Kuwait 1985-88

Post by Mark


Kuwait City 1987. Vintage store front.

Mark Lowey (AbuJack), a construction project management professional and an amateur photographer lived in Kuwait between 1985 and 1988. The past few months he’s been scanning and posting some of the pictures he took during his time in Kuwait (and KSA) on his twitter account. I’ve taken a few of his photos along with the captions and shared them here but you can check out more photos on his twitter account @molowey


High technology in 1987?


A man and his dog, Mangaf Beach, Kuwait in 1988.


Shopping in Fahaheel, 1988.


Jack bin Mark and neighbor friends in Mangaf, Kuwait, 1988. (One cool kid has a sling-shot.)


Toshiba power plant at Mina Al-Zoor in southern Kuwait. Under construction in 1985; nearly completed in 1987.


Kids-R-Us, Kuwait City in 1985.


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Do you fly drones?

Post by Mark

With the introduction of compact drones like the DJI Mavic and the super tiny DJI Spark, I’ve recently been considering getting into drone photography myself. They seem super practical to travel with and I could really have taken advantage of one on my trip a couple of weeks back. I’m currently checking with Fajer the Lawyer to see what the latest laws on flying drones in Kuwait are, since I know last year they proposed a bunch of things. Until she gets back to me I figured I’d ask my readers, do you fly drones and if yes, have you run into any issues with cops or people?

Also on a side note, if anybody is bored of their Mavic and wants to sell it, let me know!


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Printing Digital and Film Photos

Post by Mark

A few years ago I posted about my favorite place to print digital photos, Boushahri off of Baghdad Street in Salmiya. Since that post two things have happened, first they merged or got bought out (not sure which) by their old competitor Ashkanani who used to be located across the street from them. The second thing that happened is they changed locations.

Saturday night I pass by their old Baghdad Street location to print some photos and found them closed. So I passed by yesterday morning and they were still closed. I just figured their Ramadan timings were weird and I was missing them. Then by chance last night, I was walking over from my apartment building to the ATM machine in the building next door when I came across their new location. I recognized all the employees before I noticed the sign outside and walked in. Turns out they had just moved to the new location this past Saturday.

Ashkanani can print your digital photos in various sizes, I usually print them in 10×15 and it costs 150fils per photo. For film lovers they also sell 35mm film in their store and they can also develop any size of film including 35mm and 120mm (as long as its color film).

So if you’re looking for a place to develop your photos, here is their location on [Google Maps\]. If you’re driving there then I would recommend you park in the lot next to McDonalds across the street.


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Review: The Leica Sofort Instant Camera

Post by Mark

I’ve wanted an instant film camera ever since I was a kid since I always found them a bit magical because you’re kinda creating something out of nothing. It’s the same reason I’ve always had a thing for fax machines, you put the paper in the machine on one end then, a few seconds later, it starts coming out on another machine all the way on the other side of the country. But for some reason I never ended up getting an instant film camera, probably because I didn’t really have a reason to get one. I’ve always had cameras growing up and later digital cameras and phone cameras so the need for an instant camera wasn’t there, until I saw the Leica Sofort. I’m not a Leica fan. I think Leica M series are over hyped, extremely over priced, and I can’t understand why anyone would want to shoot with a manual focus camera. But, when I saw the Sofort I just fell in love with the way it looked. It had a great minimal and very retro design while also not costing an arm and a leg.

The Leica Sofort comes in three colors, white, orange and mint. I knew right away I wanted the Mint color but when I tried finding one it was completely sold out everywhere online. After searching for a couple of days I finally ended up finding one shop in London that still had the mint colored Leica and quickly placed my order. When my package finally arrived to Kuwait and I opened it I right away knew I made the right choice in color. It just works really well with the retro look, the orange I think would have looked a bit like a toy while the white would have just been boring (for me at least). I’ve had the camera now for two weeks and I’ve used it in a variety of different environments. What I’ve concluded is that the camera is a hit and miss when it comes to the pictures, but thats not a surprise, thats actually exactly what I was expecting from an instant film camera.

I’ll start with the good stuff, the battery lasts a pretty long time. It comes with a small rechargeable battery which I charged on the first day for like an hour. Since then I’ve used the camera to take around 80 photos and the battery is still showing as full. Another great thing about the camera is that it uses Fuji Instax Mini films which you can find all over Kuwait. I’ve been getting mine from Xcite and a double pack which contains 2×10 packs sells for KD5. That means each photo I take costs 250fils which isn’t that bad. I think the camera performed best when I took it to the “Walk This Way” sneaker event this past weekend since the photos came out looking like they were taken in the 80s or 90s which fit perfectly with the theme of the event. The portrait shots all came out great and best part is, after I took the photos, I just handed the pictures over. Like souvenirs they could keep. Even when the results didn’t come out as expected (like the ones above), the photos still had a pretty cool look.

