Kuwait City Liberated - History

Kuwait City Liberated - History

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February 26, 1991

Third Day of Ground Attack

Destroyed Iraqi Armor

The third day of the war saw the largest tank battle in history. The American armored forces engaged the tank forces of the Republican guard. The American tanks completely destroyed the Iraqi heavy armor without losing a single tank. During the third day, the Iraqi army began a headlong retreat from Kuwait and southern Iraq. That retreat was cut off by Allied aircraft. Iraqis were told to leave their vehicles and retreat by foot. Their vehicles were destroyed from the air. That night, Allied troops liberated Kuwait City.

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Tourists can fly into Kuwait City through Kuwait International Airport and local taxis facilitate travel around the city. Kuwait Towers are the first obvious attractions to see in Kuwait City and are the unofficial symbol of Kuwait. Swedes designed the towers but the building was done by the Yugoslavs and is extremely interesting in every aspect. The Liberation Tower boasts as one of the world’s tallest and most famous telecommunication towers. However, tourists are not allowed to enter the tower except on National Day, February 25. The National Museum used to be very popular among tourists until most of its artifacts were taken away during war times. However, the museum is currently undergoing a major renovation and expected to make a major comeback. The Sadu House is located just next to the National Museum and the cultural museum is made of gypsum and coral and used for the protection of arts and crafts for the Bedouin society. The Bayt Al- Badr is one of the few houses standing today that showcases the old Kuwaiti architecture. Seif Palace is worthy of passing by and has a great interior featuring traditional Islamic tile work even though it seriously suffered during the Iraqi occupation era and entry is nowadays not allowed. The National Assembly is where Kuwaiti Parliament sits and is not open for the public let alone the tourists. Grand Mosque is yet another place worthy of a visit as well as the War Museum. The Fish Market is a bustling, giant market that is stocked with abundant fish and has a very clean interior. The entertainment city is an amusement park where families can go to have fun. The Scientific Center in Kuwait City has an aquarium and nature movies and a place for extreme fun. Other interesting areas in Kuwait City include the Sea Clubs, Liberation Monument, Science and Natural History Museum, Zoological Park, Municipal Gardens, and Musical Fountain. Some tourists go to Kuwait Towers to have dinner or lunch and it is quite a memorable experience. Kuwait City is recognized as a very safe place with very low crime rates despite the fact that it neighbors the war-torn country of Iraq. However, single female tourists should not risk walking around in some suburbs especially at night. Also, drivers in Kuwait City have a reputation of being very reckless and you should cross the streets carefully.

Liberation Tower, Kuwait City (must see)

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Kuwait City . Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Liberation Tower on Map

Walking Tours in Kuwait City, Kuwait

Kuwait City culture can be seen in its art and handicrafts. Many of the city’s museums and cultural centers are located on Gulf Road. The National Museum reflects the history and development of this wealthy country. There are also interesting museums set in houses displaying Bedouin art. Check out the most famous cultural spots in Kuwait City on this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles

Kuwait City is the biggest city in Kuwait and one of the most beautiful metropolises of the Middle Eastern, sitting on the shore of the Persian Bay. The history of Kuwait City abounds in trials and triumphs, and has left behind a variety of landmarks. Among them, rather unique in design, are the Kuwait Towers. There are also a plethora of wonderful mosques and many other historic and architectural. view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles

Kuwait City is a modern city that offers all kinds of shopping. There are modern shops and traditional souks, which are traditional Arab markets where patrons can bargain on many traditional goods, including rare spices. This self-guided tour will lead you through Kuwait City’s diverse shopping venues.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 Km or 4 Miles

There are many houses of worship in Kuwait City. There are beautiful mosques, shrines and even a Christian church, which is an unusual site in an Arab country. This self-guided tour will help you discover Kuwait City's places of worship.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles

Kuwait City is the biggest city in Kuwait and one of the most beautiful metropolises of the Middle Eastern, sitting on the shore of the Persian Bay. The history of Kuwait City abounds in trials and triumphs, and has left behind a variety of landmarks. Among them, rather unique in design, are the Kuwait Towers. There are also a plethora of wonderful mosques and many other historic and architectural. view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles

The coastline of Kuwait City is a very beautiful place. Besides its beautiful beaches, there are restaurants with wonderful views of the sea, a beautiful mosque and a small island with many things to offer. Take this self-guided tour and explore the attractions on the coast of Kuwait City.

With Iraqi resistance nearing collapse, Bush declared a ceasefire on February 28, ending the Persian Gulf War. Though the Gulf War was recognized as a decisive victory for the coalition, Kuwait and Iraq suffered enormous damage, and Saddam Hussein was not forced from power.

The Gulf War was the result of the aggression of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who tried to take over Kuwait in August 1990. As a response, the UN Security Council and NATO forces marshaled together a military coalition, led primarily by the United States.

