|Mubarakiya - February 2, 2015|
When I first came to Kuwait in 1993, I said that I wanted to go to a Kuwaiti market. They thought I meant, "mall" and I was very disappointed in what they showed me (at that time, the only "mall" in Kuwait was Fanar). Until I got a little more specific and I ended up at both the Friday Market (which is no longer traditional - more like a junky flea market) and Mubarakiya (which IS traditional and not a tourist trap, but a place where locals go to get good deals).
Last night, I drove by Mubarakiya last night and saw that they had lots of colorful light displays, so I am going to try to get down there while the Annual Mubarakiya Expo (see below) lasts.
Souq Mubrakiya was named after Mubarak bin Sabah Al-Sabah, the seventh ruler of Kuwait from May 18, 1896 until his death on November 28, 1915. He is regarded as the founder of modern day Kuwait (and grandfather to a few very nice people I know).
Mubarakiya History (Source: Bazaar Magazine, Feb. 2015) "Sheikh Mubarak Al Kabeer’s Kiosk in the center of it all, people were able to openly communicate their hopes, dreams, and worries to their leader. Soon enough, a little further down the road from the Kiosk, a Diwaniya was born, dubbed as Diwaniyet Al Ra’eel Al Awal – The Elders and Founding Fathers’ Diwaniya or commune. The Diwaniya became – and still is – a place for the country’s elders to meet and discuss everything from social issues to the coming elections. Past the Diwaniya, one of Kuwait’s oldest Post Offices can be found. Standing tall, the original majestic doors were preserved, along with a beautiful blue and white post box. Further still, the gates and marker for the Mubarakiya School – a 100 year-old institution of education. Currently open as an exhibition and celebration of academia, the school welcomes visitors from Monday to Saturday."
I frickin LOVE Mubarakiya and I learn more about it all the time. It is my happy place; my most favorite (man-made) place in all of Kuwait. You can keep those new, fancy-pants malls. I’m happy with the funky old-style found only here. I take every visitor to Kuwait to Mubarakiya and I highly recommend that others do the same. f you are an expat living in Kuwait and haven’t visited this souq, you’re a dumbass. (Sorry, but you are.) You are not going to get the real flavor of Kuwait until you see it. (That's right, I'm talking to YOU. Step away from the Big Mac and walk outside of McDonalds....)
The GOOD NEWS is that you don't have to stay a dumbass!!! Call my friends at Morqab Tours and they will take you on a guided tour of the entire area, introduce you to long-time vendors, and take you to lunch/dinner and shopping at Mubarakia. Morqab - Phone: 6510-0772.
The souq consists of many sub-souqs: Gold, clothing, fabric, traditional Bedouin robes, spices, fish and meat, perfumes, bkhoor, along with alleys for open-air restaurants, sweet shops, camping supplies, cosmetics (entire basement area dedicated to an international assortment of stuff) and specialty shops of many other kinds. It is also one of the few places remaining in Kuwait where you can buy traditional Bedouin weavings.
I've had visitors to Kuwait who only wanted to by T-shirts as gifts for friends back home. Unfortunately, it is REALLY hard to find T-shirts our souvenirs that have anything to do with "Kuwait" on them (even at the airport). It's kinda weird, but true. On my first trip to Kuwait (and again later when I moved here), all I was interested in bringing as gifts were traditional Kuwait items. You can find anything traditionally Kuwaiti at Mubarakiya.
You can always just go downtown to Mubarakiya by yourself and look around (especially now that the weather is great!). Google Map of Mubarakia HERE with attractions.
Trip Advisor Reviews of Mubarakiya HERE (including photos)
Life in Kuwait Blog posted this on February 1st: The Annual Mubarakiya Expo started today (Feb 1, 2015) and will continue until February 9 at Souk Mubarakiya. Local small businesses will have tables set up selling their items in support for small business and Hala February festivals. Al Mubarakiya website (End)
Bazaar Magazine also has an article and photos Mubarakiya this month. Check out their story HERE.