Thursday 25 August 17:30 - 19:00

Aga Khan Centre (Room 215)
10 Handyside Street

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Book Launch: Poet and Businessman


The book launch will highlight the modern history of Kuwait by telling the story of Abd al-Aziz al-Babtain.

Poet and Businessman reviews and analyses the modern history of Kuwait by telling the story of Abd al-Aziz al-Babtain (b. 1936), a businessman, philanthropist and poet whose own story closely interweaves with the history of the Gulf state.

Constructing an overview of the modern history of Kuwait in parallel with the life of al-Babtain, Professor Leif Stenberg presents a rare study of an individual whose generation experienced first-hand the discovery of oil and the incredible changes it wrought on their small society. The costs of that discovery, alongside its many benefits, continue to play a crucial part in the socio-economic and cultural development of Kuwait and the wider region. Addressing an otherwise neglected area of Arabian history and the contemporary Middle East, this book is a balanced account of the development of Kuwait, enriched by the story of a remarkable and influential individual.


Leif Stenberg ​is Dean and Professor of Islamic Studies at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), London​. Between 2010 and 2019 Stenberg was President of the Nordic Society of Middle Eastern Studies and he is currently a member of the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) Council and vice-president of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES).​ His latest research has been on the various intersections between football, religion and social identities.

Dr Walid Ghali is the Head of the Aga Khan Library, London, Associate Professor of Islamic and Arabic studies at AKU-ISMC and a Chartered Librarian of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Dr Ghali received his PhD in Islamic Manuscript Studies from the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University (2012). Dr Ghali's current research projects focus on Islamic manuscript traditions, particularly in Arabic script and book history.

*The discussion will be followed by a reception.


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