50s to 90s Interesting Kuwait

New English School, circa 1969

When I found these photos yesterday I was completely taken aback, other than the fact I had no idea that NES first opened in 1969 (I thought they opened much later), I didn’t know they first started off in a villa and a really beautiful one.

I love how this is most likely common knowledge to every NES student ever, yet I just found out about all this even though it’s been basically been my job for the past 18 years to find out about things like this. I guess I was too obsessed with digging up stuff on my school (Sunshine School) that I didn’t really even consider looking at other schools in Kuwait.

In any case, I found these photos partially on the NES Facebook account and partially on their website. I’m really impressed with the fact they still had these photos and had actually taken the time to scan and upload them. I really really love all these photos and mostly because how they totally don’t look like Kuwait.

The first classes of NES opened in a villa in Shamiyah, actually starting at Secondary level and very soon after extending backwards to Kindergarten. It was soon apparent that this educational venture was outgrowing the original premises, so a purpose built campus was opened in 1974, and to date, improvements and extensions continue to maintain an environment that allows students to thrive. source

There are more photos on their Facebook page and website, but you can check out my favorites in my post above a lot more inside this post below.

31 replies on “New English School, circa 1969”

It looks like any old school in india run by the British, and there are many there, and still running. That swimming pool/well is so typically Indian. It makes sense because kuwait was a British protectorate with most trade happening with india. This brought in some of the culture from there.

Then it would be British culture and nothing to do with India. Indian schools usually dont have a swimming pool

Lol didn’t he say specifically the British Raj style schools? Also India is pretty big. If you count the number of schools with a swimming pool in India, it might surpass the total number of schools wherever you are from. Jeez the people here.

You seem to have a problem with language comprehension. He clearly says the swimming pool is typically Indian and I said its not. You have not added any value with your comment. India is big and there are hardly any schools with swimming pools there, as water, space and maintenance is considered a luxury there. You need to give up your habit of getting your news from Whatsapp forwards and start following the real news of the real world. Man, common sense and general knowledge is scarcer than what I thought!

Guys, there seems to be a misunderstanding. I said the swimming pool is typically Indian. I didn’t say the swimming pool is like that you find in a school in India, which though uncommon, but wouldn’t be rare. Please also note that I mentioned “British run” schools in India, not a school in india run by Indians, so I was obviously referring to the time when India was ruled by the British. Since NES is British curriculum, so it makes sense why their old building set up is reminiscent of the way the British did things in India.

What beautiful photographs, congratulations NES.

Thank you for such interesting comments Abdullah, I thought that Kuwait and India were regular, and very successful trading partners, long before 1899, when H.H. Sheikh Mubarak the Great invited Great Britain to create a protectorate against the Ottoman and other European countries’ threats of annexation? Please correct me if I am wrong, I am researching this period. Warmest wishes.

Yes Alison, you are absolutely right. Kuwait and other countries from the Arabian Gulf had signed pacts with the British to protect them from the Ottomans or anyone else. I think the pact with Kuwait was signed in 1889 (not 1899), thus making Kuwait Britain relations 130 years old. As a result of this pact, a lot of trade happened between Kuwait and India because india at the time was the crown jewel of the British empire, and the British Indian government was then known as the British Raj. So a lot of Kuwaiti families like Al-Sayer and Al-Mulla established trade links with India with most trade happening from Bombay and Kochin. As a result a lot of Indian culture was brought into Kuwait as well like food, and the Indian Rupee which was the currency Kuwait used until well into the 1960’s. Kuwait’s first radiologist was trained there as well.

Kuwait has a very interesting survival history and you would do well researching on this wonderful country. My best wishes to you.

Does anyone know exactly where the American school was in Salwa back in the 80s before they moved to their current location? I’ll owe you one if you could share coordinates

Does anyone know exactly where the American school was in Salwa back in the 80s before they moved to their current location? I’ll owe you one if you could share coordinates

Hi guys,

Gulf English School was in Salwa in the beginning. I was a student in the 80’s till the 1990 War. Later they opened and continued for some years before moving to Rumaithiya area.

I visited GES back in 1990 before the invasion. I was graduating from Sunshine School cuz they only had till Junior 4 and so other schools would invite us over to check them out so we could continue our senior years in their school. GES always stuck in my mind because after they were done giving us a tour of the school, they had pizza waiting for us and cold soft drinks. No other school had fed us after a tour so they had always stuck in my mind.

Also used to hate NES. I was on the Sunshine School football team back in the 80s and we had a huge rivalry with NES for some reason. Don’t remember why just with NES, but I’ve hated the school ever since.

Just remembered they had this tall blonde goalie who used to catch the balls really weird, like his palms would be touching each other and fingers open, very girly. I used to be a goalkeeper on my team so always thought that was super weird, but he was actually really good. Will try to find him in a yearbook.

Thank you Mark! Also I lived right next door so trying to see what the are looks like now. Looks like the school is under new management looking at pictures online.

