ASIA& OCEANIA

(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
Discover Dubai with Pikliz.com
Dec 27, 2008

Pictures by Jessie Adrien

Dubai is one of the seven emirates and the most populous city of the Un ...more

ited Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The municipality of Dubai is sometimes called Dubai city to distinguish it from the emirate.

Written accounts document the existence of the city for at least 150 years prior to the formation of the UAE. Dubai shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civic law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities.

Dubai has the largest population and is the second largest emirate by area, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to possess veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature. Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum dynasty since 1833. Dubai's current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE.

The emirate's revenues are from trade, real estate and financial services. Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6% of Dubai's US$ 37 billion economy (2005). Real estate and construction, on the other hand, contributed 22.6% to the economy in 2005, before the current large-scale construction boom.

Dubai has attracted worldwide attention through innovative real estate projects and sports events. This increased attention, coinciding with its emergence as a world business hub, has also highlighted human rights issues concerning its largely foreign workforce.

    • No comments
    • 4 views
    • 3 visitors
(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
The Great Wall of China
Jun 14, 2008

Photos By Jessie Adrien

The Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was en ...more

listed in the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles ) from east to west of China. With a history of more than 2000 years, some of the sections of the great wall are now in ruins or even entirely disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.

History: Excitement abounds in the origin, vicissitude and nature of the great wall of the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties.

The Great Wall was originally built in the Spring, Autumn, and Warring States Periods as a defensive fortification by the three states: Yan, Zhao and Qin. The Great Wall went through constant extensions and repairs in later dynasties. In fact, it began as independent walls for different states when it was first built, and did not become the "Great" wall until the Qin Dynasty. Emperor Qin Shihuang succeeded in his effort to have the walls joined together to fend off the invasions from the Huns in the north after the unification of China. Since then, the Great Wall has served as a monument of the Chinese nation throughout history. A visit to the Great Wall is like a tour through the history backwards; it brings tourists great excitement in each step of the wall.

Construction: The mystery of the construction of the wall is amazing.

The construction of the Great Wall, drew heavily on the local resources for construction materials, was carried out in line with the local conditions under the management of contract and responsibility system. A great army of manpower, composed of soldiers, prisoners, and local people, built the wall. The construction result demonstrates the manifestation of the wisdom and tenacity of the Chinese people.

Sections: Ready to show you an incredible diversity of scenery and ethnic people along its way.

The Great Wall as we see today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty. It starts from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west traversing provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu.

Protection: The China Great Wall Academy has called for greater protection of this important relic.

Following a forty-five day long survey of 101 sections of the Wall in different provinces, the China Great Wall Academy reported on December 12, 2002 that the forces of nature and destruction at the hand of mankind are bringing about the gradual reduction of its extent with the result that less than 30% remains in good condition. The Academy has called for greater protection of this important relic.

Culture: Unfolding a considerable part of Chinese culture beyond the wall.

The Great Wall has long been incorporated into Chinese mythology and popular symbolism. The most beautiful of several legends is about the collapse of a section of the Great Wall caused by Meng Jiangnu, who cried bitterly over the death of her husband in the construction of the Great Wall. This legend has been spread widely through textbooks, folk songs and traditional operas. It is well-known in China.

Travel of the wall: Make a trip to at least one section of the Great Wall should be a must for your China Tour. Elaborate tour plans make travel comfortable, memorable, enjoyable and informative.

If you prefer to see the wall in a relatively natural state, visit Simatai, 110km north-east of Beijing. This part of the Wall is the best choice, for it is still in its original state without being developed into a popular tourist attraction due to its distance and little public transportation options.

    • No comments
    • 2 views
    • 2 visitors
(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
Discover China with pikliz
May 23, 2008

Photos by Jessie Adrien

The Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was e ...more

nlisted in the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles ) from east to west of China. With a history of more than 2000 years, some of the sections of the great wall are now in ruins or even entirely disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.

History: Excitement abounds in the origin, vicissitude and nature of the great wall of the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties.

The Great Wall was originally built in the Spring, Autumn, and Warring States Periods as a defensive fortification by the three states: Yan, Zhao and Qin. The Great Wall went through constant extensions and repairs in later dynasties. In fact, it began as independent walls for different states when it was first built, and did not become the "Great" wall until the Qin Dynasty. Emperor Qin Shihuang succeeded in his effort to have the walls joined together to fend off the invasions from the Huns in the north after the unification of China. Since then, the Great Wall has served as a monument of the Chinese nation throughout history. A visit to the Great Wall is like a tour through the history backwards; it brings tourists great excitement in each step of the wall. >> more...

Construction: The mystery of the construction of the wall is amazing.

The construction of the Great Wall, drew heavily on the local resources for construction materials, was carried out in line with the local conditions under the management of contract and responsibility system. A great army of manpower, composed of soldiers, prisoners, and local people, built the wall. The construction result demonstrates the manifestation of the wisdom and tenacity of the Chinese people. >> more...

Sections: Ready to show you an incredible diversity of scenery and ethnic people along its way.

The Great Wall as we see today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty. It starts from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west traversing provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu. >> more...

