Capital: Kuwait City
Area: 17,818 square kilometers
Population: approx. 2,7 million
Currency: Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)
Kuwait is a country that went rapidly from being a nation of pearl divers and spice merchants, to becoming a major exporter of oil. Despite its modern and metropolitan ambience, Kuwait has deep-rooted traditions and culture that are still very much alive.
The visitor to Kuwait can enjoy a range of museums, beautiful parks and recreation areas. Water sports enthusiasts can go yachting, diving and fishing. Like in other Gulf countries, shopping opportunities abound.
Getting to and from Kuwait:
Kuwait International Airport (KWI) is located 16 km south of Kuwait City. The airport is the hub for the national carrier Kuwait Airways, serving destinations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The budget carrier Jazeera Airways, has a growing network of regional destinations. More than 40 international airlines operate scheduled flights to and from Kuwait.
Terminals: One terminal.
Getting to & from Kuwait City: A regular bus service operates between the airport and the main bus terminal off Al Hilali Street in Kuwait City. Travel time is 30 min. Car rental and taxi services are also available.
Passenger ferries operate several times weekly between Bushehr in Iran and Al Shuwaykh port in Kuwait.
There are speedboat services between Kuwait and Manama in Bahrain. These also operate out of Al Shuwaykh.
|Coach services operated by the Saudi bus company SAPTCO, run between Kuwait and Dammam in Saudi Arabia. The trip takes about 6 hours. The Kuwait Public Transport Company operates buses to neighbouring countries. There is a service to Egypt via Aqaba in Jordan.|
Where to Stay:
There are hotels in Kuwait for every type of budget, from five-star luxury hotels to budget accommodation. Most hotels are located in and around the capital Kuwait City.
Some of the top-of-the-line 5-star hotels include:
Kuwait City is a bustling city of high-rise commercial buildings, hotels, boulevards, parks and gardens.
The Liberation Tower
The Liberation Tower, one of the tallest telecommunications towers in the world, was inaugurated in 1996. This 372-metre structure was named after the multinational coalition that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation during the Gulf War.
The tower and the telecommunications complex are divided into three working areas: a public communications centre; the revolving observation level and restaurant at 150 metres; and the adjacent plant and equipment structure. There are 18 lifts, travelling at 6.3 metres per second. Above the revolving mezzanine, six floors of offices with a total floor space of 12,000 sq m rise up and out in a section encased in anodised aluminium.
The Kuwait Towers are one of Kuwait's most famous landmarks. These are three towers designed by Swedish architects and completed in 1979.
The uppermost sphere of the largest tower (which is 187 metres high) has a revolving observation area accessed by high-speed lifts. This area houses the Ofok Restaurant and two cafeterias, in addition to a recreation area called Al Waha. This main tower also serves as a water tower.
The second tower is 146 metres high and serves as a water tower. The third tower is used to control the lighting of the towers.
The National Museum comprises four buildings and a planetarium. It houses the Al-Sabah collection of Islamic art, one of the most comprehensive collections in the world. Other buildings contain pearl-diving relics, ethnographic artifacts and archaeological material from excavations on Failaka Island.
The museum also houses the Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah (DAI), an extensive collection of Islamic art, ranging from early Islam to the 18th century. A variety of scholarly and artistic activities revolve around this collection, each requiring a broad and intensive background in Islamic history. The collection itself is organised according to both historical period and geographical region.
The pyramid-shaped mosque in Ras Salmiya and the Fatima Mosque in Abdullah Al-Salem are fine examples of modern architecture. The Grand Mosque, opposite the Seif Palace, is an example of several traditional Islamic styles using modern technology while retaining the local characteristics of Kuwait as well as preserving the Islamic tradition of calligraphy. There are several examples of mosques dating from the last century still in use around Kuwait City.
Amusement Parks and Resorts
Many of the public parks have amusement centres and children's play facilities. There are also several amusement parks dedicated to keeping children actively enthralled for hours at a time.
Al-Madina Al-Tarfihiya (the City of Entertainment) is located 20 km from Kuwait City near Doha on the north side of Kuwait Bay. The complex provides a complete range of amusements based on themes from the 'Arab World', the 'International World' and the 'Future World'.
Many of Kuwait's sea clubs offer a wide variety of facilities and activities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, beaches, tennis courts, gymnasiums, bowling and even karate.
The Kuwait Sea Sports Club is government-owned and has facilities for all major sea sports. There are also several private sea clubs.
An old house located next to Al-Sadu house (see below), Bayt Al-Badr was built between 1838 and 1848. It possesses a fine example of the famous front doors of old Kuwait. Local handicrafts are sometimes displayed here.
Science and Natural History Museum
The museum contains displays relating to the petroleum industry, natural history, aviation, machinery, electronics, space and zoology, as well as a health hall and a planetarium.
Located in Omariya on the Airport Road, the Kuwait Zoo covers 180,000 sq metres of parkland. Very few of the zoo's animals survived the Iraqi occupation but through a dedicated reconstruction programme the zoo reopened in February 1993. Today it houses 65 species of animals, 129 species of birds and five species of reptiles, apart from other animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, etc.
Located near the Ice Skating Rink on the 1st Ring Road, and badly damaged during the Iraqi occupation but now fully refurbished, the Musical Fountain provides a unique and delightful sight and sound show of musical fountains, every night during summer from 6 pm to 10 pm. Entry fees apply.
A traditional craft of major importance in Kuwait was Sadu weaving, characterised by geometric designs woven by hand with dyed, spun and coloured wool. Sadu weaving is still alive in the nomadic culture, which gave birth to it.
In 1979, a few citizens got together to form the Al-Sadu Society, dedicated to infusing this part of Bedouin culture with vitality as well as protecting bedouin crafts from total extinction due to the onslaught of modernisation. In 1980, their efforts led to the establishment of the Sadu House. By the end of 1984, there were nearly 300 bedouin women registered with the centre producing 70 products a week.
Several chambers of the Sadu House are decorated with pottery and construction material depicting Kuwait's old houses, mosques and storage places for water and bread. Another section has been transformed into Al-Baraha - a roofed playground meant for children in the old days.
The Scientific Centre
The Scientific Centre comprises a large aquarium, where visitors can focus on the natural habitats of the sea, with underground passages rich in marine life, natural habitats of the coastal edges and the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. They can also watch a motion picture projection in the IMAX Theatre, visit the Dhow Harbour and explore childhood skills in the Discovery Place. After all this it's time to take a break at the Scientific Centre restaurant.
The Tareq Rajab Museum
The Museum is the private collection of the Rajab family. The collection was started in the early 1950s and was opened to the general public in 1980. The Museum is divided into two sections. One section deals with calligraphy, pottery, metalwork, glass, wood, ivory and jade carvings of the Islamic world. Early calligraphy is presented in a separate small room, showing pages from the Holy Qur'an, dating back to the first three centuries of the Islamic period. It also contains an early dated Qur'an written on parchment, dating to 1002 A.D..
The second section of the Museum deals with the costumes, textiles, embroideries and jewellery of the Islamic world, but also includes relevant objects from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.
Failaka Island has a port with many traditional Arabian sailing vessels (called “dhows”), which can be reached by regular ferry services. There are also some Bronze Age and Greek archaeological sites well worth viewing, including the island's Greek temple.