Built to house Kuwait's oil industry in the 1940s and '50s, Al-Ahmadi was named for the then emir, Shaikh Ahmed. It remains, to a great extent, the private preserve of the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC). The Oil Display Centre is a small, well-organised and rather self-congratulatory introduction to KOC and the oil business. Al-Ahmadi also has a small, pleasant public garden that's worth a visit.Al-Ahmadi is about 20km (12mi) south of Kuwait City.
The home of Kuwait's main archaeological site, Failaka is definitely worth a visit, though it requires a bit of extra caution. The Iraqis turned Failaka into a heavily fortified base and filled the area with mines.Failaka's history goes back to the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation, which was centred in Bahrain. The Greeks arrived in the 4th century BC in the form of a garrison sent by Nearchus, one of Alexander the Great's admirals. A small settlement existed on the island prior to this, but it was as the Greek town of Ikaros that the settlement became a real city. The Greeks lived on Failaka for two centuries. The centrepiece of the island is its temple.Failaka is about 20km (12mi) north-east of Kuwait City's centre and well served by ferries, which depart daily from Arabian Gulf St just south of the city centre.
In the years since liberation, Kuwait City has developed into a remarkably easygoing place, though not without a price. The National Museum, once the pride of Kuwait and its centrepiece, used to house the Al-Sabah collection, one of the most important collections of Islamic art in the world. During the occupation, however, the Iraqis systematically looted the exhibit halls. Having cleaned out the building, they smashed everything they could and then set what was left on fire. A hall at the back of the museum complex's courtyard has been restored and is sometimes used for temporary exhibits. Because of the loss of the National Museum's treasures, the Tareq Rajab Museum, a private collection of Islamic art housed in the basement of a large villa, is all the more important.A small building near the National Museum, Sadu House is a museum and cultural foundation dedicated to preserving Bedouin arts and crafts. It's also the best place in Kuwait to buy Bedouin goods. The house itself is built of gypsum and coral, and there's some beautiful decorative carving around the courtyard. More impressive to the country's Muslims is the huge, modern Grand Mosque, opened in 1986, which cost millions to build and can accommodate over 5500 worshippers.Designed by a Swedish architectural firm and opened in 1979, the Kuwait Towers have become Kuwait's main landmark. The largest of the three rises to a height of 187m (615ft). The upper globe houses a two-level observation deck, which is open daily and overlook the emir's Sief Palace. The largest tower's lower globe has a restaurant, coffee shop and banquet rooms.
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