subject of whose envious feelings becomes the sea - the constant companion and partners of the inhabitants loves and lives. The sea fulfils an important function in her novel Wasmiyya takhruj min al-baḥr (Wasmiya Comes out of the Sea) where the drama of unrequited love is collaborated by the heroine’s suicide in the sea. In turn in Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī’s short story Ad-dumya (The Doll) the sea and its scenery are places of everyday women’s work.
The sea for the inhabitants of the Gulf plays a fundamental role in the direct context, for not only do they love it but equally have total faith in it. Daily contact means that their experiences are directed towards it, the generous provider and uncompromising opponent. All human matters of life and death were saturated with its presence. Such an image of the sea is emphasised by the Bahrainian writers: ‘Alī Sayyār in the stories: As-Sayyid (Master) or Al-ma‘raka (The Fight), and ‘Isā Rāshid Al-Khalīfa in the short story An-Nawkhidha Aḥmad (Captain Ahmad).
Equally Emirate writers have not neglected the subject of the sea. ‘Abd Al-Azīz Ash-Sharhān in the story Ash-Shaqā (Pains) shows a student studying abroad and his yearning for the sea. The work of fishermen and their daily painful labour of the haul are presented in ‘Ali Muḥammad Rāshid’s short story entitled Rijāl fī miḥna (Men in Unhappiness). Sa‘īd Sālim Al-Ḥankī’s short story Ilā ‘Abd Allah Aṣ-Ṣaghīr… waṣīya (Advice for Little ‘Abd Allah) is filled with descriptions of children’s games at the seaside as well as the customs of the inhabitants. In the novel entitled As-sayf wa az-zahra (Sword and Flower) by ‘Ali Abū Ar-Rīsh ← 21 | 22 → the sea is depicted in the context of the influx of illegal immigrants. The author opened a broad discussion on the difficult subject of the influx of illegal labour to the Emirates.
The desert is not a favourite literary subject even though it is after all the natural environment for the life of the Arabs of the Gulf. The Bedouins and their attempts to find their place in contemporary, modern society is described in the short story entitled Abū ‘Arab (Abu ‘Arab) or ‘Araq wa ṭīn (Sweat and Clay) by the Saudi writer ‘Abd Ar-Raḥman Ash-Shā‘ir.
An important theme that appears on the pages of literature is the problem of the so-called bidūn or people without citizenship. The most numerous being the Bedouin who free for centuries did not want register, and at the same time belonged to a definite state from the very beginning. At present the young generation accuses the government of not informing their uneducated fathers of the need to register, to possess identity cards and the consequences that result from not fulfilling these conditions. By the end of the 1980s the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia had dealt with these problems.25 In Kuwait the problem continues to remain unsolved.26 Many writers belong to the so-called bidūn, even though they were born in Kuwait. Today they are refused citizenship for various reasons even though they are involved in raising the culture of their country. Among them one should mention Ṭālib Ar-Rifā‘ī, Laylā Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ, Sa‘diyya Mifraḥ, Nāṣir Aẓ-Ẓafirī, ‘Alī Al-Mas‘ūdī, Jāsim Muḥammad Ash-Shamrī. Despite their lack of Kuwaiti citizenship they feel themselves Kuwaiti, and have no intention of leaving the land of their fathers. This problem - unique on a world scale - has found its reflection in the literature of the countries of the Gulf, as equally among writers without citizenship as those with. And so, for example, Jāsim Muḥammad Ash-Shamrī in the short story Al-alam…al-amal wa antunna (Pain…Hope and You) condoles with the minimal chances for the bidūns in the new order that exists in Kuwait post Iraqi invasion. A painful admission also shows itself in another of his short stories Isa‘idtum bi-ish‘āl al-‘ilm (The Nipping of Education in the Bud), in which the festivities associated with ← 22 | 23 → the start of the school year following liberation are described. Children lacking citizenship are not admitted to the jollity. The author demands universal access to education. In turn the Kuwaiti writer Munā Ash-Shāfa‘ī joins the struggle of women without citizenship in the short story Usṭūra (Legend) where the heroine not possessing citizenship opposes her mother who is persuading her to marry a Kuwaiti in order solely to secure citizenship. The heroine yearns to have her own because she loves the fatherland in which she was born and brought up, and is unable to understand why the land doesn’t want her.
