Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwait Ministries Ban Photography?

I am in total shock.

Thank you, Bit Jockey, for sending this to me, an article from the Kuwait Times.

We had so much fun! We had photo challenges, Kuwait sunsets, National Day Celebration photos, so much fun. And now, you can get arrested for taking photos? Not of military or political or sensitive buildings, not for reasons of national security, but . . . just because?

Most photographers in Kuwait are careful not to photograph women, or any citizens without their permission. Why on earth was this ban created?

How on earth will they enforce it? What are the penalties?

KUWAIT: After the ban three ministries placed on photography, most Kuwaiti youth are a bit confused about what to do with their cameras if they can’t use them in public and why such laws were implemented in the first place. The Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance recently came to the conclusion that photography should be used for journalism purposes only. This has resulted in the ban of Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) in public, on the streets and in malls

What most Kuwaiti photographers have come to wonder is how such a decision could be reached by authorities, especially considering that digital cameras and cell phone cameras have the same abilities. What most people think of photography as a hobby has become a bit misguided due to the fact that the country has so little exposure to art. While using a DSLR, passersby may wonder if the camera is being used for the wrong reasons.

Mohammed Al-Eisa, who picked up photography as a hobby more than 10 years ago, said that he has decided to take photos of animals or still life due to the fact that these subjects don’t mind having their picture taken and don’t make a scene. “I started facing problems the very first day I bought my camera,” Mohammed added.

What often happens is that a big black camera tends to worry people. Taking a picture of a stranger would seem like much less of an issue if you were using a more discreet camera or even a cell phone. Mariam Al-Fodiry said that she has faced similar problems with her hobby and that being a girl doesn’t help at all. She said that in some cases it makes the problem even worse. “Switching to abstract and landscape photography was one the options I considered after getting into enough trouble,” Mariam said.

Majed Al-Saqer said that sometimes people stop him while he is in his car with his camera, as if he were planning to kill someone with it. He said that he isn’t sure what the real problem is, whether it is people taking photos of each other or the size of the camera.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Bureaucracy, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Photos | 15 Comments

Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council

I have a friend from church; she is a woman I admire greatly. Older than I am, though not much, she participates in the Spartacus Program at the “Y”, she is good at running things, she is good at making phone calls and even sounds like she enjoys them, she enjoys social life and she sparkles.

She is always thinking.

“I think I know just the group for you!” she exclaimed as we were working on a project. “Have you heard about the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council?”

No, no, I hadn’t heard about that. Having lived here six months now, there is a lot I don’t know.

She told me all about it and she was right. It is right up my alley. The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council greets foreign visitors and performs a variety of services, escorting them to appointments, showing them the area, even taking them shopping or inviting them for a dinner in your private home, all in the name of hospitality and showing the best side of this beautiful part of the United States.

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to create and encourage collaboration between like-minded community stakeholders who value sharing the Central Gulf Coast with the rest of the world by:

° Facilitating professional and personal interaction for international leaders during official visits to the Central Gulf Coast

° Enhancing respect and communication through international exchanges and alliances
Forging cultural, educational, and business relationships with the global community through citizen diplomacy

° Promoting greater understanding of global affairs in our community through a balance of public events, educational activities, and the International Visitor Leadership Program

° Promoting the Central Gulf Coast as an important center of commerce, culture, and tourism

How cool is that? Even AdventureMan is excited about joining this club; we are so grateful for all the wonderful hospitality shown us through many years of adventures abroad. We feel grateful for an opportunity to be hosts in turn.

In this club I am not so alien. The club members are people who have a broad world view. I met other people who have lived or visited in Qatar or Kuwait, and other parts of the world where I have never been. Oh, what fun.

Many of the members are former military, and I found myself listening to a discussion of an upcoming meeting. As this is a community that parties hearty during Mardi Gras, I assumed it must be the name of a Krewe, a Mardi Gras social club, all these high-testosterone men were discussing camellias, must be a code word for some secret society, right?

Wrong. As it turns out, many people here, men and women, are passionate about gardening, and there is a club devoted to turning out perfect camellias, and they are having a show coming up in December. I learn new things ever day. 🙂

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council was only founded a short couple years ago, and has already won awards for its programs and hospitality. A truly impressive group. 🙂

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 4 Comments