The Culture of Kuwait: 5 Ways to Immerse Yourself in All the Country Has to Offer
Any time you visit a new country, it is important to take time to really appreciate the local culture. While seeing the popular tourist attractions is great, there’s something about getting to know the people—through learning the area history and enjoying local cuisine and festivals—that can take your experience to another level.
Today, we’ll explore five ways to celebrate the amazing culture found in Kuwait.
1. Eat Local Food at Local Places
Kuwait has a unique food profile thanks to its colorful history. While you’ll see plenty of Middle Eastern and Persian influences in dishes, there’s also a significant British influence due to the time Kuwait spent as a British colony. You’ll also see influences from Africa and India in some dishes, making Kuwaiti dining a truly global experience.
Keep dining authentic and try a few of the country’s most traditional dishes, like machboos—Kuwait’s national dish, consisting of fragrantly spiced rice simmered in a spicy meat broth and served with slow-cooked mutton, chicken, or fish. Any restaurant worth its’ salt will make sure you also receive a side of dakoos, a spicy sauce made of chili, tomatoes, and garlic (think of it as Kuwait’s version of ketchup, just kicked up a notch).
Another local dish that should be at the top of your must-try list is Muttabaq Samak. While this rice-based dish is not exclusive to Kuwait, it becomes so with the addition of Zubaidi—Kuwait’s national fish, which is prolific in the waters of the Arabian Gulf. In this dish, the fish is breaded in flour and fried, then served over rice that has been cooked in fish stock with herbs, raisins, and nuts. The resulting dish is succulent and delicious.
2. Learn Local History
To understand an unfamiliar culture, it is important to learn where its people come from and what they have experienced, and Kuwait City has much to offer in that respect.
The Sheikh Abdullah al-Salem Cultural Centre is one of the largest cultural complexes in the world and should be on the top of your must-see list. It is made up of six separate museums including the Natural History Museum, the Arabic Islamic Science Museum, and the Fine Arts Centre. It’s the perfect place to learn about the many achievements made by Kuwait in the world of science and art.
3. Attend a Local Festival
There’s just something about a good, old-fashioned festival that makes you feel as though you’re really part of the community.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in Kuwaiti culture, various celebrations in February will make that happen. First, there is Kuwait’s National Day, celebrated on February 25th to commemorate Kuwait’s emergence from Ottoman rule. This is a time of patriotism and national pride in Kuwait. You’ll see the Kuwaiti flying in front of most businesses and homes, and everyone dresses in national attire. Friends and family come together for large meals and celebrations.
The very next day, February 26th, is Liberation Day, when Kuwaitis celebrate their liberation during the First Gulf War. You’ll once again be swept up in the country’s patriotism, and will enjoy many street parades, light shows, and festivals.
4. Visit Souk Al Mubarakiya
Touted as one of the oldest souks, or marketplaces, in Kuwait, Al Mubarakiya has been the go-to place for buying Kuwaiti treasures for more than 200 years.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to stroll through the market stalls. Your senses will be overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and scents. Silk scarves and beautiful rugs are available for purchase, as are fragrant perfumes and oils. Spices of every kind may be bought in bulk and, when you near the Arabic coffee stall, your nose will alert you before you see it. Do yourself a favor and purchase a cup—you can thank me later.
5. Get Out of the City
Don’t limit your sightseeing to Kuwait City—try to get out beyond the bustle and visit other areas. Go hiking at Mutla Ridge, take a ferry ride to the island of Fialka, or catch a breathtaking sunset while on a desert safari. Spend time enjoying the varied regions of Kuwait and the hospitality of its’ people.
The culture of Kuwait is deeply rooted in the people living there, and most are more than happy to share it with you.
So, go…and enjoy getting to know the history, culture, and beautiful people of Kuwait.