Protection: The China Great Wall Academy has called for greater protection of this important relic.

Following a forty-five day long survey of 101 sections of the Wall in different provinces, the China Great Wall Academy reported on December 12, 2002 that the forces of nature and destruction at the hand of mankind are bringing about the gradual reduction of its extent with the result that less than 30% remains in good condition. The Academy has called for greater protection of this important relic. >> more...

Culture: Unfolding a considerable part of Chinese culture beyond the wall.

The Great Wall has long been incorporated into Chinese mythology and popular symbolism. The most beautiful of several legends is about the collapse of a section of the Great Wall caused by Meng Jiangnu, who cried bitterly over the death of her husband in the construction of the Great Wall. This legend has been spread widely through textbooks, folk songs and traditional operas. It is well-known in China.

Travel of the wall: Make a trip to at least one section of the Great Wall should be a must for your China Tour. Elaborate tour plans make travel comfortable, memorable, enjoyable and informative.

If you prefer to see the wall in a relatively natural state, visit Simatai, 110km north-east of Beijing. This part of the Wall is the best choice, for it is still in its original state without being developed into a popular tourist attraction due to its distance and little public transportation options.

"You are not a true man until you have been to the Great Wall", how true it is! When you visit China, the Great Wall is the top tourist attraction in the whole of China. We offer you many special packages specifically designed to satisfy your desire to taste the authentic culture of China.

(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
Beijing
May 15, 2007

Beijing

Although Beijing is an ancient city and was often used as the capital by one warlord or a ...more

nother, its modern history as a capital begins in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) with Kublai Khan, grandson of Ghengis Khan. It is here that Marco Polo made his base as he visited and travelled with the Khan. He spent over 20 years as a guest of the Khan before returning to Europe with his vivid descriptions of the great civilization to the east. Most of what we see today in Beijing was built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

It is a city built to inspire; to awe the populace with the power of the emperor. Built for the rites and ceremonies performed to maintain the Mandate of Heaven as well as for defense, it achieves grace through power and size rather than through ornament and variety.

The Mings looked to the past for their design. Beijing, like most major cities in China was built with a series of concentric walls. The outermost wall surrounded what was the Chinese city. A major highway which provides access to the outskirts and links the city with the major arteries to the rest of the country sits on its bed. At various points along the highway you can see the guard towers which loomed above the old gates to the city and provided early warning of invasion. One might regret the loss of this ancient wall, but the alternative would have been to raze whole neighborhoods in one of the most densely packed cities in the world.

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square lies within the area defined by the next wall. Formal access to the square is through the Zhengyang Gate, which marks the boundary of what was once an enclosing wall of grey stone and brick. The tomb of Chairman Mao is centered in the path of the gate. The square itself is fairly recent. It used to be filled with shops and alleys, as the streets surrounding it still are today. Tiananmen is large enough to diminish the impact of two enormous and recent additions to the center of the city. On one side of the square lies the People's History Museum and on the other, the Great Hall of the People. The Great Hall is used for major meetings of the government and State occasions. Elaborate receptions are held there for foreign dignitaries and it contains over 50 rooms, each dedicated to a particular province or minority.

The square serves as a setting for the Imperial City in which lies the Forbidden City. The red walls, golden roof tiles, and the portrait of Mao Zedong contrast strongly with the surroundings of grey and buff. Thousands of tourists from all over China visit the Forbidden City daily. Fred observed at this point that we were of as much interest to the Chinese as was the Forbidden City. Westerners still are a rare sight.


At one time there were vast gardens and parks adjacent to the Forbidden City where the elite could walk freely. Although urban encroachment has swallowed many, we visited Zhongshan Gongyuan, named after and anchored by a statue of Sun Ya-tsen. If that is confusing try this; Sun Zhongshan is the formal name for Sun Yixian which is the new spelling of the informal name of the person we call Sun Ya-tsen or Sun Yatsen. Sun is the family name and Zhongshan is the given name. In China, to indicate respect, admiration, and fondness the given name is often used. Therefore, Zhongshan Gongyuan is Sun Ya-tsen Park. By whatever name, the park was beautiful.



It was a Sunday and the place was filled with the laughter of children and the sight of couples strolling among the trees. Children were often dressed in their finest so that their parents could take their pictures. There was a long winding covered walk that ran through the trees. A path eventually led us to a building which housed a formal garden. Kay discovered the magic and shed off the fatigue of 35 hours of traveling to relax and discover China.


The Imperial City
As you cross the bridge in front of Mao's portrait and enter the Imperial City through Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) you see the Meridian Gate which leads to the Forbidden City. Only those who had official business with the emperor or one of his ministers were allowed inside the Forbidden City. That doesn't mean that it was a quiet place. It was the center of vast empires. There were hundreds of ministers who had offices there or in the immediate area, there were probably over a thousand servants, and then there were the palace guards . . . At one point there were over 70,000 eunuchs attached to the Forbidden City in one capacity or another. Today the area is filled with museum offices, ministries, tourists, small souvenir shops, and restaurants.

