Figure 1.--The dishdash is worn by men and boys. It is not a child costume but a smaller version of adult men's wear. It fits over the head and covers the whole body. It is a one piece garment. It is a dress . It comes in a variety of colours, white, khaki, sky blue, navy blue and grey.

Kuwait is an Arab shiekdom at the head of the Persian Gulf, wedged between Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. The ruling dynasty was founded in 1756. Kuwait souught British protection in 1896. Significant oil production began after World War II in 1946. Kuwait became independent in 1961. It was claimed by Sadam Husein as Iraq's 16 province and he invaded Kuwait (1980), resulting in the First Gulf War which liberated the country (1981). Both traditional Arab and Western clothing styles are worn. Arab clothing styles are prominent, especially among adults. We do not know of any destinctive Kuwati styles, but rather note genetal Arab styles. Many men an boys wear traditional garments like the disdash. There are no specifically boys' garments in Arab clothing. Rather the boys simply wear smller versions. A reader in Kuwait tells us about a celebration called "Guirgian ".


Kuwait is a small country strategically located at the head of the Persian Gulf. It is wedged between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and faces the Persian Gulf. The climate is extremely arid with very hot summers and short, cool winters. The terraine is mostly flat to slightly undulating desert plain. The desert land areas begins to rise slightly in the southwest, along the Saudi border.Most of the country is a basically flat and dry barren desert of sandy expanses, in places covered by scrub. Thi is an extension of one of the driest, least-hospitable deserts on earth. Its primary geographic feature of importance is Kuwait Bay, a deep-water harbor on the Persian Gulf. This provided a port that in ancient and medival times proved valuable. In fact, the country's name in arabic means 'fort'. This of course was derived from a fort built there to protect the port. Less than 1 percent of the land is arable. Thus seems to be a somewhat lower portion than earlier historical periods. long the Gulf coast are nine islands, most of whichare not populated. The largest are Bubiyan and Al-Warbah. The most popular is Failakah mainly because it is populated. It was once occupied by Alexander the Great.


Kuwait is an Arab shiekdom at the head of the Persian Gulf, wedged between Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. Kuwait is located south of Mesopotamia, the cradel of civilization. And the reasch of that early civilization extended into surrounding areas, including Kuwait. What is now Kuwait and southern Iraq provided the ports that connected Mesopotamia with the rest of the world, including the Indus Valley civilization as well as Africa and even Egypt. There is evidence of trading with Mesopotamia (3rd mellinium BC). Archeological and historical traces for unknown reasons disappeared (1st millennium BC). Failka Island with fresh water offered an anchorage area for maritime traders connecting the ports lof the Persian Gulf and beyond, including Oman, India and East Africa. Modern Kuwait became known as Kadhima. Kadhima was an important trading station for caravans coming from Persia and Mesopotamia. It thus was a stratehic link in regional trade. For centurues it was the trade link with the Indian Ocean and beyond. It was part of the Arab outreach wich dominated the Indian Ocean until the Europeans rounded the Cape of Good Hope (1487). The European challenge to Arab sea power soon followed. The result was a decline in economies throughout the Middle East as the Arabs and Ottomans were cut out of world trde. The Anizah tribe of central Arabia founded Kuwait City (early 18th century). The ruling dynasty was founded Kuwait as an autonomus shiekdom (1756). 'Abd Rahim of the al-Sabah was the first Kuwait sheik. His descendants continue to be the Kuwaiti ruling family. Kuwait's autonomy was due to its location on the Arab fringe of the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait fearing that the Ottoman Empire was seeling to establish more direct control sought British protection (1896). Kuwait was for millenia a backward, very poor area, primarily because of the arid countryside. This changed after Workd war II when significant oil production began (1946). Britain ended the protectorate as part of a general decolonization effort (1961). Kuwait became independent, but continued a military relationship with Britain. Iraq upon independence immediately threatened occupy Kuwait, calling it the 16th Province. The British at Kuwait's request sent troops to defend the country. Soon after, the Arab League sent in troops to replace the British. Iraq dropped its claim when the Arab League recognized Kuwaiti independence (July 20, 1961). Since independence, Historically, Kuwait pursued a neutral policy and attempted to mediate disputes between its larger regional neighbors. Iraqi dictator Sadam Husein bankupted by war with Iran that he launched, demanded increased payments from Kuwait. When the Kuwaitis refused to pay, Sadam renewed Iraq's claim and invded Kuwait (1990). When Sadam ignored President Bush's demands that he withdraw, the President organized an international coalition which liberated Kuwait (1991).


