Kuwait is a small desert country at the top of the Persian Gulf. There are no lakes or rivers, so distilled seawater is the main source of fresh water. Kuwait has large oil fields and the vast profits made from exporting oil have turned it into one of the richest countries in the world. Until the early 1700’s, the area that is now Kuwait was almost uninhabited. The Arabs of the Anaza people settled in Kuwait Bay and built a port there. This became Kuwait City which is now the country’s capital. In 1899, the ruler of Kuwait appealed to Britain for protection against the Turks who had tried to take control of the country. Britain was responsible for Kuwait’s defense until it became fully independent in 1961.
These attractions are the top ten not to be missed places in Kuwait.
The spectacular water towers dominate the skyline of Kuwait City. The water towers are part of the desalination plant that turns seawater into fresh water by removing the salt. Fresh water is scarce in Kuwait and these plants are their main source. It is a symbol of the city of Kuwait and mostly visited by tourists. It is visible from any area of the city and surrounded by palm trees, a nearby water park, a jogging area, and a long line of Persian Cuisine restaurants. This huge reservoir was built in1979 by a Swedish architect.
At a reasonable fee, you can go all the way up to the tower via an elevator ride. From above, a panoramic view of the city, coastline, Arabian Gulf and the Cornice is truly breathtaking. There is a small bar on top where the floor rotates so even when you are standing you can have a 360 degree view of the entire city. By day, the sun casts its brightness on its clear windows and by night the towers have a great impact as it gets illuminated and bright in different shades of its colorful lights. It is certainly one of the most photographed attractions in Kuwait.
House of Mirrors
A different form of contemporary art is one of the highlights featured in the House of Mirrors. Owned and managed by its gracious host, Mrs. Lidia Al Qattan the tour is an interesting deviation from the other attraction found in the capital city. Their house that was converted into a museum is spacious and features the surreal art she and her husband have worked on for years.
The tour begins with a warm welcome from the host along with a cup of homemade tea (in ginger, honey, and green) and snacks (her own baked apple cakes and biscuits) plus a guided explanation of the origin and purpose of the museum. She also gives a short anecdote about how she has created every piece of art displayed in her own museum. Each room offers a great play of lights coupled with new age music that is fit for the story behind the art. You can see a great amount of dedication, passion, and patience that she has devoted on every broken glass to come up with an interesting and unique art form.
Every part and room of the house is fully covered in mirrors. An elevator is provided to reach the top floors of her house. In two hours you have a full understanding of the place and the owner herself. A gift shop can be found where some of her artworks and books about Kuwait are for sale at a fair price. An appointment must be made in advance for a private guided tour of the house.
The Grand Mosque of Kuwait City
The Grand Mosque is an excellent mosque that allows non-Muslims to enter and observe how Islamic traditions are observed in a sacred place. It is one of the largest Mosques in Kuwait. The mosque is not only beautiful outside but also inside. Modest clothing and behavior must be observed at all times once you enter the sacred ground. Long sleeves, long pants, veil on women’s head or by renting an abaya (black long gown) for women near the entrance is required because it is a holy place. A visit can be scheduled in advance but it can also be visited anytime of the day. A lovely guide knows every part and will accompany and answer any of your questions concerning the Mosque.
Once inside, the dome of the Mosque looks bigger; another part of it serves as a museum and holds important artifacts that focuses on how the Islamic faith started in Kuwait. There are designated prayer rooms for men and women. Men and the imams pray at the main hall of the mosque while the women have their own small prayer room at the side of the mosque that is adorned with arabesque walls. The height stands out when viewed from outside. Taking pictures is allowed but not during prayer time. There is a VIP lounge inside where free servings of coffee, water, biscuits, tea, and cola are given to every guest of the Grand Mosque at the end of a visit.
The Scientific Center
If you are lovers of aquariums a visit to The Scientific Center is a must. The modern structure which is located from the end of the promenade area can be reached in 15 to 20 minutes by taxi. Half of it offers interactive attractions for children showing huge tanks with a wide selection and large specimens of aquatic life. The marine life is well protected and cared for in the center. The small but educational ocean aquarium is nice, clean, and passed the European building standard and specifications regarding ocean life man made habitat in their tanks. Kids adore the jellyfish department and the need to be aware of eliminating water pollution and avoid throwing trash into the ocean for these lowly marine creatures. The three dimensional cinema is very impressive and must not be missed by children. It is small, but interesting. The shark tanks offer a wonderful spectacle. Outside there are exhibits laid out on the sea showing a makeshift old harbor setting and a restructured Arabic dhow or traditional warships that are open for exploration and learning (for kids). There is also a mini zoo where wildlife animals are kept inside a natural enclosure.
