50s to 90s Coffee Corner Kuwait

Nostalgia at the New Backburner Cafe

Backburner the coffeeshop quietly opened a new location last week in the old-school neighborhood of Souq Altujjar (the old traders market) across from the Grand Mosque and Seif Palace.

What’s very interesting about this location is they have a nostalgia room on their second floor. The room has shelves filled with a variety of old items from our childhood, some from the 80s, some much older. They have a Hungry Bunny section, a small Showbiz section, Sakhr (MSX), Ifta7 Ya Simsim and more items all from our past and all on display.

I actually sold them one of my very clean and copies of the 1955 Violet Dickson book “The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain”. It’s a very rare book so if you’ve wanted to check it out, this is your chance.

If you want to check it out they open daily from 7AM to 10:30PM, and they’re located next to the Seif Palace roundabout in Block 4 of Souq Altujjar, the same block that has Starbucks. Google Maps

Art Kuwait

The Tareq Rajab Museum has Reopened

One of my favorite museums in Kuwait is the Tareq Rajab Museum. I always found the museum interesting since it was packed with a vast variety of objects covering many different subjects. They have an incredible collection of over 30,000 pieces many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Over a year ago, the museum closed for renovations but they’re now finally reopening again tomorrow (Oct 17).

The museum was originally founded in 1980 by Tareq S. Rajab and his wife, Jehan S. Rajab. A couple of years ago their grandson Tareq N. Rajab took over the responsibility of the family museum and started the process of rejuvenating it. He originally started with the website and Instagram account, that was followed by the creation of the new Arms & Armor wing of the museum before being handed the rest of the museum to renovate.

Tareq invited me to visit the museum for a sneak peek and although before visiting I was worried it might have lost its charm with the renovation, I’m pleased to say it hasn’t.

At first glance, the museum’s aesthetics remain largely unchanged, but there have been significant improvements. The displays, previously overcrowded and lacking descriptions, have been completely revamped. They are now curated with clear descriptions for every item. There is also a new and HUGE diorama in the museum depicting the famous “Battle of Hattin”. The diorama is composed of 3,500 tiny soldiers that were hand painted individually by Tareq, his dad and three other colleagues over a period of 14 months. There was clearly a lot of time and passion involved in the museum renovation.

If you’re looking for an interesting place to visit then I can’t recommend this museum enough. The entrance fee is still only 2KD and it also gives you access to the “Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy” that’s located in the same neighborhood.

The opening hours are:
Saturday to Thursday: 9AM – 1PM & 4:30PM – 8:30PM
Friday: 9AM – 1PM

The museum is in Jabriya and here is the location on Google Maps.


The Sadu Brick Road Officially Revealed

A couple of hours ago the Sadu House officially revealed the Sadu brick road which they’re calling “AlSadu Street”. The street is located adjacent to the Sadu House and was inspired by their appreciation and deep comprehensive study of the Sadu techniques and patterns.

Here are some interesting facts about the street:

  • AlSadu Street consists of 190,000 custom-made bricks.

  • AlSadu Street took 10 workers and 300 hours to complete.

  • The bricks used in AlSadu Street are custom made multi-purpose Kuwaiti bricks in colors that match the Sadu pieces.

  • The Sadu patterns were transferred digitally and rendered in a graphic design to meet the nature and shape of the street without altering the motifs and patterns.

  • During the design process, a graphic structure was created for the street to shape the Sadu motifs to match the shape and size of the bricks.

  • AlSadu Street is located within the Qibla area and connects four prominent cultural museums and centers.

  • The street draws inspiration from AlSadu‘s vibrant design motifs, specifically “the Shajarah pattern” 

  • The Shajarah pattern is the one of the most complicated design of the Bedouin weaving.

  • The Shajarah pattern consists of a vertical strip of geometric patterns in the center of the rug, usually woven with black thread within specific squares. each showing a geometric pattern depicting some aspect of Bedouin life.

