“Did you know that the Qasr Nayef cannon was a gift from the Shah of Iran in 1906?” Bibi Salem Al-Sabah says excitedly as she flips through her latest and newly released My Ramadan Jumbo Activity Book. “It was originally housed in Seif Palace until the 1930s, and has been used to mark the commencement of Iftar since the 1960s!” This tidbit of trivia is only one of the many facts that appear in Bibi’s series of coloring books centered around Ramadan, stemmed from her self-branded Bee’s Ideas: an entity created by Bibi to inspire Kuwait’s youth to embrace local culture in an inclusive way.
Bibi’s international childhood as an ambassador’s daughter provides a genuine love for local culture; “My parents had a habit of picking up a children’s book about the culture of whichever country we lived in for us to assimilate. I still do that to this very day! I love embracing different cultures, just how I want ours to be embraced in return.”
Ramadan plays a major role to ideas put into fruition, and it’s no wonder that with the Smith College alumna’s professional background in education, a learning outlet would be the outcome of her ideas. “I’ve always loved Ramadan. After my grandmother’s passing, I wanted to survive her spirit by doing something to spread the magic of Ramadan to the community, because she always made it so wonderful for me during my child and adulthood.”
With that sentiment, she and her longtime illustrator, Nada Dalloul, ventured to release Bibi’s first My Ramadan Coloring and Activity Book in 2015. This later ushered in her 2016 edition (complete with stickers), and the most current, “bigger and better” book with even more activities and facts to fill the curious days of little ones! “There is so much we don’t know about Ramadan, and My Ramadan makes it more relatable for people to enjoy and explore!” In addition to word searches, scrambles and other fun activities, the book includes a handy pull out of the lunar calendar to tack on your fridge!
The Ramadan fun extends to the whole family! Bee’s Ideas has created an activity suitable for ages 8 to 80. Her “selfish love of hearing people’s stories” formed a ‘table topic’ deck of cards to ignite conversations during those long Ramadan gatherings. These cards have questions to ask one another regarding Ramadan and holiday traditions of each respective player’s yesteryear, and pose as an all-inclusive activity to bring people together.
Bibi’s My Ramadan projects have proven to come with a mighty force that leaves locals and international residents thankful and happy. My Ramadan is currently a part of a Boston Mommy and Me group, and has sold copies in the UK and France. And we can’t forget Bibi’s reach to the children of Kuwait, who
now recognize her by name and approach her in gratitude and anticipation for the next book’s release! With that, she stays strong with ethos and intention: “All that I’m doing, is to create memories, magic and tradition. I’ve come to realize that traditions have to be made and that word-of-mouth dies. So let’s embrace what we have and let our culture live on!”
TRUTH OR DARE QUESTIONNAIRE
How would your mother describe you in one word?
How would you describe your mother in one word?
What is the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?
“Do you ride a camel to work?”
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
I guest lectured at a high school class in Harlem.
What is your theme song?
“Alors On Danse” – Stromae.
What word in the English or Arabic language do you wish you had invented?
Where would you like to live? What is your dream retirement location?
I’d love to live on a farm that’s on a beach. However, I haven’t found the location yet!
What is the first famous quote that comes to your mind?
“Just do it”- Nike.
What animal best describes the kind of partner you’d be interested in?
A bear: adaptable, considerate and cuddly.
What do you miss about your childhood?
Time. It moves too fast as an adult.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
As a kid, I wanted to be Christina because a bunch of books I read had really cool Christinas in it.
How would you describe your handshake in one word?
I don’t, I dab.
What is the toughest part of your character?
I daydream, so it takes me a while to do anything.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
What in the world do you least desire?
Chewing with your mouth open.
What do you think is lacking in the world, which if there was more of would make the world a better place?
Why do you think most girls/guys like you?
Finish this sentence: “Happiness is a thing called…”
For more ideas on where to purchase My Ramadan Jumbo Activity Book, follow @beesideas on Instagram! Buzzzz! Check out a preview of Bibi’s activity in this issue!