Iran-Iraq War

The Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88 represented a serious threat to Kuwait’s security. Kuwait, fearing Iranian hegemony in the region, saw no alternative to providing Iraq with substantial financial support and serving as a vital conduit for military supplies. Iran attacked a Kuwaiti refinery complex in 1981, which inspired subsequent acts of sabotage in 1983 and 1986. In 1985 a member of the underground pro-Iranian Iraqi radical group al-Daʿwah attempted to assassinate the Kuwaiti ruler, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.

In September 1986 Iran began to concentrate its attacks on gulf shipping, largely on Kuwaiti tankers. This led Kuwait to invite both the Soviet Union (with which it had established diplomatic relations in 1963) and the United States to provide protection for its tankers in early 1987. The effect of the war was to promote closer relations with Kuwait’s conservative gulf Arab neighbours (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman), with whom Kuwait had formed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 in order to develop closer cooperation on economic and security issues. With the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations began to deteriorate. On August 2, 1990, Iraq unexpectedly invaded and conquered the country, precipitating the Persian Gulf War.

The Day Kuwait City Was Liberated After 42 Days Of War In Kuwait, On February 27, 1991.

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US Military Facilities in Kuwait - An Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier

During the two decades since U.S. and Coalition forces liberated Kuwait, a robust US presence -- military and civilian -- has become virtually a fixture in Kuwait. This posture has been encouraged by a welcoming host government that has seen its own long-term security linked to a significant USG presence, particularly on the military side.

The generally hospitable official Kuwaiti environment, expressed in material terms by over US$1.2 billion annually in such benefits as free access to bases, waived port and air support fees, customs waivers, subsidized fuel and other services, rendered Kuwait an indispensable ally in the conduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and the US presence in Kuwait significantly facilitated US operations in the AF/PAK theater. US military operational flexibility here was governed by the favorable terms of a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the Government of Kuwait signed in 1991 and extended for ten years in 2001 at the conclusion of the extension, the DCA continued in force indefinitely unless terminated by either side on one years' written notice.

But with 17 USG departments and agencies present as of 2010, the Government of Kuwait directly or indirectly supportd more than just the U.S. military (which had ten support locations in Kuwait, including ARCENT forward headquarters and the largest USG military logistics facility in the world), and upwards of 15-20K military personnel on the ground at any one time. Civilian support included funding positions for the Federal Highway Administration, a U.S. Customs team, a Coast Guard contingent of 117, and providing free land and a generous energy subsidy (at the same rate as that provided other USG agencies in Kuwait of .66 US cent/kw hour) for IBB operations that reach from Europe to Asia. The material support and general ease and flexibility of USG operations here -- from beaming radio and satellite programming well beyond the region, or being able to conduct realistic live-fire training at Kuwait's huge Udairi Range -- is irreplaceable, at least in the near term.

A US consulate was opened at Kuwait in October 1951 and was elevated to embassy status at the time of Kuwait's independence 10 years later. The United States supports Kuwait's sovereignty, security, and independence as well as closer cooperation among the GCC countries. In 1987, cooperation between the United States and Kuwait increased due to the implementation of the maritime protection regime to ensure freedom of navigation through the Gulf for 11 Kuwaiti tankers that were reflagged with US markings.

The US-Kuwaiti partnership reached dramatic new levels of cooperation after the Iraqi invasion in 1990. The United States assumed a leading role in the implementation of Operation Desert Shield. The United States led the UN Security Council to demand Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and authorize the use of force, if necessary, to remove Iraqi forces from the occupied country. The United States played a major role in the evolution of Desert Shield into Desert Storm, the multinational military operation to liberate the State of Kuwait. Eventually, the US provided the bulk of the troops and equipment that were used by the multinational coalition that liberated Kuwait.

The US-Kuwaiti relationship has remained strong in the post-war period. The United States has provided military and defense technical assistance to Kuwait from both foreign military sales (FMS) and commercial sources. All transactions have been made by direct cash sale. The US Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait is attached to the American Embassy and manages the FMS program. Principal US military systems currently purchased by the Kuwait Defense Forces are Patriot missile system, F-18 Hornet fighters, and the M1A2 Main Battle Tank.

The Army component of US Central Command (USCENTCOM), US Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT), maintains a forward presence in the region. Government-to-government agreements were negotiated with the Qatar and Kuwait to allow the prepositioning of military assets. The Army has met major milestones in its security strategy in the Middle East by completing a prepositioning facility in Qatar, and by the rapid pace of construction on a new installation in Kuwait. These facilities support USCENTCOM's efforts to protect US interests in this region in accordance with the National Security Strategy. US forces use these facilities under a variety of agreements, which include host nation involvement with providing and managing the facilities.

