50s to 90s Art

Gulf War ANSI Art

Found these vintage ANSI art relating to the 1990 Gulf War and thought they were super interesting. I use to love ANSI and ASCII art back in the day and if I remember correctly, my first digital porn image I had was a black and white ASCII drawing sometime back in the 80s which a friend had given to me on a 5.25 floppy. Source

50s to 90s Automotive

The Old Rolls Royce Taxi was Found in Saudi!

There’s an old story from back in the 70s about a man who wasn’t dressed well walking into the Rolls Royce dealer in Kuwait to check out the cars. The man asked the salesman how much the car cost and the salesman replied that he wouldn’t be able to afford it. The man left the dealership upset but came up with an idea for payback. A few days later he went to the dealership again and purchased the Rolls Royce. He then registered it as a taxi cab and had it painted orange with a white stripe.

The man then put the taxi into service and was regularly picking up passengers and he even used to park it in front of the dealership just to mess with them even more. Eventually the dealership reached out to the man apologizing to him and offered to buy back the car from him and give him a more expensive one in return.

The man accepted and he handed the orange Rolls Royce to the dealership and got a new one in return. The orange Rolls was thought to have been repainted back to its original color and then resold, but, the car was recently found at a scrapyard in Khafji, Saudi Arabia, complete in its original orange paint and still had the original red license plates!

That’s pretty insane! You can check out the video by Bin Zuayd on YouTube embeded above or visit his Instagram account @khalid_eisaa to watch it there.

50s to 90s Information

The History of the Seif Palace Clock

I’ve been driving by Seif Palace all my life and I never thought about the clock itself and I don’t think many other people have either. A couple of months ago a friend of mine shared a short article from a 1962 issue of a newspaper which spoke about the clock install and it caught my interest so much so that I spent the past two months trying to dig out as much information as possible. I wanted to find pictures of the clock under construction, maybe sketches of the design or photos of the installation. But after two months of trying, I think I’ve hit a wall and I’ve decided to give up. Although I managed to find interesting information, I didn’t have any new visuals to accompany the information which deflated me. Instead of throwing out all the information I’ve managed to gather, I figured I’d still share whatever I found, even though I didn’t have any photos to accompany the research.

The Seif Palace clock was installed in January 1962 after taking 5 months to build. It was engineered by the UK based clockmakers Smith of Derby who have been making clocks since 1856. I got in touch with Smith of Derby to try and see if they had any photos or schematics of the clock, but they couldn’t find anything in their archive, and whoever had worked on the clock had long retired. But they were able to share some interesting information with me which I’m sharing in this post.

The clock that was originally installed in 1962 was a weight driven mechanical clock, with 4 cast iron dials each 8-feet in diameter and weighing a total of 4 tons. The clock was decorated with 23 & 1/2 carat gold leafs and had internal lights for nighttime dial illumination. Originally the clock also had three bells. Two of the bells would be used to chime the quarter hours while the third bell would strike every hour. The bells were also fitted with an automatic night-silencer so not to annoy people during the night. According to Smith of Derby, the bells were most likely supplied by John Taylor Bell Foundry. The person I was in communication with told me he even had a vague memory of a colleague of his telling him that the bells were hung but never rung. I’ve never heard them rung nor did I know the clock was meant to ring so I imagine that story is true. I tried to verify the story and gather more information on the bells but Taylor Bells have yet to respond to my emails.

During the 1990 invasion, the mechanical clock was damaged beyond repair when a missile was put through the dial. Smith of Derby were contracted to rebuild the clock, and in 1995 it was replaced, this time with an electric movement instead of a mechanical one (T400 synchronous movement, accurate to +/- 1 second a month and controlled by an inverter charger to keep the voltage at 230v 50hz). I’m not sure if the bells are still in the clock tower, my assumption is they aren’t. I tried to get access to the Seif Palace clock tower to find out but I wasn’t able to.

The Seif Palace clock isn’t the only clock in Kuwait made by Smith of Derby. I found three other clocks in Kuwait made by them, the clock in Riggae Park, the Al Mulla Group clock outside the airport, and the beautiful clock located inside the Waldorf Astoria.

And thats everything I could dig up on the Seif Palace clock. If you can by any chance get me inside the clock tower, let me know!

50s to 90s Photography

Phone box on the side of a dirt road

I’m in love with this photo taken by Ian Caldwell of a random phone box on the side of a dirt road somewhere in the north of Kuwait. He took this photo sometime in the last 60s early 70s and if you look carefully you can see a couple of bedouin tents in the background.

50s to 90s

Paying Tribute Fahad Al Salem Street

The old abandoned buildings on Fahad Al Salem Street near Salhiya are finally getting demolished (everything highlighted in yellow on the map). They’ve been abandoned for years and they were making the downtown area look really gritty so I’m glad things are moving forward.

