Before starting to teach creative writing, Alrefai studied the craft at prestigious institutions. He participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, USA, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Kingston University in London.
He received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Kuwait University in 1982. However, he was already writing fiction during his university years and published his first novel, including “Ẓill Al-Shams” (“The shadow of the sun”). in 1998.
Seven other novels followed, two of which were shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction: “Here” (published in 2014) and “Al-Najdi” (2017).
In addition, he has published a dozen collections of stories. Some of his works have been translated into other languages, including English, French and German.
Among other honors, Alrefai was selected to chair the jury for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction and was chosen as “Cultural Personality of the Year” at the Sharjah International Book Fair last year.
He also founded the Al-Multaqa Prize for Arabic Short Stories, a joint effort of the American University of Kuwait and the Cultural Circle, a literary discussion group he leads in Kuwait.
Teaching an art as a practical subject
Alrefai believes that teaching creative writing through workshops helps spread knowledge among university students, especially those with a talent for writing. There’s value in teaching writing as a practical subject, he says, in addition to a connection between creative writing and engaging with the reality of everyday life.