Posted by Mark
A reader emailed me to tell me that Kuwait was featured in the most recent issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine (Oct 2010). A cool thing of course if it wasn’t for the fact that the article was very superficial and spoke mostly about shopping at The Avenues. I’m serious.
Outside The Avenues, the 125°(F) desert air is rising in waves from a sea of luxury cars in the mall parking lot—Land Rovers, Mercedes-Benzes, and Hummers, with a Ferrari or two thrown in. Inside, I’m swept along the marbled concourse by a tide of men in dark sunglasses and ankle-length white robes. Nearby are wives, sisters, and daughters, some in headscarves and designer jeans, others cloaked head-to-toe in flowing black garments, or abayas, and some walled behind face masks . Housemaids and nannies trail behind—domestic servants imported from the Philippines, China, and elsewhere—lugging the day’s boxes and bags.
Understanding the Kuwaiti passion for retail requires a brief civics lesson. Kuwaiti citizens—who make up only one-third of the country’s expat-heavy population of three million—benefit from a lavish package of petro benefits, including plush government jobs. “People get paid for doing relatively little, or nothing at all, and they get paid extremely well,” says Mary Ann Tetreault, a professor and specialist in Gulf affairs. “Shopping is really the only way to distinguish oneself from one’s peers.”
You can check out the full article on the readers blog located at [read-my-blog.com]