Wow. I finished my O’levels and A’levels from NES. But can’t believe that the french school opened before NES. My brother and I were part of the first batch of students (babies i guess) to join in 1968. At the time it was called Ecole Francaise and was in a villa in Surra. So many memories.

Nice pictures. Nostalgia
Just one correction. The villa where the school starte then was in Dahiya and not Shamiya as confirmed by one of the student who studied there and she was among the second batches.

I went there in the 80’s from KG till secondary and did my IGCSE’s there and it was run like a crap by an EXTREMELY greedy and lazy administration. Excessive cost cutting in every aspect and all the facilities were either too old to use properly or non existent. I remember even when they first installed astro turf for the courts, we weren’t allowed to even tread on it during our breaks bc they were so paranoid that we were going to ruin it and waste their (read: our) money. Another thing is during our breaks they would kick us out of the buildings and we had to hide under the very few trees and little nooks and crannies that we could find just to stay away from the burning sun and heat and if we even looked at one of their stupid rules incorrectly we would be punished. They wer zero tolerance on everything, no multiple chances and then punishment. It was just ridiculously strict in ways that just made no logical sense. They also treated students like crap at any point (save for a few decent teachers) and made us feel like we were begging them for an education even though our parents paid them so much.

We also had a single tuck shop that sold next to nothing, not even water and would run out of food by the first 15 mins of 1st break so we had to pack lunches that would be soggy and awful from the heat etc. carrying them in our massive bags that we we had to lug everywhere since they refused to get lockers.

That’s just a tidbit of all the incredible BS that happened there, I could write a book about how awful my experience at NES was and how incompetent the school was in general. I hope they have finally improved things now since it looks a lot different.

Thank you Mark for taking us almost 50 years back in time.
As an alum of Carmel Convent- the only convent school in Kuwait, I am reminded of my alma mater back in the day when Carmel Convent school used to be housed in some 20 odd villas spread across a lovely lovely campus sat next to the British High Commission on Gulf street. Although the villas were in a dilapidated state even in the late 70s when I schooled with the Convent, the vast open playgrounds and plentiful shaded trees there more than made up for it- it was all about location location location. It always kept the element of excitement going to school alive for the elementary school boy in me. I have fond memories looking out the classroom window at the Kuwait Towers or the azure blue waters of the ocean everytime the instruction got boring or my mind drifted. I tell you those were truly the days of our life. I think it was in the early 80s they got the school moved to a custom built facility in Salwa inside a residential area comprising villas more villas and some more villas- a far cry from where the school once was – wedged between the old PLO office where Mais Alghanim is now, the Dasman Palace and the British High Commission.

Of course, the school did not come with a swimming pool its own but on balance, I think we came out alright 🙂

I do believe an ugly high rise, part of a cluster of buildings belonging to the Saudi embassy has now replaced the site where the Carmel Convent in Kuwait once stood.

A few short years into the liberation, I believe the school moved again from Salwa this time to New Khaitan dropping the middle word CONVENT in its name. A sad day that was. I suspect (and this is only a hunch) the school authorities may have been under the gun as the winds of religious extremism in Kuwait were blowing hot in the 90s.

Goodbye Carmel Convent, Arabian Gulf street. YOLO!

This is sad if it is real and not fake news. I am not much for faith based schooling myself as I find it has rather a limited scope in a secular, wired and global society.

On swimming pools, is it a norm for government and private run Arab schools in Kuwait to have them ? I even have my doubts whether outside of grammar schools and elitist public schools in England (Rugby, Eton, Harrow and what have you), few comprehensives especially in North England, Scotland and Wales will each come with their own pool.

Anyway, swimming pools in India were a rarity outside of the colonial era schools in Dehradun, Mussorie, Dalhousie and Kodaikanal hill stations in India. As far as I can tell only rare missionary run schools in Indian metros have swimming pools in them. However, today all that has changed with a very large number of schools in India even those that are not in tony neighborhoods having their own swimming pool and stadia for track & field events, to boot.

Interestingly many of the private ‘Indian run schools’ in India (operated by the likes of people such as, Ms. Neeta Ambani) are today vastly superior to British expat managed and operated schools in the country in terms of the acceptance rate of its student body for placements in the Ivy League.

Great site Mark. I attended the NES from 1970 until 1973. The blonde girl in the center of photo 12 is Lesley Ing. We married in 1999 (since divorced) and moved to Australia.

Fond memories – Friends group at that time included Andrew and Samya Adwani, Hisham and Mahmoud Abu Khadra, Kim Hamill, Jackie Williams, Frank Neil, Gilda and Alex Zakka and from earlier times at the American School from 1968 until 1970 – John Luckenbach

I caught up with Margaret El Sayer (Biology Teacher) in Aberdeen in 1990 by strange coincidence – this then led to contact with Derek Hicks ( PE I think)

Such a long time ago….

The swimming pool at the NES villa was not in use when I was there in 1971. We used it to play five a side football. Many other memories.

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