Why such a lack of Creativity in Kuwait?

I have always wondered why there is such a lack of creatvity and imagination in Kuwait and many parts of the Middle East.

Let’s take the advertising industry in Kuwait as an example. Is it any coincidence that most of the companies employ ex-pats (mainly Lebanese Nationals) to do their ‘creative art’ work?

I remember seeing the exact same scenario when I was Dubai, UAE. Each and every advertising company – from account managers to creative directors were lead by Ex Pats.

So what does that tell us? Why are we so relient on outside influences to shape our internal marketing needs? Where are the new breed of ‘pop-culture Kuwaitis?’ – the ones who we regularly see flashing their ‘creative dressing’ skills in Marina Mall and the like?

I believe that there are 2 possible reasons why there is a distinct lack of creativity (particularly amongst Kuwaitis).

1) De-Valuation of Creative Minds…..When you sit amongst family members, friends or co-workers – the typical conversation revolves around hardcore, traditional business. Ask any patriarch what they advise you to study at college – and you’ll get the same 3 or 4 answers. Business, Medicine or Engineering.

Whilst all those are essential and necessary components of modern day life – none of them are creative orientated jobs. Tell your family you want to study Art, Graphic Design, Advertising or Music and they will look at you with a blank, empty and un-encouraging stare.

2) Environment…… As I alluded to yesterday, there is a desperate lack of colour in most Middle East countries. Everything always has the same sandy stone tonality – and the weather is for the most part –  predictably sunny. Artists need climates, colours, temperatures, scenery and most importantly ‘change’ to be inspired.

Is it any co-incidence that some people here also wear some of the most ridiculously un-colour coordinated clothes you are ever likely to see? Are the big huge flowery dresses or the ‘fruit and vegetable’ coloured t shirts merely a (subliminal) way to put some much needed inspiration into their lives? Of course it is.

We should promote creativity in Kuwait – not look down upon it. We should encourage self expression by promoting art / music and fashion. Creativity, afterall, lies at the centre of everything.

I would love to see a day when we see Kuwaiti designers take the runways of New York by storm, or Kuwaiti Musicians go on a World Tour promoting their new pop album…..let’s encourage growth and creativity rather than kill it before its even had a chance to shine. We need these people to help promote the image of Kuwait, its people and our future direction.


21 Responses to Why such a lack of Creativity in Kuwait?

  1. FaYoora says:

    your last paragraph got me goosebumps @@
    well .. we are .. growing .. Slowly i believe
    Lately .. Ive been astonished and impressed by Three People who really deserve applause for their endless creativity.
    and making it actually come to life..

    1- Cupcake Boutique .. A Juicy-couture like Made by two kuwaiti Girls
    Kuwaiti fashion designers.. they started off in an exhibition and ended up with opening their own shop at Galleria 2000

    2-J & F.. 2 Kuwaiti girls aswell. starting their own Business with (strass) http://www.j-and-f.com,, The website says it all . and they actually ARE hitting it world wide .. they’r going to france fashion week! and i wish them the best of luck!

    3-Burger boutique .. Its a mix between art and food..
    Its amazing how it started all by Kuwaiti’s!
    And how we even got people putting their whole creativity in our food!.

    Now back to the reasons why we Lack creativity ..
    o its like 20% only or less..

    I think the main reason would be Laziness!
    Or the over loads of money.. with their trusted life bank accounts..
    they just live .. Spend money / have fun / travel .. And complain about the weather back home.
    We lack thinking .. thats all ..

    Akoo mathal igool
    “El 7aja Um il ekhtera3” or something like that.
    o salamatkum

    Sorry for making it too long =)

  2. FaYoora says:

    Oh and dont press my name in my first comment.. its not my website..
    its the one in this Comment ;P

  3. Nadine says:

    Wow…great post! I agree with you on everythnig you say. We have hardly any artisits or designers in Kuwait. It’s pretty bad that we have to look outside for all our creativity. But how to change?

  4. The Grenadine says:

    Nice one.

    My suggestion is for you to check out Kuwait’s local art scene. You will find that there are Kuwaiti painters who are creating some fanfare overseas. A prime example is Munira Al Kazi. She currently lives in Spain and paints some of the most beautiful landscapes Ive seen. Huge recognition she has now.

    Another on the way is Ghada Al-Kandari. And another is Jamal Abdel Rahim, from Bahrain, and also, there is Amira Behbehani.

    Go spend some time at the local art galleries. Namely Dar Al Funoon. Get yourself on their mail list to receive invitges and show announcements.

