My next stop was Kuwait City, via Dubai and Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. I loved watching the flight path on the TV screens on the plane from Zurich to Dubai...the direct route would have taken us over most of Iraq...but for (some) reason, our plane did a zig zag and bypassed Iraq altogether. I still don't understand why.
There really isn't much, in terms of touristy things, to do in Kuwait. I couldn't find too much on the web before I went and anything I did find said there wasn't anything to do. The only real reason for foreigners to go is to work. And a lot of them do.
I probably wouldn't have gone myself if my old boss from Famous Players wasn't there. I stayed with Bill at his place for the time I was there and enjoyed my time in the country. Despite its location, cushioned between Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia I found Kuwait to be very safe. Crime is very rare and I felt safer walking the streets here than I do in many North American cities. The people where very friendly and I never felt unwelcome. I'm sure the Canadian flag on my pack didn't hurt.
The people who live in Kuwait seem to do three things: work, shop and...shop. Large malls abound and when you are in one you wouldn't know you have left Canada. Every brand you can imagine is here. Literally. American brands, especially restaurant and fast food ones, that don't exist in Europe are here, in abundance. Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, Red Lobster...you name it, its here.
The two "touristy" attractions in town, besides exploring the different shopping centres, are the Liberation Tower and the Kuwait Towers. I tried to go to the Liberation Tower (so named after the liberation of Kuwait in the early 90s) but it has been closed for security reasons. No revolving restaurant for me. The first five floors at the base of the Tower are used for different Kuwait government offices.
No one seemed to mind an obviously lost tourist wandering around the five floors looking for the tower entrance. I walked by the mayors office, school board, police commissioners office, etc....only to find the elevators not working and a sign explaining the observation deck and restaurant are not currently open. Ah well.
Kuwait Towers where open and they did have an observation deck with a number of photos showing the destruction the towers underwent by the "invaders" of Iraq.
It is very easy to spend too much money in Kuwait. The KD, or Kuwait Dinar, is one of the strongest currencies in the world. 1 kd ≈ 4 cdn. When I got there I took out 200 kd, not realizing the exchange rate...turns out I took out over $800 for a four day stay with no accommodation costs. Thankfully I was able to turn a chunk of that into Indian Rupees for my trip to India...but I got hit by exchange rates twice, which kind of sucks.
Spent the rest of the time hanging out with Bill, checking out the city and wandering the streets. It was good to see Bill, who I haven't seen in almost two years when we both worked together at Famous Players. Those where some good times.