Kuwait, the oil-rich country of the Gulf is located in western Asia. The tiny country is one of the world’s richest countries per capita and has powerful neighbours. It lies on the North-Western edge of the Persian Gulf with Iraq to its North and West, Saudi Arabia to the South, and the Persian Gulf on the East.
This emirate country has a total area of 17,818 sq kilometres and is mostly desert except for Al-Jahra, an oasis about 50 km west of the country’s capital, Kuwait City. Kuwait Bay is a small but deep harbour on the Persian Gulf. Capital Kuwait City lies on the tip of Kuwait Bay and has about 83% of the country’s population living in it.
With marvellous architecture, an expansive coastline, vast desert, Arabic hospitality, aromatic cuisine, and blue waters of the Persian Gulf, Kuwait has a lot to offer to travellers. The culturally rich country, often called the oasis of peace, is a must-visit for travellers.
1. The Grand Mosque of Kuwait
One of the finest treasures of Kuwait, the Grand Mosque, is located on Gulf St., in Kuwait City. As the name suggests, it is the biggest mosque in the city, with a total area of about 46,000 sq m and a capacity of about 10,000 people. The beautiful central dome, pointed arches, and pillar arcades characterize its Persian structure. The mesmerizing treasure of Kuwait is a fine example of traditional Islamic architecture with elements like the northwest corner minaret, patterned tiles, and ornamental calligraphy that resemble Andalusian architecture. It was completed in 1986 with breath-taking interiors and the central dome engraved with the Asma-al-hosna—the 99 names of God, as depicted by the Quran.
2. American Cultural Centre
Located near the commercial hub and National Museum in Kuwait City, the American Cultural Centre building is an informative, cultural seafront complex. The cultural complex houses arts and crafts from the middle-east, Asia, and the far east. Not just antiques, arts, and crafts, but it also has a multimedia display of the building’s history and evolution. The complex was first built as an American Mission hospital back in 1912. It was in 2011 that it was converted into a two-floor cultural hub.
The cultural centre was converted by architects Roberto Fabbri and Jindrich Smetana for their client Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah. An attempt was made not to lose the original essence of the building’s design while converting it.
3. Kuwait Towers
One of the most remarkable and distinguishable parts of the Kuwait City skyline is the Kuwait Towers. Located at the tip of Ras Ajouza peninsula, Gulf Road, in Kuwait City, Kuwait tower is a group of 3 towers of different heights. They were designed by Danish architect Malene Bjorn. The project was completed in 1977.
These three towers that look like traditional Arabian perfume containers contain water in them. These 3 slender, pointed towers were built as a part of the 34 towers Kuwait Water Towers System to store water for the city. In the set, two towers contain water and the third one is a lighting pole that lights up the first two. The first tower not just contains a reservoir of about 4500 cubic meters but also, a restaurant and a rotating observatory.
The spheres of the towers have enamelled steel plates painted in harmony with Gulf architecture. The huge, bright spheres on pointed towers have become an identity of the city as well as Kuwait.
4. National Museum
National museum, a famous tourist attraction in Kuwait, is located on Arabian Gulf Street, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. What stands there today is not the original structure but the restored museum design done by French architect Michel Ecochard. The original structure was plundered during the Gulf War.
The complex has a few sections and buildings for different kinds of displays, like, Archeology, Heritage, Science, and the Planetarium. The museum houses precious collections on the country’s heritage, traditions, and culture. The famous Al Sabah Islamic art collection can also be visited here at the National Museum. Right from Kuwait’s history, evolution, and growth as a country, culture, and heritage to science and technology, this museum is a great place to know and understand.
5. Seif Palace
The alluring Al-Seif Palace is a historic palace that dates back to 1880. Also seen as a symbol of sovereignty, this palace was the original seat of the government of Kuwait since the late 19th century. The place is located right opposite the Grand Mosque in Kuwait City, Kuwait. The palace completed the first of its major phases of construction in 1904 and became a focal point of Kuwait city. It was built on orders of Sheikh Mubarak with vernacular materials, clay, rocks, wood, limestone, and metal.
Since its construction, it has been renovated thrice. Al-Seif Palace is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture, which is about 16,000 square meters in total. Today the complex has water bodies, a museum, offices as well. The impressive watchtower has blue tiles and a roof plated in gold. The palace is worth visiting and exploring.
6. House of Mirrors
House 17 94 street, Kuwait City, Kuwait, is the house of artist, sculptor, and jeweller Lidia al-Qattan and her husband, Kuwaiti artist Khalifa al-Qattan. In the suburban region, the house catches attention right away with its bright exterior mirror work. It is said that the work on the house started when she felt lonely while her husband was out on exhibition-related travel abroad. What started with the decoration of a cabinet out of boredom is today an exceptional piece of art. It is believed that the interior of the house is spectacular, with every corner bedecked with mirror pieces. It is a white brick structure with mirror mosaics depicting themes like earth, sea, animals, universe, stars, calligraphy, and more. The house is decorated to the extent that even the bathroom sink has mirror work on it. The owners are eager to show around their artsy home to visitors. Not just this, visitors may also visit an art gallery on the upper floor.
