Sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in one of the most contested and ancient corners of the world, Kuwait has a special cachet. It may be as oil-rich as other Gulf countries, and its architectural landscape as audacious and experimental, but it hasn’t welcomed glamour and glitz in the same way: perhaps it’s the years lost to the Iraqi invasion of the early 90s and its consequence, or perhaps it’s a deliberate decision not to give in to noisy commercialism.
However, Kuwait is today an island of emancipation and stability in the Middle East, and visiting this kingdom is a traveler’s dream.
Things to know before visiting Kuwait
Alcohol is banned in Kuwait. It may not be manufactured, imported, or served, and state media regularly report busts of unlicensed distilleries. Kuwait’s temperature is known to reach as high as 50 degrees celsius, which is strong enough to cause exhaustion and dehydration. Do not drink, eat or smoke in public during the month of Ramadan or you may be fined. There are numerous restaurants to explore in Kuwait. Because nightlife is non-existent, most families go out to malls and restaurants. You can try a wide variety of international cuisines in high-end restaurants.
Top Places to see in Kuwait
Tareq Rajab Museum
Housed in a large villa’s basement, you should not miss this elegant ethnographic museum. There are ornate musical instruments suspended in glass cabinets, Saudi gold and Omani silver jewelry, costumes worn by princesses and goat herders, headdresses from the humble prayer cap to the Mongol helmet, necklaces for Hindu living goddesses in Nepal, Bahraini pearls, and Jaipur enamel. Despite all these excellently presented pieces, the Arabic manuscripts in the Calligraphy Museum give the collection its global importance. This museum is genuinely a treat to your mind and soul.
The biggest of the town’s 800 mosques, which opened in 1986 CE, survived the Iraqi invasion. It cost US$46 million (KD14 million) to build, with luxurious features including stained glass from France, palm tree-lined courtyard, and Italian marbles, plus chandeliers from Germany, mosaics from Morocco, teak wood from India, and a stunning gold-plated central dome. Brilliant tours are provided by expert staff and cover Kuwaiti culture and a glimpse into the emir’s room. Women must wear a full-length robe-like dress (an abaya) and a headscarf.
Failaka Island is a port with many traditional dhows. Failaka Island can be explored by one of the many ferry services. Some Bronze Age and Ancient Greek archaeological sites are well worth viewing, including the island’s Greek temple. Failaka Island was called Ikarus by the Greeks, who, under Alexander the Great, built an outpost on the island.
Mina Al Ahmadi
Mina Al Ahmadi, lying 12 miles ( 19 km) south of Kuwait City, is a large oil port with tremendous docks for supertanker traffic. The Oil Display Center pays tribute to the Kuwait Oil Company’s work.
Kazmah desert cliffs
Being one of the best elevations in the Kuwaiti desert, these hills allow a beautiful view of the bay if the visibility is decent. A lot of young rich Kuwaitis come here on holidays to summon their Jeeps and quads uphill.
Top Things to do in Kuwait
- Horse Riding: One of the best middle-eastern horse-riding clubs thrive in the winter in Kuwait. It is a must activity for everyone.
- Boating: Scuba diving and sailing are available in Kuwait. Powerboating is an extreme Kuwaiti passion. You can get in touch with any of the hotels on the beach, and they can arrange a memorable trip for you.
- Shopping: Kuwait’s largest mall is The Avenues, located behind road 60, on 5th ring road. It is one of the biggest malls in the whole middle-east and stars a lot of electronics and clothing stores as well as an Ikea and a Carrefour.
Now You Know