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Kuwait

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Kuwait City is like San Diego or Ft. Lauderdale.  Western.  Modern.  Clean.  Shopping is the national pastime.  Lots of high dollar boats and high dollar sports cars.  They have malls comparable to Galleria, 3D Imax, TGI Friday's, Chili's, Popeye's Chicken, Harley Davidson ...     We have inflicted the ultimate Western debauchery on Kuwait - Starbucks!  Multiple locations!

The most striking thing about being in Kuwait is that you don't meet any Kuwaiti's.   Everyone who works in the service industries (the airport, hotels, restaurants, taxi's, shops, etc.) is from somewhere else.   They have imported an entire nation of people to serve them.   You read that, but you don't realize the impact of it until you see it in person.

There is a strong Muslim fundamentalist influence in Kuwait.  More women wear the black robe/veil than not, but they are tolerant of people who choose to not wear it (I went running one afternoon along Gulf Road.  Based on the number of honks and waves, I suspect that the sight of a western woman wearing spandex is not common yet!)  However, their attitude about alcohol has no room for compromise.  Alcohol is strictly prohibited; whether it is beer, wine, or liquor.  All bags are hand searched at Customs for liquor upon entering the country.  Even the US Army post at Camp Doha is completely dry!

After the war, during the rebuilding, trees were planted alongside the roads and in public places.  This is a change from the pre-war state.  One strange thing, however, is that the only thing that grows naturally in this city of dust is grass/weeds in the cracks of the sidewalks.  The sidewalks, for instance along Gulf Road, are predominantly a Pavestone-like structure, and they clearly don't believe in using weed killer.   It gives things a strange (but incorrect) uninhabited look, even in heavily traffick'ed areas. 

Skyline (3671 bytes) Skyline Kuwait Towers

Kuwait City Skyline (photo taken from approximately the vicinity of TGI Friday's!)

Kuwait City Skyline (taken from inside Kuwait Towers, showing Freedom Tower, the 5th tallest free-standing tower in the world)

Kuwait Towers

Kuwait Towers Hotel (9131 bytes) Hotel (8589 bytes)

Kuwait Towers

 

Hotel Messilah Beach

 

Hotel Messilah Beach

 

Neighborhood Apartments (7038 bytes) Mosque

Messilah Beach neighborhood

 

Messilah Beach neighborhood (apartments)

 

Mosque next to hotel (great for wake-up call before dawn!)
Memorial Sunrise Beach

Memorial at the hotel remembering the Iraqi invasion (you see this kind of thing scattered throughout the city)

Sunrise at the hotel

 

Beach at the hotel at low tide

 

Store

Convenience store by the hotel.  It was about the size of a bathroom.  Every square inch in this place was full of goods - all the way up to the ceiling.  They had European candy bars, and Washington State apples!  This is the only ratty-looking building I saw in the whole city.  Note the high-dollar car, though - fairly typical.

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