Dubai vs Kuwait
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 10, 2011 9:06 AM Last Post By: Kutsuit
Oct 18, 2011 9:13 PM
Dubai vs KuwaitHi,
We will be going to visit my sis-in-law in Kuwait in late December. Our flight will be via Dubai so I am thinking of spending 3 days there before going to Kuwait. This will be our first time there.
Are there anything that Dubai is better for compared to Kuwait? In terms of value for money experience. What should we do in Dubai instead of Kuwait.
We are interested in overnight dessert safari, culture, arts and food. The dhow cruise sounds interesting and visiting the landmarks in Dubai.
In terms of shopping, we prefer to shop for arts and crafts. The mrs loves cooking so we will definitely check out the spice souks. Are the souks in Dubai or Kuwait better? in terms of pricing, eperience etc.
Thanks. I'll also post this on the Kuwait branch.
Oct 18, 2011 11:41 PM
1Dubai is a much more interesting place than Kuwait, with both a more historic "old city" and a much more developed tourist infrastructure.
You can do everything you mentioned in your post in Dubai and with great ease. I'd throw in a visit to the malls as a must-do, especially the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa/Downtown complex. Quite impressive. I may skip doing an overnight desert safari in Dubai because that's possibly the one thing you can also do in Kuwait that would be comparable.
There is a spice souk complex by the creekside in the Deira part of Dubai but don't expect much from it. Most of the 'spice shops' in the rabbit warren maze are wholesale outfitters and not practical for buying spices in small doses. The few actual spice shops sell overpriced and rather dusty and rather untrustworthy looking spices (never buy the 'saffron' down there). You're better off going to a regular supermarket or visiting the spice counter at the Carrefour hypermarkets than buying anything at the 'spice souk.' But it's still atmospheric.
As for arts and crafts - not much exist in this milieu in Dubai. Dubai is a high end destination and there's minimal, if any, local tradition of arts and craftsmanship. There's a few tacky tourist shops near the Dubai Museum in Bur Dubai that sell tourist tat mostly made in India. I'd avoid anything in there as it wouldn't be authentic to Dubai. If you want to come away with something 'local' then a box of dates is your best bet.
Oct 20, 2011 11:30 PM
2I once went to Kuwait on a business trip from Dubai and almost lost the will to live! Without wishing to be unkind, the place seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I think the highlight of my day was being able to get a pizza at the airport. Having said that, if you are visiting relatives in Kuwait, then I'm sure they will be able to keep you amused and they will have all the inside information about what to do and where to go. There must be something to do there! Visiting a place when you know someone who's living there is always better than going alone.
There is simply far more to do in Dubai as it's a fully fledged tourist destination. Certainly food is better in Dubai, and drink is non-existent in Kuwait. So I would use Dubai as an opportunity to do the fun/decadent things you won't be able to do in Kuwait, such as enjoying a beer or glass of wine in a decent bar or restaurant or even on the beach. There is a vast choice of bars & restaurants in Dubai.
Whilst I would not describe Dubai as a cultural mecca, it is interesting to walk along the creek in the late afternoon or early evening and take in places like Bastakiya where you'll find an art gallery, The Shaikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, then the Dubai museum, Al Fahidi Street, the textile souk and then take a break at Bayt Al Wakeel restaurant which overlooks the Creek. Then take an Abra (small public boat) across to the Deira side and you can check out the Spice souk, Gold Souk and all the Dhows that are moored alongside the creek. That's the best thing to do in Dubai for a bit of culture and history as the area around the Creek is where Dubai grew up.
There are very few old souks left in Dubai; those around the creek are about as good as it gets. Otherwise, there are malls everywhere.
To shop for arts and crafts, the previous poster is correct in that there are very few truly local arts and crafts. However, if your visit coincides with either the first or second Fri of the month, then there is an Art & Crafts market at either Festival City or Times Square where local artisans sell all sorts of interesting stuff. These people are mainly expats, but the items on sale are generally excellent and feature a lot of local themes. Check out http://www.arte.ae for more information
Other than that, this is a great place to shop for carpets, from Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir etc. The best place to go for this is usually the Blue Souk (Central Market) in Sharjah. You could also check out the area in Karama which sells fake bags, watches etc. Not really my thing but lots of people go there.
Oct 22, 2011 11:25 PM
Oct 23, 2011 1:41 AM
In my personal opinion, EVERYTHING is better in Dubai compared to Kuwait except maybe the fact that Dubai is full of tourists while nobody goes to Kuwait. I have been to all countries in the Gulf and found Kuwait probably the least interesting from a tourist (!!!) standpoint.
Oct 23, 2011 8:06 PM
Oct 25, 2011 2:56 AM
6Dubai is not awash in carpet shops as say, Istanbul is. The quality is also debatable. The most popular rugs on offer are the rather florid new Iranian ones which I don't particularly care for. It's very rare to find the more old fashioned, more 'tribal' Persian rugs you find in the west, particularly the antique ones.
