Culture of Kuwait

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The culture of Kuwait is well known for its cosmopolitanism.[1]

Al-Hashemi-II Marine Museum in Kuwait City. Demonstrates the founding of Kuwait as a sea port for merchants.

Arts, Music & Dance[edit]

Front and rear views of an Oud.
See also: Music of Kuwait

The Kuwait pearl diving tradition is known for the songs called Fidjeri. Fidjeri is a musical repertoire performed traditionally by male pearl divers of Kuwait. It involves singing, clapping, drums and dances with earthen water jars. Liwa is a type of music and dance performed mainly in communities which contain descendants of East Africans. Kuwaiti music reflects the diverse influences of many peoples on the culture of Kuwait, including Swahili and Indian music. Khaleeji is a style of folk music from the Persian Gulf area, played in Kuwait with polyrhythms. The style is strongly influenced by the music of Africa and southern Persia.

Tabla player Ustad Munawar Khan at the 8th International Music Festival in Kuwait

"Al Arda Al Bahariya" is a well-known Kuwaiti sailor song, as are the al-Nahma, a class of songs that accompanied many sailing activities.

Kuwait is known as the center for sawt, a bluesy style of music made popular in the 1970s. The music of Kuwait follows the traditional mode. It is elaborate and repetitive. It is played on the oud (an ancestor of the lute) and the Rebaba (a one-stringed instrument). Kuwait also has a folk dance tradition.

Kuwait has a reputation for being the central musical influence of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Over the last decade of satellite TV stations, there has been a stream of Kuwaiti pop bands that have been successful in reaching other Arab countries with their unique style of pop. Bashar Al Shatty is the most famous young Kuwaiti artist after his appearing in star academy the first season an he gained the second runner.

The people of Kuwait are also known for their craftsmanship skills, the boats used for fishing and pearling, being an example of this craftsmanship.


See also: Gargee'an

Qarqe'an is an annual celebration, observed in Kuwait, that takes place on the 15th night of Sha'ban and on the 15th night of Ramadan. Gerga'oon is marked with children dressing in traditional attire and going door-to-door to receive sweets from neighbours, whilst also singing traditional songs. The tradition has existed for hundreds of years and deeply rooted in Kuwaiti culture.[2]

Although the celebration of Qarqe'an shares superficial similarities with the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating, practiced in some western countries, Qarqe'an has no connection with horror and no associated origin with Halloween.


The Kuwaiti culture, just like many other cultures, takes great pride in hospitality. Guests in people homes are treated with great warmth and respect. Host exhibit their polished manners and expect the same back. The Kuwaiti culture takes a great pride in hospitality.


The Wafra Market.

Food plays a large part in Kuwaiti culture.


The Dewaniya has existed in Kuwait since time immemorial. In the old city of Kuwait it was the reception area where a man received his business colleagues and male guests. Today the term refers both to a reception hall and the gathering held in it, and visiting or hosting a dewaniya is an indispensable feature of a Kuwaiti man’s social life.

Dewaniya became a fundamental part of Kuwaiti life. Hence, it has become a mark in their traditional daily life.


The Dewaniya served an important purpose in the development of Kuwait over the last 250 years by facilitating quick communication and consensus building among other things. There are many type of Dewaniyas that have evolved from the original archetype and they differ only in terms of the groups they serve and the level of formality.

The Dewaniyas are the core of Kuwait’s social, business and political life, the places where topics of interest are discussed, associates introduced, alliances formed, and similar networking activities undertaken. Formal Dewaniya's may be convened to discuss particular topics, sometimes with invited guest speakers. They are also called for particular purposes, such as election campaigns. Formal Dewaniyas are the root of Kuwait’s consensual political system.


Dewaniya has several types, private, public and family. The private is just for close friends who usually gather daily and public are fixed with a weekly timing where anyone can visit, while family dewaniya, is an official gathering of prominent family, where all people can come and meet the family members.

Family Dewan or Dewaniya[edit]

This was the original form of the Dewaniya that started when each family (only a handful in the 18th century) very known as the Family Dewan would set up an extension to their main home to host guests and discuss important issues. This would also be the place that wedding ceremonies and funeral rites would be held for the male side of the family. The elders of the family are usually in attendance and sit at the head of what is usually a U-shaped hall to welcome guests and lead the discussions.

Political Dewaniya[edit]

These Dewaniya's are a relatively recent development of the 20th century when Kuwaitis started seeking political rights and more representation in a system that had become more skewed towards an absolutist rule by the Emir in contrast to the more participatory consensual system that existed earlier. Its considered as a public Dewaniya.

Casual Dewaniya[edit]

These Dewaniya's are usually organized by groups of friends of the same age group on one member's property. This type is usually the most relaxed with participants playing cards, Janjifa like Koutbo6, smoking Shisha (sometimes called the Hookah) or watching football games and other sports. Its considered as a private Dewaniya.


Most Dewaniya's start after the sunset till midnight the whole year round and recently it started having a break in summer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [page needed]Paul D. Kennedy (2004). "5.1". Doing Business with Kuwait. GMB Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-905050-60-7. 
  2. ^ "القرقاعون من أهم الاحتفالات الرمضانية الشعبية في مملكة البحرين". Bahrain News Agency. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.