Picture this : It’s Friday and its your day-off from work . You wanted to make some pancakes and checking out your pantry you realized that you ran out of eggs & your box of milk is not enough to make a batter. You quickly get loose coins and head on to the elevator to go to the Bakala right in front of your building .Easy peasy right? Very convenient! Even better , you just call them to deliver !
If you are an Expat in Kuwait, it is for sure that you have a favorite Bakala around in your neighborhood. It’s totally a Kuwaiti thing. I have never seen a Bakala version in the neighborhood in the Netherlands or in Europe.
Bakala is a mini-store, a version of a supermarket , a one stop shop that sits on almost every block all over Kuwait. You can even find a Bakala before you get lost in the vast desert near Wafra , Julaiah, and further most of Sulaibiya. Normally its located on the corner of a building , right next to residential flats, right in front of the mosque [masjid ] or across from the busy streets in the city. It’s uniquely tucked in or adjacent to main shops. Its size is so incredibly small and packed up with various goods.
They sell fruits, bread, milk, soap, soda drinks of all kinds, cigarettes, and even toys for the Little ones. You can find everyday staples in here. Their door is decorated with inflatables or stuff animals that eventually attracts the kids playing in the streets. My favorite is their KDD ice creams in cones. Here, people normally just honk their cars and the storekeeper comes to get their orders. Like a take-away in restaurants that you don’t need to get out from your car. They even deliver goods right to your doorsteps if you are too lazy to go out. I often ordered boxes of our drinking water from the Bakala right down in our building.They have Phonto pay system for your mobile & internet bills, as well as recharging system.
Once i moved to Kuwait, i noticed the existence of Bakala is quite part of Arab culture.Every Bakala has a distinct identify . Some are really decorated well, some are so tiny that only 1 person can get inside. Normally in every municipality in Kuwait there is a nearby Coop Shops which is subsidized by the local government. This place is frequently visited by Kuwaitis, other Arabs and Expats too. But also, array of Bakalas to choose from. What surprised me is that i found Filipino stuff in their shelves, like noodles,sardines, soy sauce and even vegetables!
If Sari-Sari store stores exists in Philippines, then this is their local version. The only thing that differs is that in Philippines, they are privately owned by families, they don’t deliver to houses and they accepts credit. In Bakala, you can only pay by cash, or by K-net ( or Debit card /electronic payment ) for some subscription bills .Whenever i miss something from my groceries, i can always rely to the Bakala . A total lifesaver.
What about you, do you find any fascinating things in your new country ? If you like this post,please feel free to leave your comments.
If you are planning to move in Kuwait then you might find more interesting Expat views of Kuwait in my post “Kuwait : from an Expat point of View “ post .You will know more about Culture shock and Typically Kuwait things we found while living here.
Until then and thank you for stopping by and reading !
5 thoughts on “Bakala , 711 of the Desert”
This reminds me of the “épiceries” in France, every street corner. They’re often run by arabs, too. (My first time in France I was confused by the name since épice means spice. But they’re more like tiny grocery stores.) Very handy!
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Definitely there are spices too in the Bakalas in Kw! They are so abundant as chips and soft drinks too !
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I was researching about bakalas for a personal project and was in such shock when I came across this image because the bakala with storekeeper used to be where I lived! He was the such a special person, we grew up around that bakala! he moved out of Kuwait a few years ago. But what a pleasant surprise!