My driver took me to a number of places that he thought I would like to see. He could speak English well and knew his way around the
city even if he was from Syria. He took me to a new mall that was similar to malls in the states. They had just about anything I could
find in the states. The prices range from being cheaper than in the states to being more expensive than in the states. I was there in
November and some of the stores had Christmas decorations for sale to the expatriates. If I had been put down in the mall blind folded and
it was taken off; I would have a hard time telling I was in Kuwait. He also took me to a trade fair in another part of the city. There were
exhibits from various Arabic countries for items that they made and wanted to sell in Kuwait. Also there were displays of things that were
made in Kuwait. Kuwait does import a lot of what it uses, but it also makes many things locally that it uses. The ratio of expatriates to
Kuwaiti citizens is about 2:1. There are about 600,000 Kuwait citizens and about 1,400,000 expatriates. Many of the expatriates are from
third world countries there to do jobs that the average Kuwaiti would not do. Not much different from the situation here in Arizona. We have
many Mexicans doing jobs that the average American citizen would turn down. Kuwaitis fill most of the professional positions.
It is difficult for me to remember all the places I went to there and the things I did. I wish I had kept a daily diary while I was there.
I have to rely on my memory and the photos I took while I was there. There were some places I went to, that I did not take photos in respect
to my host. The refinery was the only place I was not allowed to take photos.
One of the most interesting places I went to was the Tareq Rajab Museum. It was a museum in the basement of a house. Most the items on
display had been collected by the husband and wife, who owned the museum, on their travels in the Middle East. They had many ancient documents,
books and jewelry from different countries. The husband took me on a personal tour through the museum. It was probably one of the best designed
museums for its size that I have seen in my travels. The Iraqis did not loot the museum because they did not know about it. From the outside,
it appears to be a home just like any other home in the area. Here also, I was given books and folders to take home.
Towards the end of the Iraqi occupation, the Iraqis went around the streets of Kuwait City and grabbed anyone they could find. These people were taken
to Iraq as prisoners of war. There was no rhyme or reason to the people they took. Just a matter of bad luck to be out when the Iraqis were
doing it. It was figured that about 650 were taken at first. Later this number dropped to around 600. For a country the size of Kuwait, that
was a large percentage of the population. About 0.1% of their people. In the United States, that would have been about 250,000 people based on
a population of 250 million. Many of the families in Kuwait are related if you trace their ancestry back far enough. So, to loose that many people
was a great loss in numbers and loss of people others knew. They had an active campaign to get the POW’s returned. They had bumper stickers, buttons,
sweat shirts, ads in international papers and an active group at the UN lobbying for their return. For a long time I had a yellow ribbon on a tree
in our front yard in Colorado. While I was there, I wore a yellow ribbon on my jacket. I took recordings of Tony Orlando’s song, “Tie a yellow ribbon
around the old oak tree” with me and gave them out as presents. They took me to a memorial building that was set up for the POW’s. It had photos
of all the missing people and stories about them and their biography. I spent a long time talking to the director of the building about the POW’s.
Sadly this came to an end with the recent war between the US and Iraq. A mass grave was found that contained some or all of the Kuwaiti POW’s.
One night my driver took me to visit the old market place or souq in the city. It was raining that night and a little chilly. The stalls were
small and had a wide variety of things for sell that the Kuwaitis bought. I was surprised by the type of things that were for sale. Best I can
compare it to would be like going to a Dollar Store or Wal-Mart. The stalls had metal doors that rolled down when they closed the stall. I
bought a little brass container that held black make-up for a woman’s eyes for my daughter. I also found a fancy school bag made to look like the
Kuwait National Flag for my daughter. In another shop I found a nice looking green caftan for my wife. I had to guess on the size and was lucky
that it fit her when I got home. She loved it and wore it to some parties we went to in Arizona.
I knew about the custom of giving gifts to guest and host when visiting Kuwait. Before I left Colorado, I shopped around and found things that
were from Colorado to use as gifts. I also found out what my friend’s children liked and got that stuff for them. At the end of my stay, I went
to my friends home for a farewell supper with him and his wife. I met the children and gave them their gifts. Then they went to their rooms and
left the adults alone. We had a special supper prepared by his cook. We had a nice talk and then they gave me a bunch of gifts. They also gave
me a large suitcase to carry all the things that I had received while in Kuwait.
On my last night in Kuwait, we went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant in one of the finest hotels. There was a covered arcade connecting that
hotel with another hotel. Along the walkway were various shops. I saw shops that would make the shops on Rodeo Ave. in Los Angeles look sick. I
could not believe the type of stuff they had for sale. I could not even afford to walk into one of those shops. Sort of reminded me of the scene
from “Pretty Woman”, where Julia Roberts went to buy some clothes and got snubbed. The people at dinner were some of the people I met during
my visit and most were connected with KFAS. Included were Mr. and Mrs. Lambert. They are the two other Americans in the photo on the left side.
The woman that is sitting on my left is an American married to a Kuwaiti. Many of the professional Kuwaitis have gone to school in the states. We
had a good time and all there could speak English. The young girl on the left bottom corner is a daughter of the man on her right. She is
wearing the traditional scarf worn by some Kuwaiti Women when they are out in public. About the only women there that wear the veils are the Bedouins.
Everyone one there except me, ordered American or French food. I ordered local Kuwaiti food that night. The next morning I was taken to the
airport by my guide and driver. They had been paid by KFAS to take me around, but I made arrangements that they would get a few days off with pay
in appreciation for what they did. At the airport, I went through two security checks to get on the plane. The second one involved a pat down
of my body by a male security guard. This was before 9/11.
I still have fond memories of Kuwait. Ever since I visited the country, I have wanted to return to work there. But I guess my fate does not
include that wish. I have seen a few of my Kuwaiti friends here in the states and had some over to our house once for a visit. But I could not
even begin to repay the kindness they showed me when I was in Kuwait. My impression was that the Kuwait people are very friendly and very nice
to expatriates. They open their homes to strangers. They tolerate other religions. There was a large Catholic Church in Kuwait City for the
the expatriates who were Catholic. Other religions were allowed to practice there as long as they did not try to convert the Kuwaiti people to