They have more photos on their instagram account but if you want to check it out in person here is the location on Google Maps.

Kuwait Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Gulf Road Bicycle & Walk Paths

From all the projects currently taking place in Kuwait, I think this one is the one I’m most excited about.

Back in June I posted about the new 9.7-kilometre-long waterfront project that stretches from the Yacht Club in Salmiya all the way to the Kuwait Towers. The project involves facelifting the waterfront while also offering essential amenities for people which includes a dedicated bicycle and jogging path among other things.

We now have a first look at how the new pathway is going to look like and I’m super excited!

This small strip in the photo is not a rendering, it’s a real strip that was constructed for testing purposes. I’ve been told this is the final approved design that will now be implemented along the whole waterfront.

What I love the most about the design is how the walk path and bike path are separated with plants, benches and other amenities. This means you can’t accidentally walk into the bike lane which is what I tend to do when I’m in Europe.

Another cool thing I like is the bike racks which you can barely make out in the photo, they’re on the top left next to the bench and black colored street light. This means I can now park and lock my bicycle if say I want to take a quick dip in the sea (something I’m probably never going to do but I like the option). The whole thing looks really tastefully done, it looks really great.

Maybe the best part about this project is that it’s real, it’s already under construction and they’re targeting to have it completed by February. As someone who rides their bike all the time on the Gulf Road, you don’t understand how much I’m excited about this.


Seef Strip Building Demolished

The building that used to house Elevation Burger and M’EAT on the Seef Strip just got demolished. No idea why, or whats going to take its place but I really like that strip and the area in general so its pretty disappointing it was demolished.

But, as I was discussing with someone on twitter, since the Ice Skating Rink and Entertainment City got demolished I no longer care as much about landmarks getting demolished. It’s become so normalized I’m just like that sucks 🤷🏼‍♂️ and a minute later I’m back to flipping through TikTok aimlessly.

I used to joke with a friend about that location being jinxed since everything that opened there always fails. But, Elevation had some great days there especially when they had their events.


Villa Moda Was Demolished

Yesterday I was in the Free Trade Zone and noticed that they recently demolished the Villa Moda building. It’s so sad since the whole concept and design was so ahead of it’s time when it opened 20 years ago.

I also noticed a bunch of other buildings had also gotten demolished or were in the process of getting demolished in the area, but most were just regular boring office buildings, nothing like Villa Moda.


The Last Voice from Kuwait

33 years ago on August 2nd 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Abduljabbar Mansoor Marafi, an amateur radio operator decided to stay behind with his family and that decision eventually led him to become the last voice from Kuwait.

I hadn’t heard of his story until very recently and since its the anniversary of the invasion I wanted to share it since I found it really interesting from a technology point of view, but also the bravery involved. Marafi had been operating a sophisticated Radio Bulletin Board System (RBBS) using a personal computer and amateur radio set equipment long time before the invasion. He had even setup backup power supply in case of power failure which turned out to also be useful during the invasion.

When Iraq invaded, Marafi refused to flee hoping he could help his country by staying in Kuwait. During the early days of the invasion, Marafie used his radio to keep people outside of Kuwait in the loop with what was happening here. He was basically blogging before blogging was even a thing. When Iraq start cutting off communication in Kuwait from the outside world, Marafi’s radio system became even more important.

The easiest way I can think of to describe Marafi’s bulletin board system is to imagine a very basic version of email. You would send a message to a specific radio call sign (Marafi’s was 9K2DZ), and when that person later connects to their bulletin board system, they would see what messages they had waiting for them. I’ve embedded a video below from YouTube demoing this.

News of Marafi’s bulletin service started spreading by word of mouth in Kuwait. Families began giving Marafi messages to send to their relatives abroad, and families abroad started contacting radio amateurs in the countries they lived in asking them to send messages to their relatives in Kuwait through Marafi’s bulletin board. In addition to helping transmit messages between families, Marafie also used his radio system to expose to the outside world the horrors that were being committed by the Iraqis in Kuwait.

