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Friday, 23 May 2014

TRAVEL: Kuwait

Kuwait - a country of 2.7-3 million people, the eighth richest country in the world with a GDP of $58,080. There are plans afoot for a new Norman Foster designed airport and a Dubai 'catch-up'. It has a new skyscraper by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, a firm whose designs, despite all the awards it has received, I have always considered 'middle of the road' and safe. The skyscraper is stunning

A mall, miles long, has become the high street of Kuwait City. Acres of marble, escalators that lead to a wide pedestrian street of buildings, an architectural mix that escapes being Disneyland, shop after shop from Harry Winston to Victoria's Secret, Harvey Nichols, H&M, Tom Ford - you name a world brand it is there interposed with terraced restaurants of every culinary tradition. Daylight pours in from a vast glass roof, all deliciously air-conditioned. Behind all this are streets and alleyways evocative of old Kuwait, more shops and restaurants, and a café that plays the legend, Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum continuously. 
(Listen to her on my choice for BBC 4's Desert Island Discs, blog post 04/07/2010 and Youtube)

Aperçu: Seventy percent or more of the women were veiled, half wore the floor length black dara with a hijab headscarf and many, very many, wearing face veils so that only their eyes and saucy eyebrows are exposed. (A common sight is ladies who lift their veils with their left hand and feed with their right)

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