Kuwait House for National Works Museum
The small museum is situated at the city limits behind the imposing headquarters of the Kuwait Petroleum office. The main part of the museum consists of some plastic reconstructions of war scenes accompanied by strobe lights and an English speaking narrator. In another section there are pictures of the horrors caused by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It is very bloody, as well as a number of interesting photos on the activity of the soldiers of the Allied countries giving their assistance to the local population. The interesting museum is always open for school group tours and curious tourists who want to know more about the war of Kuwait against Iraq.
The Kuwait House for National Works Museum presents the war and the phases of Iraqi invasion complete with explanation and recorded sounds of bombings that seem real. The next part highlights the artifacts, uniforms and impressive real photos including the never before seen images of war that never got released in the news media. There are articles that show the proposed use and effects of Iraqi chemical weapons against, Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait. The museum is accessible via a 40 minute taxi ride from the city center. During the war, the Iraqis set fire to many oil fields and wells. After the war, a multinational effort began restoring Kuwait’s environment. It now exports oil on a large scale basis and the once war torn country is now transformed into a fully developed and progressive nation at peace. Today it provides free education and health care. There is no income tax and the government subsidizes food.
The Sadu House is a building that faces a big road and stands in the same premises with the National Museum. The Sadu is all about fabric. The shop focus on clothes and carpets designed and created by the Bedouin women that are proudly on display in their exhibition rooms. You can see how the carpets are designed and manufactured in this interesting house/museum and art laboratory.
You can schedule an organized training or tutorial session with the artists where they show their skill and ingenuity in every finished carpet or tapestry art, pillows, rugs, table cloths, and prayer mats. There is a small shop near the entrance that sells various other objects that the Bedouins create. Part of their overall sales goes to the maintenance of the textile shop. The house and its community leave a good impression about how hard working, hospitable, and creative these indigenous tribes from the Salmiyah region are.
Kuwait National Museum
The National Museum is open to the general public and does not only serve as a museum but also a full scale planetarium. It’s an ideal place to know about Kuwait and a little astrology. The exhibit rooms from here are so cold and it is highly recommended that you either bring those put on and to wear a long-sleeved thick sweater or jacket.
There is a planetarium on the grounds that is ideal fro school excursions and for families with kids that are interested about the planets and the constellations. There are stages in the planetarium that gets shown several times a day in the English language. Computer Graphic screenings are done in a matter of thirty minutes. There is an interactive video machine where kids can have a grand time everything they need to learn about astrology. Please call and inquire in advance if the shop is open or not.
Or to know about scheduled/ packaged group tours and have an arrangement for an advanced reservation along with a group. Some of the valuable items in this museum were destroyed during the war. The artifacts, works of art, potteries, images, and old handicraft give a quick glimpse of how Kuwaitis used to live and their long road to freedom.
The Fish Market
The Fish Market offers a wide array of fishes that were caught along the Arabian Sea or internationally sourced (export). It is located next to a famous mall. Restaurant owners and chefs buy fishes here in bulk because the price is much lower than the ones that are sold by kilos in the local supermarkets. Since it is situated near the fishing harbor, typical scenes include seeing groups of fishermen that head out to the shore in the early morning to fish or mend their nets traditionally by using both their hands and feet. Before the discovery of oil, fishing was Kuwait’s major industry, Shrimp were, and still are, the main catch of their waters. These species of shrimps thrive in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf.
Today, the neat and clean Fish Market is equipped with a modern fish freezing plant that package the shrimp for home use and export worldwide. The whole market is air-conditioned and well maintained. There is a separate section also in the same place and specialty shops that sells fresh fruits, vegetable, and other meat. The market offers a huge variety of fishes like; tuna, snappers, barracudas, groupers, marlins, salmon, etc. If you want to have a taste of freshly caught fish and a taste of the local life a visit here is necessary.
The Kidzania is an amusement center that is designed for the whole family and a kid’s total enjoyment. It has lots of interactive activities for kids and recreational areas to spend time with while the parents shop or dine on the other nearby attractions of this site. It is like a small town that is dedicated to them.
They can enter a community and be in character (cop, fireman, doctor, etc.) complete with costumes and socialize with other kids in every game and fun activity these attraction aims to accomplish. They offer drawing, painting, and art classes for children. You can shop and dine in the adjacent mall while your kids play in Kidzania.
The Kuwait Zoo highlights wildlife animals in their habitat that is laid out in an exhibit area for tourists to take pictures and observe. There is a designated exhibition place for every type of animal (flying, water, and wild animals).
It has a well maintained garden filled with lovely flowers and tall trees. The site is a good break from the usual crowded attractions around Kuwait. There is not much tourists around and there is a mini museum where stuffed animals can be found.