Kuwait, Musings, Writing

Athnain Magazine: A Polished Thought Experiment


So a couple of weeks ago I got word of the fact that one of Kuwait’s most highly anticipated and editorialized magazines, Athnain (Arabic for ‘two’), would be available to order in Kuwait via Tap (I believe you can only access Tap from your smartphone for the time being) and I pretty much made like the wind to snag that sucker!

Now, like many other starry-eyed Instagram onlookers, I was deeply fascinated by the way everyone had covered the launch of the magazine and the way that Athnain itself had created an identity which revolved around the notion of cultured individuals exploring Kuwait’s untapped and unexposed artistic endeavors in a way that was both meaningful and different.

Lofty aspirations? Sure. But, from what I previewed on Instagram and all the other social media buzz, Athnain seemed to have just the right amount of daring confidence and alternative prowess to pull it off. I was honestly the very picture of human excitement when I received a launch invite and all but kicked myself in the shins when the universe so sinisterly kept me from attending.

But after getting my hands on it, Athnain (at least the premier issue) seemed to read more like a polished thought experiment than the purposeful expression on new modes of art, creativity, and identity in Kuwait that I had initially hoped it would be.

And, sure, ‘a thought experiment’ is not an overtly negative term–not by a long shot. No matter what angle you’re coming from, Athnain will challenge or probe your mind in one way or another. That is good for society by any measure and it’s an admirable effect for anyone to have. It just slightly underwhelmed me and maybe that’s partly my fault too (although that would mean I should lower my standards to appease someone else’s ineptitude, so no). And, hell, ‘thought experiment’ could speak for a whole host of different experiences.

So, because I know that different people buy different magazines for different reasons, and because I don’t ever want to come off as a Negative Nancy (I’m honestly not, I just think the key to a good critique is an open attitude), I’m going to briefly tell you guys what to expect from whichever brand of ‘thought experiment’ you’re particularly interested in getting out of Athnain. It goes without saying, of course, that if you’re not super interested in the concept of thought-provoking media (and it’s totally fine if you’re not–I am an absolute connoisseur of reality TV trash, so I’m not about to judge) then Athnain altogether just might not be for you.


6 thoughts on “Athnain Magazine: A Polished Thought Experiment

  1. Really enjoyed your honest review of the magazine. I initially had the same feeling about the magazine and was caught up in an imaginary hype. The instagram posts revolving around the launch and cover girl looked so promising. My first thought had slowly faded after being published as not many reviews or mentions of contents were made. It is now clear to me that it holds no proper substance. Like you said, a magazines beef is in the writing. I’m sure the people are lovely and their ideas are new and transending. Looking forward to future issues……..out of curiosity.

    1. First of all: thank you for the comment and SO SORRY it took me this long to reply.

      I really think that Athnain has a lot of things going for it and that, if it just invests more time in written content, it could be a showstopper and a vehicle for real, cultural change. I honestly believe that.

      I also really commend their efforts and their daring attitude towards presenting something so different to the public and something which caters to a different voice and an unheard (but existing) demographic.

      The review was in no way meant to dissuade anyone from buying the magazine or meant to make Athnain seem completely meaningless. Clearly I see room for great potential and the magazine has its good aspects, I just wished that they gave those things value and significance instead of merely glossing over them momentarily.

      Thanks again for the great comment!

  2. Thanks for the great honest review! I also had some doubt about it when I saw nobody talked about it very much after the release of the magazine … U made me interested to see it and see what is so different about it … I like that they are trying to be unique but as u said without enough proper articles n stuff like that a magazine will not have much meaning… Thank u again for the review!! I will maybe buy it but i will keep ur critic in mind

    1. And thank you for the well-thought comment!

      Well, like I said in the comment above, I wasn’t trying to dissuade anyone from buying it. Really, I was just trying to give an overview of the magazine’s strengths and weaknesses because I think that this is a magazine which a lot of people don’t know how to approach because it really is, in many ways, so different from any other magazine in Kuwait’s current market.

      That’s why I thought this whole review of Athnain specifically (as opposed to any other magazine or Kuwait’s general magazine industry) was important.

      I hope you do buy the magazine and come back to tell me what your own personal take-away was!

  3. i brought the magazine and i really see wat ur talkin about …. i also felt like it was bit empty & needed more meaning in the words..

    Ur right the pictures are very nice & beautiful & i feel like they have a strong msg about men & women & different personalities can be both (dont know if that sounded right ;Pp)

    am going to buy the next issue cuz i see potential as u said but if the next one is like the 1st then i will not buy more….

    Thank u for the great post as always !! xx

    1. I see what you’re trying to say, and I agree.

      I personally LOVED the way they tried to re-configure gender dynamics and invert what it means to be either a man or a woman. The reality is that things like ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are made-up, entirely arbitrary premises which can have no bearing on a person’s actual identity or the way they choose to carry themselves, whether a man or a woman.

      I really loved the fact that they were willing to take that daring step to open up room for those different interpretations of male and female identity and how, really, the only ‘rule’ is there are no rules.

      And, yes, the pictures were very rich and divine.

      I’m going to buy the next issue too, and I’m hoping for the best inshallah. I really hope they do up their writing game for the sake of these other lofty and important aspirations. Because the reality is that without any solid writing base they can’t possibly hope to make any meaningful, lasting impression AND I REALLY REALLY WANT THEM TO.

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