Culture of Kuwait

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

An outline of the culture of Kuwait:

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


Kuwait is known for its home-grown tradition of theatre.[1] Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf with a theatrical tradition.[2] The theatrical movement in Kuwait constitutes a major part of the country's cultural life.[3] Theatrical activities in Kuwait began in the 1920s when the first spoken dramas were released.[4] Theatre activities are still popular today.[3] Abdulhussain Abdulredha is the most prominent actor. Bye Bye London and Saif al Arab are among the most important theatrical productions in the region.

In 1975, the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts was founded by the government to provide higher education in theatrical arts. The institute has several divisions. Many actors have graduated from the institute, such as Souad Abdullah, Mohammed Khalifa, Mansour Al-Mansour, along with a number of prominent critics such as Ismail Fahd Ismail.

Soap operas[edit]

Kuwaiti soap operas (المسلسلات الكويتية) are the most-watched soap operas in the Gulf region.[5] They are the second most-watched soap operas in the Arab world (after Egypt).[5] Although usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia.[6] Soap operas have become important national pastimes in Kuwait. They are most popular during the time of Ramadan, when families gather to break their fast. Most Gulf soap operas are based in Kuwait.[7] Darb El Zalag, Khalti Gmasha, and Ruqayya wa Sabika are among the most important television productions in the Gulf region.


Kuwait has the oldest modern arts movement in the Arabian Peninsula.[8] Beginning in 1936, Kuwait was the first Gulf country to grant scholarships in the arts.[8] The Kuwaiti artist Mojeb al-Dousari was the earliest recognized visual artist in the Gulf region.[9] He is regarded as the founder of portrait art in the region.[10] In 1943, al-Dousari launched Kuwait's first art gallery.

Kuwait is home to more than 20 art galleries. The Sultan Gallery was the first art gallery in the Gulf region.[11][12] Khalifa Al-Qattan was the first Kuwaiti artist to hold a solo artist exhibition in Kuwait. He founded a new art theory in the early 1960s known as "circulism".[13][14] Other notable Kuwaiti artists include Sami Mohammad, Thuraya Al-Baqsami and Suzan Bushnaq.

Kuwait was the pioneer of literary movement in the region. In 1958, Al Arabi magazine was first published, the magazine went on to become the most popular magazine in the Arab world.[15] In the 1970s, many writers in the Arab world moved to Kuwait to make use of the freedom of expression.[16] Ismail Fahd Ismail was one of the first Kuwaiti writers to achieve success in the Arab world. Taleb al-Refai, Laila al-Othman, A. H. Almaas, Taibah Al-Ibrahim, Najma Idrees, and Fatimah Yousif al-Ali are also among the pioneer writers.


See also: Music of Kuwait

Traditional Kuwaiti music is derived from the country's seafaring heritage,[17][18] which is known for songs called "Fidjeri".[19][20] "Fidjeri" is a musical repertoire performed traditionally by pearl divers. "Liwa" is a type of music and dance performed mainly by Kuwaitis of East African ancestry. "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 regionally known as the center for "sawt", a bluesy style of music made popular in the 1970s. Kuwait pioneered contemporary music in the Gulf.[21][22][23] Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists in the Gulf region.[22][21][23] Abdallah Al Rowaished, Nawal El Kuwaiti, Abdul Kareem Abdul-Qader, and Nabeel Shoail are the most prominent contemporary performers.


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. Gergee'an 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.[24]

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.


Seafood has been the mainstay of Kuwaiti cuisine for centuries.


Kuwait has more than thirty museums.


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.


Main article: Sport in Kuwait
Jaber Stadium is the largest stadium in Kuwait.

Football is the most popular sport in Kuwait. The Kuwait Football Association (KFA) is the governing body of football in Kuwait. The KFA organises the men's, women's, and futsal national teams. The Kuwaiti Premier League is the top league of Kuwaiti football, featuring eighteen teams. Kuwait is one of Asia's most successful footballing nations. They have been the champions of the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, runners-up of the 1976 AFC Asian Cup, and have taken third place of the 1984 AFC Asian Cup. Kuwait has also been to one FIFA World Cup, in 1982, but tied 1-1 with Czechoslovakia on the first round. Kuwait is home to many football clubs including Al-Arabi, Al-Fahaheel, Al-Jahra, Al-Kuwait, Al-Naser, Al-Salmiya, Al-Shabab, Al Qadsia, Al-Yarmouk, Kazma, Khaitan, Sulaibikhat, Sahel, and Tadamon. The biggest football rivalry in Kuwait is between Al-Arabi and Al Qadsia.