In Kuwait, field exchanges are becoming more permanent. In February 2003, Army and Air Force Exchange Service [AAFES] operated exchanges for the Army at Camp Doha and two nearby air bases. Tactical field exchanges - 40-foot trailers stocked with merchandise - were quickly added to the half-dozen Army staging camps north of Kuwait City, he said. By mid-2003 those trailers had been replaced by 3,000-square-foot prefabricated buildings. At Camp Arifjan, the Army's large logistical hub south of Kuwait City, AAFES operates a 24-hour exchange from a 10,000-square-foot festival tent. In Kuwait, business has been steady as troops heading north to Iraq stock up on favorites such as Gatorade, baby wipes, tobacco products and snacks, De Moss said. Then, troops redeploying from Iraq, no doubt craving one thing or another, hit the PX while waiting to ship home.

It was called the surge. The annual, heightened period of activity from December through April when tens of thousands of US and coalition forces travel through Kuwait on their way to and from Iraq. The influx of troops and equipment pushed Kuwait's U.S. military camps to their capacities, creating an atmosphere with all the activity, anticipation and long lines of a busy amusement park. But there was a method to the seeming madness. Despite their sometimes haphazard appearance, the ebb and flow of these troop rotations, the largest since World War II, was meticulously orchestrated by command cell staff of Kuwait's desert camps. Serving as innkeepers, landlords, and entertainment coordinators, they reacted to the constantly-evolving conditions on the ground to keep the gateway between the United States and the central front in the war on terror running smoothly.

Defense Energy Supply Center announced a one year contract for the period 1 March 2005 through February 28, 2005 (with two (2) six (6) month option periods). DESC reserves the right to reduce/delete transport trucks and change, add or modify transport truck origin points in Kuwait and delivery locations in Kuwait and Iraq as necessary. The services to be performed include transporting JP8 from the Mina Abdullah Truck Fill Stand (TFS) to Ali Al Saleem, Kuwait, Camp Buehring, Kuwait and Cedar II in Tallil, Iraq. DESC required 324 transport tank trucks with a minimum of 8,000 USG capacity and drivers to support military operations of up to 1,070,000 USG of Turbine Fuel, Aviation (JP8) per day from the Mina Abdullah Truck Fill Stand to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Ali Al Saleem, Kuwait and Cedar II, Tallil, Iraq. Trucks are required 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Trucks delivering to Ali Al Saleem should plan for two turns per day, approximately 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) from the Mina Abdullah Truck Fill stand. Trucks delivering to Camp Buehring should plan on one turn per day, approximately 80 to 110 miles (129 to 177 kilometers) from the Mina Abdullah Truck Fill Stand. Trucks delivering to Cedar II/ Tallil, Iraq should plan for at least a two-day turn around time, approximately 235 miles (378 kilometers) from the Mina Abdullah Truck Fill Stand.

The United States is currently Kuwait's largest supplier, and Kuwait is the fifth-largest market in the Middle East for US goods and services. Since the Gulf war, Kuwaiti attitudes toward Americans and American products have been excellent. US exports to Kuwait totaled $787 billion in 2000. Provided their prices are reasonable, US firms have a competitive advantage in many areas requiring advanced technology, such as oil field equipment and services, electric power generation and distribution equipment, telecommunications gear, consumer goods, and military equipment. In 1993, Kuwait publicly announced abandonment of the secondary and tertiary aspects of the Arab boycott of Israel (those aspects affecting US firms). Kuwait also is an important partner in the current US-led campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas.

Kuwait is a small country and many of the challenges of distribution of goods and services found in other, larger countries do not exist in Kuwait. Kuwait International Airport is located south of the city and is easily accessed by expressway. It has a number of regular flights to destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and can handle the world's largest aircraft. Kuwait's road system is well developed, with modern multi-lane expressways linking all areas of the country. There are no railways in the country.

Kuwait has two modern ports -- Mina Al Shuwaikh and Mina Shuaiba -- which handle most of the country's imported goods. Both are equipped with facilities to manage most kinds of cargo. The small ports at Mina Shuaiba and Mina Abd Allah [Mina Abdulla] are also used for the export of oil products. Kuwait is working to regain its role as a transshipment point in the region following the significant drop in world trade with Iraq after the Gulf War. In 1996, the government authorized the establishment of a free trade zone in Shuwaikh port, which was inaugurated in November 1999. Over 80 percent of available space has been leased. The Government of Kuwait also reduced some port fees in an effort to encourage use of Kuwait as a transshipment point.

