Saturday, May 31, 2008

Al Jahra

Since it could possibly be one of the sites for the community college, today we went to Al Jahra, an oasis town that used to be agricultural and is located about 20 miles northwest from Kuwait City and 75 miles from the Iraq border.
On the way there we saw this multipurpose stadium; it looks like a flying saucer.
And we saw more mosques than in Kuwait City.

Once in the town we noticed that there were many more covered women than in the city.

Water tanks are stacked on top of many buildings.
We visited the Al Qasr Al-Ahmar, that is, the Red Palace fort. The Red Palace fort was ordered to be constructed in the early 1900s by the Amir, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, who is known today as Mubarak Al-Kabir (Mubarak the Great).
It was to be used primarily as a strategically located fort that would protect the agricultural village of Jahra from invasion. On October 10, 1920, Jahra was attacked by an army which was led by Faisal Al-Daweesh of Saudi Arabia. Four hundred Saudi men took over Al Jahra.
Amir Sheikh Salem Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (the son of Mubarak the Great who built the fort) led about 2,000 Kuwaiti fighters in the battle.
On October 11, Sheikh Ahmad, who had been safeguarding Kuwait City, sent another 600 armed fighters on boats to help those besieged at the Red Palace.
There was a battle and Al-Daweesh and his men left Al Jahra.
Today, the Red Palace is a source of pride in that it symbolizes patriotism and fortitude; it is one of the few things that made it intactly through the destruction of the invasion in 1990.

The WVMCCD-Kuwait team:
John, Phil, Raj, Stan, Dulce Maria, Cindy, Lance Our week of work is winding down; after a break we'll return to campus and continue to plan for this productive venture with our partner in Kuwait. Although I will continue to blog about my own travels through Tunisia and Italy, this is the last posting I'll make about our work here in Kuwait. Thank you for reading and for sharing our excitement.

Friday, May 30, 2008

AMIDEAST, Relaxing

Date Palm

Today we met with Maureen Aldakheel, the Kuwait Country Director of AMIDEAST, an NGO founded (in 1951 by educators, theologians and writers led by columnist Dorothy Thompson) to strengthen "mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa." Among other things, they do institutional development, educational advising and test administration and support. This organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has field offices in Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza and Yemen.

The hotel where we're staying faces the Persian Gulf, and today we had some down time, so the four of us ran to the beach.

Below, Cindy, Lance and John headed toward the sand.
Not far from the hotel there is the Corniche, below (but since it's way too hot during the day, you can stroll it only at night)

Weekends here happen on Fridays and Saturdays. Almost everything closes for the sabbath, including most museums. I really wanted to see Sadu House, a house that predates the oil era and a museum where supposedly there is a collection of beautiful traditional Bedouin weaving, but it was closed this Friday. One other museum was open, the one established to house archeological findings at Failaka Island (located near the city). Masouma, one of our hosts, took three of us to the Kuwait National Museum, which is in the former residence of Sheikh Al Jaber Al Sabah right on Gulf Street facing the Corniche. During the Iraqi invasion, the building was destroyed, the collection was set ablaze and many precious pieces were stolen. The museum is now being renovated. Because of that, we didn't get to see the collection of Islamic art. But we did get to see a really interesting collection of wood doors and other architectural pieces used in traditional building of houses. We could not take pictures of the actual pieces inside the museum, but I did take pictures of the doors facing the court yard. I think they're exquisite!

In one room we found very old photographs and two very lovely paintings, below, just sitting there waiting to be refurbished and set up in proper display spaces.

Below: this is not my picture, but I had to include it because it's just so pretty. (It's from the web.) And maybe because I'm thirsting for the sea. This is a dhow, the traditional Arab sailing vessel. (There's a huge replica of a dhow right next to our hotel; it's a restaurant.) Dhows sailed along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, usually carrying dates and fish.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Embassy, City Scenes

We visited the American embassy to discuss this project (of creating a Kuwait American Community College) with the Counselor for Public Affairs. I took a picture of the side of the building, above, but in order to enter the embassy you have to give up all of your electronics. So, no pictures of that event for you. Our meeting was productive and the project continues to evolve. It's very exciting. A side note: as we consider delivering courses to US military personnel here in Kuwait, it's very interesting to learn about the history of US military presence in Kuwait. has useful information, including a list of camps, for instance, Camp Arifjan located south of Kuwait City and Camp Virginia, which I think is located in Al Jahra outside of the city.

Below is the Liberation Tower, the symbol of Kuwait's freedom and resurgence. It's one of the tallest telecomunications towers in the world, taller than the Eiffel Tower. It was inaugurated on 10 March 1996. Inside there's a revolving observation level and a restaurant.
In this short entry I'd like to simply show you the sights as I've seen them, mostly from the van as we drive by, and also up close in places we've stopped.
Below, a set of the many desalination/water towers you see all over the city.
Following are pictures of the many different types of residential and office buildings you can see in the city.

Zooming by... lots of construction.

Below, the Stock Exchange