The first Ming capital was at Nanjing. The first Ming emperor Hung Wu wanted to rid the country of Mongol influence just as he had rid it of Mongol rule. Traditional rites and ceremonies of the Chinese were brought back and celebrated. Nanjing was close to the supply routes from the southern breadbasket and provided much better communication with the provinces both for defense and administration. Yongle (Yung Lo), the third Ming emperor, overthrew the second Ming emperor from his stronghold in the northern provinces. He gave up the advantages of the southern capital and moved his capital to Beijing for political support.

He continued to emphasize Chinese and Confucian principles and incorporated them into his design for the new northern capital. The design of the city reflects a return to Confucian principles of order, ethical conduct, and the importance of rites to express filial duty. The emperor was the Son of Heaven and this was the source of his Mandate to rule. All others owed filial duty to the emperor.

Yongle sent a survey team to catalog the city of the Yuan dynasty and then he had it destroyed. The new city would be Chinese. Over two hundred thousand workers dedicated 20 years to the building of the new city and palaces. The Palace wasn't finished until 1421. As you go through the gates and penetrate the depths of the city, it is still possible to feel the remove, the isolation from common concerns required by and of the emperor.

As you cross an open courtyard, you approach the Hall of Supreme Harmony where vigorous final examinations were given to scholars during the early Ming dynasty. The Ming emperors revived and expanded the civil service system which required mastery of the classics to enter government service. If a family could educate a son to this level, the entire family benefited and the scholar became a revered figure among the ancestors in following generations. The system continued until the early 1900's and provided stability to successive governments.

After the Supreme Hall of Harmony, you encounter two more major structures; the Hall of Middle Harmony and the Hall of Perfect Harmony, which were also used for public functions. Only as you retreat further and further into the center of the palace do you find some sort of quiet and repose. The actual quarters of the emperor are rather simple by palatial standards. The low slung buildings have large rooms, but not so large as to uncomfortable for daily living.

The Imperial family would never be alone. There would always be someone in attendance. The emperor ate with an attendant at his elbow to remind him not to take more than three bites from any dish. If he had a favorite dish, he had to keep it to himself and hope that by accident it would show up again. Poison and assassination was a constant presence in daily life by dint of the measures used to prevent them. Imagine living and accepting a life of such paranoia that your fears of those close to you were as great as the fear of threat from outside. Mao Zedong lived a similar life in his compound adjacent to the Imperial City. His thorough knowledge of classical history led him to adopt many of the same personal safeguards developed through the centuries of dynastic reign.

The Temple of Heaven -- Tiantan Park
The Forbidden City and the three Halls of Harmony look directly south, toward the Temple of Heaven. Twice a year at the Winter Solstice and again in the fourth lunar month the emperor would proceed from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven to ask for blessings for the people. He would dress in the Hall of Middle Harmony and then go to the Hall of Supreme Harmony to form the procession.

The streets between the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven were cleared. All doors and windows would be shuttered, the people closed in behind them. It was forbidden that a commoner look upon the person of the divine emperor. The procession, made of all high ranking ministers marching in order of importance, would go through the Meridian Gate, out through the main gates, and cross what is now Tiananmen Square. Only the emperor could use the center doors. The two side doors were designated for either the military or the civil ministers. Separating the military and civil ministers was a custom which arose after many squabbles about rank and order of precedence between the two branches of government.

When they arrived at the Temple of Heaven, the emperor would retire to the Hall of Abstinence to meditate and pray alone for the night. Sacrifices would be prepared in the triple roofed Hall of Prayer for a Good Harvest. Just before dawn, he would rise and prepare. Each ritual, movement, utensil, and costume had purpose and symbol. The emperor wore a blue gown embroidered with gold, the roofs of the buildings were tiled in blue -- a sacred color symbolizing Heaven. Just as the gold roofs of the Imperial Palaces were only used on buildings of the emperor, blue was reserved for Heaven. The procession passed down a long elevated concourse to arrive at the Altar of Heaven.

Three tiers of white marble glistening in the false light of predawn lent beauty and majesty to the ceremony, the only roof -- the Heaven above. There, as the tip of the sun shown over the horizon, the emperor would offer the animal, grain, and silk sacrifices which had been prepared the previous day.

This ceremony was first performed in the Zhou dynasty (1100-771 B.C.). The last time it was performed (December 23, 1914) a republic had been founded and Yuan Shikai, the President, wore the imperial robes of the emperor.

These rites linked culture and tradition through multiple dynasties. The cost of this heritage was painful. Hundreds of thousands of workers labored to build the palaces and fortifications at Beijing, Xi'an, Nanjing and other major cities of the Ming dynasty. Taxes were deep and production was diverted to provide material for the construction. Due to graft and corruption, much of the good farm land was used by the nobility for pleasure sports or mismanaged until it was barely productive. By the end of the Ming dynasty, the population of the country had been reduced by about half through starvation. While reviving Neo-Confucianism the rites and rituals, they forgot the Confucian ideal that good government takes care of the needs of the people first.