The Government of Kuwait provided the U.S. military with essentially open access to ten bases as of 2010, including two air bases (Ali Al Salem Air Base and Al Mubarak Air Base at Kuwait City International Airport), five land bases (Camps Arifjan, Buehring, and Virginia, plus access to a Life Support Area facility located on Ali Al Salem Air Base -- which serves as the primary ARCENT hub for moving U.S. forces to CENTCOM forward-deployed bases -- and the joint U.S./Kuwait Khabari border crossing facility, which streamlies convoy operations into and out of Iraq), two port facilities (Kuwait Naval Base and Shuaybah Port), and a Defense Distribution Depot, a 100 acre warehouse complex which facilitates, on average, 1.4 million shipments per year of military equipment. Camp Buehring, notably, serves as a venue for U.S. Army/Marines "spin-up" training prior to deployment in Iraq (and, on occasion, Afghanistan) and served, as well, as a location where joint exercise training was conducted involving U.S. and Kuwaiti forces. Kuwait also provided U.S. forces with access to its 2,250 sq/km Udairi Range facility, considered one of the world's best venues for land/air live-fire and combined arms combat training. Approximately 90,000 U.S. military personnel per year utilized this facility for live-fire training purposes.

As of 2010, over 20,000 U.S. military personnel (including some 5,000 contractors) were located at bases and facilities in Kuwait, with the bulk at Camp Arifjan. Government of Kuwait support for the presence of these personnel, together with open access to this extraordinary range of facilties, was essential to the US ability to conduct OIF and enhanced US ability to conduct operations in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater. In CY 08 alone, some 1,750,000 U.S. forces transited through Kuwait, either en route to Iraq or other deployment locations or back to the U.S., utilizing Kuwaiti bases and benefitting from Kuwaiti provided fuel and services. From 2005 until the end of 2008, Kuwait provided the U.S. military with quantities of subsidized JA1 aviation fuel for OIF. Since the expiration of this agreeement, the U.S. paid "fair market price" for the JA1 fuel. Under the terms of the Defense Cooperation Agreement, Kuwait continued to provide 7,500 gallons per day of free JA1 aviation fuel to the U.S. military.

The Embassy-based Office Of Military Cooperation - Kuwait (OMC-K) facilitates training of Kuwaiti military counterparts and is also responsible for the conduct of an extensive Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The OMC-K training program included two components: FMS training (valued at USD 13 million in FY 2009), under which 314 Kuwait military personnel attended military schools in the U.S. in FY 2009 and a training exercise program that has engaged all components and staff of the Kuwait Armed Forces. The 214 FY 2009 students are a small fraction of the several thousand who had attended U.S. military schools since the early 1990's. In addition to training exercises that have included elements of Kuwait's land and air forces and its independent brigades, a particular focus has been on enabling the Kuwait Naval Force to participate as a contributing member of a coalition task force responsible for security in the central Arabian Gulf. As of 2010, the U.S had over 125 active FMS cases with Kuwait amounting to over USD 8.1 billion in value, including, among the more significant items, the sale of 218 M1A2 Main Battle Tanks and associated equipment, 39 F/A-18 C/D Hornet aircraft, 16 AH-64 Apache helicopters, and 5 Patriot Air Defense Systems. Notably, the Government of Kuwait was in final stages of agreement for a USD 1.1 billion purchase of six KC-130 tanker aircraft and associated support. As Kuwait is a "cash customer," the Government of Kuwait's contribution to the U.S. economy through equipment purchases is significant. The USG presence also contributes a reciprocal boost to Kuwait's economy, with average annual expenditures of over USD 6 billion/yr on fuel, base support operations, and transportation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presence in Kuwait, which pre-dates the Gulf War, was instrumental post-Liberation in helping Kuwait re-establish critical buildings and infrastructure in recent years, it assisted in the reconstruction of a number of Government of Kuwait buildings while focusing its energies on construction projects in support of both the U.S. and Kuwait military at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, 25th Commando BDE, 94th Yarmouk BDE, Camp Arifjan, the Udairi Range Complex, and the Khabari Military Crossing. USACE is presently involved in projects to upgrade Kuwait ammunition supply points and upgrade maintenance facilities on the Kuwait Naval Base. While USACE does not receive direct funding for personnel from the Government of Kuwait, personnel costs are built into FMS construction cases.

The U.S. Coast Guard operates in Kuwait in support of CENTCOM and NAVCENT operations in the region. As of 2010, a USCG detachment of some 117 personnel conducted port security operations at Kuwait Naval Base and Shuwaybha Port related to U.S. military movements/shipments and protective measures for Iraq's Al-Basra oil terminal (ABOT). In addition, USCG personnel conduct periodic training of Kuwaitis in maritime law enforcement issues. The presence of USCG personnel in Kuwait was supported by normal OIF deployment funding.