When Iraqis found out news was leaking out of Kuwait they suspected it was due to radio amateurs since all other sort of communication had already been cut. The Iraqis then started interrogating Kuwaiti radio amateurs and confiscating their equipment, including Marafi’s. But Marafi was expecting that and had set up a complete radio setup behind a false wall in his basement. The setup outside that was confiscated was mostly broken or old equipment.

The full story of Abduljabbar Marafi and his radio system is too big to tell in all its detail but if you want to find out more you can google his call sign 9K2DZ. Sadly, Marafi passed away last November.

I’ve uploaded a PDF of an article taken from the September 1991 issue of Alam Al-Computer. I borrowed some of the information in this post from that article and it’s really interesting to read. You can download it here.


Kuwait Towers without the LED Mesh

Not sure if anyone noticed but the LED mesh around the Kuwait Towers has been replaced with solid green and red colored lights now. Back in 2015 when they first installed the LED mesh I suggested they should be kept permanently since it gave a Blade Runner look. But I take that back now, I think I prefer it without the wraparound screens but I wish they go back to the way things were originally with just a simple neutral light instead of the red and green.

Information Kuwait

Guide to Pools in Kuwait with Day Passes

There are plenty of public beaches in Kuwait but not that many swimming pools you can access without being a member or staying at a hotel. But, some hotels do offer day passes to their pools so I called as many hotels as I could until I had enough to put a list together.

The pools guide list below is singles friendly, and arranged from least expensive to most expensive:

Al Jahra Copthorne Hotel & Resort
Telephone: 24590000
Price: 10KD

Seashell Julaia Hotel & Resort
Telephone: 1844444
Price = 15KD

Crowne Plaza
Telephone: 1848111
Weekday 20KD
Weekend 25KD (Includes meal)

Millennium Hotel
Telephone: 22050505
Weekday: 20KD
Weekend: 25KD

Symphony Style Hotel
Telephone: 25770000
Weekday: 20KD
Weekend: 25KD

Holiday Inn Salmiya
Telephone: 25760000
Weekday: 20KD
Weekend: 29KD

Mövenpick Hotel Resort AlBidaa
Telephone: 22253100
Price: 25KD

Hyatt Regency Al Kout Mall
Telephone: 23931234
Price: 30KD
Ladies only on Monday and Wednesday

Hilton Resort
Telephone: 22256222
Weekday: 30KD
Weekend: 35KD
Weekday/Weekend for Couples: 45KD

Marina Hotel
Telephone: 22230030
Weekday: 35KD
Weekend: 40KD

Waldorf Astoria (pictured at the very top)
Telephone: 24774444
Price 1: 40KD (Inc. 2 Cocktails)
Price 2: 50KD (Inc. Food + Cocktails)


Conservation of the Kuwait Towers Discs

The Kuwait Towers are old, and due to more than five decades of marine climate exposure, some of the decorative metal discs started to detach and fall to the ground. Back in 2020, the Kuwait Towers was awarded a grant by the Getty Foundation to conduct a technical study to identify the underlying problem behind the disc detachments and develop conservation protocols for carrying out repairs and maintenance. After delays due to covid, the study was finally completed this year.

A couple of weeks ago I met with architect Zahra Ali Baba (@zhrabba) and engineer Jaber Alqallaf (@jeemroom) both from the National Council for Culture Arts & Letters and part of the team responsible for restoration and rehabilitation of the Kuwait Towers. I got to hear about how they along with the rest of the local team collaborated with international experts on the study and it was very fascinating to say the least.

The towers were built out of concrete in the 70s and studded with 41,000 enameled metal discs in different shades of blue, green, and gray, and in a very specific pattern. In the photo above you can get a better idea of the mechanism that connects the discs to the spheres. Because the towers are located right by the sea they’re exposed to the salty sea air that has corrosive effects on both the concrete and metal. The study was conducted to identify the issues with the discs and then set a plan to fix them.

