Tidbits: Kuwait Aviation History

Post by Mark


Last week someone told me that the top floors of the Kuwait Airways Building in Kuwait City used to be a club called Al Hamra back when clubs were legal. So I spent all day yesterday trying to find information on it online but I couldn’t find anything. Instead, the whole research somehow turned into history lesson on Kuwait’s aviation history and I ended u finding a lot of interesting information most of which I hadn’t heard before. I already shared the vintage timetables in a separate post below but I’ll now combine the rest of my random findings here.

Al-Nugra Airport
This was Kuwait’s second airport and it was located in Nuzha.

1947-1948 KOC develops new Al-Nugra (Al-Mayass) airport, located in Nuzha district. Open for daylight operations only. Airlines open offices in Kuwait city to handle ticketing and cargo operations for the Arab expatriate community. Al-Nugra airport steadily developed with new concrete buildings and hangar. [Source]

I couldn’t find any decent photos of the airport but I did find the video below.


Kuwait Airport 1975
I found the images below on Flickr and they’re dated 1975 but I’m not sure if they’re photos of Al-Nugra Airport or the location of our current airport which started in 1961.

1961 State of Kuwait declares independence. Phase One of new Mugwa Airport begins operation. Airlines serving Mugwa include BOAC, Lufthansa, KLM, United Arab Airlines, Saudi Arab Airlines, Syrian Arab Airlines, Air India, and Lebanese carriers MEA, TMA and LIA. Facilities comprise passenger terminal (Terminal 1), 2,200-metre asphalt runway, parking apron, and control tower equipped to handle operations round-the-clock. [Source]

Photos [Source]

It’s most likely the site of our current airport but the only reason I am having doubts on the location is because in 1979 the current airport was completed but in the aerial photo above I can’t see any signs of the new airport construction taking place.

Trans Arabia Airways
Trans Arabia Airways was a Kuwaiti carrier that started operating in 1959 out of Beirut to Kuwait with an ex-Australian National Airways DC-4. By 1964 the the fleet consisted of three Douglas DC-6Bs and they flying to: Beirut, Bahrain, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Doha, Jeddah, as well as Frankfurt, London and Rome. In 1964 they were purchased and absorbed by Kuwait Airways. [Source]

The Kuwait Airport by Kenzo Tange
This isn’t new information since I already posted it years ago but I still think the photos are worth sharing again. Our current airport was originally designed by the legendary Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and was completed in 1979. The airport originally looked completely different and a lot nicer as you can see in the photos below. The British architect and critic Stephen Gardiner wrote in 1985 that it was “the most beautiful airport in the world” because of its “breathtaking simplicity of color and shape.” It is “white sculptured space as cool as an ice-cube, as enormous as a vat intake of pure air, as light as a tent, as canvas hung from cables and sails.”

Photos [Source]

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26 comments, add your own...

  1. bask says:

    The old airport qualifies to be the most beautiful airport in the world! the design is simply outstanding.

  2. Aja says:

    I hope they return the current terminal to its former glory when the new one is built, i wish kuwait had a listing system like the UK to protect old buildings.

  3. kuwait pls says:

    We will get nightclubs in the next 10-30 years

    Kuwait will be better than Bahrain and Qatar

  4. kuwait pls says:

    Mark, please post pictures of old nightclubs in Kuwait back when it was legal


    In 1971, there was a nightclub at a hotel known as Golden Hall


  5. flynas with Jazeera says:

    Those were the days of our life…..
    I still remember Kuwait Airways having direct connections to Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen back then.
    And yes, the airport was so charming minus the duty free and the commercial complex annexe.

  6. The Aviator says:

    Did the United Arab Emirates and Qatar even exist back then?
    I vaguely remember Bahrain as having vastly superior aviation facilities than Kuwait- part of the reason why so many of us had to fly to Bahrein en route to Kuwait.

    • pioneer says:

      Kuwait was superior to all Gulf states back then

      Kuwait was the pioneer Gulf state, the first to develop and modernize

      After the Gulf War, Kuwait never returned to its glory days

  7. Ramadan Nights says:

    The clubbing scene in Kuwait was rather happening in the 60s and 70s cue the Hunting & Equesterian Club and the Rooftop Club on the KU HQ building with its international attractions and all. Things were pretty permissive until 1978. Where did it go so terribly wrong after that?
    Thank heavens for the Hunting & Equesterian Club and the Sahara Golf and Country Club!

  8. Sami says:

    Don’t expect legal alcohol and night clubs happening in Kuwait any time soon. Once you introduce conservative laws, it is very difficult to roll them back, unless you want to see things blowing up and people murdered, especially with the country roaming with ISIS types.

    • pioneer says:

      Kuwait has the lowest percentage of Wahhabis/Salafis in the GCC

      Only 2.17% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/maps/GulfReligionGeneral_lg.png

      Whereas 46.87% of Qataris and 44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis

      This means Kuwait has the least ISIS types in the GCC

      I don’t see any Emiratis and Qataris blowing themselves up and people murdered

      Legal alcohol and nightclubs are very possible in the upcoming 10-20 years because of the impending economic crisis

    • pioneer says:


      In the ‘Demography of Religion in the Gulf’ – bottom left

      46.87% of Qataris are Wahhabis

      44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis

      22.9% of Saudis are Wahhabis (there are 20 million Saudis)

      5.7% of Bahrainis are Wahhabis

      2.17% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis

      Source: Columbia University, Dr. Michael Izady – Gulf/2000 Project

      • Sami says:

        Well, It only takes one Wahabbi to blow up a night club. And 2.17% of Kuwaitis is 21,700 wahabis.

