Al Jahra

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Kuwait is a country in the Middle East. It is located at the head of the Arabian Gulf, with Iraq to the north and west, and Saudi Arabia to the southwest.

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  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
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  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
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  • Education Education
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Points of Interest in Al Jahra

See Kuwait City for listings of attractions in the city. Kuwait is not the ideal vacation spot in the region, but if on a business trip, there are some sites worth seeing:

  •    Failaka Island, knetmalou@hotmail.com (take KPTC ferry from Ras Al Salmiya (Ras al Ardh) near scientific center or private speedboat near Marina Mall),  66111924. A port with many old dhows, Failaka Island can be reached by regular ferry services. There are also some Bronze Age and Greek archaeological sites well worth viewing, including the island's Greek temple. Failaka Island was named Ikarus by the Greeks who, under Alexander the Great, established an outpost in the island. Failaka was heavily damaged during the Iraqi invasion. Plans are currently underway to develop the island into a large-scale tourist attraction. 3 KD.
  • Al Jahra city. Traditional-style boums and sambuks (boats) are still built in Al Jahrah, although, nowadays, vessels are destined to work as pleasure boats rather than pearl fishing or trading vessels.
  • Mina Al Ahmadi. Mina Al Ahmadi, lying 19km (12 miles) south of Kuwait City, is an oil port with immense jetties for supertanker traffic. The Oil Display Center pays homage to the work of the Kuwait Oil Company (Reservations needed)
  •    Kazmah desert cliffs (go on Road 80, turn right to Road 801 to Bubiyan, take first exit and turn left). Being one of the few elevations in the Kuwaiti desert these cliffs allow a good view on the bay if the visibility is good. A lot of young Kuwaitis come here on weekends to challenge their Jeeps and Quads uphill.
  • Desert, anywhere (go north on Road 801, west on Road 70 or south on road 306). Although the city keeps growing, Kuwait is still largely a vast and uninhabited desert. Going away from the city many roads will take you to places where there is nothing but sand, sand and more sand. While this may be a form of excitement you'd look for every weekend in the winter as the locals do, it's also a nice experience once if you are visiting during the extremely hot summer.
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About Al Jahra

History

The Kuwaitis trace their roots to the Al-Anisa and Al-Utub tribes from Nejd province, which is now in Saudi Arabia. They moved to Qatar and then to Al-Qurain, now in Kuwait, by around 1710. By 1752, the long term residents of Al-Qurain decided that they needed a central authority to tamp down tribal warfare in the area. The Al-Sabah tribe was chosen to rule, and the first Sheikh, Sabah ibn Jaber, reigned as Sabah I from 1752 to 1756. The Sabahs successfully mediated religious and tribal disputes with diplomacy. They also played the Ottomans, Egyptians and European powers against each other while maintaining their autonomy. In 1899, Mubarak I signed an agreement making Kuwait a British Protectorate, with the sheikhs maintaining local control while putting their foreign policy in the hands of the British, in exchange for military protection from other powers. The British had already had a presence in Kuwait for some time: in the 1770s, Abdullah I already had a contract with the British to deliver mail for them up to Aleppo, Syria. In the 20's and the 30's, Kuwait's main product was pearls. However, income from the precious stones took a hit shortly thereafter, when the Japanese flooded the market with cultured pearls. In 1938, oil was first struck at the Burgan oil field in Kuwait, and by 1946, oil exports began. In 1961, Kuwait nullified the treaty of 1899, and became an independent nation. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led international coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that completely liberated Kuwait in four days; February 26 is celebrated as Liberation Day. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. It is currently ruled by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah after the demise of Sheikh Jaber al Ahmed al Jaber al Sabah in January 2006.

Climate

Dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters. Natural hazards : sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April; they occasionally bring heavy rain which can, in some rare cases, damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August. Common temperatures range from 5oC in Dec/Jan to over 50oC from Jun to Aug.

Activities

See Kuwait City for more activities in the city.

  • Sea Clubs & spas. Many of Kuwait's sea clubs offer a wide variety of facilities and activities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, beaches, tennis courts, gymnasiums, bowling and even karate.
  • Riding. Horse riding clubs flourish in the winter. The Hunting and Equestrian Club is on the 6th ring road near Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Armed Forces Hospital.
  • Golf. The golf course "Sahara Club" is located near the Hunting and Equestrian club beside 6th ring road. It features a five star restaurant and a spa.
  • Swimming and diving. Swimming is allowed on various public beaches along the Gulf Street. Women in swimwear are rare and might offend locals. The beach resorts as Radisson SAS and Palms offer beaches to both genders but will charge. However, since most beach areas are also the dump sites for raw, untreated sewage, swimming near the mainland is not recommended. Few homes have swimming pools and those that do are generally indoors, below ground. Many of the big hotels and spas have reasonably sized pools, but again can be quite expensive for those who are not guests.
  • Boating. Sailing and scuba diving are available. Powerboating is a Kuwaiti passion. Contact any of the hotels located on the beach and they can arrange a trip for you. The best beach front hotels are the Hilton Resort, Movenpick Resort, Marina Hotel and the Radisson SAS. Hiring a boat should be done with caution and the boat should be inspected carefully for signs of neglect before agreeing on a rental. Many unwary tourists have been stranded at sea for hours while the coastguard ineptly attempts a rescue because like automobiles in Kuwait, mechanical maintenance is generally not a high priority for most boat owners.
  • Shopping in Malls. The largest mall in Kuwait is The Avenues on 5th ring road behind road 60. It is one of the largest malls in whole middle-east and features a lot of clothing and electronics stores as well as a Carrefour and an Ikea. Furthermore it offers the best cinematic experience in Kuwait with VIP theatres with massaging reclining seats and a personal butler. Other popular malls include Marina Mall (Salmiya), Souq Sharq (Sharq), 360 mall (includes a 3D IMax cinema, located in Jinoob al Surra between 6th ring road and road 50) and Al-Kout Mall (Fahaheel) which is famous for its orchestra musical fountains.
  • Shopping on Markets. Regardless of the growing amount of malls Kuwait still hosts a lot of small markets. See the buy section in the Kuwait City article.

