• Nicola Chilton

Kuwait, a Photographic Tour

Updated: May 9, 2020

Kuwait is one of the few destinations on earth that doesn't have a major tourism industry, but that doesn't mean it's not worth visiting (everywhere is worth visiting). I've been lucky enough to visit on a few occasions, working on the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya, home to some of the most beautiful contemporary hotel design I've ever seen, and hosting events during Ramadan. It's a place I've grown to love, for its people (I adore my Kuwaiti friends), its mid-century architecture (documented in the excellent book Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-1989 published by Niggli), and for its Souq Al Mubarakiya where I have bought far too many abayas and kaftans, but when you're faced with the best selection in the world it seems silly not to. It's not really a walking city but I walk everywhere, so come with me now for a stroll through some of my favourite sights in Kuwait.

The 372-metre tall Liberation Tower, an icon of the city named to commemorate Kuwait's liberation in 1991 after the Iraqi invasion.

Early morning during Ramadan. No one will be on the streets - or visiting the optician - for hours yet.

The Kuwait Towers, part water tower, part restaurant, part observatory, and wholly fabulous. Designed by Danish architect Malene Bjorn and inaugurated in 1977, they also have a revolving cafe as all good 1970s observation towers should.

Most of my visits to Kuwait have been during Ramadan, and I love walking around the souqs in the early morning when there's no one around. The pale light, the empty corridors, the symmetry all make for a very special time of day.

Portrait studio in the souq. If only it had been open.

"Thanks Allies" - faded mural commemorating the 1991 liberation of Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion.

Fishermen taking a break for a rest - and a good laugh - in the shade of their dhow.

Indian Saloon, for all your beauty needs.

The Gulf Bank Headquarters, designed by French architect Jean-Robert Delb with a mesmerising pre-moulded concrete facade.

Sunny bench with trompe l'oeil window and flowers. It's also where I spent my last Kuwaiti dinar on a cup of saffron karak.

A couple of years ago I read a story in the news about vendors in a Kuwaiti fish market putting plastic googley eyes on their fish to make them look more "alive". I think it's safe to say that these fish come with their own eyeballs intact.

Towering sculpture of dallah, or Arabic coffee pots, at Dar Hamad restaurant.

The lobby of the Sheraton hotel, built in 1966 and later renovated after being heavily damaged during the Gulf War, still manages to retain a feeling of retro elegance.

Local breakfast of champions - falafel, foul, cheese, olives, rose jam, all in a friendly little vintage cafe on the edge of the souq.

Light and shadow putting on a show in my favourite suite at Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya, with interiors by Yabu Pushelberg.

The desert light makes even the most mundane parking garage look like an example of stylish mid-century modern architecture.

If you liked some of the architectural photos here, this book is an excellent resource to learn where more great examples are around the city for your next picture walk.

And here you are, in Kuwait. Thanks for coming along for the walk!

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