        • pioneer says:

          There are 1.5 million Emiratis, 44.8% is 675,000 Emirati Wahhabis

          There are 350,000 Qataris, 46.87% is 164,045 Qatari Wahhabis

          There are 20 million Saudis, 22.9% is 4.6 million Saudi Wahhabis

          There are 600,000 Bahrainis, 5.7% is 36,000 Bahraini Wahhabis

          There are 1.2 million Kuwaitis, 2.17% is 26,000 Kuwaiti Wahhabis

          = Kuwait has the lowest number of ISIS types in the GCC

    • pioneer says:

      Kuwait has the lowest number of ISIS types in the GCC

      Visit UAE, talk to the locals (about politics, religion, Sunni/Shia), you will quickly realize that Emiratis are much less tolerant than Kuwaitis

      • Sami says:

        Ok fine. You can start by launching a campaign for opening night clubs and bars.

        It would be interesting to see people’s reactions.

        • pioneer says:

          It won’t be interesting to see people’s reactions. Kuwaiti society is very diverse, many Kuwaitis support alcohol legalization and some Kuwaitis won’t like it. The Kuwaiti government isn’t here to please everyone

          UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar all have nightclubs and bars

          I don’t need to launch a campaign, the Kuwaiti government is no longer allied with the Islamists and Kuwait will face significant economic problems in the next 10-20 years. The government will have no choice but to legalize alcohol

          Alcohol will get legalized in 10-20 years

          • Sami says:

            UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar have bars and nightclubs because they are authoritarian. It is almost unthinkable that our parliament will revoke the alcohol ban. The government could permanently dissolve the parliament, but I personally am not willing to trade whatever little democracy we have for a bar and a nightclub.

            How will bars and nightclubs solve our economic problems anyways? It’s not like we’re going to suddenly provide something unique that does not already exist on the rest of the world. Explain this to me.

            • pioneer says:

              The parliament can revoke the alcohol ban because the MPs are predominantly pro-Government. Liberals outnumber Islamists in the parliament.

              In 10-20 years, Kuwait will face the same economic problems as all other GCC states. But at least Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE are already diversifying.

              Kuwait has the least diversified economy in the GCC. At least Saudi Arabia has Mecca and some arable land. Kuwait has nothing but oil. Legal alcohol is necessary for economic diversification.

              It’s not about providing something new. Every weekend, many Kuwaitis and expats go to Dubai and Bahrain to drink, instead they could spend that money here in Kuwait.

              Economic diversification is more important than pseudo democracy.

              • Sami says:

                Your argument does not make sense. I still don’t understand how legalising alcohol in itself will lead to economic diversification. You are also blowing up the number of liberal Kuwaitis out of proportion. If you keep this imaginary view or reality, you will be very disappointed in 10-20 years.

                • pioneer says:

                  You’re blowing the number of religious fanatics out of proportion. Most Kuwaitis are moderates. I don’t have an imaginary view of reality, the government can easily legalise alcohol. The parliament is merely a puppet of the government. Most previous parliaments were tools of the government. The government has always heavily manipulated parliamentary results using electoral gerrymandering, vote-buying and electorate manipulation. It really doesn’t matter what Kuwaitis think about alcohol legalisation.

                  The economy is too reliant on oil, even in comparison to other GCC states. Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE are using alcohol to their advantage. UAE charges a 50% tax on alcohol, and if a person has a liquor license and buys alcohol to drink at home, an additional 30% tax is charged. Kuwait would benefit alot from alcohol taxes and taxing oil companies.

                  Alcohol attracts tourists, especially Saudis. Kuwait’s average hotel occupancy rate is 52% during weekends. Alcohol would attract thousands more Saudi tourists. Bahrain’s hotels are always overbooked because of Saudis, most Saudis visit Bahrain for the alcohol.

  9. Varun says:

    The current airport was modernized in 1999-2001 if I recall, and it’s only become a convoluted mess since.

    And the airline? Let’s not go there.

  10. Abdullah says:

    I guess it needs renovation not a whole newer airport.

  11. Don't Mess with Messi says:

    Thank God for Gate Jazeera(it had better not be Jazeera Gate LOL)! I loved their sense of timing to coincide with EK’s A380 operations at KWI International beginning mid July. Quite how the terminal building itself will then cope with this A380 beast during the peak summer rush is anyone’s guess! I believe that’s going to be a major upside for people wanting to fly out of Kuwait on Jazeera- a relatively more hassle free experience than any other carrier operating out of the rickety Kwt airport

    • Mark says:

      I don’t see how the experience will be different since you’re still flying in and out of the same airport and you still have to check in, Stamp your passport, collect your bags etc with everyone else and those r the biggest issues at the airport not the gates

  12. Do not mess with the Messi says:

    Oh well, I thought they were meant to have separate baggage carousels and check in area too! But maybe I am mistaken

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