Kuwait, 1982 (Photograph by Dennis Sylvester Hurd).
In the Robert Altman post I mentioned Farouq Abdel-Aziz, the host of Monday night’s “Cine Club,” and it got me a tad nostalgic about those days. So I thought it might be interesting to our older bloggers and readers to reminisce about those days.
The early 1980s in Kuwait would have been tough for today’s young men and women: no satellite stations; no internet; no modern movie theatres with the latest releases; no Ipod; no fancy video games (although we did have the Sony Walkman and the Atari VCS).
The Kuwait National Cinema Company’s theatres were in a decrepit condition (hardly anyone went to movies). There was a useless and idiotic boycott against major American studios and actors such as Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor and anyone else who performed in or supported Israel . KNCC screened low-budget Asian martial arts knock-offs and made for television movies. Once in a while you’d get a MAD MAX 2 or RAMBO, but those hits were few and far between.
The Kuwaiti soccer team was a hell of a team: ‘Our Camel Was a Winner’.
The Kuwaiti theatre was bold, brash, original and hilarious (i.e. Bye Bye London, The Knights of The Stock Exchange – Fursan Al-Manakh).
Coca-Cola and Ford were not available here (due to the boycott). Pepsi was the norm everywhere, alongside Seven Up and Crush, and we drank them from the bottle.
Entertainment was relatively non-existent, unless you counted renting Salmiya’s The Video Club’s pirated films as “entertainment.” We’d also occasionally visit the occasional ‘Jukebox‘ concert that would play Salmiya Cinema – kids dancing and lip-synching to George Michael, Bananarama and Kajagoogoo (can you imagine such a concert occuring now in Kuwait?)
I remember KTV2 – it was at its peak: SHOGUN, QUINCY, C.H.I.P.S., MAGNUM, among many other top of the line newer American shows of the time – language, violence and disturbing situations were not censored, only kisses and pornography. We were a much more liberal society in those days. Today the station is a shadow of what it once was, having been superseded by the likes of One, Dubai Television, MBC2, among many others.
As far as fast-food or dining were concerned during the early to mid-1980s, I remember the Dairy Queen adjacent to Salhiya, and the trio of Mister Donut, (or was it Dunkin Donuts?), A&W and Swensons in Salmiya, as well as a Sizzler on the Sultan Center road. There was no McDonalds, Hungry Bunny(they came into the picture during the late 80s), Burger King or Arby’s – Hardees was the King of Fast Food and Pizza Italia was the King of Pizzas. The Movenpick restaurant opposite Salhiya was also very popular.
The once-thriving Clubs like the ‘Hunting and Equestrian Club’ and the ‘Gazelle Club’ (Nadi Al-Ghazaal) were winding down in popularity. The Drive-In theatre was also a far cry from its 1970s heyday when it was the place to be. Those clubs were eclipsed by the Salmiya Sports Club (next to the Pearl Marzouq building) where people could swim, dance, learn martial arts and basically have a good time.
Flirting was done in a more low-key and civilized manner. Young men did not walk around in groups intimidating women or trying to drive them off the streets if they didn’t acknowledge their interest.
There were more Westerners then. You could see them everywhere; they were a welcome sight. Kuwait was the destination in the Gulf for expatriates.
Private schools had mostly expatriate students, Kuwaitis were a minority. Now it’s the reverse.
Even though we had no emissions laws or regulations, Kuwait seemed much less polluted in those days. I don’t remember seeing any pinkish smog hovering over the city.
There was hardly any major traffic; you could drive from the Showbiz area in Salmiya towards the Marriot “Love Boat” Hotel at the end of the Gulf Road in less than 15 minutes. There were fewer deuce bags on the road.
What do you guys remember from the Kuwait of the 1980s that you would like to share?