Known as the Pearl of the Gulf, Kuwait City is a hidden gem often overshadowed by glitzier neighbors Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. But for those prepared to embrace its rustic charms, the country boasts a startling diversity of traditional and more modern attractions. Built by seafaring merchants and pearl divers who spent months at sea,
Kuwait juxtaposes modern luster with a strong sense of its maritime past, offering visitors a
unique experience bound to linger long in the memory.
Soak up the city’s venerable history with a visit
to Kuwait National Museum (965 2245 1195/
kuwaitnationalmuseum.weebly.com), the most
widely visited and beautiful museum in town.
Though many of its Islamic art treasures were
damaged or looted during the Iraqi invasion, the
museum remains a pleasant place to spend an
afternoon, if tinged with thoughts of what might
have been. Next door is the country’s celebration
of traditional Bedouin textiles, Beit Al Sadu
(965 2243 2395 / alsadu.org.kw). The Bedouins
of the Arabian Peninsula have practiced Al Sadu
weaving for centuries, and the museum hosts
stunning examples of intricately designed textiles
and rugs. After visiting these two institutions,
cross the parking lot to the newly constructed
Kuwait National Library (965 2292 9805),
whose shelves are lined with thousands of Arabic
and English books. The Kuwaitiana section is
impressive, but even bibliophobes can enjoy the
building’s iconic architecture.
Down the road is one of the country’s key
organizations, Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah
(965 2240 0992 / darmuseum.org.kw). Housed
in a former hospital complex, it is home to the
20,000-piece private art collection of Sheikh
Nasser Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and his wife,
Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, who
share a penchant for glass, wood and ceramics.
Ten minutes west of Kuwait City is the Arab
Organizations Headquarters building
Maritime traditions, desert life and
Bedouin history make for a destination
you won’t soon forget.
BY JAMIE ETHERIDGE
AND MARCUS WEBB