Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Happy National Day Kuwait

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 9.30.20 PM


Happy Liberation Day and Happy National Day to all my friends in Kuwait. Party hearty 🙂

Almost twenty-five years since the Invasion of Kuwait. Imagine. There are young Kuwaitis graduating from college who weren’t even alive when Iraq invaded.

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Kuwait | , | 4 Comments

Kuwait’s National Day – belated Congratulations!

Oh! I had it on my calendar, and then I was so sick I didn’t look at my calendar! Kuwait’s National Day and Liberation Day passed, and I didn’t say congratulations! I am so sorry!

Wishing all my Kuwait friends, in and out of Kuwait, a prosperous, safe and eventful year, with a breakthrough in improving all the infrastructure, so Kuwait will once again be on track for fulfilling it’s true potential.


I love this photo, and I can’t figure out where it came from; it’s not mine. It reminds me how quickly we forget, and what a catastrophe can do to a national mentality. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was devastating, and the devastation continues, so many years later, 23 years later, an entire generation of young Kuwaitis who only hear these stories as if they were of some ancient time, but a war which changed everything, and shook the forward-looking Kuwaitis so that they now look to the past, and have little trust in the future.

On! On! Kuwait!

February 1, 2013 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Leadership | , | 3 Comments

History of Architecture in Old Kuwait City (4)

This is my favorite section from The History of Architecture in Old Kuwait City by Saleh Abdulghani Al-Mutawa, Architect. It is quoted from the section called Social Customs, starting on page 206:


Kuwait is a small nation, with population of one million, that actually has a large influence on people’s behavior; it makes the whole country like one unified family. In the neighborhoods, it is customary to see houses left open and without any security measures, always ready for visitors, which reflects the strength of the relations between neighbors, and the confidence they enjoy. The most distinctive customs are:

1. Large families; average size is eight members. The young generation is trying to minimize the family size. They live in rather large houses, seven to ten bedrooms, which is considered to be an average size house. The house provides privacy for the boys, when they grow up and have their own families.

2. Large family groups, either under one roof or in clustered dwellings, is noticable throughout Kuwait neighborhoods. That reflect the willingness of families and relatives to cooperate and help each other.

3. Newly married sons tend to stay in their parent’s house and share the cooking and dining, so houses have rather large kitchens and dining rooms.

4. Families and relatives visit each other on Fridays and stay for lunch, which is the main meal of the day. The number of visitors varies from 20 – 50 persons, depending on the size of the families. Men and women visit in separate rooms, since separation of males and females is part of the custom. (The author notes that he is talking about old habits and traditions that were prevailing in the old city.)

5.All houses have what is called “Dewania” which is a guest room. In well designed houses, two “Dewanias” were furnished, one for males and one for females, since separation between males and females is mandatory as far as the customs are concerned. The “Dewania” has its separate entrance from the rest of the house, which is to provide privacy for the inhabitants and prevent sudden interactions with guests. It is considered bad for a female to be seen by a male guest, and vice versa. In poorly designed houses, the “Dewanias” don’t have proper privacy and seclusion. The men have the habit of visiting the neighborhood “Dewanias” at night for socialization and discussion of daily matters. In the past the “Dewanias” were the only news sources for the people. Different “Dewanias” are known by the last name of the owners. Hot tea and Arabian coffee are served on a regular basis and in big events like celebrations, “Eads”, wedding parties, and so forth, big feasts held for families, friends and neighbors.

6. “Chay Aldaha”, or afternoon tea at which it is customary for women to visit each other and gossip. Hot tea and cookies are served for refreshment. “Chay Aldaha” is held in the female “Dewania” to ensure privacy for female guests and to prevent sudden embarrassing interactions with male inhabitants.

7. Women are dressed in conservative clothes when they go out; the face and the two hands are the only parts of the body which are exposed. (The author makes a note that he is talking about old habits and traditions which were prevailing in the city) Privacy for women inside the house is an important factor. They should not be seen from the outside while they are doing their daily housework, and should not be in the way when male guests are visiting in the house.

As you can see, the winds of change have blown through Kuwait creating many, many changes. This book captures a slice of time in Kuwait history, and a wealth of information you don’t even know you know. The ways Kuwaitis lived for generations have changed, just in the last 20 years. I was particularly taken with the author’s mention – several times – that women should not be seen tending to their daily housework – how many Kuwaiti women do you know who are doing housework?

