Salmiya, Kuwait

Photo: Marina Hotel
Photo: Marina Hotel

Feeling dizzy in Kuwait City? Between the massive high-rise buildings, the endless construction, and the crowded seaport, Kuwait’s capital is a difficult city in which to relax. For that, you need to head south, across Kuwait Bay.

Salmiya is known as the cultural and shopping hub of Kuwait. The 12-block area is filled with shops, parks, and religious sites. An aquarium, yachts, and expats line the marina. Sandy beaches and the Marina Hotel have views of the Kuwait Towers, the iconic image of the city. It’s all just 10 minutes from the business that drew you here in the first place.

Does all of this sound shiny and new? It is. Salmiya was once a sleepy fishing village. It had one of the country’s largest souks, which sold delicate fabrics and gold jewelry. But it was known for its fishermen and pearl divers. Then the Iraqis destroyed everything during the Gulf War. The past 20 years have been spent rebuilding, to turn Salmiya into an area people want to visit.

Spend the morning relaxing at the Marina Hotel. Sip Arabic coffee in the lobby. Eat a sajj wrap for breakfast under the glass atrium. Relax on a yellow-cushioned lounger by the pool. Walk along the golden-sand beach. Then head to the Scientific Center. The Middle East’s largest aquarium looks like an old, though huge, mud home; the roof looks like the mast of a ship.

Stroll along Salem Al-Mubarak Street, stopping in the art galleries and a hookah café. Pass mosques, a Roman Catholic chapel, and Salmiya Park. Eat grilled hamour, safi, or sobaity along the water—all of the seafood came off the boats earlier this morning. And watch the city’s lights sparkle on the water after the sun goes down. Tomorrow you’ll rejoin the chaos across the bay.

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