Today the grounds of the Temple of Heaven are a welcome relief from the dense crowding of the city. Each day, but especially on Sunday, thousands come to walk, play, practice Dai Qi, listen to or play music and fly kites. I spent an hour listening to a group play selections from the Beijing opera. An elderly woman sang. I was told that she had only studied for the past four years -- after her retirement. Her voice was as clear as a bell; she easily sang some of the most difficult trills.

The long covered walk which leads to the main Temple is a meeting place, gaming room, private club, and way of life. Mahjongg and dominos are the most popular choices, but you also find Chinese chess, card games, and dice. A group of women were doing complicated march/dances in formation while playing a straightforward beat on their drums. They may or may not have been practicing for some future performance; just doing it is enough for many groups. Watching is also a popular pastime. Activities from a game of mahjongg to the women marchers were surrounded by groups of spectators.




The Summer Palace
It takes three days to get to the Summer Palace if you go by barge along the canals and river to Kunming Lake in an imperial convoy. It takes about a half-hour by bus. The Summer Palace seemed like a remote "get-away" for the emperors who were enclosed in their own stifling prison.

The "palace" is actually a garden encompassing a small mountain, a lake, a river, and innumerable buildings. Most gardens in China are places to enjoy the shape and contour of nature. The gardener creates a perfection of nature and tries to encourage appreciation of its beauty. It has little resemblance to what we would call a garden.

Qianlong of the Qing dynasty, built a garden here in honor of his mother in 1750. He expanded an earlier Ming temple, enlarged the lake and called it Kunming Lake, and renamed the mountain the temple stands on from Jug Mountain to Longevity Mountain. His name for The Summer Palace was the Garden of Pure Ripples.

In 1860 the British and French destroyed the Garden of Pure Ripples as well as Yuan Ming Yuan (what we call the Old Summer Palace). Yuan Ming Yuan comprised acres and acres of buildings housing the treasures of China. The British and French were "negotiating" with the emperor to get better trade agreements. Victor Hugo wrote an open letter at the time, deploring the action and calling it one of the great tragedies of history.

The Dowager Empress Cixi began rebuilding the Summer Palace in 1873 for her retirement and renamed it Yi He Yuan -- Garden of Peace and Harmony in Old Age. That remains it proper name in Chinese. The Dowager Empress Cixi served as regent and was able to channel funds from the treasury which had been targeted for the navy. She is often blamed for the easy victory won by the Japanese navy and the subsequent humiliation of the Chinese government in 1895.

It was burnt again by Russian, British and Italian troops in 1900 as retaliation for the Boxer Rebellion. Cixi began rebuilding in 1902 and actually got to use it for awhile. She died in 1908.

We entered the grounds through the back door to visit "little Suzhou" in full sunlight. This village was build to replicate one near Shanghai to give the emperor the illusion of shopping and exploring its beauty. Eunuchs and ladies from the court would play the roles of shopkeepers and artisans while the emperor meandered through the stalls. There is still a feeling of play-acting as you go from shop to shop. The only thing that seemed quite real was the river.

We climbed Longevity Mountain to the Lama Temple at the top. On the way you could begin to appreciate what Cixi had planned. The entire garden is laid out to create moments. Cixi would have an entire wall built so she could put a window in it. As you walked along the wall, your senses would relax and the sudden view framed by the window would recall the freshness of the view.

The Marble Boat was built by Qianlong who compared the boat to the state and the water to the people. The people keep the state afloat and without their support the ship sinks. Cixi changed the top of the boat, adding the superstructure and paddle-wheels. She also installed a large mirror in the cabin so she could sit gazing at it on rainy days. The mirror would act as a frame for the different views behind her.

The names of the sights at the Summer Palace are as much a part of the experience as are the structures themselves: Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Strolling through Painted Scenery, Floating Heart Bridge, Gate of Welcoming the Moon, Hall for Listening to Orioles Sing. While the Summer Palace is not a simple thing, part of its purpose is to enhance the perception of and enjoyment of simple things.

At the end of the day, as were were waiting for our bus, Denise and Fred were talked into doing one of the simple things. We not only had a great time setting this up, I am afraid I missed the best picture; when I finished shooting with the various cameras from the group and was paying the vendor, I noticed that a crowd of about 50 people had gathered to watch the show. I imagine we made an interesting story over the dinner table that night.



    • No comments
    • 0 views
    • 0 visitors
(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
Visit Kuwait with Pikliz
Jan 21, 2006