There is a current controversy regarding removal of diwaniyyas constructed on public grounds – if this is an old and accepted tradition, perhaps some adjustment can be made, particularly where the diwaniyyas are not impeding public transport or walking paths? Perhaps some can be “grandfathered”, i.e. exceptions made because of historical location?

Meanwhile, my Kuwaiti friends, sorry for boring you with these descriptions of your family dwellings; you already know all this, but the rest of the world does not, and I wanted to share this with those who follow this blog because they find you exotic and fascinating. 🙂 You really need to add this book to your libraries, as a record of a way of life that seems to be slipping all to quickly into the past.

February 27, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Privacy, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , , | 8 Comments

History of Architecture in Old Kuwait City (3)

I am quoting so much from Saleh Abdulghani Al-Mutawa. Architect, that you may think you don’t need to run out and buy the book but I assure you, I am only sharing with you a few of the gems I found within. The author has done so much research with such loving attention that the book is full of treasure, every page offers something worthy.

The Year of Demolish
It is a sad memorial in Kuwait’s history. In Rajab 1289 A.H. (i.e. in the middle of the nineteenth century), heavy rains accompanied by severe winds hit the old Kuwait city, and demolished most of the mud houses. Sea waves went high and hit and wrecked ships. It was a disaster for Kuwaitis.

A second natural disaster took place in Kuwait on 30 November 1954 when heavy rains fell and demolished houses and forced 18,000 Kuwaitis to seek refuge in newly built schools. Houses built of mud and a little cement were severely affected, while houses built of rock were not affected.

My Kuwait friends – tonight, instead of going out in your cars, stay home! Sit with your grandparents and ask them about the house they grew up in. Ask them about the meals they cooked. Ask them about the heavy rains, so heavy that they could destroy houses and force 18,000 Kuwaitis to abandon their homes and go stay in schools. These are amazing stories – learn your stories from your grandparents . . . and then come tell us all the stories in your own blogs. If you don’t have a blog, or if you want to share here, you are welcome.

Some of my Kuwait friends ask why I care more about these things than the Kuwaitis. First – my Kuwaiti friends care. In my country, we call these people “the silent majority.” Every now and then the majority energizes and asserts itself. Kuwaitis care. Change is happening, it happens slowly. Keep the faith.

Second – I live here. I may not be Kuwaiti, but I care about the places where I live. If God has placed me here, I trust that he has his reasons, and it is my obligation to him to learn as much as I can and to serve – wherever he may place me. He placed me in Kuwait.

Tomorrow I will print my very favorite part of this book – where it describes family living. Meanwhile, run out and buy your own copy. There is so much I am not covering. This book is a part of your heritage.

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Books, Building, Community, Cultural, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Weather | , , | 7 Comments

Kuwait Tradition?

Last night, out along Gulf road, we got to see first hand all the celebrations for Kuwait National Day and Kuwait Liberation Day. I’m like a kid; I love to see the bright lights! Sorry if these are a little fuzzy, but there is no place to stop when you are dragging along Gulf Road. There are some fabulous lights in downtown Kuwait, sparkling and BRIGHT but impossible to photograph while you are driving along, and – well, you know what it is like to try to find a parking spot, right? Ho ho hohohohho!



I love to see people out having a good time, I love all the cars covered with Kuwaiti flags – even motorcycles with flags. It’s like one continuous long parade. I love all the decorated buildings, I love the atmosphere of celebration and gaiety. . .

And I found myself wondering how this one particular “traditon” started? How does it get to be something you expect? Those skinny little adolescent boys with their cans of spray foam? People driving with their children hanging out the windows? People in convertibles with their kids sitting on the back seats, goofing off? Where are their parents???

Where traffic is jammed up I can understand that the kids aren’t really in any danger, but once traffic gets going, parents, please, pull your children into the seats where they belong!

Also, I have never seen such a huge police presence. While everyone else is having a five-day holiday, these guys must all be on duty! There were police everywhere, trying to make sure the jubilation didn’t get out of hand. They were polite, they were kind to the youngsters, and they kept a highly visible presence which, I am convinced, is probably necessary. I think they are doing a great job. I like it a lot when protection is gently provided. 🙂

February 24, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Holiday, Kuwait, Living Conditions | , | 15 Comments