Hospitable and friendly Kuwait
Wednesday, April 24th, 2007
By David Garson
Kuwait became an independent state in 1961 with the capital being Kuwait City. It consists of the mainland as well as nine offshore Islands. Terrain is mainly flat or gently rising. The climate is hot and dry with sumnier temperatures often above 45 degrees centigrade. Oil was discovered in 1938, providing a substantial sum of government revenue. However, there are active diversification programmes with offshoot industries from oil that are proving to be very successful. They include petrochemicals, fertilizers, construction materials, asbestos and batteries. Tourism is also becoming another important
source of revenue, as is agriculture with its expanding variety of produce such äs citrus fruits, dates, and livestock.
From a nation of spice merchants and pearl divers, Kuwait is today one of the world’s largest oil exporters and has undergone a number of exciting transformations – some ood, some bad! Travellers wanting o venture into the Muslim world an certainly look forward to wan-lering around mosques, souhks, ind visiting regions which in days ;one by were the domain of the iedouin tribes. There is also the nodern day opulence of an oil rieh itate to be seen, but when you have lad the opportunity of meeting »ith the locals, you will encounter i deep sense of traditional values lud warm Arabian hospitality. Being highly urbanised, the coun-try offers a number of attractions and Services and a very rieh cultural tradition and heritage. There are alsofine hotels, offering impeccable, fareet service. Shopping facilities are varied and rewarding. From tprawling luxury malls to fascina-ting ancient souhks, selling locally uade items and the latest consumer goods, the ränge and variety is huge.
PLACES OF INTEREST
One of the capital’s most fanious landmarks, the Kuwait Towers, are located in Arabian Gulf Street to the east of the city centre in Das-iman. The largest tower of this complex is 187 metres high and a spee-äy lift takes you to the revolving »observation area and to the restaurant, where you can enjoy a fine lunch or dinner.
There are two first class exaniples otmodern architecture in the pyramid design, Salmiya Mosque and ikeFatima Mosque in Abdullah Al-slem. The Grand Mosque, opposite iie Seif Palace, is a Variation of several Islamic styles using modern ifclinology but still preserving the Islamic tradition of calligraphy. There are also quite a few examples ttmosques dating from the last century located around Kuwait City tkat continue to be used for prayer meetings.
This 372 metres high construclion is about 40 metres taller than tke Eiffel Tower and has become tle symbol of Kuwaiti freedom liter the nation was liberated from wen months Iraqi occupation by tke multi-national Coalition Forces iuring the Gulf War. This telecom-niumcation tower was inaugurated by His Highness the Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on lOth March 1996. It is divided into three working areas. They are 1. a public Communications centre, 2. a revolving observation deck and restaurant, 3. an adjacent plant and equipment structure. There are 18 elevators, two of which are enclosed, each taking 21 passengers.
The National Museum
This comprises four buildings, but during the invasion by Iraq the museum’s priceless collection of Islamic art was plundered and the building was almost completely destroyed. However, the Iraqi authorities eventually returned 90% of the collection. Other buildings within the museum complex display pearl diving relics, artifacts relating to the scientific description of the races of the world (ethnography) and archaeological material from excavations on Failaka Island. There are also plans to renovate the former American hospital so that some further items can be exhibited once again.
The Science and Natural History Museum
Here you can see a variety of displays relating to natural history, aviation, machinery, electronics, space, zoology and the petroleum industry. There is also an exhibition relating to health care and a separately housed planetarium. A great deal of restoration work has been carried out on the museum since the liberation of Kuwait.
Liberation Monuments Al-Qurain House
is now a museum dedicated tothose whose lives were lost during the conflict with Iraq. It is located at the site where a bloody battle took place with the Kuwaitis defending their homeland against the Iraqis. The battle took place just before the liberation. Al-Qurain House is situated in what is today the new Qurain housing area. A mounted Iraqi tank at the Jahra Gate roundabout is a reminder of the folly of war! There is a similar monument next to the niain en-trance of the Ministry of Information, where there is also a walk-through pictorial display of scenes relating to the Iraqi occupation and is well worth a visit.
This is a fine example of the houses built in the early 19th Century with their unique front doors so typical of “Old Kuwait.” Local handicrafts are often displayed here and can be purchased as Souvenirs.