By Reem Al-Barjas
KUWAIT, April 25 (KUNA) -- The Kuwaiti society witnessed, throughout history, many social, economic, cultural and political changes that contributed to the country's superiority and prosperity on all levels.
One of the most important periods of time that left the greatest impact on the Kuwaiti society was during the reign of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah (Mubarak Al-Kabir) from 1896 to 1915.
Because of the commercial activity seen by the country during that period and the expansion of Kuwaitis' cultural perceptions and their links with neighboring peoples such as Iraq and Iran, together with India and Africa, they became more aware of the need to expand their knowledge and learning.
A study published by Kuwait Center For Research and Studies (CRSK) in 2005 said books and magazines, and manuscripts in that time were the most important sources of knowledge, as they indicated the interest of the people of Kuwait in spreading knowledge and religious culture at the time.
During the reign of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, the biggest private library, owned by Sheikh Naser Mubarak Al-Sabah, was founded, according to CRSK.
The library boasted more than 3,000 important sources and references collected by Sheikh Naser himself, along with 80 poetic volumes, religious, literary and language books as well as rare manuscripts.
The study referred to other private libraries that were inside Kuwaiti houses which represented great sources of science and culture, such as Sheikh Abdullah Khalaf Al-Dahian's library which contained over 500 rare manuscripts.
As for magazines and newspapers, CRSK said Kuwaitis were familiar with what was published in Arab newspapers and magazines in the early twentieth century, including Egyptian, Lebanese and Iraqi newspapers containing administrative, political and commercial news and various public announcements.
As for commercial libraries, Kuwait National Library was the first to open for public; it contained newspapers and magazines from Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and Beirut.
It was founded by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qena'i and financed by Kuwaiti people, and played its cultural role in that period and satisfy Kuwaitis' passion for reading. (end) rb.nhq