Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Architecture in Kuwait

Fascinating article in today’s 

Arab Times on architectural transitions in Kuwait from a talk given by Salah Abdullah, an expert in the analysis of architectural history, at the Aware Center. This is just an interesting excerpt, but you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type above.


Old Kuwait
Eng Abdullah also explained the architecture of old Kuwait and how a number of elements have influenced Kuwait in making its buildings and architectural layout what it is today. “In the past city development in Kuwait was completely spontaneous and simply divided. In this it has been similar to many old cities, like London. But what dominated was the Arabic and Islamic culture which is the mainstay of interior designs of many Kuwaiti homes. Building materials were usually taken from nature — sea rock, mud, limestone and gypsum. The shape of old Kuwaiti architecture came to suit the environment and circumstances. Houses were adjacent in a manner that indicated the unity and corporation of the people and streets were usually narrow. Mosques were placed very close to houses, to allow the elderly to walk without trouble.

Construction in the past depended on Kuwaitis themselves. The engineer called ‘ustad’ at that time supervised the buildings and the laborers. They carried rocks, prepared mud bricks and started building. This process was called ‘collective vernacular architecture’. At that time three critical customs were kept in mind when constructing the houses. These included the privacy of women, segregation of guests — male and female — and future family expansion. Therefore to tackle these problems, the family part of the house where women rested was pushed to the back, far away from the street, so it was impossible for anyone passing by to see inside. The family entrance was also separated from the guest entrance. There was also a separate entrance for male and female guests. “The Diwaniya which persists until today also dominated the architectural buildings of the past. Diwaniyas for women were built on the west side of the house and male Diwaniyas on the east side,” explained Eng Abdullah.

I remember moving to Kuwait, I was shown 21 villas, and most of them had a kitchen outside. I was puzzled, then a friend told me that Kuwaitis don’t like the smell of food hanging around inside. What happens is . . . you forget. You get used to things, and after a while, it is like “oh yeh, the kitchen is outside” and you forget that it’s different. Recently, having dinner with Kuwaiti friends, they told us that their kitchen is inside, but they have a separate oven outside for cooking fish, because of the smell. I’ll have to remember that when they come to visit me in Seattle! Don’t cook fish, Intlxpatr! The smell goes all over the house!

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Building, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Privacy | 12 Comments

What Happened Here?

I take photos, but I am not all that sophisticated about photography. January, for me, is a month of clearing out and organizing; it helps me face the rest of the year with more confidence. As I was clearing out duplicate photos, I came across this:



My photo has holes in it.


It looks like a tear in the photo, see the way the lines resonate around the center? I think the holes in the bottom might actually be in the woven fabric, but the hole in the center is definitely a flaw. How did this happen? Are all my digital photos at risk?

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Photos, Technical Issue | 6 Comments

Older Dog

This came in this morning’s e-mail:


An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.
I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of. 

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; 
he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the 
hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.


An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.


The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.

This continued off and on for several weeks.



Curious I pinned a note to his collar: ‘I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful, sweet dog is


and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.’



The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:


‘He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 – he’s trying to catch up on his sleep.


Can I come with him tomorrow?’

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Community, Humor, Living Conditions | 9 Comments