The Kuwait national handball team is controlled by the Kuwait Handball Association. It is regarded as one of the most successful national handball teams in Asia and the Arab World. Kuwait has achieved handball success at both the national and club level. The sport is widely considered to be the national icon of Kuwait, although football is more popular among the overall population. Kuwait is also the founding member of the Asian Handball Federation, the Asian Championship and Club Champions League.

The Kuwait national basketball team is governed by the Kuwait Basketball Association (KBA). Kuwait made its international debut in 1959. The national team has been to the FIBA Asian Championship in basketball eleven times. The Kuwaiti Division I Basketball League is the highest professional basketball league in Kuwait. Cricket in Kuwait is governed by the Kuwait Cricket Association. Other growing sports include rugby union.

Hockey in Kuwait is governed by the Kuwait Ice Hockey Association. Kuwait first joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1985, but was expelled in 1992 due to a lack of ice hockey activity.[25] Kuwait was re-admitted into the IIHF in May 2009.[26] In 2015, Kuwait won the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watson, Katie (18 December 2010). "Reviving Kuwait's theatre industry". BBC News. 
  2. ^ Hammond, Andrew (2007). Popular Culture in the Arab World: Arts, Politics, and the Media. Cario, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press. p. 277. ISBN 9789774160547. 
  3. ^ a b Herbert, Ian; Leclercq, Nicole, eds. (2000). "An Account of the Theatre Seasons 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99". The World of Theatre (2000 ed.). London: Taylor & Francis. p. 147. ISBN 9780415238663. 
  4. ^ Rubin, Don, ed. (1999). "Kuwait". The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre. Volume 4: The Arab world. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 143. ISBN 9780415059329. 
  5. ^ a b Fattahova, Nawara (26 March 2015). "First Kuwaiti horror movie to be set in ‘haunted’ palace". Kuwait Times. 
  6. ^ Mansfield, Peter (1990). Kuwait: vanguard of the Gulf. Hutchinson. p. 113. Some Kuwaiti soap operas have become extremely popular and, although they are usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia. 
  7. ^ Clive Holes (2004). "Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties". p. 75. 
  8. ^ a b Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art & Architecture: Three-Volume Set. p. 405. 
  9. ^ Al Qassemi, Sultan Sooud (22 November 2013). "Correcting misconceptions of the Gulf’s modern art movement". Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East. 
  10. ^ "Kuwait". Atelier Voyage. 
  11. ^ Kristine Khouri. "Mapping Arab Art through the Sultan Gallery". ArteEast. 
  12. ^ "The Sultan Gallery - Kristine Khouri". 
  13. ^ "Khalifa Qattan, Founder of Circulism". 
  14. ^ "Sheik of the Artists: Khalifa Qattan and Circulism (video project)". 
  15. ^ Sajjad, Valiya S. "Kuwait Literary Scene A Little Complex". Arab Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. A magazine, Al Arabi, was published in 1958 in Kuwait. It was the most popular magazine in the Arab world. It came out it in all the Arabic countries, and about a quarter million copies were published every month. 
  16. ^ Gunter, Barrie; Dickinson, Roger, eds. (2013). News Media in the Arab World: A Study of 10 Arab and Muslim Countries. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 24. ISBN 9781441102393. 
  17. ^ "Kuwait’s musical heritage: The heartbeat of a nation". 
  18. ^ "Hidden Treasures: Reflections on Traditional Music in Kuwait". 
  19. ^ "Ya Bahr". 
  20. ^ "The Innerworkings of Kuwaiti Pearl Diving: Ghazi AlMulaifi". 
  21. ^ a b Mustafa Said. "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area". 
  22. ^ a b Laith Ulaby. "Performing the Past: Sea Music in the Arab Gulf States". p. 99. 
  23. ^ a b Mustafa Said. "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area (2)". 
  24. ^ "القرقاعون من أهم الاحتفالات الرمضانية الشعبية في مملكة البحرين". Bahrain News Agency. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  25. ^ Szemberg, Szymon; Podnieks, Andrew (2008). "Story #42;Breakup of old Europe creates a new hockey world". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  26. ^ "Welcome, Georgia & Kuwait". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  27. ^ "Kuwait wins IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia". 12 June 2015. 
  28. ^ "Kuwait top ice hockey Challenge Cup". 12 June 2015.