Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Kuwait - The Enchantment of the Gulf

Kuwait Towers

Kuwait - a land of many delights and enchantments. Its borders, Iraq at the north and Saudi Arabia at the south have Kuwait snugged in quite beautifully like a cocoon of dreams. The place is big and I mean huge, literally. The entire area of Kuwait is just about 6880 sq. miles and has a population of 3.5 million. Well, that's just the basic facts.

Here are the fun facts:
  1. Kuwait is the eleventh richest country in the world in terms of per capita income apart from having the world's sixth largest proven oil reserves.
  2. Petrol and petroleum products make up around 95 percent of export revenues, and 80 percent of government income.
  3. Kuwait has the highest valued currency in the world. 
Now, that we have covered the facts, let’s start with the trip. 
I love traveling and sometimes, I hate it. I love it when I can just pick up my bike and hit the open road with nothing but the world behind me and the road before me. Sadly, I can’t do that if I have to travel to Kuwait. It would take me a really long time by road. And that’s where I hate it. So, I had to catch a flight. Now, you have many flights that are operating from India to Kuwait such as Kuwait Airways, Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air and one of my least favorite, Air India Express. Seriously, I’m an Indian by birth, blood and all other relations that I can think of, but flying the national airline Air India was much better before they brought in Air India Express promoting the low cost, no frills way of traveling. 

Bakery outside Marina Mall

It took us 4 hours to travel to Kuwait from Mangalore. Being a direct flight, I was quite relieved when it landed at 8 PM local time in Kuwait. The time difference is GMT + 3.00 hours, so the time in India would have been 10.30 PM. Kuwait is a big place and I didn’t really know that until I had stepped out of the airport and seen the world that lay before me. Dad came to pick us up (mum, sister and I) and we were to start a nice, long, one month vacation free from school, work and headaches. Total enjoyment was the only thing on our agenda and boy did it start right away.

Open Eatery in Souk Al Mubarakia, Kuwait City

The first thing that we had to do was get some dinner since our lovely flight crew could only offer us a very basic meal – seriously low frill and we were all starving. During the month of May, it is supposed to be quite humid in the Middle East region, but Kuwait, due to its dry weather, cuts out most of the humidity from the air leaving with you with very cool evenings. Temperatures during this time can be from anything between 30°C to 40°C. That’s why most of the cars are fitted with air conditioning so that people don’t get hospitalized because of the heat. You can get the average temperature during the months in Kuwait here

Boat Yard outside Marina Mall
Kuwait city is lively and the people love to have fun. You can see people of all faiths, castes and ethnicity, all enjoying under one roof. There’s no room for any self airs over here. One thing that I noticed over here is that, they love the social life. Now, Kuwait has a strict policy of No Alcohol being served or distributed throughout the country and so people have to rely on using their spare time to devote themselves to other activities – Shopping. Shopping is one of the main activities for many locals or Kuwaitis as they are called as and you will see that throughout the week, they are often seen visiting the various malls and shops around the city. The city has a very vibrant nightlife with many of the restaurants open till even 1 AM.

Marina Mall
360° Mall

Avenues Mall

Personally, I’m not a fan of shopping; however my mother and sister are, and so, I was pushed into the various malls to shop. Two things that I had on me at all times were my camera and my harmonica. Like a little shutterbug, I kept clicking away whatever caught my fancy and when I was bored, I sat at one of the hot spots that people used to walk past, dish out my harmonica and play a few songs. Unfortunately, my sessions hardly lasted for five minutes so I couldn’t gather a large following, but I still played for the fun of it. Our main agenda during the day would be to sleep till 11 AM, wake up, finish breakfast by 1 PM and lunch by 4 PM. Dad would be home by 5.30 PM and then some tea, and we’d head out by 7 PM to see the sights of the city – more shopping.

Fish displayed at Sharq market
One day, Dad decides that we have had enough of shopping and so, we go to a place called the Sharq Market which is basically a fish market. I must say, fish markets are generally filthy and smelly. Not this one. This one was enclosed and the air conditioners were on full swing. Not a sign of stench in the air and the fish on display was just too much for the eyes and the stomach. I had never seen such gigantic sized fishes in my life ever. Some of them were weighing close to 25 – 30 kilos. They also have fish auctions which attract a huge crowd; the only downfall being is that if you do win the auction, you get to take home a lot more than what you can actually eat because over here, size does matter. We came to Sharq Market only twice but ended up buying fish which lasted for the whole month. Yes, some of it was quite expensive, but being the foodies that we are, we took home a nice variety for our meals.