7. Liberation Tower
The 372 m high tower is the second tallest structure in Kuwait. Located at Abdulla Al Salem St, in Kuwait City, the tower was to be named Kuwait Telecommunications tower. When the tower’s construction was almost midway, the Iraqi invasion of 1990 happened, and the construction work was halted. Fortunately, the tower was not affected by the invasion. When the Iraqi invasion ended, the tower was named the Liberation tower. The steel and concrete structure thus became a national identity for Kuwait and its liberation. Settled in the urbanscape of Kuwait, this tower not just houses various government ministries, offices but also an observation deck and restaurants.
8. Green Island
One of the most scenic destinations of Kuwait is the Green Island in Kuwait City. It is an artificial island of about 7,85,000 sq meters. A great holiday retreat on reclaimed land is how the island can be described in the most precise way. It is located off the coast of Kuwait City’s promenade that was built in 1988. Waterside park, adventure sports, amphitheatre, barbeque spaces are major attractions at the island other than its view.
9. The Scientific Centre of Kuwait
Located at Kuwait waterfront, Kuwait City, Kuwait’s Scientific Centre is a public environmental education centre. With a major focus on natural sciences, habitats, sea, coast, and desert, this complex has exhibition spaces, an aquarium, and an IMAX film theatre. Along with these primary education facilities, the complex also has shopping, dining, historic dhows docked, making it a must-visit edutainment hub. Indulging science experiments, rolling in sand, understanding harbours are a few of the fun interactive options to be explored by children. The complex in total spans over about 80,000 sq meters and has over 100 species of animals.
10. Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre
The largest cultural centre and opera house in the Middle East, the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, informally called Kuwait Opera House, is located on Gulf Road, Kuwait City. With a spectacular modern architectural design, the complex includes cinemas, concert halls, exhibition halls, conference spaces, and a library archive. A treat for visitors, this state-of-the-art cultural complex has 4 buildings that sit like jewels with a spacious courtyard around. SSH explains the outer skin of the buildings as dramatic, bold, something that builds expectations and exudes character to one of the most attractive landmarks of Kuwait.
11. Al Sadu House
Al Sadu is a traditional weaving art practised by Bedouin women in parts of the UAE. The Al Sadu house, located on Gulf road, next to National Museum in Kuwait City, is a cultural centre to let visitors and future generations explore the culture of textile history. The unique Kuwaiti art of weaving attracts tourists and people from the fabric industry from different parts of the world. The cultural house was established in 1980 by the Al Sadu Society to showcase ethnic handmade items, techniques of Sadu art, and more. It is one of the great destinations to explore and deep dig into the fabric culture of the Middle East.
12. Souq Al-Mubarakiya
One of Kuwait’s oldest ‘souqs’ (a market), the Souq Al-Mubarakiya, is located between Abdullah Al-Mubarak, Abdullah Al-Salem & Palestine Streets in Kuwait City. Before the discovery of oil, this used to be the trade centre of Kuwait. What can visitors get here? The souq has a lot to offer for gourmands and people who love to explore culture through cuisine. It is one of the finest spots for dates, seafood, Persian silk carpets, traditional perfumes, and clothing. With its traditional architectural vocabulary retained, this place is decorated on the national days of Kuwait. Besides all the shopping, the souq also has traditional cafes that serve authentic Arabic food and teas brewed over coal.
13. Failaka Island
A Kuwaiti Island in the Persian Gulf, situated 20 km off the coast of Kuwait City, Failaka has a rich history. Failaka is a Kuwaiti island in the Gulf. It is sometimes addressed as an abandoned island. It is said that over 2000 people were living on the island before the Iraqi invasion took place in 1990. The island, with approximately 43 square kilometres of area, is today an archaeological focal point of Kuwait and has been excavated several times. Few interesting places to visit on the island include Al Zawr Museum, Swan Lake, Heritage Village Museum, remnants of the Gulf War, ruins of National Bank of Kuwait, and the Dilmun civilization ruins. The site is a must-visit for history and archaeology buffs.
14. Tareq Rajab Museum
Exploring arts, antiques, and calligraphy, like never before, can be done at one of Kuwait’s many prestigious cultural entities, the Tareq Rajab Museum, which houses about 30,000 items collected over 50 years. Out of these, about 10,000 are on permanent display. The museum is located 9 km southeast of Kuwait City, on street 1, in Jabriya, Kuwait. The museum is a feast for people with interests in calligraphy arts and antiques. The museum has been divided into parts, where the first one houses calligraphies, manuscripts, ceramics, miniatures, wood-carvings, and more. The other part, on the other hand, houses produced during the last 250 years in the Islamic world, costumes, jewellery, musical instruments, and textiles.
15. Kuwait Zoo
Located on Airport road, in Farwaniya, Kuwait, the Kuwait Zoo is an interesting visit for children. With about 1600 animals, this zoo has proven to be a beautiful destination about 13 kilometres away from Kuwait City.
There are quite a few rare bird species also present in the zoo. The zoo is almost 1,80,000 sq meters in area and has 4 main divisions: animal section, Cultural Center, Life Sciences Division, services and administration. It’s a beautiful zoo for children to explore with their parents.
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