Kuwait City, Kuwait
Kuwait City, the capital, is situated in the east of the country on the southern shore of Kuwait Bay (which forms a natural harbour). Its name is derived from the Arabic word for ‘fort’.
The origins of the city are usually put at around the early eighteenth century. About that time, elements of the Anaizah tribe (including the al-Sabahs, who were to become the ruling dynasty) migrated from the Arabian interior to the coast. The mainstays of the city’s early economy were pearling, fishing and trade with the Indian sub-continent and east Africa. From that period it remained the only settlement of any consequence in terms of population in the territory. With the expansion of oil exploration and production from the 1930s and 1940s, Kuwait City and the surrounding area (now the populous suburbs of Hawalli, as-Salimiya, Jahra and Farwaniya) grew rapidly. The old city wall, built to keep marauding desert tribes out of the town, was demolished in 1957 to make way for further oil-driven development. In turn, the city became the commercial, financial and administrative engine of the country.
The Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait from Aug. 1990–Feb. 1991 resulted in extensive damage to the capital. Buildings and infrastructure suffered, and Iraqi forces systematically stripped all moveable assets from the city before their expulsion. However, the city has since been largely restored.
Places of Interest
The principal historical and architectural attractions and features are to be found in Kuwait City. These include the National Museum, Sadu House, National Assembly building, Sief Palace (the official seat of the Amir’s court, the oldest parts of which date from the end of the nineteenth century) and Kuwait Stock Exchange. The Kuwait Towers opened in 1979 and have long been the country’s main landmark. The largest of the three towers is 187 m in height. Their globe structures contain observation, restaurant and water storage facilities. The Al Hamra Tower is Kuwait’s tallest building, at 414 m, and is also the world’s tallest stone clad tower. The Great Mosque, built in 7 years, opened in 1986. The main prayer court can accommodate about 10,000 men at prayer time. It has an additional prayer court for women, which can hold nearly 1,000 worshippers.