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The State of Kuwait is an Arab country which was founded in 1613. Kuwait became a prosperous trading hub during the 18th and 19th centuries: a vital link between India, Africa and the Middle East. Kuwait’s ship building industry blossomed during this era, its vessels becoming famous throughout the Indian Ocean for their quality. Originally composed of a small fishing community, by the 1700s Kuwait City had grown to become the most important commercial centre for the transit of cargo between East and West.
Kuwait’s economy today is largely reliant upon petroleum. It is recognised by the World Bank as a high income economy. Kuwait is democratic, with an elected parliament. It is a constitutional emirate.
The Grand Mosque of Kuwait is the country’s largest mosque, spanning some 45,000 square metres. It was built in 1986 in Kuwait City, at a construction cost of over $48 million. The main prayer hall features 21 teak doors and is illuminated by some 144 windows. The main hall can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. The Grand Mosque also houses a library of Islamic books and historical documents. The mosque’s minaret is said to echo Andalusian architecture.
Located opposite Kuwait’s City’s Grand Mosque is Seif Palace, famous for its pure gold-roofed, blue-tiled watch tower. Seif Palace was built in 1904 and is owned by the Kuwaiti Government.
Failaka Island is located in the Persian Gulf, 20km off the coast of Kuwait City. The name is thought to be derived from the ancient Greek word for “outpost”. The island has a long history, archaeologists finding evidence of Mesopotamian settlers as far back as 2000 BC. The island was inhabited by the Dilmun and Kassites before being colonised by Alexander the Great’s army as the Greeks returned to Mesopotamia. They named the island Ikaros after the Greek mythical hero. There are remains of a large Hellenistic fort and two Ancient Greek temples.
Kuwait has several amusement parks and numerous tourist resorts. It is the home of the world famous Dar Al Funnoon and Boushahri Art Galleries, as well as boasting many museums including the Kuwait Maritime Museum, the Bait Al-Othman Museum and the Saif Marzooq Al Shamlan Museum.