Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I have only been to Kuwait once and it was a fantastic experience. We were, for the most part, stuck in really bad sand storms and hugely windy conditions: far from ideal for shooting travel stock imagery. One morning we were up at 5am to get the early morning light only to find once at the corniche the weather was deteriorating and we could not continue as planned. We crossed a street and found a historical building and “diwaniya” where around 25 men were congregating to talk and have breakfast and coffee together.
No Kuwaiti women would ever be invited to this sort of ‘male’ event but as two western women, we were graciously invited in, plied with chocolate cake (breakfast!) and arabian coffee in traditional cups. We sat next to an elderly man and due to language barriers the communication was difficult. I asked him where he was from as I guessed it was a sentence he would understand: “My country” came the gorgeous response.
Another day in our 4 day stock photography trip, I was shooting a man outside a colourful mosque. I thought I was doing it casually enough to not be noticed. Not so, he swung round, posed for a portrait and invited our crew back to meet his family. We met all his children, his wife and extended family. We spent a good hour there, and they trusted us enough to let us photograph them with the promise no photos would ever published.
Over my decade in the Middle East, I have never heard that many positive things said by foreigners with regards to Kuwait. The gripes usually centre around the fact it’s “boring” or “dry”. Perhaps so if you live there but I found an extreme human warmth for the few days I was there and was repeatedly asked into strangers’ homes with my fellow photographer and taxi driver.