The U.S. military presence also had a significant impact on the Kuwaiti economy, through local contracts and purchases, housing and transportation for contractors and other purchases. The U.S. military has estimated that the direct annual economic impact of the U.S. military on the Kuwaiti economy was $6.2 billion. Of that, however, almost $2.6 billion consisted of fuel purchases which are either subsidized or could be sold for an equal price to another customer. From 2003 to 2005, Kuwait provided the U.S. military with free jet fuel for Operation Iraqi Freedom. From March 2005 until end-December 2008, it provided jet fuel at a discount. In 2008, the estimated cost of that subsidy to the Government of Kuwait in 2008 when oil prices reached record levels was USD 528 million (Kuwait 477). Subtracting out the fuel payments (since Kuwait would presumably have been able to sell fuel at a higher price), still leaves a direct economic impact of $3.6 billion. This figure does not take into account any multiplier effect of additional funds circulating through the Kuwaiti economy. It also does not directly address the fact that Kuwaiti companies, such as the global logistics giant Agility, grew rapidly by supporting the U.S. military.

A U.S. Customs Advisory Team (comprised of two AMCIT personal services contractors and two local-hire support personnel) had operated in Kuwait since 1992, with the primary objective of providing training to the Kuwait General Administration of Customs (KGAC) on core enforcement issues including narcotics interdiction, narcotics investigations, terrorist financing/money laundering, financial investigations, intellectual property rights, and organizational structure. Working in close cooperation with Embassy, the Customs team has significantly enhanced Government of Kuwait capacities to address international crime with minimal intra-Government of Kuwait duplication of effort.

The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) has operated a station in Kuwait (IBB/BGG) since 1993 under the terms of a twenty-year agreement. The facility, operated by three Amcit officers and twenty-six local hires, serves as a short and medium wave broadcasting facility and satellite gateway facility for IBB's global network. The station operated four 250 KW shortwave transmitters and two medium wave transmitters (one at 150 KW and one at 600 KW) as well as two FM transmitters. The station broadcasts BBG programming in several languages to target audiences in the Middle East and western Asia. In addition to its radio broadcasts, IBB Kuwait also uplinks to several regional commercial satellites, broadcasting direct satellite-to-home transmissions of BBG radio and television programs. The Kuwait facility also functions as a major network switching center, routing BBG programming to other BBG transmitting stations in Asia. In 2009 the facility built a third medum wave transmitter to enable direct broadcasting of Radio Farda (Persian language) programs to Iran, as well as expanding its ability to broadcast towards Africa and additional regions of Asia. For cost reasons (high local cost of land and salaries), IBB closed down its Ismaning facility in Munich, Germany in 2007 and moved the station's satellite gateway operations to the Kuwait transmitting station.

12 years later, a surreal calm / Kuwait City, rebuilt from ruin, awaits the start of another war

1 of 5 Downtown Kuwait City as is looks present day. Part of the city skyline includes the 5th highest tower in the world. Liberation Tower began construction in 1987 and was stopped during the Iraqi invasion. Originally named Tahreer Tower the name was changed after the liberation from Iraq in 1991. The tower was compleated in 1993. by Michael Macor/The Chronicle MICHAEL MACOR Show More Show Less

2 of 5 . Liberation Tower began construction in 1987 and was stopped during the Iraqi invasion. Originally named Tahreer Tower the name was changed after the liberation from Iraq in 1991. The tower was compleated in 1993. The tower is joined by a tower from a mosque in downtown Kuwait City. by Michael Macor/The Chronicle MICHAEL MACOR Show More Show Less

4 of 5 Scares of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq still remain. Inside the Kuwait National Museum the rooms still empty. Some of most vauble item from the Middle East were stolen by invading Iraqi troops. Some things were recovered but many were returned damaged. by Michael Macor/The Chronicle MICHAEL MACOR Show More Show Less

2003-03-10 04:00:00 PDT Kuwait City -- A bright March day in 1991. I was standing just across the street from the ruined Sheraton Hotel in the center of this city.

The hotel was a wreck, its facade scarred by fire. The sky was full of smoke from burning oil wells the streets were full of people. They went up to Americans, even newspaper reporters. "Thank you, thank you," they said. Kuwait had just been liberated from seven months of Iraqi occupation.

A bright March day in 2003, same place, same city. The Sheraton has been made like new. Kuwaiti men and their ladies drive up in expensive cars for Sunday lunch. A doorman in a top hat opens the car door. Everything is different everything is the same.

There is war in the air once again only a few miles beyond the city, British and American troops are camped in the desert. Just over 70 miles away from the city center is Iraq Kuwait is within range of weapons of mass destruction. The newspapers give advice about what to do in case the sirens go off, warning that "danger or disaster" is imminent.

The first words of advice: "Calm down and control your emotions."

But if the world has a case of war jitters, this city seems calm, "almost surreal," one American expatriate said. There seem to be fewer people on the streets than one would expect, but Kuwait is brightly lit at night.