Modern Kuwait located just south of Iraq and thus on the fringe of ancient Mesopotamia. was located very close to ancient Sumer, the craddle of civilzation. What is now Kuwaut was located south of the Tigris-Eurphrates and the important Sumerian cities, although Ur and Eridu were located very close to the borders of modern Kuwait. This must have affected to locl economy, but we are not sure just how. There seem to have been trade links. This continued to be the case during the Islamic era. Kuwait provided a conecting point for caravans headed east toward the Levant and Egypy and west toward the Caliphate cities abd Persia. It was also a port fot trade with areas to the south, including India and East Africa. Kuwait was a trade port and resting place for both desert caravans and Haj pilgrims on their way from Iraq and Persia to Hejaz. The area around Kuwait City seems to have been more fertile than is the case today. This trade began to decline with theEuropean maritime expansion and the establishment of sea route links with the East. Along with the rest of the arab world, the Kuwait economy declined. This did not change until the modern era and the discovery of oil in Kuwait. The Emir of Kuwait granted an oil concession to the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) (1934). KOC was jointly owned by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (the future British Petroleum Company--BP) and the american Gulf Oil Corporation. The Kuwaiti Government nationalized KOC (1976). Kuwait then seized control over onshore production in the Divided Zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (1977). KOC produces in the Divuded Zone jointly with Texaco. And by the purchase of Getty Oil Company, acquired the Saudi Arabian onshore concession in the Divided Zone (1984). Kuwait is believe to have some 10 percent of the world's oil reserves which explains why Saddam Hussein wanted it and invaded Kuwait (1990). among other natters, the Iraqi invasion adversely affected the country's oil diversification efforts. Oil and gas dominates the country's economy, accounting for nearly half of Kuwait's GDP and nerly all (95 percent of both export revenues and government income). The oil resource is so great and the population so small that here has been little incentive or need to diversify the economy. And a deadlock between parliament and governmenthas prevented any consensus on economic reforms. Kuwait inagurated a free-trade zone (1999). As a result of the oil income, Kuwait has a well-developed banking system. The National Bank of Kuwait is the most important bank in the country and one of the largest in the Arab world. It is not clear how permanent the 2014-15 drop in oil prices is going to be and just how it will affect Kuwait. A substantial revision of peal oil calculations, however, must inevitably affect a country so dependent on oil. High oil revenues have until now made it possible for policymakers to avoid making the tough choices needed to liberalize the economy, such as privatizing inefficent state-owned enterprises. There is also a problem with rising protectionism.


Our discussion of Kuwati garments is limited by our small archive on the country. Kuwaitis wear both traditional Arab and Western clothing styles. Arab clothing styles are prominent, especially among adults. We do not know of any destinctive Kuwati styles, but rather note genetal Arab styles. Headwear styles can identify nationality. Many men an boys wear traditional garments like the disdash. There are no specifically boys' garments in Arab clothing. Rather the boys simply wear smaller versions of their parents' clothing. This is a little different for girls who in conservative families did not have to wear the all emcompasing garments like their mothers. Actually we see children more likely to wear Western dress, we assume beause it is more practical and less expensive. For childrem, Arab dress was often reerved for dress up occassions, family gatherings and holidays. An important factor is affluence. Arab traditional styles seem particularly prominent in the wealthy oil states like Kuwait. Although we also see them in poor, backward countries like Yemen.


Ramadan commemorates the first relevation of the holy Koran. A reader in Kuwait tells us about the Ramadan celebration in Kuwait which is called Guirgian. His class of 8-year olds have been excited all week. It seems that a child celebration was immanent. It is part of the Ramadan celebration. The giving and collection of the gift is preceded by a procession of noisy children playing drums very loudly, clapping and singing a special song for the occasion.This ceremony takes place in many Islamic countries. The celebration is given different names and takes different forms.


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Created: 12:12 AM 2/11/2006
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