Nestled between Iraq and Saudi Arabia along the coast of the Arabian Gulf lies the “fortress built near water” – Kuwait. After its invasion by Iraq in 1990 the country was severely destroyed but has re-emerged as one of the most progressive, modern countries in the Middle East. Travellers taking flights to Kuwait will land in Kuwait City. Shiny skyscrapers, luxurious beach resorts and of course the svelte Kuwait Towers dominate the city’s skyline.
Like most countries in the Middle East the first inhabitants were vagrant Bedouins who lived in tents in the desert as well as a tribe known as Utub of Qurain. When the Al-Sabah family were appointed in 1760 the country slowly became a major trading port; the inhabitants would make a living through selling spices between India and Europe, and the divers among them sold priceless pearls. Then, in 1936 the first oil wells were sunk and Kuwait’s oil supply was flowing. Today petroleum accounts for nearly 90 per cent of its export revenue, making it one of the richest countries in the world.
Visitors packing their suitcases before their Kuwait flights should pack light – the shopping here is extraordinary. Designer labels, high street brands and jewellery – lots and lots of jewellery can be found in its gigantic malls and markets.
The summers in Kuwait are characterised by high humidity and temperatures that can reach past 38 degrees. The weather cools to around 21 degrees in the winter. Heavy rainfall and strong winds are a feature between December and February.
The summer months are peak season for flights to Kuwait, but spring is also very popular with tourists due to the Hala festival – a cultural and entertainment extravaganza – which takes place in February.
Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar and the other main religious festival, Eid, the festival of breaking the fast, occurs directly after it.
Winter is rainy but not cold.
The Kuwait Public Transport Company is owned by the government and provides good bus services throughout the country. Car-rental companies and taxis complement the public transport system.