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Culture of Kuwait

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Kuwaiti popular culture, in the form of dialect poetry, film, theatre, radio and television soap opera, flourishes and is even exported to neighboring states.[1][2] Within the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, the culture of Kuwait is the closest to the culture of Bahrain.[3] Kuwait is widely considered the cultural capital of the Gulf Arab region,[4] frequently dubbed the "Hollywood of the Gulf" due to the popularity of its Arabic television soap operas and theatre.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

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

Soap operas

Kuwaiti soap operas are the most-watched soap operas in the Gulf Arab region.[20][21] Most Gulf soap operas are based in Kuwait.[22][23] Although usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia.[24] 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. Darb El Zalag, Khalti Gmasha, and Ruqayya wa Sabika are among the most important television productions in the Gulf Arab region.[25]


Kuwait is known for its home-grown tradition of theatre.[26] Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf Arab with a theatrical tradition.[27] The theatrical movement in Kuwait constitutes a major part of the country's cultural life.[28] Theatrical activities in Kuwait began in the 1920s when the first spoken dramas were released.[29] Theatre activities are still popular today.[28] 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.[30] 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.


Kuwait has the oldest modern arts movement in the Arabian Peninsula.[31] Beginning in 1936, Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to grant scholarships in the arts.[31] The Kuwaiti artist Mojeb al-Dousari was the earliest recognized visual artist in the Gulf region.[32] He is regarded as the founder of portrait art in the region.[33] 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 professional Arab art gallery in the Gulf Arab region.[34][35] 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".[36][37] 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.[38] In the 1970s, many writers in the Arab world moved to Kuwait to make use of the freedom of expression.[39] 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,[40][41] which is known for songs called "Fidjeri".[42][43] "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.[44][45][46] Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists in the Gulf region.[44][45][46] 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.[47]

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. 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.

Basketball is one of the country's most popular sports.[48] 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.

The Kuwait national handball team is controlled by the Kuwait Handball Association. 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.

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.[49] Kuwait was re-admitted into the IIHF in May 2009.[50] In 2015, Kuwait won the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.[51][52]

See also


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