This problem area has equally found its reflection in the short story Al-Baydār (The Threshing Floor) by the Emirate writer ‘Abd Al-Ḥamīd Aḥmad. The hero is here an Omani, who came to the Emirates in his youth. He worked on the date palm plantations, but with the changes he lost his job. In the course of these thirty years he did not think of sorting out an identity card, and when he wanted to return home he was not allowed in. Driven to extremes he commits suicide.
In connection with the existence of a new economic and political situation the authors of short stories adopted a penetration of the social relationships in force within the family. They demanded a reduction in paternal authority in favour of all members of the family and analysed the reasons for women’s subservience to men. “One could say that the writers (…) took upon themselves the burden of responsibility for the changes which came into society (…), and which were caused by sudden and quick material changes.”27
The works of the pioneers in short story writing dealt, chiefly, with the realistic portrayal of the social state of things, in part still traditionally understanding life’s sense as well as the status of individual family members along with individual and collective attitudes concerning the existing problems. For strength, wealth, good social position and an influential family is expected of men. While from women; total servitude, the conscientious fulfilment of domestic duties as well as the possibility of numerous offspring. In other words to support an image of a wife and mother as was confirmed by the words of the Prophet Mohammed “(she) should delight in his eyes when he looks at her, be obedient when he orders and never challenge her husband when he decides for her and for himself.”28 If one of those elements disappoints then society uncompromisingly and brutally reacts throwing such a unit to the margins of social life, often pushing towards ← 23 | 24 → death, as is the case in the first Kuwaiti short story Munīra (Munira) by Khālid Al-Faraj.29
Much has been written about paternal authority which was indisputable. Immediately behind it came the authority of the oldest son and then only the mother, who introduced into the family chaos as well as being the reason for argument and many personal problems particularly in relation to daughters. In Saudi literature this subject is realised in the short story Hayba amal (Disillusionment) by Ibrāhīm An-Nāṣir, as well as in short stories: Al-ḥubb lā yakfī (Love is Not Enough) and Al-ukht al-Wasṭā (Sister Wasta) by Muḥammad ‘Isā Al-Mashhadī. In Bahrain ‘Alī Sayyār has written on this subject in the work Shams lā tushriq kulla yawm (The Sun Doesn’t Rise Every Day). The subject matter of a mother’s authority appears in the short stories of the Kuwaiti woman writer Laylā Al-‘Uthmān with unusual frequency. The mothers mercilessly interfere in the private life of their daughters, pulling them by the hair, beating, causing scenes and going through their things in order to find proof of forbidden rendezvous, e.g. in the short stories Al-qalb wa rā’iḥat al-hubz al-maḥrūq (Heart and the Smell of Baked Bread) or Al-awrām (The Swelling). In Qatar the greatest room for the subjects of authority has been devoted by Khalīl Al-Fazī‘. In his story Al-Kalimāt al-‘āriya (Naked Words) author describes the grasping and toxic love of a mother for her son and the attempt to take control of him and impose her will on him. Another of his short stories entitled Al-hudū’ aṣ-ṣākhib (The Lord’s Silence) presents the opposition of the son to his father’s will. Finally the authority and place of the oldest son finds expression in the short story Al-fash adh-dharī‘ (The Great Defeat). The matter of authority became one of the most important subjects in the countries of the Gulf. The authors tried to depict this problem in a civilized way presenting in their short stories heroes not only negative but also positive who can be met daily on the street.30
The authors of the short stories demand equal access to culture and education, as equally for men as women. Internal family structures change and with them the reduction in authority: paternal, of the eldest brother and maternal. Social differences of course still exist, but slowly the heroes and heroines of the short stories ← 24 | 25 → gain consciousness of the new situation and either revolt or search for possibilities of fulfilling many of their dreams and expectations. In many works appear the problems of emancipated consciousness, which starts to triumph over the barriers of sex. This subject can be found e.g. in the short story entitled Khawṭāir fatāt ṣaghīra (Danger Threatening a Young Girl) by the Qatari writer Amīna Ismā‘īl Al-Anṣārī, or in the work of the Kuwaiti Laylā Al-‘Uthmān entitled Imra’a fī inā’ (The Trapped Woman).