    And then rewrite your blog;-)

  5. The Grenadine says:

    Oh, and I agree with Fayoora. It is LAZINESS!!!

  6. toxy says:

    The Grenadine:

    1) why does Muira live in Spain? It wouldn’t perhaps be because she can gain more inspiration – and her art is more appreciated over there would it?

    2) I have 3 paintings by Jamal Abdul Rahim hanging in my living room – he’s Bahraini, not Kuwaiti – your point?

    3) I have been to Dar several times before, I am well aware of what’s in there. How many Kuwaiti pieces do you see in there?

    You are missing the big picture altogether. 2 or 3 Painters does not mean that Kuwait is a creative force or nurturing its creative potential. Why are AD agencies filled with EX Pats, why do we not see many Kuwaiti designers / musicians making it on the world stage?

    Now perhaps you would like to rewrite your comment.


  7. toxy says:

    FaYoora, thanks for alerting us to these up and coming designers (CB and JF) in Kuwait. I must admit, I haven’t heard of them – but its certainly encouraging to see that the new generation is at least trying to break free from the societal norms.

    I agree with you on Burger Boutique. They’ve definitely brought a fresh new ‘concept’ theme to restauranteering. It’s a bold step which will hopefully promote more ‘creative’ spirit.

    I remember reading that the owner of BB takes a very hands on approach to everything from the website to the menu design. Impressive.

  8. Borzaiga says:

    This is one intresting subject ! I am a kuwaiti designer, working in the advertising industry in kuwait. in my personal opinion we lack creativity cause of 2 things. (thats what i can think of right now )

    1- Kuwaiti’s are not exposed (its not an option) to the fact there is something called graphic design, some know it as a name only, they dont actually know what a graphic designer does. when i studied graphic design i knew about it when i was abroad, i didnt know it before i go to study. but recently institutes are opening in kuwait like SAE ( and i hope better ones open later on) which makes me feel kind of optimistic, cause we do have the talent, alot of talented people are willing and wanting to be involved they just need the tool and to be hired.

    2- the client : some clients fear to go creative they consider it as they are risking it with their clients and makeing it to their target. they want to spoonfeed the idea to the client. I am totally against that we shouldnt just spoon feed the ad to the target. and we shouldnt make it really far fetched. we should find middle grounds between the target and creativity.

    The kuwaiti advertising industry limits the creativity from a variety of directions, the client, the market, the target, socially, ethically religiously…and when u try to break these limits they claim ur idea is far fetched. and when u do what they ask for the market blames you for not being creative.. heheh funny isnt it ? this is such a massive subject id keep on going on and on and on !
    Toxy u just triggered me to post a replay to your post on my blog elaborating more and more. Thanks alot for this post ! :D:D

  9. Borzaiga says:

    I couldnt hold myself back so ill replay again to the LAZINESS part. i work in an advertising agency ! i start from 9 – 6 thats fine , but sometimes i get t stay to 11 pm, and other employees come on week ends, not only in the company im working in, or in kuwait, or in lebanon, its everywhere in advertsing ! when a deadline is close u should stay up until u finish ur job ! u wont do such a thing unless u really love what u are doing.

    so now we have 1 option, Love what u do ! which will motivate you and make you go forward.

    second option which might be the lazy sect. in which get a degree in Arts or Graphic design and work in KTV for 6 hours ! or an ART teacher for elementry kids or even work a teller at a bank. thats being lazy

    lazy people cant adapt to the private sector, cause when u have a due date ! u got to be there or the project wont be done ! then its a big problem.

    another reason why we lack creativity is the time span you have to come up with an ad. so imagine ur a client has an opening in 2 days and u recieve the job today, so what can we do ? very tight schedule to come up with something.. this results in a very commercial market, so to be creative , the client should give more space to the agency and the agency should give more space for the creative department to come up with a true creative idea .. sorry for writing again but i couldnt hold myself back lol !! cheers people !! i love this post !!

  10. Glitch says:

    I’m NOT a Kuwaiti but I know a lot of Kuwaiti boys & girls, who are extremely talented in arts & music. But, it is the government and people of Kuwait that needs to be aware of the value of creativity. There are many Kuwaiti rock/metal musicians that I’ve worked with and most of them lack self-confident under the impression that they will never be appreciated by the people in this country. I’ve had too many bad experiences myself, too many times we had to close down our shows since the people and ministry got offended by the music. Anyhow, my point is.. there are too many talented people in this country, all they really need is little moral support to take their talent to next level.

