Last updated: 09:21 PM ET, Mon July 10 2017
Skyline of Kuwait downtown as seen from the Shuwaikh beach. Arabia, Middle East


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Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque in Kuwait, Middle East (Photo via typhoonski / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
PHOTO: Siddiqa Fatima Zahra Mosque in Kuwait. (Photo via typhoonski / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Kuwait is an Arab emirate on the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia, on the northwestern shore of the Persian Gulf. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north. In ancient history it was the historical location of Characene, a major port of trade between India and Mesopotamia. In the 19th century, it became part of the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Kuwait became an independent sheikhdom under the protection of Britain.

Its oil reserves, the fifth largest in the world, were discovered in the 1930s. Petroleum products account for 95 percent of Kuwait’s export income and 80 percent of government income. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Kuwait became well known to Americans in 1990 when it was invaded and occupied by Iraq, which became the justification for the first Gulf War against Iraq.

Kuwait has a selection of the top brand hotels, such as Sheraton, Courtyard, JW Marriott and Radisson Blu. It also has a selection of bed and breakfasts. Kuwait City is well served by major airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, American, British, Lufthansa, United, Virgin and Singapore Airlines.

Among Kuwait’s most popular tourist attractions is the Scientific Center of Kuwait. It was a gift from the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the people of Kuwait. Its mission is the advancement of the sciences and cultural heritage of Kuwait, and to promote public awareness and the commitment to the care and preservation of the wildlife and ecosystems of the Arabian Gulf region. It has three main components -- an iMax Theater; an aquarium designed to lead visitors through three main ecosystems of the Arabian Peninsula, desert, coast and sea, with sharks, rays and penguins; and the Discovery Place, which invites visitors to explore science and education interactively in an atmosphere of fun. An attraction for shoppers is Villa Moda, a 100,000-square-foot all-glass mall with a plethora of shops that carry top brands like Prada, Gucci and Fendi. Villa Moda also holds art exhibitions.

Historical buildings and towers of Kuwait City include the Liberation Tower, built in commemoration of Kuwaiti liberation from the Iraqi invasion. Kuwait Towers, another famous landmark of Kuwait City, consists of three towers of reinforced concrete, the tallest being 614 feet, with striking onion-shaped domes on top. The tallest is a restaurant and water tower with a 400-foot-high geodesic Viewing Sphere that revolves every 30 minutes. Historic buildings include Bayt Al-Bader, built between 1838 and 1848, a former aristocratic home now used by the National Museum to present handicraft exhibitions.

The Sadu House in Kuwait City was established by the Al-Sadu Society to preserve the traditional crafts of Bedouin culture, such as Sadu weaving, which is characterized by geometric designs woven by hand with dyed, spun and colored wool. It also presents pottery and the construction material of Kuwait's traditional homes and mosques. Some of Kuwait’s islands are gaining in popularity, such as Failaka Island and Green Island. Other attractions include the Zoological Garden of Kuwait, the Grand Mosque and Doha Village, an arm of land jutting into Kuwait Bay and the site of Entertainment City, a theme park.

Museums in Kuwait include Saif Marzooq Al-Shamlan Museum, which presents the history of the pearling industry; Tareq Rajab Museum, a private collection of Islamic Art, ceramics, manuscripts and photos; and Kuwait National Museum, which exhibits archeological relics and Islamic art.