The Corniche

Salmiya, Kuwait City, Kuwait

This is the first place that I am taking you in Kuwait because if you are anything like I was you have absolutely no idea what to expect from this city. It’s kind of fun going somewhere that is that new, somewhere that brings no pre-conceptions to your mind. Since I was so young during the Gulf War, any images I might have seen of the area have been long wiped away by war images of other countries in the region.
I arrived in the country at night and had some administrative details to sort during the day, so when I went down to the Corniche in the evening it was the first real glimpse I got of the people and the place. The Corniche is a pathway that goes around most of the bay in the city, about 12 miles or so. Men and women come here in the evenings in droves. Most of the shops shut down in the afternoon because of the heat, but the city comes alive again in the evening and the waterfront is the place to be. People stay out here having picnics on the beach and playing at the waterfront fun parks until all hours of the night.
In general, Kuwaiti women are much more covered than Jordanian Women. I got used to just seeng the eyes of women as they passed. But on the Corniche, and especially in Salmiya, things got a little racier. Well, racey for Kuwait. This means I saw some tank tops and shorts and, honestly, it was weird for me to see so much skin in public! There are more Westerners in Kuwait than in Jordan, and that influence is seen at the water. The area that we were was packed full of American restaurants and American shops and I hate to admit that I took a bit of cultural comfort in being around the familiar for the first time in a while.
It was great to be out in a mix of people. Women in their full Abiya’s out walking with their kids or husband, ladies jogging by in their tight clothes, but nobody really minding what the other was doing. I took refuge in the break that the water provided from the other sea that waited for me across the path, the sea of buildings and honking taxis. I took refuge in this peaceful evening and felt very recharged for my week ahead in Kuwait.