From the 1950s to the 1970s, waves of revolutionary movements and organizations reverberated across the Arab world as a whole and the Arab Gulf in particular. A spectrum of broadly left-wing political organizations that ranged from Arab nationalism to Communism fed into this electric environment which posed serious challenges to Arab Gulf regimes. These challenges took various forms, including the armed revolution against British colonialism in Oman’s Dhufar revolution, labor organization across Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the region-wide dissemination of revolutionary theory and cultural production.
Within this context, the rapidly expanding economic activities of these petrostates attracted labor migration from across the Arab world and beyond. Palestinian migration across the Arab Gulf region played an important role in left-wing revolutionary activity. Palestinians in the Arab Gulf participated in the political environment through education, publishing, and organizing. In this political environment, activists and intellectuals relied heavily on periodical publications to build political consciousness and community. These periodicals covered regional and international events, provided political analysis and theory, and published literature and art. Literary production and theory, in particular, became central to revolutionary publications.
In Kuwait, critical political subjects emerged out of the large Palestinian community. This political milieu saw the founding of Fatah—a key organization in the path of Palestinian national liberation. Palestinians in Kuwait also involved themselves in the Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN)—founded at the American University of Beirut by George Habash and brought to Kuwait largely by Ahmad al-Khatib. In Kuwait, many prominent Palestinian political figures were affiliated with MAN. The publications connected with MAN in Kuwait became critical organizational centers for opposition movements across the Arab Gulf region. Most notably, al-Tali’ah—then a weekly journal—which institutionalized opposition publishing. Al-Tali’ah, like many publications, included cultural and literary production on its pages. In the mid-1960s, Ghassan Kanafani—who was involved with the publication during his time in Kuwait—recruited famed Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali to serve as an editor and artistic director of al-Tali’ah.
This paper aims to uncover the political engagement of Palestinians in the Arab Gulf. This paper focuses on the political projects of Palestinians in Kuwait, particularly as they were expressed through published literary production using the pages of al-Tali’ah during the 1960s.