  11. MacaholiQ8 says:

    Whilst all those are essential and necessary components of modern day life – none of them are creative orientated jobs. Tell your family you want to study Art, Graphic Design, Advertising or Music and they will look at you with a blank, empty and un-encouraging stare.

    Couldn’t have been said any better, toxy. I know my family gave me that look when I decided to study graphics and web design as an integrant diploma aside to my current bachelors digree which would stress me out and load my life by having a morning job and a full course in the evening though now they encourage me to go for it since they’ve understood how it would be an advantage for me.

    About your article… As we all know there are hundreds of creative and innovative Kuwaiti people out there as well, we cannot disregard their work. As mentioned above Burger Boutique is a great example yet it doesn’t stand alone; there’s Blu | Grey advertising agency which is a part of a global advertising agency (Grey World Wide). Blu | Grey might be run mostly by ex pats but the main idea was sole Kuwaiti. Here shows the lack of people who are familiar with their work hence calling out ex pats. Then there’s Maki, I think I’ve heard that Maki is nothing but sheer innovation because there’s no such rest. called Maki anywhere else but here.

    Anyways, great article and I totally agree on your point.

  12. chocky says:

    Brilliant post. You’ve nailed everything that is wrong with the Ad / Creative business in Kuwait. I’ve worked here for nearly 2 years and noticed many of the same things in my company / kw.  I’d love to see you write more about specific topics like these.

  13. […] Today at work i was surfing a couple of refreshing blogs while im waiting for a brief to hit me, and i saw a very intresting post in Toxy’s Jamstation Blog which grabbed my attention and trigered me to write this post as a replay or u can call it an elaborated point of view. Toxy’s post was called “Why Such a Lack of Creativity in Kuwait”, Toxy’s point of view is very true and with his post he brought up a subject everyone tries to avoid. In this post l give my opinion based on my prespective from deep inside the creative den (creative department in the advertising agency). […]

  14. CyberRowdy says:

    man…that was a great post…I love the way you narrate things……

  15. Um Sari says:

    I would agree and not agree with the above description of creativity. You are still boarded by the sense that creative people are the only ones who work in a creative environment (i.e. arts, design, etc.) whilest creativity spans all sorts of fields and environemtns. it is not about what you do, it is how you do it.

    a creative manager can find a new way to promote his or her business, a creative doctor may find a solution to the long waiting hours, a creative engineer will discover a new position of the bolts and nots to hold his or her creation.

    Laziness has nothing to do with it as with encouragement. how many times were you encouraged at school to find a new way in a chemistry class? trial and error time? no way! how many times did you answer a question with a different twist (such as in math) but come to the same answer as the teacher, only to be told that that is not the correct way to do it. these are all creativity killers. from family to friends to school (mainly school) they all stop us at one point or another. you can build your creativity and learn it. not all are born with it.


  16. The Grenadine says:


    Toxy, toxy, toxy.. have a seat

    1) My bad, Munira has now returned to Kuwait. She USED to live in Spain.

    2) I DID mention Jamal is Bahraini. Please recheck my comment. I personally love the guy to bits, a personal friend of mine… im such a showoff, huh?

    3) The answer to you #3 question was in my second comment: LAZINESS… I’m sorry, but a lot Kuwaitis are, for the most part, lazy. Oh perhaps it is bourgeoisie. They cannot be bothered to make their own artistic culture, so they buy it and/or bring it over. Yeah yeah… Im a basher, whatever you readers wanna label me. Oh, and I am “Kuwaiti” too! I use the adjective loosely, cause I am literally a 5th class citizen. Funked up, huh?

    4) Good post!

  17. toxy says:

    Borzaiga: I’m glad you were inspired to put a piece out responding to my ‘initial question.’ You’ve put down some very vaid reasons, and I for one am proud to see a Kuwaiti take such pride in their work! Nice site by the way!
    Glitch: This perfectly sums up the reality of the matter. You yourself have seen the talent in Kuwait – but people are a) not encouraged to nurture it and b) when they do – they get hasseled! It’s a horrible catch 22.

    Mac: I wanted to stray from the ‘Obvious 3’ at college – and the reactions were ridiculous! Mentality has to change at home before we will ever see real talent being nurtured in the country.

    Chocky, Cyber: Thanks!

    Um Sari: I 100% agree with you. Creativity is completely subjective. You cannot really ‘define’ and ‘confine’ creativity to particular fields. However, for my example, it was much easier to take the generic definition and discuss it. One could say that my father is a creative designer – because he likes to put the seat cushions in a certain way. Whilst ‘kinda true’ – it isn’t true at all!

    And Finally, The Grenadine:….

