Does Anyone Have a Betamax Player?

Post by Mark

There is an instagram account that sells VHS and Betamax players here in Kuwait but he’s selling the Betamax ones for around KD50. I just have this one cassette I want to see whats on it so I really don’t want to buy a whole player just to do that. So if any reader by odd chance has a Betamax player, please let me know!

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Sunshine School 1980-84

Post by Mark

Back in the 80s the British School of Kuwait used to be called Sunshine School. It started off as a nursery before eventually turning into a middle school. My class I believe was the second class to graduate from the school (Junior 4), but it was also the last class since the 1990 invasion happened and the school ended up closing down. Once the war was over it reopened again as BSK.

This past weekend while in Lebanon I found a bunch of photos, two of which I’m sharing here. The first one on top I believe was taken at Sunshine School when it was still a nursery, based on my age in that picture I’d say around 1980-1981.

The photo above was taken at their second campus. In total, Sunshine School had three campuses, the third one is still around but I think the first two were demolished ages ago.

If you’re in any of the photos by some weird chance let me know. I have another photo I scanned this weekend in which I found three current friends of mine in not knowing they were in my class back then.

Here are the photos above in full res [Picture 1] [Picture 2]

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Dinner at Riccardo in the 70s

Post by Mark

Every time I visit my parent’s house in Lebanon, I go through some of their old photos to see if I could find anything interesting to share. This trip I found the photo above, it’s a photo of my parents with some of their friends having dinner at Riccardo in the Sheraton Hotel sometime back in the 70s.

Since this was taken in the 70s, it was after alcohol was banned, but, there seems to be a 375ml Hennessy Cognac bottle on the table. I guess it was a BYOB affair?

You can see a higher resolution of the photo by clicking [Here]

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Old Photos of Kuwait from the Bridgeman Library

Post by Mark

Lord Curzon and his staff being carried ashore to be welcomed by the Sheikh November, 1903

I just found out about the Bridgeman photo library a short while ago and going through it I spotted a bunch of interesting photos of Kuwait I had never seen before. I’ve included some of my favorites in this post along with their captions.

Kuwaiti man holding a kid on the leash on a pavement. Kuwait City, December 1956

Kuwaiti woman entirely covered by her dress selling chickens in the street. Kuwait City, December 1956

Kuwaiti woman with a veil on her face holding her son in front of the cages containing birds on sale.

Check out more old photos of Kuwait by clicking [Here]

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Post by Mark

Eduqate describes itself as “an educational archive that encourages culturists and liberal arts students in the GCC to become exposed to readings in the topics of culture and identity”. Basically, Eduqate is about nostalgia and specifically nostalgia related to the GCC.

The project just recently launched but already I’ve been finding the content fascinating and informative. So if you love nostalgia (and who doesn’t), check out their website or follow them on instagram @eduqate

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Power and the City. Modern Architecture of the 70s in Kuwait and Madrid

Post by Mark

AGI Architects recently published an interesting article called on the modern architecture of Kuwait in the 70s. If you have any interest in architecture you should check it out [Here]

From the same article, I also found a link to a Danish architecture photographer who had some interesting insight into the original Central Bank of Kuwait building (which I’ve posted about before). This is what he had to say about it as well as about the refurbishment:

Bharani sent me a link describing the fate of modern architecture in kuwait, including jacobsen’s late project for the kuwaiti national bank, built after his death by business partners dissing & weitling. I thought I’d share it with you.

the house in its original state bears a resemblance to the national bank in copenhagen, but with important differences: the fort-like cube above the base with its hidden courtyard, the dome in front of it, the sun screen facade, the slanted walls of the base, suggesting mud-brick construction, all have more or less local precedents.

not all equally subtle – the gold dome may well hurt your eyes – they nevertheless point to the possibility of a kuwaiti modernism which would not simply be a copy of western architecture.

that a local version of 20th century architecure arrived by way of copenhagen may cause some to reach for their copy of edward said’s ‘orientalism’, but I believe they would be wrong. since le corbusier’s love affair with arab architecture, it has been part of the DNA of modernism and has often been met with the admiration and study afforded a true role model.

the central bank has changed, should you be in doubt. its current state shows a make-over in a style I like to call hotel lobby exotic, and which not only renders any building instantly provincial, but also shows a trend I have been following for a while and from a distance, that of self-orientalism in architecture.

I lack the necessary masochism to appreciate eward said’s slut-shaming of the entire west except as a polemical stance, but here’s a useful concept: self-orientalism is most obvious in the staged sights of mass tourism, in which western stereotypes from the days of colonialism are applied or should we say self-inflicted for profit.

on a smaller scale your local ethnic eatery could be pandering to stereotype, we all know examples of that, but the real interest always lies at the level of architecture where we are invariably talking politics.

lately, we have seen new mosques in copenhagen in a similar style – two parts budgetary cynicism to one part fairground attraction. few have commented on their inadequacies – with the cartoon crisis still in fresh memory, nobody wants to draw the attention of the muslim right or of the Danish nationalists for that matter.

what the mosques show only too well is how poorly we are answering the question of what it means to be a Danish muslim as opposed to just being a muslim in denmark. or how poorly the 200.000 people struggling with this question daily are represented by their own institutions.