Another thing I hadn’t thought about before is the fading of the color. Over time the discs have discolored with exposure to all the elements and so the color of the towers today, is slightly different than they used to be.

I never really thought about the towers aging and I drive by them every day with the presumption that they’d always be there. But, unless there is a team working behind the scenes to conserve them, they won’t last forever. Thankfully we have a team, and one that really cares.

Design Kuwait

Google Celebrates Abdulhussain Abdulredha

Today’s Google homepage in the Middle East showcases an illustration created by the talented Kuwaiti illustrator, Ahmed Al-Refaie (owaikeo).

Google is celebrating the Kuwaiti comedian and national icon Abdulhussain Abdulredha on his 83rd birthday. Abdulhussain Abdulredha is widely considered to be one of the Arab community’s most significant actors and playwrights.

Ahmed has uploaded the process behind the illustration as well as some more information which you can check out on his Instagram account @owaikeo


Baladiya’s Fast Response

The garbage situation next to my house isn’t anything new, I mean, I’ve been complaining about it for over a decade now. But last week I had an interesting interaction with the Kuwait Municipality (baladiya) over it. At one point the garbage overflowed as it usually does due to the limited number of bins, but the garbage men were emptying the bin and leaving the overflowed garbage on the floor. The trash was just lying there for 4 days straight and the stench was horrible, you couldn’t drive by it without having to roll up your windows.

Eventually, I had enough and decided to contact the municipality over their WhatsApp number. I sent them a message at 8:22 AM, it was a photo of the garbage taken from my window and the location pin. A minute later they asked for more information which I replied with.

An hour later (9:36 AM) while leaving my house I noticed there was a baladiya bobcat and workers picking up the garbage and throwing it into the bin. They actually acted on the issue super fast. I wasn’t sure if the whole send a complaint thing over WhatsApp was still active so glad it was. ‭If you want to also WhatsApp the municipality over a problem you have their number is 24727732‬.


7 Ways to Get Deported from Kuwait

Alqabas newspaper published a list of 7 different things that could get you deported. A redditor translated the 7 things and they are:

  • Fishing in the Kuwait Bay without permission
  • Littering or Dumping waste in non-approved areas
  • Driving without a valid license
  • Taxi drivers who commit Serious traffic violations
  • Indecent public behavior
  • Working a different job than what’s on your work permit
  • Not renewing annual residency

I like the idea of deporting people if they litter but if that were actually enforced, Kuwait’s population would probably be reduced to a million or less. I guess you could just enforce it for a short time, maybe deport a few hundred people to make a point and that would probably stop people from littering.

Design Kuwait

World’s Largest Net Zero Community Planned for Kuwait

Yesterday the Dubai-based developer URB unveiled plans for XZERO CITY, a net zero carbon destination for 100,000 population that is planned for Southern Kuwait.

XZERO is a planned sustainable community, providing a net zero carbon lifestyle for 100,000 residents, in balance with nature. The city will provide food & energy security whilst promoting a green circular economy in an eco-friendly live, work & visit destination.

The development will provide 30,000 residential units and 30,000 jobs as well as tourism through its various eco-friendly hospitality assets, including a 5-star eco-resort and eco-lodges.

Sounds too good to be true?

I hadn’t heard of the developer URB until last night and looking through their Instagram and website it seems none of the projects they’ve proposed have actually been approved yet. So sadly this looks like a nice presentation but I don’t think anything will come of it.

For more details on the proposed project, click here.

Thanks Hind


360 Mall Currently on Fire

A friend just sent me the video above he took of 360 Mall on fire. Looks like it’s in the new extension near IKEA but hard to tell from the video if its the mall parking that’s on fire or the actual mall. Will post an update once I get more details.

Thanks @nibaq

Update: Looks like fire was put out and doesn’t seem to have been any serious damage.