Photos by Jessie Adrien

Kuwait used to be under British rule for quite a while. At first back in ...more

1770 Kuwait use to deliver mail for England between the Gulf and Syria.The Amir Mubarak Al Sabah known as Mubarak , signed a pact with Britian on jan23, 1899 whereby Kuwait became a British protectorate. The British gained a stable ally in the region and handled all of Kuwaits foreign affairs, while the Kuwaitis were liberated from their fear of Turkish occupation. I think this is why the Kuwaitis like to drink tea. Kuwait made its first international shipment of oil in 1946.Prior to that they were in the pearl business, but the japanese began to flood the international pearl market with cultured pearls.Pearl diving, which had become the staple of the Kuwaiti economy was suddenly not so lucrative. And this happened on the eve of the Great Depression that plunged the entire world into poverty.Amir Abdullah Al-Salem(Abdullah III) known as the father of modern Kuwait, became ruler in 1950.On 19 June 1961, Kuwait regain full sovereignty. It ended their agreement with England.A few weeks later Iraq claimed Kuwait was Iraqi territory.The Amir asked Britiain to send a force to defend Kuwait.The League of Arab States sent a Arab security force to replace the British force to defend Kuwait.Kuwait joined the Arab Leagueon July 20 1961 and United Nations in 1963.The women where given the right to vote in 1999 but did not actually happen till 2005.The royal family Al Sabbah are the only ones that are able to rule. The Kuwaitis don't work. The citizens of Kuwait are guaranteed something like one hundred thousand dollars a year. The only people who work are all foreigners . Indians, Turkish, etc.

Kuwait was never a colony and the Kuwaitis have always been free to manage their affairs among themselves as they see fit and develop their unique cultural characteristics in their own way. The Kuwaiti of the pre-oil era survived, in the harshness of the desert or sea, through a mix of finely honed skills and highly developed social organization based on family, which provided the economic and political support necessary for survival. In return for this support, the individual gave unquestioning service and loyalty to his group. This gave rise to clan –based networks, which are still extremely strong and provide the basis of social relations between Kuwaitis today.
The Kuwaiti child was taught from an early age to serve and protect older family members and also, to ensure cooperation between clans, not to embarrass the family, The degree, which a young Kuwaiti was successful in learning his role was reflected in the amount of (face), he earned. The concept of face has the same meaning as respect and reputation in the west, except the face has intensity about it that is almost inconceivable to a westerner. But face accrues not only to the individual but also to the group, and a youth is considered mature once he view personal success as being synonymous with the success of the family or group.
Face is expressed through hospitality, generosity and loyalty to family or particular group. A Kuwaiti spends his life building his personal and social face and the sense of face lies behind many social behaviors in Kuwait.

The dewaniyah or parlour has existed in Kuwait since time immemorial. The term originally referred to the section of a Bedouin tent where the menfolk and their visitors sat apart from the family. In the old city of Kuwait it was the reception area where a man resaved his business colleagues and male guests. Today the term refers both to a reception hall and the gathering held in it, and visiting or hosting a Diwaniyah is an in dispensable feature of a Kuwaiti man’s social life.
As a social event, adiwaniyah takes place in special room or annex, which is usually, separate from the rest of man’s house. Only men are present and they sit around on soft benches or cushion, conversing casually, smoking, nibbling snacks and relaxing the evening, The host’s job is to be hospitable and entertain his guests, and the reputation of a man Diwaniyah is one of the prime ways in which he achieve’s face.
There are also more formal Diwaniyah, which specialize in particular interests, such as politics or science.

Most Kuwaitis men wear a dishdasha, a floor length robe with a center robe opening which is but on over the head. Because it is so well suited to the climate, this basic garment has changed little in the last few hundred years, though the collar, front button fastening and buttoned cuffs are 20th century innovations introduction by Indian tailor . Provided he is not corpulent, the dishdasha can at time make the wearer look quit elegant.
The three-part headdress of the Kuwait male is also very functional. It provides shade during summer, it can be wrapped across the face during sandstorms, and it’s end can be twisted up like a turban if the wearer is doing manual work The gutra is a square piece of cloth which is folded into a triangle and then placed centrally on the head so that the ends hang down equally over the shoulders. It is held in place by an ogal, a double circlet of twisted black cord, which is placed firmly over the head. Often a gahfiah, a close fitting skull cap , is worn under the gutra to stop it from slipping .
The headdress can be worn in various ways, ranging from the stiffly formal to the downright rakish, depending on the wearer’s mode and the social occasion, In the most dignified style the gutra is centered on the head. And pulled down well cover the forehead so that tow pointed ends are arranged on each side of the face, the other at the back, and the ogal is set straight on the head just slightly tilted back from the forehead .The possible variation on this basic positioning are endless. The ogal can be pushed backwards towards the top of the head, pulled down over the forehead, tilted on the kildare side or pulled down over a raffish eye. And once the ogal has been exactly positioned, the gutra can be arranged in various symmetrical and asymmetrical ways. The ends can, for example, be folded neatly back over the shoulders to open the face, or one end can be left hanging forward while the other is folded up and draped back to the head to expose a handsome profile. Shebabs, young Kuwaiti studs, spend a lot of their time getting the lie of ogal and gutra just right.
Once his headgear is settled to his liking, all a Kuwaiti has to complete his dress is to slip on a pair of leather sandals as he goes out the door. In the old days he would properly have girded himself in a leather belt with shoulder strap to hold a sheathed saef (sword) and khanjar (dagger) with possibly a sakeen (dirk) up his sleeve, but today’s Kuwaiti has replaced these manly accessories with those modern necessities, a mobile and pager.Kuwaiti wears white or cream dishdash, with matching gutras, most months of the year.
During winter somber –coloured heavier cloths are used and the gutras is changed to a red and white check, For example, the onset of winter and spring is easily marked when the locals suddenly, within the space of a day or so, change the colour of their clothing. In winter, most Kuwaitis also wear a heavy bisht, a cloak made of traditional thick dun-coloured camel hair or of heavy modern wool, over their dishdash, though the shebab tend to favour thick leather wool-lined zipped jerkins.
On grand occasion, a semi-transparent bisht with zari, special gold braiding, is worn by the rich and powerful, The embossed look of the zari is created by the first hand-embroidering the bisht with gold threads and then hammering the threads so that they become fused.