Twelve years ago, the airport was destroyed, the last airliner to arrive lying in ruins. The streets were full of garbage, the highways lined with wrecked Iraqi tanks. At night, the city crackled with gunfire as the Kuwaitis settled scores with those who had collaborated with the enemy. There were no police to be seen, only soldiers. Now there are only police to be seen and no soldiers.

The city is as clean as any city in the Gulf region. There are no beggars, no graffiti. There are pictures on some of the buses of smiling American soldiers and Marines with Kuwaiti children. "We will never forget," the signs say. The communications tower, which pierces the sky like a spear, has been renamed -- now it's the Liberation Tower.


But nearly all the scars of the war have been carefully erased. Only a few have been preserved, like the display cases in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which was damaged by the Iraqis. There are shell casings, and computer terminals melted by the heat when the hotel burned.

They sell postcards of the war memorial, but no one seems to know where it is.

The Kuwaiti National Museum, which once housed one of the most important collections of Islamic art in the world, was looted by the Iraqis during the occupation. On their way out of the country, they set the museum on fire. What is left is a small exhibition of 19th century life in Kuwait, and empty buildings. Sunday afternoon, two American journalists were the only visitors.

In the days after liberation 12 years ago, people lined up for hours for a chance to call relatives in other countries on the few phones that worked. Now,

This Day in History: 1991 Iraqi troops flee Kuwait City

The Kuwaiti capital has been liberated by the Gulf War Allies after 208 days of Iraqi occupation.
Thousands of Iraqi troops began leaving the city after an order from President Saddam Hussein, broadcast this morning, to withdraw immediately.
He said he was ordering the retreat because of “the aggression of 30 countries against Iraq” and the economic blockade led by the US.
The first group of Allies into the city centre was a reconnaissance team of 12 US marines who arrived in the capital this evening, ushered in by some Kuwaiti resistance forces.
To the north of the city a trail of abandoned Iraqi T-55 tanks were scattered along the main highway into town, as well as transport trucks and smaller vehicles.
US pilots said the Iraqi troops, deserted by officers and in disarray, left the city “bumper to bumper”.
They made an easy target for the American fighter jets which carried out repeated air strikes on the retreating troops, saying they would continue to attack until ordered not to. They reported only light anti-aircraft fire.
The main resistance came from Iraqi armoured units trapped at the international airport on the southern outskirts of the city, but the US Marine 2nd Division was reported to have the upper hand.
Kuwaiti radio, run by the government-in-exile, urged people not to take revenge on the retreating troops.
But there were claims that the Iraqis took many prisoners as they left as hostages. Reports say up to 5,000 people were captured as the troops retreated.
Families told reporters their sons had been taken from them, ordered into the retreating Iraqi army buses as they walked to work.
During the last days of Iraqi occupation there were widespread reports of torture, rape and execution.
Colonel Abu Fahad, an officer with the Kuwaiti resistance, told The Guardian newspaper: “I have seen a lot of my friends and some of our guys executed in front of their families for nothing, just being in the country. In the past few days, we didn’t even leave our houses.”
Much of the city has been destroyed, with 200 buildings set on fire. Hotels, parliament buildings and government offices have been attacked.
The manager of the Sheraton hotel, Mohammed Mousa, told reporters he had been given an hour to clear the building and then Iraqi soldiers had looted it, taking everything from video recorders to the piano.
They then poured petrol over the ground floor, mined it and blasted it with tank fire.
The university, museum, schools and hospitals have all been looted and soldiers have taken whatever they could find from shops and homes.
Even clothes and mattresses lie scattered around the streets, stolen, but too bulky to take away.

Courtesy BBC News

In context

President George Bush announced his intention to press on with “undiminished intensity” to complete a rout of Iraqi forces
Apart from liberating Kuwait, he said the Allies wanted to secure large parts of southern Iraq and defeat Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard.
Two days later the president announced a ceasefire after Iraq accepted all 12 resolutions laid down by the United Nations.
Two of the main conditions were the return of all allied prisoners of war and Kuwaitis taken hostage and also the renunciation of all claims to Kuwait.
Saddam Hussein remained in power until George Bush’s son, George W Bush, mounted another attack on Iraq in March 2003.
With the backing of British and Australian forces, he succeeded in toppling Saddam Hussein, who fled into hiding.
He was eventually captured in December 2003 put on trial by an Iraqi court, sentenced to death and executed on 30 December 2006.