The authors of the short stories start to ask about the place and social role of a woman, who all the more often is taking up professional employment. In the short story by the Kuwaiti writer Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī entitled Buq‘a lawn (The Coloured Stain) the heroine is a woman - an artist freed from the traditional roles of wife and mother, she stands facing the new problem which is the artist’s calling and consciousness. Often it is a dangerous partner as is emphasized by Laylā Al-‘Uthmān’s short story entitled At-timthāl (The Sculpture), which offers the reflection that even a calling is unable to bring an Arab woman happiness. For the sculptress achieves her mastery at the price of her health, and finally life. The crowning of this theme could be the work by the Kuwaiti Munā Ash-Shāfa‘ī entitled Ḥālat haṣṣa (Special State), in which the emancipated consciousness of the heroine is presented overcoming the barriers of sex. The appearance of this new type of female-artist heroine, an educated partner loving and understanding her husband is an usually revolutionary angle of the approaching modern times. Love equally is slowly not prohibited, since the partners equally value it. Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī from Kuwait as pronounced as follows on the subject: “Now everything depends on people. Each lives as he feels fit, while society has now no right to interfere, as once it did when ever it felt like it.’31
Descent and inheritance played an important role in social relations. A superb illustration of which is the short story entitled ‘Awdat Sa‘īd (Sa‘id’s Return) from the pen of Muḥammad ‘Ālim Al-Afghānī,32 who as an immigrant in Saudi Arabia had the particular right to broach such subject matter.
The drama of social differences was felt by children as we can observe in the short stories entitled: Ad-dumya (The Doll) and Tawāṣul (Continuity) by the Kuwaiti writers: Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī and Walīd Ar-Rujayyib respectively. In ← 25 | 26 → another work of Walīd Ar-Rujayyib entitled Nujūm aqal… nujūm akthar (The Star the Lesser … the Star the Greater) the author compares social relations current in the armed forces where the holding of office expands not only one’s administrative competency, but allows disturbance of one’s private life. The writer emphasizes the fact that the post occupied is often abused and used in social relations. Wamḍa Amal’s short story Al-fā’iḍ (Excess) presents the class conflict between the rich and the poor, which is an obstacle in the union of two lovers: a rich young girl and her impoverished cousin.
In the United Arab Emirates the woman writer Amīna ‘Abd Allah Būshhān described the force of money in the work Mahra (The Mare), in which the inhabitants of a small, poor village sanction and agree to the conditions of a rich sheikh Sulaymān who marries their daughters in turn only to discard them after a few months.
The short stories from the Gulf loyally accompany the changes in social relations. Their authors in presenting concrete examples from the reality, which surrounds them, desire to inform and teach society subtly. This is clear in the marriage ceremonies: resounding from the selection of sweetheart through the engagement to the very day of the wedding. Before, however, marriage vows are taken the whole process is accompanied by numerous frauds brought about by the means of matchmakers. The matchmakers often in their mission were frauds in their exaggeration of facts about the future spouses, which resulted in many family conflicts. This has its reflection in Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī’s short story entitled ‘Arūs al-qamar (A Fiancée like the Moon), where the matchmaker heavily exaggerates in his description of the wealth and possessions of the groom arousing with this the fears of the bride who is in awe of such a perfect husband.
