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Modern Literature of the Gulf


Barbara Michalak-Pikulska

This book contains a selection of texts in Arabic Languages from the Gulf countries.
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.
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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

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