Experience Kuwait culture through these photos - it's a beautiful country and I highly recommend going there as it's a top placement for many international teaching jobs.
I fell in love with Kuwait...a 2 liter of H2O, keys melting in my car, toes burning at 7:00 a.m. on the beach. It was fantastic!
Kuwait is a lovely country - my experience was not at all what you see on the nightly news. One of the great things about international teaching jobs is you get to really be involved in the local community and get to know the families and their customs.
Kuwait is a small country that nestles on the northwestern corner of the Arabian Gulf. It is a little bigger than Connecticut, but a bit smaller than New Jersey.
It is a wonderful blend of modern amenities and old-world charm. As an expat, I felt right at home while living there.
The name Kuwait is translated to mean "little fort." This name comes from its' history of constant threat of attacks from the Turks, the Ikhwan and the Wahabbi tribesmen.
There are nine islands that belong to Kuwait. Failaka Island has many archaeological treasures, such as coins, sculptures, and pieces of Doric architecture. There is also proof that Failaka was inhabited as long ago as the Bronze Age, and pottery with cuneiform inscriptions from ancient Mesopotamia have been found.
Bubiyan is the largest island but is unpopulated. It gets flooded regularly by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but there is a bridge that connects Bubiyan to the mainland. This bridge was bombed during the Gulf War.
Notice the checkered gutras worn by the men, and the varying colors of dishdasha under their coats.
The black or white cords on top of the gutras are called agals.
You can tell this picture was taken in winter, as during the summer months the gutras are white.
There are no rivers in Kuwait, and no source of fresh drinking water. Long ago, water was purchased from Iraq and brought to Kuwait by dhows.
Dhows are the traditional boat in the region. They are crafted by hand, and it is on the official seal of Kuwait.
That has all changed since the discovery of oil and the first crude oil exported in 1946. Desalination plants have been built and the country is now beyond wealthy.
Kuwait was never actually a British colony, but was a protectorate. Sheikh Mubarak the Great was the ruler of Kuwait in 1899, at the time of a treaty between Kuwait and Great Britain.
That treaty ensured safety for Kuwait and in return gave much control over foreign policy to Great Britain. Hence, the cultural climate of Kuwait has a distinct British flair (did I mention that I met my English husband in Kuwait?).
In 1961 Kuwait became its' own state. It is divided into 5 governorates, and I lived in the governorate of Hawally, where the American School of Kuwait is located.
The invasion of Kuwait happened on August 2, 1990. In the early morning hours, Kuwaiti radar detected something happening on the border of Iraq - tanks and trucks were rolling into the country.
The country was demolished, but the Kuwaiti spirit was not.
The markets are a great place to experience Kuwait culture. In Shuwaikh there is a huge vegetable and fruit market. You pick up a flat cart, workers will load your produce on, and then take it to your car.
In Fahaheel, the fish market is right on the sea front. It is a very busy, bustling place where the fresh catch is unbelievably good!
I used to love getting Zubaidi (the national fish) and huge Gulf prawns.
As you can see from the picture, other types of halal meat is sold at the fish market too!
Ahhh, the gold souk. I loved that place. It is a girl's dream, and I didn't even like jewelry very much until I started shopping here!
Windows display a dazzling array of rings, belts, bracelets, necklaces, earrings…mostly in 18-21 karat gold.
The Bedouins tend to prefer 22 karat, as it is purer, but most Arabs in Kuwait culture lean towards 21 karat.
There is also the Friday Market located off Fourth Ring Road. When I lived there it was outside, hot, loud and wonderful. Dave and I loved to go there and barter for everything - rugs, electronics, household goods...we could get it all. Now it is being renovated to an indoor area.
Intrigued by these photos and the history of Kuwait? Click here for more!
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