In the story at-Taqālīd (Tradition) ‘Alī al-Kalbānī concentrates upon the dependence of Arab women upon men and traditional forms of life. For a European reader the action of the story seems to be comical. It begins on Friday evening when Muhammad recalls his sweetheart of long ago. As a result of a series of coincidences he happened to meet the next day the child of his former beloved Zaynab and recognizing the child he takes it to its desperate mother. During the time that she is thanking him her husband returns and accuses her of betrayal and the whole matter finishes up in court. Forced by her husband, Zaynab accuses her benefactor, who is sentenced to several months’ imprisonment. He sits out his sentence until the day when the repentant woman admits to lying in court. The heroine, with unexpected bravery, blames the tradition and customs to which she was brought up and which led to her personal tragedy and to which, as one can easily imagine, many other women are partly. ← 26 | 27 →
The imposition of marriage traditions is still one of the greatest problems in countries of the Arabian Gulf. Young people have to marry to strengthen blood ties and for purely material motives. Besides which it remains one of the only ways of impressing with one’s wealth. The short story by the Kuwaiti writer Sulaymān Al-Khulayfī entitled Zawāj (Marriage) presents money as the purchasing force in the fiancée stakes. A rich merchant marries a girl chosen also by his nephew for himself, whose love was unable to surmount his uncle’s riches. Writers covered also the subject of the possibilities of mixed marriages as is shown by the short story entitled Lā khabar lā… (No, no there’s no news) by the Kuwaiti writer Laylā Al-‘Uthmān or by the other entitled Bushrā fī sittīn (Bushra is Sixty) by the Emirate writer ‘Abd Ar-Riḍā As-Sajwānī.
The writers did not avoid embarrassing subjects like marital betrayal. In traditional Arab society this problem belonged to the range of taboo subjects and could not see the light of day. In Gulf society of present day, short stories described betrayals or their attempts, and their authors attempted to analyse their causes as equally on the part of men as women. Female betrayal was something new. Up until then it was only the man who did the betraying. Betrayal on the part of women was the means of blaming tradition for unfair treatment. The authors discovered therefore the reasons that pushed one to betrayal as well as the void which surrounded and in which one was forced to live. We can find an unusual form of betrayal in Sulaymān Al-Khulayfī’s short story entitled Ya’kulūna ‘alā sufra sākhina (They Eat at a Warm Table), where the husband and wife mutually betray each other for each of them feels the void. They have affairs with the staff. The author follows the romances of the master of the house with an Indian serving girl and his wife with the chauffeur. Eventually matters come to a head with the discovery of the affairs by the young daughter who is a witness to her parents’ doings. In turn the Saudi writer Ḥamīd Ad-Damanhīrī in the novel Thaman at-taḍḥiya (The Victim’s Price) presents the story of a young Saudi married to his cousin who is sent to study in Cairo. There he strikes up a close acquaintance with an Egyptian girl though ultimately despite emotional involvement he splits up with her and returns to his wife. This self same subject matter is to be found in the Qatari short story entitled Safā’t ar-rūḥ (Purity of Soul) by Nāṣir Ṣāliḥ Al-Faḍāl. The hero of this story leaves for Europe to study and there falls in love with a European girl yet when he finds out that she has had other relationship returns to his beloved from Qatar.
One of the most recent problems that have occurred together with the economic development of the countries of the Gulf was the taking up of employment by women. This was a completely new situation and initially unacceptable. However with the passing of time an increasing number of women decided on ← 27 | 28 → employment outside of the home. Many of them started to educate themselves and fight for social position. This subject is effectively dealt with in Kuwait by Laylā Al-‘Uthmān for example in the title story from the collection Imra’a fī inā’ (The Trapped Woman), where a young university graduate seeking her independence is portrayed. Equally the heroine of the short story At-timthāl (Sculpture) is totally independent and emancipated. In Saudi Arabia this subject has been dealt with by Muḥammad Al-Mirbātī in the short story Al-‘Āmila (The Employee) as well as by ‘Abd As-Salām Hāshim Hāfiẓ in the story Lahā māḍin (The Woman with a Past). In the latter erotic scenes dominate. In Qatar the woman writer Maryam Muḥammad ‘Abd Allah is noted for this subject matter, especially with the short story Bidāya aṭ-ṭarīq (The Beginning of the Way). The heroine decisively refuses to marry her cousin simply because tradition deems it so. The author is clearly on the side of the girl emphasising how many families have split up due to the unsuitability of the spouses. A day in the life of a young female Qatari student is described in the short story Al-huwa (The Abyss) by Nūra Muḥammad As-Sa‘ḍ and Salmā Maṭar Yūsuf from the United Arab Emirates in the short story Az-Zahra (Flower) shows how important a role a woman plays in the life of a man. The hero of the work on the basis of a relationship with a woman discovers a new, different world, which was earlier unknown to him. The life of his partner intrigued him to the point whereby he attempts to think in her categories, to get to know more deeper her life situation, as well as all the social conditioning which limits her freedom. This author presents equally a woman discarded by society in the short story An-Nashīd (Hymn). The heroine is here a beautiful woman, who through her appearance, behaviour and personal charm attempts to capture men’s hearts. She uses her body as bait to take her revenge on men for treating women as objects.
