Kuwait! Did you just say you are going to Kuwait? People have strong reactions to coming here and very few understand why I did come here. I want to learn what the place is like now. I have memories of Saddam seizing the country in the 90’s and that action and subsequent USA action turned the world into the place it is now. Kuwait was liberated and is now safe to visit. The opportunity of a direct flight from Addis was too hard to turn down, so here I am in Kuwait City.
After a late night (3am) arrival, I decided to take it easy on my first day and wander over to the Kuwait Towers. These towers hold freshwater in them as well as have a convenient restaurant and viewing deck. Their unique architecture fits right in with the architecture of the skyscrapers in Kuwait. The only issue was is I kept coming up against uncrossable roads and roadworks. After an hour of trying and realising I was actually walking away from the towers, I hailed a taxi and was whisked there in a few minutes and even that required navigating the road works and a few U turns.
On my second day here, I headed to the Kuwait National Museum. This museum was ransacked by Saddam and many of the treasures taken away. They have been mostly returned, but the museum has a distinct emptiness about is. There was a small Islamic section with coins, art, pottery and books showcasing the Islamic world. There is also a Kuwaiti heritage section, with the museum trying to replicate a street of Kuwait from the pre-oil days, with stalls and people working in them. The lighting was a bit dim and I suspect it hides some of the missing realism in the exhibits.
Next to the museum was Al Sadu House. This place is dedicated to preserving the weaving of the Kuwaiti nomads. They run classes and the sales of the woven items go towards supporting the women who still weave. From here I walked along the road, with some difficulty, past the palace, the dhow harbour, the main mosque to a shopping mall by the sea. Kuwait is designed for the car. Walking is an afterthought and while today was a pleasant 20C, I imagine in summer it is not pleasant at all to be going for a walk.
The only other thing I’ve noticed since being here is that Kuwait is a conservative Muslim country, more so than any other country I’ve been to. I’d say over half the local women wear face coverings. However the large Asian foreign workforce, don’t need to adhere to any kind of dress standard, but it helps to wear modest clothing here. There is no alcohol, which wasn’t an issue for me. However, I did enjoy the beef bacon for breakfast. The Kuwaiti’s tended to stick to themselves and rarely engaged in conversation with me. The foreign workers, however, are all happy to talk and they all mostly speak English. Kuwait isn’t for everyone for a whole variety of reasons and I’m glad I came here to see for myself.