But like I said the camera is a hit and miss. The exposure is all over the place, some portrait shots using the flash resulted in the subjects being super overexposed with washed out colors while other times the shots came out perfectly exposed with all the colors still intact. During bright sunlight a lot of shots would also be overexposed and even when I chose to underexpose (there is an option for that) it didn’t really do much. But, my biggest gripe with the camera is the fact that all the settings reset back to the default settings once you turn the camera off. One of the things I like about this camera is you have options you can choose from like selecting between four scene settings for different lighting situations, having the flash on or off, if you’d like to over expose or under expose a shot and finally most importantly, the camera has two focus modes, close (under 3m) and far. Since I mostly shoot landscape or architectural shots I would want my settings to be no flash and the focus set to further than 3m. But I need to set that up every time I turn on the camera because by default, the camera sets the flash to auto and the focus distance to close. On more than one occasion I’ve taken photos only to have them come out blurry because I forgot to set the focus or I’ve had the flash go off because I forgot to turn it off. Super annoying and I don’t understand why Leica decided to do this.

Overall though I’m happy with the camera. Yes the output isn’t consistent and sometimes random, but I like that because every time I take a picture I now eagerly wait for the photo to develop to see what I got. It’s a surprise every time. The Leica Sofort cost me around KD95 including shipping via PostaPlus to Kuwait. It’s not cheap, but it is one of the cheapest Leica’s you can buy. The camera that is the closest to it in terms of capabilities is the Fuji Mini 90 which I’ve read is what the Sofort is possibly based off. The Mini 90 costs around KD40 on Amazon without shipping or tax so basically half the price of the Leica. If you’re interested in getting the Sofort, I got it from Dale Photographic whom as of this post have all three colors in stock. [Link]


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Heavy Fog Engulfs Kuwait City

Post by Mark

A friend just shared these photos she took earlier this morning from her office. Can’t believe I’m home missing this!

Thanks Dima!


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Photos of the Red Arrows in Kuwait

Post by Mark

redarrows

The RAF Red Arrows put on a show near the Kuwait Towers this past Monday and I saw some great photos yesterday taken by Dherar Al-Rashoud. The one above is my favorite of the bunch but you can check out all his pictures [Here]


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Kuwait Circa 1980

Post by Mark

1980

Usually I tend to find and share photos of Kuwait from the early days like the 50s and 60s but recently I came across a whole bunch of photos of Kuwait taken in 1980. What I find fascinating with these specific photos is that Kuwait usually tends to look really great in the really old photos I share but in these Kuwait just looks really gritty. I think the early 80s were a transitional period between old and new and based on the photos it’s as if all the beautiful old buildings were just starting to fall apart.

Photos taken from the MIT Libraries


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Drone View of the New Cultural Center

Post by Mark

cultural-center

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre was expected to open back in February but it’s now expected to open in November. It looks ridiculously good.

Thanks lovelykuwait


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Marina Beach on a Summer Day

Post by Mark

marinabeach

Don’t think I had ever seen the beach this packed before. [High Res]


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History of the Kuwait National Museum

Post by Mark

kna

An invited competition was launched in 1960 for the construction of a museum in Kuwait City. Michel Ecochard won this project while his work was flourishing, especially in Lebanon. However, between the time of the project and its realisation, a long waiting period elapses. Michel Ecochard expressed doubts about the likelihood of this project being completed at all.

The Museum programme was based around several themes, including areas devoted to the oceans and to the field of culture, another to the oil industry, and a botanical garden. The first section relates to culture and administration; a space dedicated to archaeology, art, ethnography and folk traditions. Offices and storage areas extend into an outdoor exhibition area, with spaces reserved for temporary exhibitions and an auditorium. A separate building is reserved for displays on the theme of “Kuwait, today and tomorrow”, a dome-like structure, connected by a walkway to the main building. One can also gain access from the garden. A space with a high ceiling is able to house the machinery of oil chemistry; the second part of the second storey addresses the scientific and industrial applications of oil, and is covered by a dome structure that stands out from the rest. The main entrance is located between the two buildings.

It is interesting to note that the section of the Museum part devoted to traditional life partially recreates the organisation of the so-called traditional city, with a market for traditional crafts such as tanning, jewellery-making, pottery, weaving, and fishing. Buildings organised around a central patio reproduce forms of traditional habitat. In the area destined to house the zoological and botanical garden, an itinerary encouraging strolling, with the first floor transparent, is provided via ramps and walkways connecting the floors, allowing a view of the botanic garden and a large aquarium. The strength of the architectural design comes from the fact that each section is both independent and connected to everything else, both in the interior and exterior areas.

The architecture is resolutely modern with the use of concrete pillars and beams. The rhythmic façades are punctuated by areas with small rectangles made from work blocks. The architecture has been designed in response to the climate to avoid both the sun and sandstorms. It should be noted that the sun-shade was conceived as a way to create a microclimate and a variation of light according to the coverage needs. The idea is to create protection through a flat roof made of open, light, metal, a “microclimate” in which the museum and its immediate surroundings can function independently of the outside temperature. This is a huge shelter that is 28m high, with widely spaced pillars.

The museum was looted and burned during the 1990 Iraq invasion and it remained in that state until very recently. The museum is now currently under renovation.

museum

All the images and text above were taken from Archnet [Link] They also have a scan of an interesting publication relating to the museum which you can read [Here]

In 2014 I visited the museum and took photos of the inside before renovation work had started, you can check those out [Here]

knaold

The picture above is of the previous Kuwait National Museum. It was also destroyed during the 1990 Iraq invasion.


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