Piercing through the clouds, the iconic Kuwait Towers could be overlooked as a purely decorative element in the city’s skyline, but they serve an important and practical purpose as one of the country’s six water reservoirs. At the time of construction in the 1970s, the Amir envisioned an attractive design for the sixth location of Kuwait’s water towers. With picturesque views and a modern design incorporating Islamic patterns, the Towers are popular among tourists and locals alike. Inside, 600 feet in the sky, a rotating viewing sphere provides a panoramic view of the city. Looking to the east, the waters of the Persian Gulf extend far beyond the horizon. To the south stretches a seemingly endless coast. And to the west lies the constantly evolving skyline of downtown Kuwait, with the world’s tallest carved concrete skyscraper in full view along with the iconic Liberation Tower. The Kuwait Towers, once known only as beautiful reservoirs, withstood the trials of the Gulf War and the country’s reconstruction. Today, the Towers are a symbol of modern Kuwait.

Skyscrapers peak high into the sky on a cloudy day in Kuwait City. Photo by Ibrahim Muhamed

Situated in the northern Persian Gulf, Kuwait has weathered treacherous times in order to achieve peace and stability. In August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait. Many Kuwaitis were forced to flee to neighboring countries as Iraqi troops looted homes and businesses. After six months of Iraqi occupation, Operation Desert Storm liberated Kuwait in February 1991. The invasion, resistance and suppression—and subsequent liberation—transformed Kuwaiti attitudes in ways that persist to this date. While the country has rebuilt, the legacy of former President George H. W. Bush lives on. In 2016, the late president’s portrait was on display at a Kuwaiti wedding. The groom, Bush al-Widhan, was born in the aftermath of the war and named in his honor. Upon Bush’s death in November 2018, the Kuwait Towers lit up with images of him to honor his leadership role in Kuwait’s liberation and Kuwaitis lined up to come to the embassy and express their condolences.

Camel races are a popular wintertime spectator sport for locals and expats alike who drive alongside camels with electric jockeys as they race at speeds up to 60kph. Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Taking advantage of Kuwait’s strategic location, fans of the outdoors can easily rent Jet Skis along the shoreline, while an hourlong drive leads to Khiran Resort, a popular Kuwaiti getaway for sailing enthusiasts and sea lovers. For those seeking excursions from the city via the water, speed boat rides to Kuwait’s many islands are a convenient option. Failaka Island offers a welcome diversion from the liveliness of Kuwait City and houses some of the most significant Mesopotamian-era archaeological sites in the Gulf.

For those who enjoy the sporting life, residents highly recommend the Camel Racing Club. On Saturdays, adventure-seekers can drive alongside camels with robot jockeys as they race in the sand at 60 kph.

The mix of Kuwait’s old and new provides many shopping opportunities at both local, traditional markets and larger shopping centers. A commercial hub before the discovery of oil, Kuwait’s Souq Mubarakiya has retained its identity as a bustling center of trade. Strolling down its walkways, visitors are greeted by the unique scents and colors of the traditional market, with hundreds of small stores displaying richly colored spices and the air infused with incense and oud perfumes. Here, local shoppers can be heard haggling over everything from dates to cologne to fish to gold. This is an ideal place to be immersed in the vibrant daily life of the Kuwaiti people.

  • The shopping alley at the central Souq in Kuwait City features hundreds of small stores and local goods. Photo by Matyas Rehak
  • A local man shops at a date stall at the Souq in Kuwait city. Photo by Matyas Rehak

The Avenues, the largest mall in Kuwait and second-largest in the Middle East, is located a short drive away from Souq Mubarakiya. Inside the mall the pathways are lined with palm trees and further designed to emulate European streets, a traditional Kuwaiti souk, a luxury mall and New York’s SoHo neighborhood, with dozens of Arabic, Persian, American and international dining options. With 17 Starbucks under a single roof, there is no shortage of options for a caffeine fix.

This beautiful coastline of Kuwait City also shows the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre. Photo by ADionisio

Inaugurated in 2016, the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre functions as the city’s top entertainment destination, housing the country’s first large-scale concert hall. The state-of-the-art building embodies Kuwait’s identity and has hosted diverse performances from Arabic and classical music to the Broadway show “Cats.” The venue along with the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre, a museum complex featuring art exhibits and museums, have redefined the cultural scene in Kuwait. Spanning more than 200,000 square meters, Al Shaheed Park is an oasis in the heart of Kuwait City. As Kuwait’s largest park, it portrays the country’s land, history and culture through its walkways, museums, exhibition areas and an outdoor theater. At night, the park offers fountain light shows and a full view of downtown Kuwait lit up.

Ambassador Lawrence R. Silverman cycles with friends over the newly constructed Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway, June 2019. Photo courtesy of Embassy Kuwait

Kuwait’s newest icon is the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway, which connects the country’s capital to the future Silk City that is set to become a major free trade hub. Designed with help from the American Association of State Highways and the U.S. Department of Transportation, it resembles a long sleek sailboat on the Bay of Kuwait. At 30-miles long, it is one of the longest bridges in the world.