Probably the best buys are the Pakistani rugs as you can find a range of attractive and rather good quality rugs made in different regions of Pakistan. The Blue Souk in Sharjah has a nice selection of carpet shops that sell both the Iranian and Pakistani rugs. However it's still unlikely to be cheaper in Dubai than in your home country where excellent quality Persian/Turkish/Middle Eastern rugs can be had at rug auctions and specialist stores at fairly good prices. As any knowledgeable person will tell you Turkish rugs are more expensive in Turkey than in the West and the same holds true for Dubai, and as someone who's been buying rugs for years I find the prices, even after haggling, hugely inflated in Dubai for what's on offer.
As I constantly remind people 'back home' Dubai may geographically be in the Middle East but it (and Kuwait) are culturally part of the Gulf Region, and the Gulf is an entirely different being from the Mediterranean Middle East/North Africa or Persia. This was an extremely impoverished region populated by nomadic tribes up until 50 years ago. The Gulf doesn't have the historic infrastructure to support a genuine cultural and local arts/crafts scene that you find elsewhere. It's all very new and don't come here expecting to find what you may find in Egypt or Lebanon or Morrocco.
Oct 28, 2011 3:47 PM
7Generally speaking, I will agree that Dubai (as well as the entire UAE) is much better than Kuwait, in terms of tourism. Some of the best hotels, museums and shopping malls in the World are located in the UAE. I love Dubai for what it is and I think you'll enjoy it a lot more than Kuwait, if you have a lot of money with you. Oftentimes, Kuwait can be a very boring place, which I'm not ashamed of admitting. I wish this wasn't the case but it is, unfortunately. Nevertheless, there are some things (you mentioned, in particular) that I think are best experienced/obtained in Kuwait, when compared to Dubai. For example, I personally think Kuwait has the best and cheapest food in the region. Kuwait's culture is also vastly richer than Dubai's, and you'll notice that as soon as you step off the airplane. Now in terms of activities related to the arts, I'm not familiar with Dubai's museums and social events but I honestly think neither places offer the ultimate experience, simply because neither locations are advertised for their arts-related activities. In my opinion, this is a bragging right that only Qatar is capable of earning. In terms of festivities and sports events, Dubai is definitely better. Having said that, these organized events are usually seasonal, so you might not experience any of them during your stay in late December, unless you're planning to attend their New Year's Eve ceremony.
With regard to carpets and rugs, the best ones are found in Iranian-speaking (i.e. Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan) and Indo-Aryan-speaking (i.e. Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) countries. The 'core', or 'heart', of the art and culture of carpet weaving was always found steeped in Indo-Iranian civilizations and histories. So if you want to buy the best carpets, you're better off dealing with agencies that are in connections with the countries of the Indian and Iranian subcontinents, in my opinion. These types of carpets should not be confused (or mixed) with Arabian and/or Turkic carpets, which aren't in the same league, in my humble opinion.
However, since you're going to both Dubai and Kuwait City, I personally think you'll find it easier searching for better and cheaper carpets in the second part of your trip. Kuwait isn't a very touristic place, but I would argue that our purchasing power is incredibly higher/stronger than the UAE's. Consequently, you'll discover that there are more things to buy in Kuwait than there are in the UAE. More importantly, you'll probably find cheaper and higher end/quality carpets in Kuwait City than you would in Dubai. The Indian and Iranian influence in Kuwait is very strong, therefore you'll easily find stores that can accommodate your tastes for textiles. In addition to that, Kuwait feels a lot more 'local' than Dubai. Not only would you easily find foreign (e.g. Indian or Iranian) products, but you will also find a lot of cultural goods that represent the actual natives of the country (i.e. the Kuwaiti Arab people). For example, you can find a lot of Bedouin rugs, souvenirs, etc. If you know the right places, Kuwait can potentially turn into a better experience than Dubai. You can acquire the taste of the real local culture of the Arabian Peninsula (both nomadic and seafaring), mixed with foreign influences of neighboring Iranian and Indian cultures. It's a very nice blend of Arab and non-Arab cultures, but you just need to know the right places. I suggest you visit Souq Al Mubarakeya during your free time, which is an old market, located in Kuwait City's district of Sharq.
Almost everything in Dubai is overpriced, mostly because of the city's reputation as an international tourist destination, in my opinion. Apart from that, there's no other reason why many of Dubai's products are unfairly overpriced. Meanwhile, you might find the same goods/services, if not more (due to our higher purchasing power), in Kuwait, and at a cheaper price, simply because Kuwait isn't a well-known tourist destination.
Overall, Dubai is a more 'fun' place than Kuwait. It feels like a tourist destination and it's managed a lot better than Kuwait. But you can still enjoy your time in Kuwait, although it requires more effort for a newcomer to get acquainted with the country.
I hope my post was useful. :-)
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