"Hala Kuwait!" Top 5 Page for this destination Kuwait by mikey_e

Kuwait Travel Guide: 276 reviews and 746 photos

An unexpected beauty

I came to Kuwait as part of a training exercise for my work, not for tourist reasons. Before I came to the country, I took the time to talk to a number of people I knew who had been here before, particularly those who had worked at the Embassy. They were all pretty consistent in their review of the country: you can buy whatever you want, but there's nothing to do and nowhere to have fun. Plus the people are really unfriendly. My expectations of my trip were pretty low, which was good, because that made the shock of what a wonderful, beautiful place this is all the more pleasant. Kuwait does not have the same sort of Western-oriented nightlife and pleasure-seeking as Dubai or Sharm el-Sheikh (at either end of the cost scale). If you're an alcoholic or a philanderer (as many people who work here seem to be), Kuwait is not your destination. But, if you want to meet very friendly people and see how a country has rebuilt itself after a crushing occupation, Kuwait is the ideal setting.

The modern and (representations of) the old

I won't be naive and try to insist that many of the buildings in the capital (Kuwait City) are ancient or harken back to Kuwait's pre-oil culture. Many of the old buildings, such as the old souq and many of the traditional palaces, were destroyed during the Iraqi occupation and the Gulf War. The Kuwaitis, however, have sought to rebuild many of them according to their former structures and styles, resulting in a bit of a Disney-world feel to the souqs. It's not that they're Made in China fabrications, but the old buildings are obviously constructed with modern materials. In contrast to this are the malls - how everyone in Kuwait loves the malls! You won't find quite the same extravagance as in Dubay, but Kuwait can hold its own with any American mall or shopping centre. Stores are not on the lower-end of the shopping scale, with Zara completing the cheapest of the low range. At the top range, you'll find Givenchy, Zegna and Burberry. Oh, and the Kuwaitis are much enamored of their luxury brands.

A cacophony of languages and panoply of cultures

It should be obvious that Kuwait is not, in fact, inhabited by a majority of Kuwaitis. Rather, about 40% of the country's population is Kuwaiti, and the rest is made up of ex-pats, most from the Indian subcontinent, Iran and other Arab states, along with a large Filipino community. The pre-war predominance of Palestinians and Yemenis was largely cut down thanks to their respective governments' support for Iraq, and they were massively deported following the liberation of the country in 1991. Their replacements have brought with them a wealth of varied culinary experiments and shopping experiences. The most enduring community in the country, however, is the Iranian one, and the visitor who speaks Arabic will likely find that Iranians are well established in taxis, clothes-making, baking, real estate.... Basically the backbone of the country's non-oil economy. Iranian food is everywhere (more common than Lebanese cuisine!) and the Iranian section of the Heritage Souq is not to be missed!

  • Last visit to Kuwait: Feb 2010
  • Intro Written Feb 7, 2010
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Comments (3)

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    hey there mikey_e i just read your review for signor sassi and if you're still in kuwait i think u should try the cucina restaurant in salmiyah at the hotel missoni. its reealy authentic italin, aslo has italin staff/chefs and they told me they make their own pasta too. I love it there and thought u might like it :)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2010 at 5:23 AM

    Hello, Mikey! Great page about Kuwait! Thanks! Shukran, eeni!

  • marielexoteria's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    Wow Kuwait, that's a rather un-touristic place to visit (IMO). Great tips and pix!

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