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ELDER BOB’S KUWAIT PHOTOS - PAGE 3 OF 3


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spacer 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 another religion.


spacer Destroyed oil tank.
A photos of an oil tank that was destroyed by the Iraqis. Most of the damage from the war had been repaired by the time I visited Kuwait. Some things were left as they were to be a memorial. Others were not worth fixing.
spacer Fancy water towers.
A lot of structures in Kuwait were decorated, much more than in the states. These are water towers. Note the traffic police mans covered stand in the lower left.
spacer Tareq Rajab Museum.
A view inside the Tareq Rajab Museum. It is in the basement of a private house and was not found by the Iraqis. It has a lot of things about the history of Kuwait and other Moslem countries.
spacer Entrance to Tareq Rajab Museum.
The entry way into the Tareq Rajab Museum. It has a fancy doorway and other decorations.
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spacer Exterior of the Tareq Rajab Museum.
This is the house where the Tareq Rajab Museum is in the basement.
spacer Street scene in downtown Kuwait City.
Just a typical street scene of downtown Kuwait City. I went out one day by myself and looked around to find some color slide film which was hard to find. When I was first in the Middle East, that was all you could buy.
spacer Memorial to the Kuwaiti POW’s.
This is inside a memorial to the missing Kuwaitis that were taken away by the Iraqis when they were fleeing the coalition forces.
spacer Kuwait POW Memorial.
Inside the memorial is the photos and story of all the missing Kuwaiti POW’s on the walls. Each one meant a lot to the Kuwait people. They had bumper stickers, sweat shirts and other things that had the saying to not forget their missing people. They had hope that they would be returned up till the last war in Iraq. Then they found them in a mass grave.
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spacer KFAS main entrance.
This is the main entrance to the KFAS (Kuwait Foundation for Advancement of Science) building. Downtown Kuwait had many tall modern buildings. It was not all two story shops. KFAS was the organization that invited me to visit Kuwait.
spacer Kuwait City.
Just another downtown scene in Kuwait City. Note the minaret or prayer tower in the background. It is attached to a mosque. In the old days, a man would climb to the top and call out to announce prayer time. Nowadays they usually have a loud speaker and recording to do the prayer call.
spacer Old market souq.
This is an area where the old market place or souq still stands. A souq is usually a covered market place. Sort of like our malls.
spacer Small Mosque.
This is a small mosque in Kuwait City. Note the dome over the main prayer area and the minaret.
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spacer Old market place.
Photo of Elder Bob next to a part of the old market place that had been destroyed in the Gulf War. I was told at the time it was not worth rebuilding and that they would probably build something else there.
spacer Last night in Kuwait.
On my last night in Kuwait, they took me out to a fancy restaurant for supper. I am on the right in the middle. These are some of he friends I met there. There is one other American couple there that wrote a book about Kuwait and that had sent me books on Kuwait before I went there. I was the only one to order a local dish. All the others had Western style food.
spacer My old school mate and his wife.
This is Dr. Ali A. Al-Shamlan and his wife. He was my school mate in college. He is the one who invited me to visit Kuwait and made all the arrangements. The night before, I had gone to his house for supper. They gave me many gifts as well as a large suitcase to carry them back home. He also made arrangements with the airline to allow them not to charge me extra.
spacer My driver and guide.
This is at the airport right before I left Kuwait. My guide is on the left and my driver is on the right.
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