KUWAIT CITY—Over a period of ten years, the independent Nuqat Foundation has sought to support and develop Arab creativity in various fields. The foundation has worked in design, advertising, architecture, fashion and production, holding hundreds of events, lectures and workshops inside and outside Kuwait, along with periodic conferences that discuss a different issue every year.
“We are interested in fostering creativity in the region and developing a creative economy that recognizes and values the importance of culture, art and design, the elements we believe to be necessary in helping to develop societies,” said Wakim Zeidan, one of the founders of Nuqat and its general director.
Nuqat—the name is Arabic for “Points”—began in 2009 as a nonprofit youth initiative focusing on design.
Launched by Zeidan and co-founders Sarah al-Nafisi, Hussa al-Humaidhi and Dana al-Hilal, the initiative has expanded its scope in recent years. It has stepped up its activities and included other types of arts, and has diversified its conferences with the addition of activities in fields like cinema, music and graphic arts. The number of people attending its conferences also increased from 70 in its first edition to 1,800 last year.
“So far, we have held seven major conferences in Kuwait,” said Zeidan. “They were influential ones, as each conference’s sessions and workshops focused on a central idea, discussing all its aspects and followed by panels and exploratory tours in Arab cities,” he added. “Thanks to those events and their participants, Nuqat managed to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the cultural scene in the region, through which you can develop a rich content that contributes to Arab society’s progress.”
“Nuqat managed to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the cultural scene in the region, through which you can develop a rich content that contributes to Arab society’s progress.”-Wakim Zeidan
One of the founders of Nuqat and its general director
Understanding the Creative Economy
Workshops often form part of the foundation’s conferences, and include a wide range of topics and fields such as calligraphy, photography, acting, jewelry design, drawing, comics, caricature, entrepreneurship, creative writing, interior design, Arabic novel writing, and 3D printing.
Nuqat’s lastest conference, held in November and coinciding with the foundation’s tenth anniversary, was titled “The State of the Elastic Mind: A New Mind-Set for Old Barriers.”
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“For three years, we in Nuqat had conducted research to understand and discuss the state of the creative economy in the Arab countries,” said Zeidan. “We found that to define the creative economy in an Arab concept, we have to reformulate the current mentalities pattern to overcome the prevailing obstacles.”
The conference discussed three principles. The first, “Why,” sought to criticize and understand the mentalities in the current environment. The second, “Toward the Future,” imagined what would happen if the current mentalities were changed. The third, “How,” sought to apply realistic solutions for changing these mind-sets.
In an attempt to expand the project’s influence and reach more young people in the region, the foundation held artistic and cultural events in conjunction with the conference in Kuwait and six other Arab countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“We are working through panels to stimulate dialogue and criticize the mentalities that control our institutions with the aim of helping to develop the status quo,” said al-Humaidhi. “We are interested in stimulating discussions to understand the personal stumbling blocks that impede an individual from learning and developing, and then help them to provide the skills necessary to achieve that.”
Accepting the ‘Other’
Arab societies suffer from constraints that limit creativity, al-Humaidhi said, but she believes most impediments are personal ones.
“There is a fundamental problem related to accepting the ‘other,’ his different opinions and traditional heritage, as well as societal obstacles regarding the view of art and creativity,” she said.
She added that universities and schools on the whole are still unable to provide the ideal base for those interested in becoming distinguished artists, or to give them diversity in the theoretical aspects of art.
“Art education is there, but we don’t see any results,” she said.
The founders of Nuqat believe that creative education should start at a young age, so they launched a program for children aged 4 to 12 years old aimed at teaching them to think creatively and develop creative skills, not just science and mathematics, to solve problems.
“We are not competing with schools and universities. We are seeking to support them through our activities.”-Hussa al-Humaidhi
One of the founders of Nuqat
“We are not competing with schools and universities. We are seeking to support them through our activities,” said al-Humaidhi. “We hope we can partner with them to develop our work.”
Nuqat’s events represent an outlet for many aspiring artists in Kuwait and an opportunity to discover and develop their talents.
Shahd al-Wadani, a 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, first attended a Nuqat conference in 2015.
“I participated in a cartoon workshop with the Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat,” she said. “This workshop encouraged me to focus on my passion for comics. I was able to create my own comic stories, which received positive feedback. I learned to use this kind of art to express myself, and it later opened many opportunities for me to work.”
Nuqat’s organizers see the project’s growing audience as a special challenge.
“The high number of our fans spurs us on to work and develop,” al-Humaidhi said. “We listen to them and try to understand their desires and what they need and search for to live more creatively.”
She added, “Our audience is what inspires us at Nuqat for creativity more than any event we hold.”