Embassy employees regularly attend social gatherings called diwaniyas throughout Ramadan. They join Kuwaiti contacts in breaking their fasts at sunset and eat the Kuwait national dish, machboos, a spiced chicken and rice dish. Photo courtesy of Embassy Kuwait

Embassy personnel take full advantage of Kuwait’s unique diwaniyas, which are rooted in the local hospitality culture. These gatherings allow people to congregate in Kuwaiti homes most evenings to discuss everything from cars to current events. Visiting diwaniyas was historically an integral part of a Kuwaiti man’s social life. Diwaniyas in Kuwait have preserved their importance in social, political and economic lives, as they have been passed from generation to generation and bind Kuwaitis of different sects and backgrounds. Some diwaniyas receive guests daily, others receive guests for only a few days per week and others receive guests only on special occasions. For Embassy Kuwait, visiting diwaniyas is central to its outreach, whether it is to wish Kuwaitis a blessed Ramadan or to maintain strong relationships with important contacts. During Ramadan 2019, embassy staff from all sections visited 293 diwaniyas.

Kuwait stands out from the other Gulf states for having a relatively open political system. The country boasts an elected and vocal parliament, social and political rights for women and press and social media freedoms that surpass those found in most other countries in the region. Although oil has transformed this Gulf nation from a small but prosperous trading port into an oil-exporting powerhouse, Kuwait recognizes the need to diversify its economy. The government’s ambitious Vision 2035 plan targets Kuwait’s transformation into a financial, commercial and cultural hub over the next 15 years.

Kuwait continues to be among the United States’ closest and most important partners in the Middle East. The political and defense relationship is underpinned by America’s role in liberating Kuwait three decades ago, and the United States military continues to enjoy unique strategic access in Kuwait to maintain stability and security in the region. Since October 2016, the embassy has used annual high-level ministerial Strategic Dialogue to achieve tangible results for American interests, reaching new agreements on education, culture, defense cooperation, trade and border protection. The Mission is focused on ensuring that Kuwait remains a strong and stable partner, particularly as a new generation of youth grow up without memories of Kuwait’s liberation. To keep this memory alive and honor those who served in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial has been approved for construction in Washington’s National Mall in 2021.

The Public Affairs Section invited former U.S. women’s national team player Sarah Huffman and professional women’s coach Lisa Berg to Kuwait, May 2018. They held soccer training sessions for girls, for many of whom this was their first time practicing kicking and heading a soccer ball. They also spent time training local players and coaches. Photo courtesy of Embassy Kuwait

Kuwait’s current Amir served as foreign minister for 40 years, a detail that helps to explain why such a small country plays such an outsized diplomatic role. Kuwait works to bridge the differences between the Gulf countries, has hosted peace talks between the parties to the Yemen conflict and has worked closely with the United States as a member of the U.N. Security Council since 2018.

Kuwait is also known globally for its generosity toward humanitarian initiatives. It has contributed more than $1 billion for humanitarian assistance to Yemen. Kuwait chaired or co-chaired the last five pledging conferences for Syria, and it has committed $1.7 billion of its own resources to the cause. In February 2018, Kuwait hosted a reconstruction conference for Iraq that netted more than $30 billion in pledges from participants, including $1 billion in grants and concessionary loans from the government of Kuwait. Before any of these recent efforts, the U.N. had already recognized the Amir with the title of Global Humanitarian Leader in 2014.

Maintaining depth and longevity in the U.S.-Kuwait relationship is at the heart of Embassy Kuwait’s daily work across all sections, in particular through promoting U.S. higher education. In 2018, 12,300 Kuwaiti students studied at American colleges and universities, contributing an estimated $1.2 billion to the U.S. economy. The large number of Kuwaitis who study in the United States shapes the economic, cultural and political perspectives of the country’s next generation of leaders and policymakers. Through education fairs and alumni networks in Kuwait, the embassy strives to maintain these people-to-people connections that will form the foundation of the U.S.-Kuwait relationship well into the future.

An interior view of the Kuwait Grand Mosque. Photo by Homo Cosmicos

The embassy’s public affairs outreach also involves showcasing the arts and increasing the Kuwaiti public’s contact with a variety of American performing artists. In the past year, the embassy has brought a diverse array of cultural programming to Kuwait. These have included hosting soccer coaches, a jazz-inspired painter, a U.S. Air Force band, a country music band and an American oud player.

An aerial view of Kuwait City at night. Photo by Ibrahim Muhamed

Kuwait has managed to retain its storied culture and continues to serve as an oasis of peace in a turbulent region. Here, modern city comforts blend seamlessly with local traditions that harken to the country’s merchant, Bedouin and pearl-diving roots. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait continues to build on the strong foundation of a shared desire for regional peace and stability and looks forward to advancing the United States and Kuwait’s relationship in the areas of security, economic prosperity and people-to-people exchanges.

Leyth Swidan is a vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

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