In the literature of the Gulf we can equally observe the commitment of writers to the problems of struggles for self-determination as well as Arab unity. An important and often undertaken theme is that of the Palestinians. In Saudi Arabia Sa‘d Al-Bawāridī has written the collection Shabaḥ al-Filasṭīn (The Spectre of Palestine). Equally the heroes of the short story Ummuhātunā wa an-niḍāl (Our Mothers and Struggle) by Ibrāhīm An-Naṣīr sign up as volunteers in order to defend Egypt during the Anglo-French-Israeli aggression. Al-baṭal Ibrāhīm (Ibrahim the Hero) by Ḥasan ‘Abd Allah Al-Quraysh is the story of a pupil planning to study medicine. Fate has it, however, differently planned, for the hero joins the army to die defending Palestine.
The struggle of the Omanis against Portuguese rule is illustrated by the short story ‘Azzān by Ḥamad Rashīd bin Rāshid. The story begins with a description of nature that is characteristic for Ḥamad’s work. In this landscape we are shown a ← 28 | 29 → march of armed people going to meet the enemy. They are proudly bade farewell by women and other man. The author has endowed his young hero with courage, loyalty to himself, and the fatherland, God and the determination necessary to realize the task. Finally, his young life is cut short by death. At the time of his death his mother gives birth to his brother. The death of the main hero is therethore changed into new life. So the continuity of generations is preserved in order for there to be someone to defend the beloved fatherland.
In Kuwait, long before the Iraqi aggression in 1990, subjects concerned with aggression and conspiracy had been embarked upon by Laylā Al-‘Uthmān. One should here mention the symbolic short story An-naml al-ashqar (Red Ants), which was as if a prophetic vision of the invasion which was to come. Another of Laylā Al-‘Uthmān’s short stories entitled Al-ḥasharāt (Bugs) is a timeless and universal tale of patriotism. The author’s attitude is unequivocal. She believes that all Arab countries are one body and the creation of any divisions is criminal, so all forms of aggression and family separation with the actual view of the perspective of the dependent peace of humanity from its dawn.
The Palestinian subject often appears in Emirate literature too, for example in the short story Hadhā al-wajh laysa lī (That Face is not Mine) by Su‘ād Al-‘Arīmī. The writer also examines the theme of the Iran-Iraq war in the short story Baqāyā damm (The Remains of the Blood). The Palestinian problem is presented in an extremely interesting way against the backcloth of the conflicts of the Arab world in the short story Safar al-asfār (The Journey’s Journey). The main hero travels from one Arab country to another in search of work. Eventually he achieves his aim and is employed as a night watchman in a twenty two-storey building. It is no coincidence that the building is twenty-two stories high. The same number as there are Arab countries. The author also deals with their problems and conflicts in order to eventually charge the Arab world with guilt for the tragedy of the Palestinian nation.
The dramatic events of the 2nd of August 1990 in Kuwait: the course of the war as well as its results became the basis for rich short story output. The majority of already active writers decided to give expression to the topic. Among them one should mention: Ismā‘īl Fahd Ismā‘īl,33 Thurayyā Al-Baqṣamī,34 Ḥamad ← 29 | 30 → Al-Ḥamad,35 Walīd Ar-Rujayyib,36 Munā Ash-Shāfa‘ī37 Laylā Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ38 or Laylā Al-‘Uthmān.39
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2016 (February)
- Short story Literary movement Arabic Literature
- Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 174 pp.