Kuwaiti women dress in western clothes, Though they may choose from the more demure styles, the latest designs are worn, regardless of the climate or convenience. However their traditional clothing, such as the thob (a straight-sided long overdress), is still used for dancing on festive occasion.
When in public many local women cover their chic western clothing with an aba, a head-to-toe silky black cloak, Bedouin women may also wear a burga, a short black veil that covers the entire face.
The hijab, or Islamic headscarf, which conceals the hair while leaving the face unveiled is not a Kuwaiti garment but is of northern origin. It is worn by many expatriate Muslim women. The hijab is usually complemented by along-sleeved floor-length garment,often in pretty colours, and the overall more elegant than the voluminous aba.


More History
Geographic Location

Kuwait lies at the northwest corner of the Arabian Gulf, between latitudes 28 and 30 N and between longitudes 46 and 48 E. To the north and west it shares a border of 225 km (150 miles ) with the Republic of Iraq, and to the south and southwest it shares a border of 250 km (155 miles) with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To the east it has a coast line of 290 km on the Arabian Gulf. Kuwait's territory includes nine islands off the coast of Kuwait: Failaka, Bubiyan, Miskan, Warba, Auhha, Umm Al-Maradim, Umm Al-Naml, Kubbar and Qaruth.

Area & Topography


The total area of the State of Kuwait is 17,818 square kilometers (6,969 square miles). Most of Kuwait mainland is a flat sandy desert, gradually sloping down from the extreme west of Shigaya and Salmi (300 meters high) towards sea level in the east. It is broken by shallow depressions and low hills, such as Al-Liyah, Kura Al-Maru, Shagat Al-Jleeb, and Afrie, which form a ridge at Jal al-Zor (145 meters high), cut by the Umm Al-Ramam wadi. The area is locally known by the name ? Ghodai? meaning the ? Hill?.

Kuwait's Islands

There are nine islands off the coast of Kuwait: Failaka, Bubiyan, Miskan, Warba, Auhha, Umm Al-Maradim, Umm Al-Naml, Kubbar and Qaruth.

Bubiyan : Located in the northwest of the Arabian Gulf it is the largest island in area (863 Km2), and is linked to the mainland by a prestressed concrete bridge.

Failaka, considered as the most beautiful island was a residential island and had a special beach resort comprising a number of chalets and leisure facilities before the Iraqi invasion, lies deserted now. However Kuwait plans to transform Failaka into a touristic and recreational destination. It will also be linked with the mainland by a 30 km long causeway.

The State's Higher Committee for Urban Planning and Major Projects is considering developmental projects in Failaka and Bubiyan islands.

The private sector would be invited to present offers for the Bubyan and Failaka island projects on the basis of 'BOT' (build-operate-transfer) system.

The Coast

There has always been a strong link between Kuwait and the sea, and it is this which shaped the distinctive character of today's Kuwaitis and constituted the Kuwaitis main source of income in olden times. Today the picture is different, with the urban expansion and rapid modernization. The link with the sea is still to the Kuwaitis a cherished memory of the past.

The 290 kilometers coast can be divided into two main parts : one extends along the Arabian Gulf and the other lies around Kuwait Bay and Khor Subiya. The two areas are basically different. Most of the first area is characterized by sandy beaches, while the second area, 70 km in length, is characterized by mudflats, especially in the shallow northern area in the Bay of Kuwait, where the maximum wave height is 16 cm. opposite Kuwait City.

Flora, Fauna & MarineLife

Being a desert land with little water and extremes of temperatures and high salinity, Kuwait is rather an inhospitable place for plants and animal life. Still there are some 400 species of plants and flowers growing in Kuwait. In spring some parts of desert transform into green medows and carpet of yellow camomile. In the northern part of the country and at Jal al-Zor there are numerous plants like Arfaj (phanterium epapposum) and Awsaj (lycium arbicumL.Shawi) both eaten by camels. There is heliotropium ramosissimum plant whose dry leaves are used by the bedouins to make a drink like tea, and a poultice to cure venomous snake bites. Cistanche lutea with its large flowers is an impressive plant found in Kuwait.

The best months to see and study Kuwait's flora are January, February and March when desert comes alive with colourful plants.

Wild life prior to the Iraqi invasion of August 1990 include many species of reptiles; lizards and snakes. Rabbits, wolf and various types of desert gazelle are near extinction due to unrestricted hunting and urban expansion. Native birds are limited to few species, mostly larks, but the country lies on the migration route for many bird species such as flamingoes, steppe eagles, Cormorants and Bee Eaters.

