I’m very lucky in that in the past I’ve been able to travel a lot with work, getting about to see new places at home and abroad.
Back in 2012, following a hard 12 months working on the London Olympics, I had the opportunity to go and work on a project in Kuwait; which I jumped at. Really what I wanted was a holiday, but after packing my things from London 2012, the very next day I jumped on a plane to Kuwait City to work on their 50th Constitution Day celebrations.
I’d never been to the middle east before, and my only knowledge of Kuwait was from the news footages I’d seen as a kid when war broke out following the Iraqi invasion. I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous about heading out there and had no idea what to expect, but I’m happy to say it was one of the best experiences of my life, a wonderful City with wonderful people!
On my first couple of days, I had to familiarise myself the job I’d be doing. It was straight in to but I did manage to see some of the city. Our office was based on the Corniche over looking the gulf.
We were there to build a fireworks display along 5km of the coastline, so I spent my days going up and down various points of the beach. It was not a bad place to work!
Dominating the skyline is the Kuwait Towers, the 187-meter tall towers opened in 1979 to act as a symbol of modern Kuwait.
The city itself is very modern, with glitzy sky scrappers everywhere you look, but walking around, you do find some old buildings which have seen better days, but provide a glimps to the past of this city in the desert
Although it was a work trip, I was there for four months, so of course we found time to relax and soak up the sun.
Being my first time in a desert city, it was my first experience of a proper sand storm. They come randomly at times, and are quite the sight! The only thing you can do is duck for cover and get inside. When the hit, the engulf everything in their path
Although my aim is to really write about the city and it’s wonderful people, I can’t not mention the job we were there to do, so if you’ll allow me to bore you for a couple of minutes…
As I said, we were there to put on a fireworks display. I was there as the Logistics Manager, and this was my first fireworks display, so it was interesting for me to see how they come together.
We had over 100,000 fireworks to prep, which took a bit of time!
We also had to build 15-meter tall structures in the sea to hold lighting and fireworks, which was a logistical nightmare. Top tip – Never try and build temporary structures in the sea!
We had to provide music to over 5km of coastline, which took a lot of speakers which were flown in from France.
At the time I was there, the Kuwait Towers were closed for renovations. Fortunately for me, they were to play a vital role in our event so I had a pass to get into them whenever I needed, and I took the opportunity to get up to the top and savour the views of the city.
There is a viewing area in the top of the highest tower providing spectacular views.
Watching the sunset over the city from up here was incredibly peaceful
The beaches are pristine, and the water warm. I was surprised how salty the water was though, much more so than I’d experienced on European beaches.
I had a car to get about whilst I was there, but the traffic in the City is quite mental, so once on site, I relied on a bike to get back and forward depending on where I was needed.
After 6 weeks, it was event night. We’d be blowing up 100,000 fireworks of the course of 53 minutes, along 5km of beachfront, with over 1 million spectators watching from the shores.
Right before go time, it was a bit tense in the control room!
But everything went off without a hitch.
The Kuwait Towers took centre stage throughout the whole display
And buildings in the city were lit up at the same time and we had a parade along the Cornich
I caught this photo of three police officers enjoying the display. It’s one of my faviroties I took that night
And once it was al over, we were confirmed winner of no less than 7 Guiness World Records! I cought this snap with the Lady from Guiness. I was well chuffed to be a part of it.
The people of Kuwait are amazing, and I made some great friends whilst I was there. We all celebrated a job well done
On one occasion we were invited out to a desert camp by one of our suppliers. It was an hour out of the city and I had thought it would be a little place, maybe a tent, we would have some dinner and that be that.
When we arrived, this was like a compound. It was massive! There must have been 8 tents, all bigger than my house back in London, and a full-on catering crew to serve us anything we wanted.
It was a really nice evening and lovely to spend time with the locals getting to know them properly outside of work. They really are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met.
At the end of the evening, they even presented us with a commemorative plague each to thank us for helping them celebrate their 50th anniversary of being an independent state.
Whilst there we also spent a lot of time go-karting. As there’s no drinking in Kuwait, there are no pubs, so to fill our evenings we had to do something!
I honestly never thought I would have such a great time in a city that you can’t drink, but it was amazing. I’m not sure I’d ever laughed so much over a 4 month period of abstinence!
My good buddy Ehab looked after us very well during our stay
But it was time to pack up and say goodbye…
I would miss my jet ski!
And my car…
And my hotel suite…
But most of all I’ll miss the people. Kuwait was a great four months.
I would recommend it for a visit if you ever get the chance. There is lots to see and do, but the best bet is the people, so if you ever go try and makes friends there. They’re very friendly and will gladly show off their lovely country to you.