One of the traits commonly used to describe Millennials is of spending more time with virtual friends and engaging in online activities than with friends in person or doing more physical things like walking or playing a sport. Kuwaiti female activist Sheikha Intisar Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah, Founder & Publisher of Alnowair, took note of this more seriously and is sounding the alarm bell against ‘phubbing,’ a term created to refer to people who have turned drastically aloof from society and have chosen to be engrossed in devices.
The genesis of her move was a YouTube video that went viral, projecting Kuwait in a negative light. “I was disappointed and appalled at how the makers could see only a dark side, because I see my country in a very positive light,” she said, adding, “I love my country and decided to do something about the negative mindset of the people. That is when I decided to begin my challenge with the youth as the youth form 70 per cent of Kuwaitis.”
The Sheikha Intisar Al-Sabah met with an advertising agency, industry experts, and conducted in-depth research on how to make a positive impact on people’s mindset.
“We contacted schools, universities and organized public events in malls, streets, parks and other public places in Kuwait. Our mission was to fight phubbing, which I think has become an epidemic in the Arab world. This made me to launch ‘Al-Nowair campaign’, aimed at discouraging smartphone users from snubbing their friends, associates and loved ones,” she explained.
After launching the organization on March 20, 2013, coinciding with the International Day of Happiness, dubbed ‘The Bloom’, the team set up a four-day interactive exhibit in a rundown building. It included activities such as Balloon of Worry, where attendees were encouraged to write a worry on a card, tie it to the balloon, and watch as it floated away. In the ‘Thankful For’ station, they wrote something they were thankful for and posted it on the wall. Participants were challenged to put a pencil between their teeth, which forced a smile, and experience how you can change your mood to a happy one with that simple action.
Some of the other campaigns that the organization worked on to achieve this included a Yellow Car Parade that took 40 yellow cars, three buses and supporters from Marina Waves to Green Island in Kuwait to spread awareness on the importance of empathetic driving.
Another campaign aimed to change the outlook of Kuwait was 30 Yellow Benches. The campaign encouraged residents to really see the beauty that they may be missing every day. Around 30 yellow benches were placed around the country and a challenge was presented to photographers everywhere to visit the benches, and take pictures of the beautiful settings. The benches were located on beachfronts, in the desert and around the city, encouraging everyone to see the beauty and wonder of their country.
We have created successful events with a volunteer base of more than 20,000 people and is the winner of a local creativity award.