The Arabian Gulf is highly saline and seawater temperatures range from 12oC to 36oC. More than 200 species of fish inhabit local waters, as well as 5 species of sea-snakes, along with dolphins, porpoises and whales. Innumerable types of molluscs and other sea-shells are found on the shores.

Natural Resources

Kuwait has few natural resources other than oil, a gigantic natural harbour, fisheries, and a few sparse water supplies.

Oil is Kuwait's prime natural resource on which its economy depends. The country is reckoned to have reserves of 94.8 billion barrels, about 9.6% of the world's total. This ranks it third in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq. At current levels of production, Kuwait has enough oil to last for more than 100 years.

Kuwait bay is a generously sized natural harbour and has always been a prime access point for trade entering and leaving the hinterland of northeast Arabia and Iraq. Before oil was discovered, it was the country's most valuable natural resource and today, as the location of Kuwait's main commercial port, its economic importance continues.

Fifty years ago Kuwait was self-sufficient in marine foods and, despite a 20-fold increase in population, fishing still provides 50% of the country's seafood requirements. But stocks are being depleted through overfishing and the breeding grounds are being polluted by increased sediment due to marsh-draining in southern Iraq.

Kuwait's only reserves of pure drinking water are in the northern areas of Ar-Rawdatain and Umm Al-Aish. The rest of its naturally occuring water, which is found in Sulaibiya, Shigaya, Abdali, Wafra and Umm Qdair, is brackish and can only be used, in its natural state, for irrigation.

International Commerce

Trade has always been the main factor in the existance of Kuwait. Before the Suez canal was opened in 1868, Kuwait Bay was one of the two good natural harbours in the Gulf, the other being in Bahrain. Due to these geographical advantages and its stable administration, early Kuwait became the centre of much of the transit trade from India, Africa and China to Europe.
Kuwaiti merchants would sail to distant locations in locally built sailing dhows. Many were involved in pearl diving, boat building and general trading. Fishing provided an essential food for the locals. Pearling was a major source of wealth.

Kuwait In Pre-history

Very little is known of Kuwait in early times. Tools, dating from about 8,000 BC, found in Burgan and Wafra, indicate a human presence in the area during the mesolithic period, though strangely there are no signs of a later neolithic culture.

Archaeological finds dating as far back as 2000 BC suggest that Failaka, the most famous of Kuwaits islands, was a trading centre. It was an outpost of the Dilmun trading empire. The island of Failaka lies 20 km north east of Kuwait city. It is 12 km long, 6 km wide. It is this island which combines the ancient history of Kuwait, dating back to the early stone age; and the recorded history of Kuwait, when the early ?Utubs? settled in after their long journey, prior to their settlement on Kuwait's main land in the late seventeenth century.

Brief History

Kuwait has a history of over 250 years of existence as an independent political entity.

The real history of Kuwait dates back to 1672 when Kuwait was just a small village where the Sheikh of the Bani Khalid built his ?Kout? (small fortress),. The establishment of Kuwait proper was in 1711 with the arrival of the ?Utub? tribe in Kuwait. The ?Utub? were originally related to the ?Anaza? tribe in Najd.

In the 17th century the Bani Khalid were the rulers of Eastern Arabian peninsula and their domain stretched from Kuwait down to Qatar.

In the middle of the 17th century the 'Utub' tribe comprising of several major tribe of Anaza, such as Al-Sabah, Al-Khalifa, Al-Zayed, Al-Jalahima and Al-Muawida migrated from Najd, a place in central Arabian peninsula due to a drought sweeping the peninsula at that time.

Disputes over succession after the death of Saidun bin Muhammed bin Oraier Al-Hamad in 1722 gave the Utab some form of local government. In 1756 Sabah bin Jaber was chosen by the inhabitants of Kuwait to administer justice and the affairs of the town.

Kuwait, The Capital :

The first wall around the City was built in the 1760s, the second in 1814, and the last in 1920. This was demolished in 1957 but its five gates were left standing as monuments to the past.

The City of Kuwait itself still retains its five original districts - Sharq, Dasman, Mirqab, Salhya and Qibla, although today it has spread beyond the boundary of the old surrounding wall. In 1760 Kuwait covered an area of 11 hectares, i.e. 110,000 sq. meters. Now after astounding urban expansion it encompasses 16 modern suburbs with a total area of 17,818 sq. Km.
Old Kuwait City almost disappeared under the massive surge of constructional activity with all the accoutrements of the twentieth century - modern residential complexes, modern roads, multi-storey buildings, plentiful water,etc.


The Origins Of The Population

When the Utub tribe arrived in Kuwait there were some families of other tribes already living in the area, and these families joined the new Utbi trading settlement. Other families from the Anaza, were attracted by Kuwait's stability and in 1831 the population was about 4,000. Throughout the 19th century there was continuous slow immigration from Arabia, southern Mesopotamia, and Persia and in 1863 the population was nearly 15,000. Thousands more arrived during the time of Sheikh Mubarak the Great, attracted by his orderly administration and Kuwait's commercial activity. In 1946 the population was about 90,000.

