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.

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