Culture of Kuwait

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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] Theatre activities are still popular today.[3] Theatrical activities in Kuwait began in the 1920s when the first spoken dramas were released.[4]


Kuwait has the oldest modern arts movement in the Arabian Peninsula.[5] Beginning in 1936, Kuwait was the first Gulf country to grant scholarships in the arts.[5] The Kuwaiti artist Mojeb al-Dousari was the earliest recognized visual artist in the Gulf region.[6] He is regarded as the founder of portrait art in the region.[7] 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.[8][9] Khalifa Al-Qattan was the first Kuwaiti artist to hold a single artist art exhibition in Kuwait. He founded a new art theory in the early 1960s known as "circulism".[10][11] The most prominent female Kuwaiti artists are Thuraya Al-Baqsami and Suzan Bushnaq.

Before the Gulf War, Kuwait was the capital of arts and culture in the Gulf region.[12][13] The arts scene struggled to rebuild after the Gulf War.[12] In recent years, there has been a revival in the arts scene. Kuwait is currently regarded as having the second most lively arts scene in the Gulf, second to Dubai.[14][15][16]

Soap operas[edit]

Kuwaiti soap operas (المسلسلات الكويتية) are the among the most-watched soap operas in the Arab world.[17][18] Although usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, some Kuwaiti soap operas have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia.[19]


Kuwait has approximately 40 museums.

Music & Dance[edit]

See also: Music of Kuwait

Traditional Kuwaiti music is derived from Kuwait's seafaring heritage.[20][21] The Kuwaiti pearl diving tradition is known for songs called "Fidjeri".[22][23] "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 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. Kuwaiti music reflects the diverse influences of many peoples on the culture of Kuwait,[24] including Indians and East Africans.

Kuwait is known as the center for "sawt", a bluesy style of music made popular in the 1970s.


Kuwait was the pioneer of contemporary music in the Gulf.[25][26][27] Kuwaitis were the first commercial recording artists in the Gulf.[28][29][30] Abdallah Al Rowaished, Nawal El Kuwaiti, Abdul Kareem Abdul-Qader and Nabeel Shoail are the most prominent modern performers.

Kuwait has a reputation for being the central music influence of the GCC countries. Over the last decade of satellite TV stations, there has been a stream of Kuwaiti musicians that have been successful in reaching other Arab countries. Bashar Al Shatty became famous after appearing in Star Academy.


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.[31]

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.


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reviving Kuwait's theatre industry". BBC News. 
  2. ^ Popular Culture in the Arab World: Arts, Politics, and the Media. p. 277. 
  3. ^ a b The World of Theatre: An Account of the Theatre Seasons 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99. p. 147. 
  4. ^ The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: The Arab world. 
  5. ^ a b Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art & Architecture: Three-Volume Set. p. 405. 
  6. ^ "Correcting misconceptions of the Gulf’s modern art movement". 
  7. ^ "Kuwait". 
  8. ^ "Mapping Arab Art through the Sultan Gallery". 
  9. ^ "The Sultan Gallery - Kristine Khouri". 
  10. ^ "Khalifa Qattan, Founder of Circulism". 
  11. ^ "Sheik of the Artists: Khalifa Qattan and Circulism (video project)". 
  12. ^ a b "Young faces enliven Kuwait's faded art scene". 
  13. ^ "Cultural developments in Kuwait" (PDF). p. 81. 
  14. ^ "Kuwait". 
  15. ^ "Kuwait City’s 10 Stunning Contemporary Art Galleries". 
  16. ^ "Collaboration A Must To Revive Arts Scene". 
  17. ^ Fattahova, Nawara (12 July 2014). "Entertainment gets soapy during Ramadan in Kuwait". Kuwait Times. 
  18. ^ "First Kuwaiti horror movie to be set in ‘haunted’ palace". Kuwait Times. Kuwait’s TV soaps and theatrical plays are among the best in the region and second most popular after Egypt in the Middle East. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "Kuwait’s musical heritage: The heartbeat of a nation". 
  21. ^ "Hidden Treasures: Reflections on Traditional Music in Kuwait". 
  22. ^ "Ya Bahr". 
  23. ^ "The Innerworkings of Kuwaiti Pearl Diving: Ghazi AlMulaifi". 
  24. ^ "Ya Bahr". 
  25. ^ "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area". 
  26. ^ "Performing the Past: Sea Music in the Arab Gulf States". 
  27. ^ "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area (2)". 
  28. ^ "Performing the Past: Sea Music in the Arab Gulf States". p. 99. 
  29. ^ "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area". 
  30. ^ "The History of Recording in the Gulf Area (2)". 
  31. ^ "القرقاعون من أهم الاحتفالات الرمضانية الشعبية في مملكة البحرين". Bahrain News Agency. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.