Located on the tip of the Persian Gulf on the northeastern edge, Kuwait’s reputation precedes it. Although its most-commonly known history is from being a major player during the Iraq war in 1991, there is much more to this country as a historical trading outpost and a freer Arab country than many in the region.
Originally serving as a center of trade in the Middle East during the 18th and 19th centuries, its place between the Middle East and India was of vital importance to the British Empire, as they worked with the local shopkeepers to get desirable goods such as teas and spices. However, it faced several blockades of trade in the late 19th century, which caused this country to fade out of favor. That was, until the later 20th century when oil was discovered. It currently has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. Although there is still evidence of destruction from the Iraq war, the country is starting to rebuild and prosper.
With Kuwait’s borders of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, this country’s location is difficult, but it has found a voice for itself in recent years. Now Kuwait features a high-income economy and is one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East, featuring a constitutional monarchy and an elected parliament, with a very strong free press. Only 55 percent of its population are actually citizens; most are from different parts of the world, whether working in the oil trade or seeking a country in the Middle East with more relaxed attitudes. Kuwait is most known for its production of oil, but the government is trying to steer the country away from this in order to make the area into a tourism hub, not unlike Dubai has become in the United Arab Emirates.
Its capital is Kuwait City, which is the center of political, cultural and economic life in the country. Along with its traditional Islamic architecture and outdoor markets, the city also features high-end Western-style resorts and expansive shopping malls. The country is tax-free, so malls like The Avenues feature luxury products from all over the world and the outdoor markets are very popular, as many of the spices in the market come from India. In addition to the shopping, the people are friendly and hospitable, often putting on their best manners for guests.
The most famous landmark in this country is the Kuwait Towers, completed in 1977 in Kuwait City. These three towers are prominent along the horizon of the Persian Gulf, most distinctive for the spheres that break up two of the towers. The tallest tower, measuring 613.5 feet tall, has two spheres: the bottom one features a water tank and restaurant and social hall, while the top one is a café that makes a full revolution once every 30 minutes. The second tower’s sphere serves as a water tower, while the third powers the other two towers. Between all the towers, this landmark holds nine million liters of water. It’s not the only impressive architecture in this country; the Al Hamra Tower is the tallest sculptured tower in the world.
This country isn’t over yet when it comes to development. With over 3,000 hotel rooms and several more shopping malls expected to be completed in the next five years, this country should be on every world traveler’s radar for rest and relaxation in the Middle East. So if you’re looking for an adventure, keep an eye out on the Middle Eastern skyline, because Kuwait is coming up.
Are you interested in seeing Kuwait? What other landmarks have you been looking at to visit, whether in the Middle East or beyond? Sound off in the comments below!