it is no accident. islamic institutions are financed from abroad by conservatives to whom integration itself is a threat. when Danes fear that muslims will forever be strangers in the land, this fear is willfully confirmed by silly orientalist ornament, designed to be misread.

yet, it strikes me as obvious how well architecture could provide a dignified answer. the lessons of islamic architecture are already found in the legacy left us by jacobsen, utzon and spreckelsen. the stern repetitions of the great persian brick monuments are mirrored perfectly in many of kay fisker’s buildings.

how easily we could build democratic institutions that would be right at home in copenhagen, yet feel like home even to a newcomer. how easily we could set in stone the values that unite us. only the state could pay for such a thing, but it would finally release Danish muslims from the subjection to foreign interests.

the muslim world cannot be expected to do it, split as it is along any number of lines you can think of, be it national, ethnic, shia/sunni, moderate/fanatical, educated or not, grotesquely rich or grotesquely poor. it is a house divided against itself, as the expression so tellingly goes, offering us the architectural equivalent of a fast food vendor dressed in a fez.

If you want to check out more pictures of the Central Bank when it was originally constructed, click [Here]

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Kuwait in the 1930s by Alan Villiers

Post by Mark

Alan Villiers (spot him above) was an Australian adventurer who came to Kuwait in the 1930s. He ended up joining the crew of the Kuwaiti dhow ‘Triumph of Righteousness’ and set sail with them, passing through numerous East African and Arabian ports documenting his experience with words and pictures. He eventually published the book “Sons of Sindbad” as well as “Sons of Sindbad: The Photographs”. I only found out about Alan a couple of days ago and was really intrigued by his story especially since I hadn’t heard of him before.

You can find both his books on Amazon [Here] and [Here] but, you can also find some great photos of Kuwait taken by him in the 1930s similar to the ones in this post. The photos are from the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) and are available to purchase. So if you want to check out Alan’s photos of Kuwait, click [Here]

Supposedly there are still thousands of photos taken by him of Kuwait that need to be digitized.

Update: Supposedly both books are available for sale at the Al Hashemi Marine Museum.

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Al Kawakeb Ice Cream and Dessert Shop

Post by Mark

Al Kawakeb is an old ice cream and dessert shop in the city which you’ve probably passed by a number of times on your way to Vol.1 or Street (AlMakan) for dinner. The place has been open since the 50s and their display is filled with old nostalgic sweets.

BROWNBOOK have published a great article on the history of Al Kawakeb along with some great photos. I had no idea the shop was that old and I’m definitely going to appreciate it a lot more now that I’ve read this article. So check it out on their website [Here]

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Videos: Kuwait – 1977 and 1997

Post by Mark

The picture above was emailed to me a few days ago by a reader who grew up in Kuwait in the 1950s. It was taken at the Anglo-American School in Ahmadi in the early 1950s. The headmistress was called Miss Ussher while he’s the little kid in the bottom right in the white shirt and shorts (Norman Young). Next to him are his classmates Ian Hickman, David Tristram and Marcia Brown.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted an old video of Kuwait, but they’re pretty hard to come by. I’ve decided to share two videos below, one is of Kuwait in 1977 while the other is of Kuwait in 1997. Is 1997 considered old? I’m not sure anymore. Below are the videos and their timelines in case you want to skip through them:

Kuwait – 1977
0:09 Old port
0:47 Al Sabah Hospital
1:12 Gold market (looks like Souk Mubarakiya)
1:50 Fahad Al Salem Street
2:20 Sheraton Hotel
2:25 Kuwait Towers under construction
2:33 Villas under construction
2:52 Arriving at persons home
3:50 Gas station
3:55 Car dealership
4:39 Gas station

Kuwait – 1997
0:00 Seaside – Bnied Al-Gar
1:27 Cityscape
2:45 Green Island and the sea
5:21 Old Salmiya
6:07 Al Salam Building
6:32 Old Salmiya
7:47 Hungry Bunny
8:32 Entertainment City

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archofkuwait: Bait Ghaith

Post by Mark

I’ve seen this building a bunch of times and always wondered what it was. The below was taken from archofkuwait:

Bait Ghaith Bin Abdullah Bin Yousif was built in the 1930s. It is located in Sharq, near the Museum of Modern Art, which was previously Al Sharqiah School for Girls.

Bait Ghaith is one of the old Kuwaiti houses and represents social, economic and cultural features of Kuwaiti society in the past. The house features an intertwined architectural layout typical of the original urban structures in old Kuwait City, particularly in terms of its empty space, its multifunctional features and the way it was built.

The house is located on a 280 sq.m. of land and was adjacent to several stores and houses including the Rashid Al Omer, Humoud Al Mutawa’, and Abdullah Al Madhi houses. The house of the late Ghaith Bin Abdullah Bin Yousif comprised a backyard, two rooms, a store, a bathroom, a kitchen and an upper room for his privacy. The house also contained a cistern to store water.

Ghaith bin Abdullah Bin Yousif was a merchant who used to buy goods and merchandise such as fruits, crates… etc. from ports and ship it to various countries by boats.

Today the Ghaith house maintains its characteristic architectural features, such as the wooden ceiling, the beams, and some of the wooden doors. In addition, the rooms still present the original construction of walls made of sea rocks. The National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters refurbished and maintained the building as an example of the old Kuwaiti architecture.

Bait Ghaith before restoration, 2005

For a few more pictures, click [Here]

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