I made the vow over a year ago that by the time I left Kuwait, I’d have found ten things to love about it. It’s been almost 20 months, and I’m delighted to say that I’ve done it! Now, I’m not promising that these are reasons to divert your flight to Bali for a ten-day-layover in Kuwait, but if you happen to be here, or are presented with the opportunity to live here, these might help pass the time.
1. No list of favorite things in Kuwait could be complete without saying “the mall.” Love it or hate it, you’ll find moments where you’re grateful for Ikea or Pottery Barn Kids or even The Cheesecake Factory. Not to mention just a comfortable clean place to avoid the scorching summer heat.
2. Parks & walking paths. Now, Kuwait’s parks can’t rival Yosemite or anything, but for what they are, and having no other options, I found myself very grateful for them. For eight to nine months of the year, the weather in Kuwait is basically perfect, making daily walks a lovely option.
3. Subsidized gas. Yeah, no surprise really, but the cheapest thing you can buy in Kuwait is gas. Too bad you can’t stock up.
4. Gulf walking. From approximately September through early May, one of my favorite things to do was walk along the Gulf. Bean and I would meet our friends and for two or three hours, we’d walk and gab and enjoy the waves and sea breezes while we clocked 6-8 miles. Granted, it wasn’t all peachy, we frequently had to dodge speeding motorcycles on the sidewalk who were too dumb to drive on the road, it was heartbreaking to see so much trash strewn on the beaches and in the water, there were men who would periodically hassle us, and in the end I had a friend who got mugged for her smart phone while walking with her baby. But if you remove all the people and the trash, it was truly lovely.
5. Drinking fountains. I love them; I love finding the unique ones hidden back in the neighborhoods. Granted, I’d never actually use one, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring them.
6. Flowers and landscaping. As a predominantly barren desert country, Kuwait has done a remarkable job spreading the greenery. They have a rather extensive desalination project, which allows for year-round trees and bushes and even flowers lining the highways. There’s a constant crew of gardeners trimming and raking and watering everywhere you turn. For someone coming from another desert country (i.e., Egypt) I found it remarkably green here. Granted, if you’re arriving from Ecuador, it’ll feel like you’ve been dropped into the middle of the Arabian desert; and you have been.
7. Gardening. For the first time in our adult lives, my husband and I attempted a vegetable garden. Granted, maybe Kuwait wasn’t the best spot to cultivate our green thumbs, but it wasn’t for want of effort, desire or even supplies. Might be a bit surprising, considering the lack of dirt, but there are tons of vegetable seeds and plants available here. When we went to purchase our seeds, we ended up going a little crazy and bought everything from watermelon to lettuce to broccoli to green beans to zucchini. We also tried growing garlic from cloves (completely unsuccessful) and bought an entire palette of tomato plants for less than $4. In the end, we managed to grow and consume about four cups of broccoli, five sad little zucchini, maybe 20 tomatoes and some strange white radishes, which was odd because they were practically the only seed we didn’t purchase.
8. Proximity to Oman. In a mere 90-minutes, you can be in wonderful glorious Oman. You can head for the mountains, explore the city, camp in the desert, or dive with the turtles. It’s all there and if we keep this hidden gem of the Middle East to ourselves, then it’ll remain as pristine as it is today.
9. Good little museums. Through all my wanderings, I will say that Kuwait has some really nice museums. None of them are so grand that you couldn’t explore them in a few hours, and yet they have some truly amazing exhibits. It’s a great way to spend a morning (but keep in mind that most shut between noon and 4pm, for whatever reason).
10. My last, but most important, reason for loving Kuwait is that it was my daughter’s first home and where I became a mother. So, for that reason alone, I will always appreciate what Kuwait gave me: lots of family time without the worries that I’m missing something fabulous out there.