Faisal Al Fuhaid – Cross Cultural Diwaniya, Changing the way Kuwaitis interact

When I think about the ideals of Kuwaiti youth, what they represent and what they stand for, many ideas come to mind. If I were to summarize these ideas into one word, that word would be vocal. Over the past several months, through writing this article, and through exploring a wider social circle — I have come to realize that we have a very active, engaged community of youth and among this community is a strong advocate for youth empowerment – Faisal Al Fuhaid, cofounder of Cross Cultural Diwaniya.

Faisal, 25, has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He also cofounded the equality project Equait in 2011. Faisal works as an account manager at Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA). Some of his interests include sports, film, startups, social development and video games.

I wanted to learn more about what Cross Cultural Diwaniya is and what prompted Faisal to pursue this initiative. “Our key activity is discussions, where people gather in a circle to discuss topics with one another. Recently, we have begun offering data collection and research services for clients, which is headed by my partner Leanah AlAwadhi. As far as interesting stories are concerned, back in 2015, we had a Diwaniya scheduled during Ramadan with a topic set in advance. 5 days before, the bombing of Masjid Imam AlSadiq happened, and we were struggling to decide whether to continue with our Diwaniya or cancel it. Eventually, we came to the decision to change the topic to be a discussion on the bombing and why it happened. As a result of this, over 50 people ended up attending and it served as a vehicle for people to vent and say exactly what they feel about what happened without being judged. A lot of interesting comments were shared that day which I won’t be able to say here, but I am grateful that people trust our platform enough to come and say exactly what is on their mind.”

Diwaniyas are a staple in our Kuwaiti culture, how is Cross Cultural Diwaniya any different? “Usually, I would attend a weekly Diwaniya with my family, where we would gather together and talk about our daily lives. To be honest, it felt very repetitive and tedious because I didn’t feel I was learning anything new and I was interacting with the same people every week. Also, I always wondered why there weren’t Diwaniyas where women, non-Kuwaitis, and people from various backgrounds can attend. For these reasons, I decided to start the Cross Cultural Diwaniya, a place where everyone can gather to discuss and debate topics of importance relating to the community, including social, political, and economic issues, leading to constructive solutions on the topics being discussed.”

Upon learning this, it became even more evident to me that Faisal is a strong believer in youth rights and equality.  Through his experience working as a youth advocate, he believes that what they need the most is “opportunity and guidance. I believe those two things are crucial when supporting youth as you have immensely talented young people who aren’t granted the opportunities to excel and are constantly put down by the older generation without constructive feedback. I believe if the older generation does their part in guiding youth while also giving them opportunities that would help immensely. However, if the youth aren’t granted opportunities, they should create the opportunity instead.”

Statistically, youth are the largest demographic in Kuwait, yet some believe that they’re the most marginalized. Did Faisal share this belief? “Yes. I believe youth are marginalized to a degree, especially those who do completely new and different things in Kuwait, but at the same time, people need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions and this isn’t just limited to youth. Generally, as human beings, we tend to blame other people or circumstances for things that don’t go our way but the key to growth is taking responsibility for your mistakes, learning from it and moving on. Whether something good happened to you or bad, I truly believe that you benefit from every experience that comes your way.  Going back to marginalized youth, there definitely is a generational gap between youth and adults, and that is why youth tend to feel marginalized. If adults spent more time trying to understand the needs of youth and how to assist them, that would be greatly beneficial in the long term.”

Faisal is clearly an ambitious person. Despite having a full-time, secure job, this did not prevent him from pursuing other activities that are more aligned with his personal values. “I have many dreams and aspirations, but they relate to one common goal: improving Kuwait for the better. We are all guilty of complaining about how underwhelming things are in Kuwait, but the real key is taking the first step in improving the country. Whether it is through the Cross Cultural Diwaniya, my job at KDIPA or maybe an entirely new project in the future, I want to contribute in any way to develop Kuwait into a better place for living, for doing business, and for tourism.”

In closing, I asked Faisal on his insights on the future of Kuwaiti youth and where he thinks they should be heading. “Challenge the status quo and keep creating new original concepts. It is easy to copy and paste a concept from elsewhere, but the real value is in creating something original locally. It is challenging and definitely will take time, but keep preserving and trying new things until you find something that works. Whether it is a civil society project, a business, or a way of living, I truly believe that introducing new original concepts here in Kuwait (and exporting them abroad) is what I would love youth to do. The day we stop creating is the day we stop developing.”

Cross Cultural Diwaniya have an upcoming Diwaniya event titled “China: Exploring Kuwait’s New Ally” on December 12 at Masaha 13.

To learn more about Cross Cultural Diwnaniya’s upcoming events and to get tickets, please visit @ccdkw on Instagram

Nourah Al-Oseimi is a 26-year-old Kuwaiti who holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Nourah has worked in different places such as the Central Bank of Kuwait and the United Nations. She serves as a free-lance contributing writer to the Times Kuwait – Newsmagazine. Her column – Essentially Kuwaiti – will feature an in-depth look on exceptional young Kuwaitis and their efforts towards the realization of a New Kuwait.