This is the image I captured during my numerous visits in the Old Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait. Vendors normally sits in vain, helplessly killing the time and enormously looking so bored waiting for costumers to passed by, if luck comes by, buy some goods that they sell.
It is so true, a picture says a thousand words…the face, the expressions shows a myriad of mysterious cloud of thoughts, feelings and emotions. No one, but only the old man knows what he is thinking.
Have you ever wondered how you looked when you are waiting for something?
This post is inspired by this week’s WPC Photo Challenge |Waiting
Typical sight inside the Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait, during the not-so busy times inside the wet market. Almost half of this old man’s life is spent as Expat in Kuwait, inside the souk working as a vendor and rumbling in the streets of Kuwait City. “Baba” whom I fondly called him as I haggle for the fresh vegetables he is selling. Like the story of one Tea Boy ,life goes on like this, counting the days where a certain “magic”could happen and change the course of his routine, in his life spent as a modern nomad , or also known as Expat.
Do you like visiting wet markets? What fascinates you the most?
Last Saturday, we headed to Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait with excitement . There’s something about this old souk’s flair that keep us coming back . Locally known as Mubarakiya, this place is a market melting pot in Kuwait. It is the true testimony ofKuwait in the PAST and now a center of a NEW Kuwait. No wonder people come back after visits to this important Icon of Kuwait, from locals to visitors, to merchants & Expats . Souk Mubarakiya is still an authentic magnet. Here’s Why;
Walking into a Legacy of Old Times
Looking back,over 200 years ago, a market was created in the Al-Mubarakiya area as a center for vendors to showcase their produce in a raw, non-commercial way. The Souq – market – soon became a cultural hub,frequently visited by different nationalities, catering to the needs of every visitor, whether for the weekly grocery shop or simply an idle outing to a space bursting with tradition and vividness. With Sheikh Mubarak Al Kabeer’s Kiosk in the center of it all, people were able to openly communicate their hopes, dreams, and worries to their leader. Soon enough, a little further down the road from the Kiosk, a Diwaniya was born. The Diwaniya became – and still is – a place for the country’s elders to meet and discuss everything from social issues to the coming elections. Past the Diwaniya, one of Kuwait’s oldest Post Offices can be found. Standing tall, the original majestic doors were preserved, along with a beautiful blue and white post box. Further still, the gates and marker for the Mubarakiya School – a 100 year-old institution of education. Currently open as an exhibition and celebration of academia, the school welcomes visitors from Monday to Saturday. The old Souk was damaged during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, however it was renovated and it got back its traditional flavor. The market also hosts two mini museums: Sheikh Mubarak Kiosk and the first Islamic pharmacy in Kuwait, and admission is free.
There is a courtyard near Al-Bahar or Sea Mosque, where you can find traditional cafes brewing their teas over coals, and several small restaurants are lined-up where they serve authentic Arabic, Indian, Persian food to the customers in the open air. The prices are the cheapest in Kuwait. On hot summer days, water mist is sprayed from pipes over the tables to give you a cooling feeling. A children playground is nearby and smoking Sheeshais also available.
Walking through the Souk Mubarakiya allows you to learn about this country’s rich culture, you will be transported way back to the old times at the same time appreciating the fusion of modern cultures that made this market survived until now. I love the fact that as an Expat, I was able to see how the old souk courtyards look like. Reading about it from a book is totally different from actually seeing it.
A Patchwork of Revolutionary Trends
If you’ve never see the new face of Souk Mubarakiya, you will be amazed of its bold changes. Now part of the Souk had a modern facelift. A Mubarakiya with a twist. The birth of SoMu ( stands for South Mubarakiya )signals a new beginning, a Hybrid of cultural diversity abreast with the worlds latest trends. As this country is continually growing , SoMu shows that Kuwait’s Souk Mubarakiya is ready for change .With a revolutionary design approach known as Thouq , from the bright minds of AhmadAl-Ghanim and Bader Al Hejailan , they bring out an impressive idea of a concept store. They have a vision of turning this place into a hub for Arts,Culture and Fashion.
For longest time I have been living here, when i stepped into SoMu Square, I thought for a minute that I am in another place. The hip new look of the place reminds me so much of the market places I have seen in Europe.
Once your feet landed on these striking wall with a huge mural which spells “I love you Kuwait” in Arabic. Opposite is a Banksy style mural of a man in national dress, throwing a bouquet of flowers in lieu of a Molotov cocktail. This is a best exmple of a national pride.
In the center of SoMu center is a beautiful Gazebo, arrayed with a bandstand of plants and greenery that reminds you of Paris or London. As you look around, you feast your eyes on variousn quaint cafes and quirky restaurants with outdoors seating areas spilling onto the square. Everyone is smiling and it’s no surprise. Such a cozy atmosphere. Everyone is out & enjoying the sun.
I am so glad I found this hidden gem .This is the kind of area I want to bring my best of friends, hanging out and chilling with an iced mint coffee in hand, having great conversations or indulge into home baked goodies in a rose perfumed Parisian style salon. Everything about Thouq square is breathing aunthenticity as well as quality.
What’s so amazing about Souk Mubarakiya is that its a labyrynth of culture. As you continue to explore the streets, you will be brought again to another dimension.You can spend hours in this market strolling around and discovering reasonable bargains on heritage goods such as Persian silk carpets, real Arab antiques, perfumes like musk and oud, and traditional costumes. This place is perfect whether you want to shop, eat, or for sightseeing. Al-Mubarakiya features a variety of shops such as dates, honey, spices, sweets, vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish. In addition to a range of shops accessories, gold and silver jewelries.
You’ll always find something or another to entertain you while you’re there. Get lost in the markets and enjoy the intertwining stalls – take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the markets. From sibah – prayer beads – to fresh date kiosks, you can purchase absolutely everything in the souk. You just can’t go home empty-handed!
So if you’re in K-town and looking for a worthwhile 2 hours of your time, then i highly recommend a visit to Souk Mubarakiya. At night this place into something else. The newly renovated ceilings with sparkling lights gives this place a lively vibe. There’s so much fun and highlights in this place especially now that the Hala February Festival (Kuwait’s National Day ) is finally on. Make sure you mark your calendars & include this in one of your family outings. Don’t worry about your Little ones, they will for sure enjoy the spacious playground just in front of the open-air restaurants.
I hope you have a wonderful time visiting Souk Mubarakiya.
Do you find this post interesting? What do you like about the culture of Kuwait?