A Date seller in Souq Al Mubarakia

The next weekend after a few more mall hangouts, we went to the Marina which is not far from Kuwait City. There is a lovely corniche out here and it runs along the road to the city. A lot of people come here to jog, walk or even fish. Yes, they even have a members’ only area designated for the people who love fishing. It’s an awesome pastime for all the old-timers who come there with a beach chair and a flask of tea to sit and wait for hours together for the fish to catch the bait while they read a book or two. The weather during these times is very lovely and warm, perfect to couple it with a nice hot cup of tea. 

Vegetables and Fruits on display at a market
Is that an Ostrich egg? Yes, it is.

A Mosque in Ahmadi
The fourth weekend in
Kuwait, we decided to see some of the places which were far off from where we stayed; places like Ahmadi and Fahaheel. These and others like them are like little townships and have almost everything over there that the residents don’t need to go anywhere far. They have gardens, churches, mosques, supermarkets, companies, schools and even a movie theater. Most of our fourth weekend was spent in traveling on road so it was a very scenic time for us. The last destination on our plan for the fourth weekend was a zoo in Ahmadi. It wasn’t a large zoo by any standards but it was more of a picnic spot where families could have a nice outing. There were people having a lovely barbeque and watching the animals graze inside their cages. 

Ahmadi Zoo
The next and last weekend for us was covered in a severe sandstorm that rocked most of the countries in the Middle East. Visibility was quite poor in most places. My dad himself got lost and ended up somewhere else completely but he managed to track his way back. Still, we had one more day to go in the weekend, so we decided to finish up some last minute shopping and head out to one of the classier malls in the city which is called The 360° Mall. This mall has the classiest of outlets and big brands adorn the place. This is one of the most frequented malls in the city and the crowd usually peaks up during the weekends. There is a large amusement place in this mall which is off the chart. It has Middle East’s first very own digital amusement park called Infunity.

My constant companion on my travels
Kuwait does have an interesting set of things to do and see and if you are really interested in knowing more about this place, you should check out the Weekenders Guide 2007 which has a comprehensive list of the things to do in Kuwait. It may be a little outdated being five years old, but my sister and I found it quite handy as it showed us almost everything we wanted to find out  about what to do in Kuwait at one shot.

And so, with that, we packed our bags, said
our tearful goodbyes’ to dad and came back with a lot of pictures, a lot of memories and a whole bag of goodies. Kuwait is, was and will always be a very enchanting city for me.


A few thank you's that are needed to be said,

Fun Facts - Wikipedia (without you, what would we do)
Pictures and Locations Courtesy - The Wonderful People and The Beautiful City of Kuwait (Thank you, for a lovely trip)


  1. 3.5 million people???? I'm sure we can export some people there from India. Oh wait, we already doing that :D I loved the pictures accompanying the write up! Sounds like you had an amazing holiday... cheers & keep penning!

    1. It was an amazing holiday Chels. Everyday was a quest to achieve newer heights of laziness by mum, sis and me. :)

      Thanks for the comment. More trip reviews coming up soon. :D

  2. The post is a mine of delicious information on Kuwait. And those are all excellent images.

    PS: IMHO, its best not to tilt the horizon and interesting minarets unless you have a particular effect on mind.

    1. Thanks a lot for your comments US. It took quite some time compiling information and photographs of a month long trip.

      As for the photo, it was actually taken out of a moving car. Never got a chance to go to the towers actually :D So had to select from the best and this seemed fit.

    2. You can rotate the image 5 degrees anticlockwise in PS or any other image editing software.

    3. Thanks US. Will do that and see how it turns out. :)

    4. What do you think about it now US? :)

    5. Suddenly, the best of the beautiful shots!

    6. Thank you. Thought I'd see if anything else could be done, so brought out a little more color.

  3. sounds like fun!!! enjoyed reading the post and learnt a lot about Kuwait.

    1. Thanks Deb. There's a lot of things to do in Kuwait, if you have the time that is.


  4. Anonymous11:24 pm

    Good write up Shel


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