    Oh dear Grenadine…..thanks for the seat.

    1) Where Munira is or isn’t is not really an issue or relevant to this topic! lol….

    2) Next time you see Jamal, please thank him – from me – for the nice paintings that are hanging on my wall!

    3) I agree that many Kuwaiti’s are ‘lazy’ – but that’s not a reason to be creative is it? I mean we are lazy to goto the gym, we are lazy to get a soda from the fridge when we have maids…..but I don’t agree that we (Kuwaitis, yes, I am Kuwaiti) are too lazy to express our creative talent! That’s just nonsensical…

    4) Thank you…. 😉

  18. nahash says:

    i notive that neither the authors nor the commentators here thought to mention the undeniably creative theaterical talents of celebrated actors that have thrilled generations of arab speakers (a wide group i know) across the world. i know this because everywhere i go around the world and meet arab speakers, a significant number can quote lines and names and scenes by heard much better than i could ever hope to as a kuwaiti. its truly touching.

    unfortunately i see this era coming to an end (or has already) with the lack of support and a suffocating insularity from even our own history as kuwaitis.

    kuwait was once (or so i heard) a laissez faire society that managed to crush its own core and beliefs in creative and uncreative areas. literally creative destruction?

  19. Fahad Razzouqi says:

    I am a Kuwaiti graphic designer and I have a bachelors degree in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. I can probably clarify the situation to you especialy since I’ve been working in the field of graphic design for five years. In Kuwait making a living out of your art work is impossible unless you are a part of a gang of crooks or if you work for the suffocating public sector. You can make tripple your public salary if you work KTV or MOI as long as you know how to use after effects and photoshop. You dont have to be an artist. the catch is if u even try to do something that slightly deviates from the crappy standards placed by the”self taught Gdesigners” you will become public enemy #1. You have to sell your soul to get along with all the bedouin morons and religious fanatics who are in power. I’ve been working
    for KTV for five years because it an easy living and you cant be fired no matter what. You can show up whenever u want and do whatever. Some people who work in my section smuggled 3 avid editing workstation each one costs up to 80 thousand KD infront of everyone and no one said anything. Two years later when it was discovered there was a slight rackett about the theft but the people who smuggled the workstations showed up with there magical member of parliment who straightened everything out in their favor. And guess what, it was a religious MP. Now the 3agad who smuggled have there own company and they work for the 3afasi channel they never come to work in ktv but the still get there salaries. honestly if u are willing to be a crook you can make a fortune without much effort so why should u be creative? Have been to Gulf bank? Let me ask u about the art the hangs on the wall of every branch in Gulf bank. Does it come from many artists or just one? I am talking about the blue collages of camels and fish. That collage is the true representation of successfull art in kuwait; vapid dead static uneventfull shameless unoriginal compliant , motivated by greed on only greed. All the art works you find in hotels and resorts is created worthless arab expatriates, not one place in kuwait other than gulf bank purchases art by kuwati artists despite fact there are many amazingly creative kuwaiti artists who focus on few works a year but are never given the chance to make a good living out of it. Kuwait does not protect its artists. Have you ever been to a resort in france or switzerland that hangs american art on its walls? The arab expatriates in kuwait cant sell there art work in there own country why else are they living in this weather of 50C. They are not artists they are artisans who will do what you want, not bring truth to you about your self and others, not innovate and discover, not enlighten or elivate or share with you their sacred mission. The society that tolerates ignorance out of compassion for the human condition deserves to have ignorance as its source of passion. Kuwait and its stupid bedouin, traditional, and religious culture should be enclosed with in a wall then air-struck with those F-16s wihch we never used.

  20. Jaber says:

    oh yeah you have just rubbed it in. According to my interaction with the Kuwaiti market and most of the big local companies, I realized that the word “Creativity or Innovation” can not be translated. It is like you are speaking with different language. It could be the mindset or the rusted mentality. This has become a contagious disease even to expatriates (Americans, British, Lebanese, you just name it). The minds here are not open to any new knowledge, thus they reject any ideas that would conflict with their believes.

    I believe that the creative/innovative Kuwaities are suffering to death eheheh. However, there will be time when the market receives a wake-up call. We do not have to push in the same direction, we have to look for alternatives and deliver our message. Toxy, thank you for this blog. Keep it up

  21. Joe says:

    I am a non Kuwaiti creative. I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years but I gave up and changed profession because there is neither appreciation nor understanding of what i do. Don’t tell me about hope and pla pla pla. every thing is going backwards in this region what makes you think it’ll get better. Forget about it dude.

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