A cultural gem among a region of westernised grandeur, Kuwait is certainly no worse off for its indigenous focus, and has plenty to offer the wider world as a consequence
While not the driving force behind the recent Middle Eastern economic rise, Kuwait has - in its own quiet and indigenous way - become a small oasis of culture and authenticity for those who visit its desert-dominated shores.
It hasn’t got the glitz and glamour of Abu Dhabi or the tourist appeal of Dubai but what it does have in common with those two thriving cities is wealth.
A vast unfathomable amount of wealth generated through oil - of course - has been the driver behind the country’s rise to prosperity over the years, helping it ride a wave of regional invasion and national turmoil, to come out the other side as a still lucrative option for international investors.
As such, the extent of business travellers crossing its borders each year has encouraged a complete development of its cities - especially the capital, Kuwait City - and the subsequent rise of tourist hotspots and infrastructure within them.
“Kuwait remains an oasis in a land of desert plains, and has excellent museums, a fine souq and a corniche of combed beaches and lively restaurants. It all adds up to what could be the Gulf’s most intriguing destination,” Lonely Planet indicts.
Once again though, the appeal when walking around said cities doesn’t derive from a typical westernisation or commercialism, but from a natural indigenous feel unseen across the rest of the region; enjoyed - albeit in soaring Arabian Peninsula temperatures - by more and more visitors each year.
The business end
The constitutional emirate may be one of the smallest nations on earth, but can evolve its lands with the backing of the sixth largest oil reserve in the world. Additionally, the Kuwaiti dinar is the highest valued unit of currency in the world, and as such, the country has the fourth highest per capita income of all.
More recent political instability has hampered the rapid rise of the country slightly, but not so much that its economic standing can’t be placed among the most secure and enviable on the planet.
Its export and trade links complement its petroleum-based industry drivers and are supported by a highly sophisticated banking system; the Kuwait Stock Exchange being the second largest of its kind in the Arab world.
“In the years that led up to and have followed Iraq’s invasion in the early 1990s, the land has been a lucrative hub for any visitors and businesspeople who frequent it”
Such clout has leant itself to the country being somewhat of a pioneer in the region as a consequence, and in the years that led up to and have followed Iraq’s invasion in the early 1990s, the land has been a lucrative hub for any visitors and businesspeople who frequent it.
That’s not to say that your stay there will be cheap, however. Typical hotel chains found throughout the country are able to capitalise on the clientele typical within the oil and petroleum domain, and western hospitality operators have swooped in to also cash in on the sizeable wallets entering Kuwait each year.
For those not attracted to the typical hotel way of living, there is also a series of chalets and other short-term accommodations set up across the nine cities to add variation to what is the only real example of westernisation within its makeup.
The extent of business travellers crossing its borders each year has encouraged a complete development of its cities