A.A. IN ARABIA
Returning to Kuwait in early 1989 after being at home in UK for a period of time, I made contact with a man called JOE who was listed in the “AA where to find” as a “loner” of the fellowship of AA in Kuwait.
At first, it was Joe and myself, then there were three and then there were four of us.
As a result of our meeting, we were able to form the first registered AA group in Kuwait. We called it The Ray of Hope and eventually registered our group with GSO New York in 1992
After the Liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders in 1991, and due to a massive influx of people from USA and elsewhere, our small group grew,
Membership numbers peaked at around 23 for a short period of time but averaged over the year at around 8-9 per meeting
We progressed from a single meeting on Friday to additional meetings on Sunday and Wednesday each week throughout the year.
The meetings included Big Book Study, Step & Traditions, and Open Discussion.
In 2006, our group hosted the Regional AA Convention. We did the same again in 2012. At both of these events, we welcomed visitors from GSO in New York and from people in recover from the Gulf Region and also from elsewhere around the globe.
As a group, we did our utmost to observe the principles of the programme and this included of course the 12 Traditions,12 Concepts, and Guidelines.
As most of our members were transient in nature, most of the service positions were left to a core group of people that were long time residents. We were few and obviously had to wear several “hats” at the same time to cover the service positions.
For me personally it proved to be truly beneficial as it afforded many opportunities to grow in service and recovery.
Amongst the service positions I was entrusted with were, Set-up person, Group Secretary, Greeter, Chairperson, Treasurer, GSR, Public Information Representative etc etc.
As PI representative, I learned how different it is in Kuwait from how it in UK with regard to this item of service. I recall some of these related experiences as follows.
P.I. (Public Information Service)
Having been asked by the group if I would represent the Ray of Hope in a Public Information Service position, I set about the task enthusiastically.
I prepared two flyers, each in both the English and the Arabic script and printed out about 200 copies of each.
The FIRST FLYER was targeted at Embassies and Consulates of the many countries represented in Kuwait., employers, hospitals, medical professionals, security services. I even got an interview with the under secretary in the State Security department and explained in detail how we might be of service. I pointed out that whilst we were willing and able to co-operate with his personnel, we could not be affiliated in any way with anyone. He seemed to accept this principle.
I secured appointments to see HR directors and managers of large national and multinational companies representing industry and commerce.
Surprisingly, out of the scores of visits I made to these establishments, very few were willing to take up our offer to address senior personnel in the workforce on the issues that we could help them with.
In particular, just two of the perhaps 20 hospitals I engaged with were prepared to allow us to put information on the flyers in their surgery waiting rooms or pass on the flyers to their medical professionals.
In addition, I visited the embassies and consular offices of many of the countries represented in Kuwait, where I would leave flyers posted onto their notice boards. It must be said that the Embassies were, on the whole, happier to post the flyers on their premises and pass onto the message of support to those seeking help.
The SECOND FLYER was directed to the public at large.
I began posting these flyers on notice boards -(with permission from the owners), of places like supermarkets, shopping malls etc.
However, on one occasion I laid myself open to scrutiny by the security services whilst placing flyers under the windscreen wipers of cars in a multi-storey car park. Whilst merrily placing these flyers and quietly congratulating myself on my efforts, I was confronted by three security staff in uniform.
They were adamant that I should stop what I was doing and escorted me to their office in the mall.
There I was asked to explain my actions and told that I was in fact breaking the law.
Then the police arrived, and I was taken to the police station in Kuwait City.
At the station, I was truly fortunate inasmuch as the duty inspector was a man who had received much of his education in UK. He was also aware of Alcoholics Anonymous.
He was very courteous towards me and I was able to tell him that I was unaware that I was in breach of Kuwait law by posting the flyers onto the car windscreens. After all, I had not done any damage to any of the cars.
I told him that I had sat with the Under Secretary of the State Security department and in fact had understood that what I was doing was legal and above board. But I also made it clear that I had not received permission from the Under Secretary, only assumed that what I was doing was ok.
The duty inspector told me that where I was at fault was leaving the flyers without permission from the owners of the multi-storey car park.
Anyway, after drinking tea with him in his office, he allowed me to leave with the remaining flyers and a caution.
I counted myself lucky that it was this gentleman on duty and not some illiterate Beydoun as is often the case.
But I had learned a lesson to be remembered and subsequently passed it on to other group members.
These are the flyers I distributed.