Feb. 24, 2016

HE Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah


HE Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah

Director General, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah (DAI)


HE Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah is the co-owner of the al-Sabah Collection and Director General of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah (DAI). She has lectured on topics related to Islamic art and culture at universities and cultural institutions in the Middle East, Europe, and the US and has contributed to publications with a similar interest. She is actively involved in architectural preservation, working to ensure that traditional buildings in Bahrain, Syria, and Egypt are protected and restored to the original design. She has also been involved in archaeological excavations in the region, both as a field worker and a patron.

Most GCC nations face the challenge of balancing cultural heritage with rapid globalization. What are the foundations of Kuwaiti culture, both historically and today?

Families have traditionally been the focus of Kuwaiti culture and that remains the case today. Multi-generational families share homes, celebrations, and the responsibility to continue Kuwait's history, traditions, and stories. What is interesting today is the growing role of grandparents outside the home. It is not unusual for grandparents to bring their grandchildren to participate in DAI cultural and educational programs held during working hours. This is an example of how Kuwaitis are adapting to fast-paced modernity without sacrificing the important role of the family or social and cultural heritage.

What is the aim of the new children's library, and what are some other leading educational programs that you are focused on in Kuwait?

The primary focus of all our education programs is cultural awareness, although it takes various forms depending on the audience. DAI programs strive to give participants the information and experiences they need to truly be a part of an increasingly global civilization. In addition to attending the evening lectures, educational opportunities cannot be underestimated. Adults completing the docent training course and working as a docent have an opportunity to be intimately involved in nearly all aspects of DAI. They host guests in the museums, participate in special lectures and training sessions, and generally support the organization as needed. In effect, the docents are students and teachers, constantly learning more about the arts and culture of the region and sharing their knowledge with others. The children's libraries, which will open in both the ACC and YCC in January 2016, and all of the children's programs, are based on the “Four Cs” of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, which are built into activities designed to promote cultural understanding and awareness. These programs are for children from 18 months through high school and, because of the multi-national backgrounds of the participants and the incorporation of the Four Cs in the programming, the children expand their knowledge not just of Islamic art and culture, but also the diverse arts and cultures of their classmates.

DAI launched its 21st Annual Cultural Season in September 2015. What growth have you seen in DAI's Cultural Season over the years, and what are the main objectives and highlights of the 21st season?

The primary objective of the Cultural Season programming has not changed since our first cultural season launched more than 20 years ago. Our purpose, then and now, is to provide individuals of all ages with opportunities to discover more about the art and culture that surrounds them. What has changed is the volume and diversity of the participants and the activities included in our cultural seasons. This year's program includes 32 lectures, 16 classic films, 33 concerts, two theatrical weekends, eight Family Days, and five exhibitions. There will also be at least three book launches, two festivals, 124 children's education opportunities, five training sessions for volunteer docents, and many extra events that will be added during the season. There are always many surprises in our lectures and events, so predicting the highlights in advance is a guessing game. Highlights, like beauty, are in the eyes of the beholder. For some it will be a particular performance, for others a lecture, and for others an exhibition or children's program. This is one of the keys to our success.