This past weekend, I was finally able to get my husband to go do something “Kuwaiti.” He whined like an 8-year-old heading to the dentist, but I ignored it and managed to get him out of the house and into the car.
Our plan was to meet up with friends and go explore the Souq Al-Mubarakeya in downtown Kuwait City. According to tripadvisor.com, the Heritage Souq in Kuwait City is the 20th most interesting thing you can see. Frankly I’m astonished that there are 19 more interesting things ahead of it. I’ll have to find that list.
When we lived in Cairo, I visited the Khan el-Khalili (their primary souq) with such regularity that I got to know it very very well. I could go blindly down the windiest of alleys and know exactly which stone doorway lead to the glass blower, or the lamp maker, or the camel saddle guy. Here, I’ve been to the souq twice before; once to the main souq, once to the fabric souq. And despite its significantly smaller size (in comparison to the Khan), it is still a labyrinth of shops and alleys and courtyards, so I have no idea whether I’ve actually seen all of it.
The main difference between the two souqs is that the Khan is primarily designed for tourists, and you have to dig a little deeper to find the non-tourist, non-Chinese stuff. But if you dig or wander in any direction beyond the line of tourists, you will find that the tourist souq connects with other souqs selling bedding and towels and spices and kitchenware and brooms and chairs and fruit and meat and pretty much anything you can imagine. Here in Kuwait, the souq is 95% for the locals, selling shoes and handbags, fruits and vegetables, even fish and meat. There are a few shops that sell Persian and Afghani rugs, gold and silver (the gold souq is officially called the Souq ad-Dahab al-Markazi), and if you hunt diligently you can find some Kuwaiti chachkas made in China (if, for example, you were looking for prizes for party games, which we were). But primarily, it’s for regular every-day shopping if you opt for something different than one of the many many malls or grocery stores.
The souq is interesting in its architecture and I was curious what its history was. After a little digging, I found this on Wikipedia.com, “Souq Al-Mubarakeya is a souq in Kuwait City, Kuwait. It is one of the oldest souqs in Kuwait, and was the center of trade prior to the discovery of oil.” Well now, aren’t you overwhelmed with knowledge? Obviously, there’s not a lot of information out there, but suffice it to say, it’s fun to explore and have a bite of lunch before you grab your fresh dates and veg and head home. And if you happen to be traveling with an adorable baby, you may get a free banana as well (no guarantees). Now, to find that list of 19 other things to see here....