Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Christmas In Kuwait 2008

I’ve lived in so many Islamic countries, and I have never seen an Islamic country that celebrates – or allows the expat population to celebrate – Christmas – so lavishly.

In some countries, you live on rumors. Can the compound residents put up Christmas lights this year? (Yes! And all your Moslem neighbors put up lights, too, and the compound is like a fairy-land, and people walk around in groups at night ooooh-ing and aaaah-ing over the fanciful displays) or is this the year when it’s all word-of-mouth about the Indian grocer who has Christmas trees hidden in his back room but there is ne’ry a Christmas decoration to be seen on the streets or in the windows, and people are told not to decorate or to draw any attention to themselves . . .

Not so in Kuwait. Thanks be to God for religious tolerance here, allowing us to decorate for Christmas, allowing us to celebrate according to our private beliefs.

For my stateside and European virtual visitors, here are some of the Kuwait Christmas sights this year:












As we were waiting for our flight back to Kuwait, AdventureMan overheard several students talking about their experiences.

“You should see New York!” one student was saying, “There is even a big sign saying ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus!'” and they all laughed.

Why do you think we are so happy, dear ones? Why do you think we celebrate? Why do you think we get together and sing joyful songs, and try to delight one another with special, thought-filled presents? The greatest gift of all, we believe, is born on Christmas Day!

December 21, 2008 - Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos, Spiritual, Technical Issue


  1. love the “Woof!” stocking – a sign of all kinds of tolerance πŸ™‚

    I haven’t seen the “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” sign, but I can believe it. My neighborhood is full of shrines and saints’ statues, so it is full of Christmas cheer.

    But who buys all this Christmas stuff in Kuwait? Are there really that many expats? Or is it like here in New York, where many of my Jewish friends grew up with Christmas trees, because they are seen as festive but not particularly religious? (Unlike, for example, nativity sets!)

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | December 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. Here is a christmas tree among the palm trees found in an an arab country whose location will remain hidden, hope you like it, and merry christmas to you.

    Comment by Don Veto | December 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. I think a palm tree resembles the holy birth in terms of historical correctness than a pine tree.

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays

    Comment by error | December 21, 2008 | Reply

  4. The tree in Arraya Center is HUGE and beautiful too
    We have a Christmas tree at work πŸ˜€ It is kinda behind my desk.. I am gonna thread some popcorns and put’em on the tree like snow and take a pic for you to see πŸ˜€

    Comment by Ansam | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. Rotana hotel in fahaheel is nicely decorated with Chritmas trees and stuff, you should take a look when you’re here πŸ™‚

    Kinda OT but I have to say that what I love most about Christmas is the Christmas songs! they’re amazing!

    Comment by Yousef | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  6. Waw! All that is out in the open?
    My own stance is: go and celebrate anything which comes in your way! πŸ˜‰
    I’m happy you can have all this around you!
    (and you can replace all the stuff completely destroyed by the qatteri-cat!)

    Comment by Aafke | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  7. Not having experienced Christmas in a Muslim country before, I have to say I find it a mix of tacky and traditional. Taken from the perspective of being able to celebrate at all, it’s great. Just as an observation though, the majority of Christmas displays (the photos above excepted) have been hilariously tacky – obviously someone’s IDEA of how Westerners celebrate Christmas. Not even in Canada would I (or anyone else I know) buy Jalapeno pepper lights which play “Jingle Bells.” lol

    Comment by DaisyMae | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  8. I am not sure what the official statistics are, Little Diamond, or what the reality is (as you know, I am cynical of official statistics) but I know that I was astounded when I visited the church souk – Indians, Phillipinos, westerners, Syrians, Jordanians, even some Kuwaitis are Christian. Some people put of Christmas trees just because they are a lot of fun, not to celebrate Christmas.

    LLOOOLLLL, Don Veto, @ your Christmas tree! And to you, my blogging friend, all the joys of the holiday season.

    Error – I could not agree with you more. I also believe Jesus looked more Palestinian/Jordanian/even Kuwaiti than the blue eyed/light brown haired guy portrayed in most European-Christian art. Jesus was a Semite!

    Ansam, in the markets yesterday I saw some dried round little red peppers, about the size of dried cherries, and I thought how beautiful they would be strung along with the popcorn! I can’t wait to see your tree!

    Yousef – I will have to go see the Rotana! I am having a lot of fun spotting Christmas this year. And no, not off topic at all. I collect Christmas music, especially OLD OLD Christmas music. It sounds very Middle Eastern – I am convinced much of it is influenced by sounds the crusaders brought back with them. I have to ration myself; I only let myself play my collection from October 31 – January 6 (The Feast of the Epiphany, when the wise men came searching the Christ child), or if I am having a particularly very bad day, I allow myself to put some on to cheer me up.

    Totally off topic, we have a new muezzin in my neighborhood. I know, I know, they don’t “sing,” but oh how we are enjoying his melodic delivery of the azan/athan. πŸ™‚

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  9. Aafke – It is amazing and wonderful. I think you need to visit!

    DaisyMae – I am so sorry to tell you this, but if you want tacky – the USA is the place where the tackiness will break your heart. Those jalepeno peppers – everywhere. And more – the most amazing, glittery decorations imaginable. The creche are few and far between. Barely a wise man to be seen . . . (sigh)

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  10. Such fun! Love the photos IntlXpatr…

    A to Z in Shuwaikh have a jolly chubby santa sliding down the chimney they bring out every year and hang outside the shop.

    I have seen many Kuwaitis buying Christmas tree decorations and lights simply because they are beautiful and so irresistible.

    Comment by jewaira | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  11. Intlxpatr we are truly lucky to live a state that has tolerance for other religions. The only problem is we don’t get a holiday on 25th. πŸ™‚

    Comment by Mathai | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  12. Lady J, I have heard of the A to Z, but never been there. People say I would love it, that it has amazing things . . . I think they are being funny. I agree with you, I think the Kuwaitis are having some fun with Christmas.

    Mathai – Hee heee – you are working for the wrong company!

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 22, 2008 | Reply

  13. […] would have tried to get a Christmas in Kuwait picture for this post, but intlxpatr has done a great comprehensive survey. Β I took the above photograph on Carnaby Street earlier this […]

    Pingback by Merry Christmas Everyone « | December 24, 2008 | Reply

  14. Good Morning πŸ˜€

    Thought of sharing a link of what Christmas is like in Tehran:

    Comment by Darya | December 26, 2008 | Reply

  15. this is stupid i cant find anything about kuwait and i have to do a freakin report on it o crap im gona fail

    Comment by Morgan Vize | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  16. LOL, Morgan and the report is due tomorrow and you’re just starting tonight, right?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 20, 2009 | Reply

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