Food

There is a huge array of restaurants in Kuwait. Because nightlife is virtually non-existent, most people go out to restaurants and malls. A wide variety of international cuisines is available in high-end restaurants, although some heavily pork-based cuisines (German, e.g.) are conspicuously absent. Kuwait is known for its culinary specialties and catering services. Restaurants can be found in food courts in malls, and alternatively many international restaurants are grouped together in certain areas in Kuwait, namely:

  • Behind the Roman Catholic Church in Kuwait City
  • Outside the Mövenpick Resort in Salmiya
  • In the Marina Crescent

Just ask any local where the "Restaurants Road" is and they will guide you to a road in Salmiya packed end-to-end with local restaurants serving a wide array of specialty sandwiches, juices and snacks. Alternatively, head to any of the major shopping malls which are also crowded with restaurants ranging from fast to gourmet food. Every conceivable U.S. chain is represented in Kuwait! There are still some restaurants that serve traditional Kuwaiti food. Al-Marsa restaurant in Le Meridien Hotel (Bneid Al Gar location) has some traditional Kuwaiti seafood but with a relatively high price tag. A better option is the quaint Shati Alwatia restaurant at the Behbehani Villa compound in the Qibla area of Kuwait City (behind the Mosques)and another Kuwaiti restaurant is Ferij Suwailih in salmiya area. If you don't feel like going out to eat, just about every restaurant and eatery in the country delivers food anywhere. Order online from a number of sites and enjoy the same selections as at the restaurant itself for a tiny delivery fee (usually 200 to 400 Fils) tacked onto the order total itself.

For general grocery shopping, each district has its own 'Co-operative Society' (Jumayya) which anyone can use, and they usually consist of a supermarket and a general D.I.Y. store. When paying for your grocery shopping the cashier will usually ask if you have a number (which is given to local customers as a way to build up credits). It is also normal that somebody will pack your grocery bags for you and will carry the bags to your car, unless you insist otherwise. It is customary to tip them about 1/2 KD if they do go to your car, although they do not normally wait around for it. Kuwait also offers a wide variety of other supermarkets ranging from local chains of excellent quality (The Sultan Company) to hypermarkets operated by international heavy hitters such as Carrefour, Geant and an Indian chain, LuLu. All of them offer selections of truly international range and usually at competitive prices.

Drinks

Alcohol is strictly illegal in Kuwait: it may not be imported, manufactured or served, and newspapers regularly report busts of illegal distilleries. Unlike in Bahrain, Qatar and UAE alcohol cannot be even served at hotels or to permit holders.

Tap water is drinkable, although most of it is desalinated and not particularly tasty, and in summertime, you may have a hard time telling apart the hot and cold taps. Bottled water is available everywhere for a few hundred fils.

Shopping

The national currency is the Kuwaiti dinar (KD, KWD).

The dinar is divided into 1000 fils. Notes are available in denominations of KD 20, 10, 5, 1, ½ and ¼, while 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 fils coins are also available. While notes have Latin numerals on one side, the coins are entirely in Arabic.

Bear in mind that the Kuwaiti Dinar ranks among the strongest currencies in the world with an exchange rate of 1KD usually hovering at or about US$3.50, making that oh-so-affordable seeming 3KD burger a little more shocking when it sinks in that it's more like $10.50!

Notes issued before 1994, many of which were stolen during the Iraqi occupation, are not considered legal tender. You're unlikely to see these in Kuwait (the designs are clearly different), but unscrupulous dealers elsewhere have been known to try to pass them off. See the Central Bank of Kuwait for pictures.

Exchanging money can be difficult and exchanging travelers cheques even more so. Stick to ATMs, which are ubiquitous and work fine. Higher-end establishments accept credit cards.

Costs

Although Kuwait is a tax haven 0% VAT and 0% income tax It would be hard to manage on under US$100 per day, and you can very easily spend US$250 or more just on an ordinary hotel room.

Tipping is generally not necessary. A 12% service charge is tacked onto your bill in expensive hotels and restaurants, but if you want some of the money to actually go to the staff, leave a little extra.

Prices on common expenses (January 2013):

  • Burger combo meal: KD 2 - 2.50 (McDonalds's)
  • Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course: KD 10 - 12
  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: KD 2 -3
  • Oranges (1 kg): 400 - 450 fils
  • Milk (1 litre): 300 fils
  • Single-tall latte with an add-shot at Starbucks: KD 2
  • Falafel sandwich in Hawally: 300 fils
  • Khobuz Irani (flat bread) 20 fils

Petrol prices are among the cheapest in the world and most of the time are less than water, literally, which explains the Kuwaiti penchant for huge fuel-guzzling U.S. import vehicles.

Shopping

Kuwait is a tax free country. Custom-made items, imported items, and shipping out of the country can be expensive, so shop wisely.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Kuwait on Wikivoyage.

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