Kuwait is once again the prototypical oil
state, and travellers looking for a relaxed entry into the Muslim world can look
forward to wandering around mosques, souks and other sandy traces of bygone
In the early 17th century Kuwait was known as Qurain (or Grane), from the
Arabic words Qarn (a high hill) and Kout (a fortress). Some historians believe
that Barrak Bin Ghuraif, Sheikh of the Bani Khalid tribe, built Kuwait in Grane
and that since then the city has been referred to by its present name.
The total area of the State of Kuwait is 17,818 sq km. Most of the mainland
is a flat sandy desert gradually sloping towards sea level in the east. It is
broken by shallow depressions and low hills, which form a ridge at Jal Al-Zor
(145 metres above sea level), cut by the Umm Al-Ramam Wadi. The area is locally
known as Ghodai, meaning a hill. The southern part of Kuwait is generally flat,
with the exception of Ahmadi hill which is 137 metres above sea level.
The Kuwaiti mainland, with no mountains, rivers or other natural features, was
for a long time a transit area for nomadic tribes and caravans. Such freedom of
movement made delineation of borders rather difficult. On July 7, 1965, a
neutral zone was created between the State of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia. The northern part of the partitioned zone is administered by Kuwait,
whilst the southern part is the administrative responsibility of Saudi Arabia.
The crude oil extracted from the partitioned zone is equally shared by both
Due to the location of Kuwait in the Sahara geographical region, the weather
of the country is characterised by long, hot and dry summers and short, warm and
sometimes rainy winters. Dust storms almost always occur with a rise in humidity
Since ancient times, Kuwait has served as the gateway to the Middle East
because of its geographical location. Kuwait has drawn upon the accumulated
wisdom of countries around the world to power its own growth. In a few decades,
after the discovery of oil, a nation of fishermen and traders has transformed
into one of the richest and developed nations in the world -- offering
state-of-the-art amenities, secure infrastructural facilities and technical
excellence -- and is respected around the world.
Kuwait's wild plant-life is one of its unique natural heritages. Plants are
adapted to survive in the harsh conditions and extreme temperatures.
Unfortunately, they suffered under the intense pressure caused by grazing,
collection of fuel, etc.
Kuwait is home to numerous species of insects, animals and birds. Among the
diverse insects the most attractive group is that of butterflies. Several
beautiful varieties are found here and the best time to see them is spring.
The State of Kuwait has always paid special attention to the
preservation of its culture and heritage by maintaining monuments and preserving
artefacts and historical documents. The National Museum is one of the 50
locations where these are housed. The destruction caused by the Iraqi troops
created a heightened awareness among the people about the need to preserve and
resurrect the art and craft of Kuwait. The new architecture of the city, which
combines modern design with traditional art, reflects this awareness.
Kuwait has a large variety of customs and traditions, and this gives rise to
a colourful and extensive culture, reflected in the Diwaniya, the Bedouin
traditions and Al Sadu weaving. The people of Kuwait also have special love for
the arts, be it literature, theatre, music, dance, films or contemporary art.
The National Council of Culture, Arts and Literature (NCCAL); The Free Art
Studio and The Kuwaiti Society of Formative Artists are promoting the visual
arts in Kuwait.