Exhausted after the frantic merry-making of the festive season, if you have the inclination to get away from it all for that ideal short break –Kuwait with its calm seas and private beaches may prove to be an ideal choice.
And the country is continuing to step up its appeal with new hotels, shopping malls and galleries.
Kuwait, which plans grand celebrations to mark its National Day in February, is fast emerging as a safe and upmarket holiday destination for the family, a travel industry veteran points out.
The recent past-faced developments in the country’s hospitality industry seem to prove him right.
Kuwait already has several upscale beach resorts, including the Hilton Kuwait, with the longest private beach, the Radisson SAS beachfront development, the Regency Palace, the Messilah Beach Resort and the Julai’a Kempinski Hotel and Resort.
And the tourism investments continue with the opening of the 160-room property, Four Points by Sheraton. The 21-floor, project in Art Deco style aims to offer superb choice for the discerning traveller.
The Marriott is also set to open its 300-room Courtyard brand hotel housed in the country’s tallest skyscraper, the Arraya Centre, while work is well under way on a multi-million dollar waterfront development at Fahaheel.
The opening of the coastline phase of the Marina World project, which when fully operational will cover an area equivalent to 84 football grounds, will be a further shot in the arm for the country’s entertainment and leisure facilities.
The new coastline phase, connected to Marina Mall by a panoramic pedestrian bridge across Gulf Road, features a two-storey crescent of shops, restaurants and cafes overlooking a world-class marina with mooring for 140 boats.
The seafront development also includes a five-star hotel, exclusive health club, fine dining restaurants and a range of leisure and entertainment facilities.
“The completion of Marina World is a landmark both of our company and Kuwait,” says United Real Estate Company (URC) managing director, Omran Hayat.
“It marks the culmination of years of detailed planning. We’re delighted and proud that the result is a unique concept harmonising land and sea, containing such a wealth of resources.
“Marina World will be a complete destination for local and expatriate families, as well as tourists with top-quality shopping, dining, leisure and entertainment facilities all created with a unique strategy in a sweeping coastline setting,” he says.
The Marina Mall itself, representing a unique and exciting shopping/leisure concept in Kuwait, recently celebrated its first anniversary by recording its eight millionth visitor.
“The high number of visitors represents a record level for one year in a country of limited population like Kuwait,” says marketing and public relations manager Ayman Al Harmi.
The mall hosts a collection of designer brand names, including Kuwait’s first Virgin Megastore, the biggest in the Middle East; the first Gameworks in Kuwait; the country’s first The One furniture emporium; as well as restaurants, entertainment centres and a mosque.
And for art aficionados, Illusion- a new art gallery in Sun City Shuwaikh - has opened an exhibition of exclusive and one-of-a-kind pieces of modern abstract art contributed by artists from all over the world.
Beautiful paintings, sculptures, glass pieces (from renowned French glass artist John Paul Vanlith), ethnic jewellery and art photography are available for the nouveau artist with an eye for modern beauty.
“We also carry designer furniture,” says one of the gallery’s owners Shaikha Al Nafisi.
Creations by about 35 to 40 artists are on show at the gallery, which is open daily from 9.30 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm.
January will also see the opening of several exhibitions.
The Rebuilding of Iraq Exhibition will be held at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Mishref from January 19 to 23.
More than 45 countries and 1,100 companies are to showcase a range of products and services earmarked as necessary for the rebuilding of the war-torn country.
The massive international contingent includes more than 23 national pavilions representing Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Korea, Macedonia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and the UK.