Social & Political Formation

Because of its location at the head of the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait was an important entrepot on the trade routes between the West and the East. In the early 18th century, the Utub, the ancestors of many of today's premier Kuwaiti families, arrived in the area where they founded a settlement of traders. At that time the area from Qatar to Kuwait was ruled by the Beni Khalid, a tribal federation of nomads and settled clans who controlled trade along the Gulf coast. Due to a weakening of the Beni Khalid by internal dissention and general political turbulence in the area, the Utub were able to assert their independence gradually. This independence became absolute in the mid-18th century.

The new trading settlement in Kuwait elected Sabah bin Jabir bin Adhbi as its first Sheikh. About 1764, Sabah was succeeded by his younger son Abd Allah who was also elected by the Utbi merchants. In the 19th century the Sabah consolidated their position as the ruling clan when the method of succession changed. Instead of being elected by the merchants, the head of the Sabah was selected by the family and this person became Amir when the merchants pledged their allegiance to him. The Amir and his immediate family were expected to cease trading on their own account to devote themselves to government, and in return they were allowed to levy a small duty on imports.

The Amirs were not absolute rulers and consulted the merchants at regular diwaniyahs, meetings which they hosted. According to al-Rushaid, a Kuwaiti historian, the Amir's role was seen as being to 'protect the rights of the merchant community against the greed of foreigners', and real authority rested with the merchants.

Early Kuwait was a small closely-knit political entity. The consensual nature of its governance enabled it to adjust rapidly to threats and opportunities, whether commercial or political. Whenever the Beni Khalid, in the early days, appeared to reassert their sovereignty, the merchants would decamp with their stock-in-trade for Faylaka Island, wait until the nomadic Khalidis grew bored and left, and then move back to Kuwait. Later, during the first century or so of its existence, Kuwait relied on ad hoc alliances with neighbouring powers to preserve its independence and free-booting mercantilism.

When Sheikh Mubarak the Great, considered the founder of modern Kuwait, rose to power in 1896, he was concerned with foreign policy as his small and prosperous trading town came under continual threat from outsiders, particularly the Ottoman Turks. On 23rd January 1899, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabahand the British government signed an agreement, under which the British would provide a measure of protection, but Mubarak was not allowed to receive a representative of any country without the concent of the British, nor could any Kuwaiti territory be sold to any foreign national or government without their concent. Mubarak is portrayed as a highly competent ruler who managed tribal affairs very well. Mubarak died in 1915. It is recorded that in 1914 the population of town was 35,000 people. The town consisted of 3,000 houses, 500 shops and three schools. There were around 500 boats engaged in pearl-fishing and 30 to 40 larger vessels sailing to India and Africa. By 1922 the total number of Kuwaiti pearl diving boats reached 800 and there were over 10,000 people involved in the profession. There were as many as 300 boat builders, the timber came mainly from India.

During the 1920s and 1930s Kuwait's consensual form of governance, in which views were traditionally expressed openly in the Sheikh's diwaniyah, became more formal and several experiments were made with elected advisory and legislative councils. In 1930 Kuwait Municipality was established.

On June 19, 1961, Kuwait became independent of the British protection by an agreement signed between the Kuwaiti prince Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem and the then resident British diplomat. By the end of 1962 the Kuwaiti constitution was established and the first election for the National Assembly was held in 1963.

Iraqi Invasion And Liberation

The gruesome and unprovoked cruel aggression of Iraq invading Kuwait on August 2, 1990 makes an unforgettable event of the recent history of Kuwait. The seven month occupation by Iraq brutalised the entire population.

During the Iraqi occupation more than 400 Kuwaitis were martyred. Hundreds of Kuwaitis and expatriates were tortured, women raped, properties looted and damaged.
Thousands of Westerners trapped in Kuwait were arrested and forcibly used as human shields on key military and industrial installations in Iraq and Kuwait, and others, to avoid such a fate, had to go into hiding.

The UN condemned the invasion and authorised the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait. The USA, led by President George Bush, created an Arabic-Western coalition of 35 countries which freed Kuwait on 26th February 1991. But before liberation more than 70% of the country's suqs and shopping malls were looted. Warehouses, factories, hosp-itals, offices and buildings were stripped, museums and cultural centres were emptied, and the environment was almost destroyed by the Iraqi dictator's last attrocity of firing Kuwaiti oil wells to destroy Kuwait.

The retreating Iraqis blew up oil installations and set 727 oil wells (about 80% of the total) on fire, causing oil-related losses of about US$75 billion. In addition, the ports were blocked and mined, and power and water distillation plants were rendered inoperative. But within ten days one port was cleared, power was restored two months later, and the last oil fire was extinguished in November 1991.

Nearly six hundred Kuwaitis, who were arrested and reported as being taken to Iraq, are still missing. Now, more than eleven years, best of efforts have not achieved much success. Those missing include men, women and even children. The families of missing continue to live in agony as they wait.



(C) PIKLIZ.COM
 
Visit Dubai Mall
Nov 1, 2012

Photos by Francois Adrien.
The Tallest building of the world Burj Khalifa.

    • No comments
    • 2 views
    • 2 visitors