Published: July 29th 2008July 1st 2008
Kuwait is an Independent Arab Emirate situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Most of the country is a dry, barren desert, with the exception of a few basins that occasionally catch rainwater. Commercial fishing on the Gulf is important to the economy, but not nearly as important as the country’s chief industry: OIL. Kuwait takes its name from the Arabic word kut, meaning “fort” and is also the name of the capital.
After gaining independence in 1961, Kuwait was immediately claimed by Iraq. This claim was soon dropped but revived in 1990, when the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, invaded. After Hussein refused to withdraw, a United Nations’ coalition drove out the Iraqis in 1991, but suffered heavy casualties. The damage to Kuwait was immense. Vast qualities of oil were spilled into the Gulf and wells were set on fire. Only two years later, oil production was back on track. Iraq formally recognized the state of Kuwait in November 1994.
Kuwait City has become a modern metropolis of high-rise office buildings, luxury hotels, and wide boulevards. Its most dominant landmark is the Kuwait Towers. Found on practically everything except the
flag, these three towers are Kuwait’s top attraction. A revolving observation deck at the top provides panoramic views of the city. Other places of interest include the Grand Mosque, Liberation Tower, and the National Museum.
Another museum worth checking out is the Kuwait House of National Works “Memorial Museum.” It’s a tribute to the expulsion of Iraqi troops and the falling of Saddam Hussein. Its exhibits are well-built and very informative on both the war and the history of the country.
If you’re interested in shopping, you can find plenty of deals at the many markets including the Souk located in the middle of downtown. For more upscale items and a chance to see the wealthy locals, go to the Avenues Mall which is one of the largest in the country.
No visit to Kuwait is complete without trying the Shisha (Hookah). A large smoking pipe for flavored tobacco popular among Middle Eastern people. It is often found in cafes which are frequent meeting spots for family and friends.
I had never been to the Middle East prior to visiting Kuwait so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was definitely the
most foreign place I had ever seen. It’s a huge culture shock in all aspects: religion, culture, and dress. I felt that no matter where I went, I was being watched by a hundred curious eyes. The other thing that took some getting used to was the heat. Even for someone born and raised in humid Florida, this was an obstacle. Being outside for more than 10 minutes seemed as if I had walked into a free sauna. There is always a certain fear that comes with the unknown, but for the most part, I felt very safe in Kuwait. The people were very friendly and really went out of their way to accommodate me. A country weak
in power, but rich
in wealth. Small
in size, but large
in heart, Kuwait is definitely a place I will never forget.
- When to go
The best time to visit Kuwait is in May or October - right before or right after summer.
- What to see
Top Ten Sights
- Kuwait Towers
- National Museum
- Liberation Tower
- Grand Mosque
- Souk Market
- Memorial Museum
- Seif Palace
- Sadu House
- Liberation Monument
- Municipal Gardens
- What to buy
Gold and Jewerly are very popular in Kuwait. You can also find great deals on robes, scarfs, and other types of clothing.
- What to Eat
Restaurants serve a variety of dishes. These include Indian, Lebanese, Persian, and Chinese. The local cusine is very good and often consists of lamb or chicken. Many American chains such as KFC, Chilis, and Fridays can also be found in Kuwait City.
- What to Drink
There are many flavorful teas in Kuwait and the juices are also very good. Alcohol is illegal but you can still order a non-alcoholic beer.
The Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD) divided into 100 units
10 to 15 percent of the bill depending on quality of service.
There are more photos below