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Kuwait City History, Kuwait

The first thing that automatically comes to mind when you mention the City of Kuwait or any other place in the Middle East, are sun blasted desserts, nomads on camel back, oil, and war. Very few people know that this rich and vibrant city has been one of the greatest centers of trade in the Middle East. It has a history that moves far beyond the established clich├ęs or misconceptions about the Middle Eastern nations.

When one looks at the bustling metropolis of modern high rise buildings, luxury hotels, parks, boulevards and its thriving seaport, it is hard to believe that the City of Kuwait started as nothing more than a cluster of trading tents in the 8th century. Trade flourished and in the early 19th century it became a thriving trading port. It was during the reign of Sheikh Mubarak al-Sabah al-Sabah, commonly known as Mubarak the Great, who ruled from 1896 to 1915 that the agreement with the British for protection was established. In exchange Kuwait became a British protectorate; this lasted for the next two hundred years.

The discovery that Kuwait was literally floating in oil was made during the 1930’s. This allowed the economy to skyrocket and Kuwait no longer required British aid. In June 1961, it established itself as an independent sheikhdom. In 1961, Kuwait became the founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It also provided financial aid to its neighboring nations and by the late 1960s and 1970s over 90 per cent of the country's income was brought about by oil.

It was in August of 1990 that Iraq, under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. The dictator claimed the state to be an Iraqi province, and accused it of stealing oil from Iraq's oil reserves. The resulting war waged with Iraq and Kuwait with military aid from the United States of America ravaged the country and devastated the economy. Almost all infrastructure of the capital, including basic foundations like roads and bridges were destroyed. The city was stripped bare of its landmarks, and historic monuments like the Kuwaiti Towers and the National Museum suffered a lot of damage. It was in 1991 that Kuwait was finally liberated, fire to 80 per cent of its oil wells were destroyed by the Iraqi army.

It was mainly through its oil exports and post-war efforts by the government and the Arab and Western forces that helped Kuwait City get back on its feet. More than five billion dollars was spent to repair oil infrastructures that were damaged during the Gulf War.

Today the city is host to high-class international hotels, malls, restaurants and different entertainment venues. It has a flourishing tourism industry and a growing economy. With changes taking place in economics, politics and society, Kuwait is on its way to an independent and prosperous future.

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    New York, NY (JFK)  Kuwait, KW (KWI)
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