I was always hoping they’d get refurbished since when you look at old photos of the street the buildings actually looked great when new. But that wasn’t going to happen and keeping the buildings as is wasn’t going to work either.

I’m not sure if that strip is as sentimental to other people as it is to me. After the 1990 invasion there weren’t that many electronic shops open but there were a bunch on that strip that were. I still remember the night my dad took me there to get my very first sound system with a CD player and then later at various points in the 90s I got a second sound system and a couple of Walkmans.

The buildings on that strip have been around since the 60s and were considered really modern back when they were built. So I went through my archives and dug up my favorite photos of the street to celebrate what was at one point in time, a bustling commercial and cultural hub for the country.

50s to 90s

ASK Yearbooks Online – 1970s to Present Day

The American School of Kuwait have digitized all their yearbooks from the 1970s onwards and published them online. I went through a few of the early copies hoping to get a glimpse of student life in Kuwait back in the early 70s, but sadly they didn’t contain many lifestyle photos. They are still interesting to flip through especially if you were an ASK student so if you want to check them out, here is the link.

50s to 90s Photography

Kuwait Towers Under Construction

I came across this photo taken by Tor Eigeland of the Kuwait Towers under construction sometime in the 70s. What I found interesting about it is that it’s the only image I’ve ever seen of the towers at night while still under construction.

50s to 90s

1973 Fashion Shoot Around Kuwait

I love these photos of a fashion shoot that took place around Kuwait back in 1973. The photos were taken by Schiffer Pál, a popular Hungarian director and writer. I’m guessing before he became popular he was also a photographer but I haven’t been able to figure out how he ended up in Kuwait. Some interesting tidbits, the Kuwait Towers were still under construction in the photo above and the pool shots were taken at Gazelle Club.

Due to the square format of the photos I’m assuming they were taken on a medium format film camera which explains why the quality of the scanned photos is amazing.

If you want to check out the full series of photos, click here.

via @tareqkandari

50s to 90s

Behind the Scenes with Iftah Ya Simsim

For kids who grew up in Kuwait back in the 80s, Iftah Ya Simsim was our Sesame Street and one of our favorite shows. We looked forward to every episode and I think every kid wished they would end up on it one day. Maybe the only other show we wanted to be on more was Mama Anisa, but Iftah Ya Simsim looked like a lot of fun and we all wanted to meet the muppets Nu’man and Malsoon.

The show started filming at the Kuwait Television Studios back in 1978 and then released in 1979 before stopping production in 1989 due to the Gulf War. It never resumed again but the show did continue to live on in the hearts of every 80s kid.

Recently I came into possession of behind the scenes photos from Iftah ya Simsim. Some I had seen before and some not, but even the ones I had seen I hadn’t since in this quality before which is why I wanted to share them.

Malsoon the parrot was played by a Syrian actor called Tawfiq Al Asha, you can see him in one of the photos standing behind Malsoon. Tawfiq sadly passed away in 2018. Nu’man on the other hand was played by Kuwaiti actor Abdullah Hubail, and he’s on Instagram @abdullah_alhubail.

50s to 90s Mags & Books

Ian Fleming Hunting in Kuwait – 1960

In 1960, Ian Fleming the British writer best known for his James Bond series of spy novels was invited to Kuwait by the Kuwait Oil Company. He was commissioned to write a book on Kuwait which he did and called “State of Excitement: Impressions of Kuwait”. However, the Kuwaiti government disapproved of the final manuscript, which they found condescending, and the book was never published.

There are two known copies of the book, one at the Lilly Library in the Indiana University, and another carbon copy sold at auction in 1997 to a private collector. I was given a photocopy of the book last year after trying to get access to one for nearly 5 years. Even though I never have the time or patience to read a book, I made sure I read this one because I knew how lucky I was to get a copy. As difficult it was getting a copy of the book, it was as difficult trying to find any photos of Fleming’s visit. Like the book, they seemed not to have existed, until now.

The photo on top is of Ian Fleming in Kuwait in 1960 on a hunting trip. I got the photo from the British novelist Louise Burfitt-Dons who recently published a book called “Our Man in Kuwait“, a fiction spy thriller based on true events from 1960.

Chapter 13 in Flemming’s book is called “Hunting the Hubarra” in which he discusses a hunting trip he went on in the Kuwaiti desert. Louise’s father, Ian Byres is the one who arranged that trip and took the picture above. In the photo is Ian Fleming on the left, John Collins on the far right who was the public relations officer at KOC, and I believe the person in the middle is a Kuwaiti called Khalid based on what I read in the chapter. Fleming didn’t enjoy the hunting trip, they weren’t able to catch a hubarra (a kind of bird) and blamed it on overhunting in Kuwait. He found the trip a total waste of his precious time and the chapter ends with him going off on a tangent criticizing Lebanon for over 2 pages.

I obviously can’t make copies of the book or upload it online, but I have shared the contents page above you can get an idea of what the book contains.