Crossing Borders: Kuwait to Saudi Arabia–APcc

Dubai- I have a new episode on my Fabled City channel about my recent travels from Kuwait City to Dammam, Saudi Arabia. It was a highly unconventional trip in that there is no formal, established method for an international solo traveler from beyond this region to cross said border. Kuwait also features little in the way of public transport and its tourism sector is negligible at best. Kuwaitis all seemed to uniformly all be car owners while holding the world’s strongest currency. The region seems to only now be healing from Iraq’s disastrous invasion of Kuwait nearly 33 years ago. But half the reason I was in Kuwait in the first place is because the Iraq-Saudi border is only for cargo and that was a huge breakthrough in and of itself.

Wars, even decades ago, die hard here. That’s true most everywhere it seems. Burying the hatchet is far easier said than done in a world of warring Westphalians. Kuwait is so prosperous and orderly it’s difficult for it to imagine being overrun by marauding Ba’athists at the end of the Cold War. That dreadful 7-month long occupation became enmeshed in modern Kuwaiti identity. It poisoned Iraq’s future and served as both a backdrop and justification for the 2003 war in Iraq whose ground campaign was launched from Kuwaiti sands. The al-Sabah dynasty had their revenge. Kuwait today is fabulously rich, at least by my standards, while being much more secure than when Iraq was run by a madman from Tikrit governorate.

Kuwait City, in my mind, is defined by its invasion and occupation by then Ba’athist Iraq. It’s communications tower was about halfway constructed when the northern neighbour invaded in the summer of 1990 and building was halted. It was renamed ‘Liberation Tower’ in 1993 well after the war and remains that until the present/ ©2023 Derek Henry Flood

The only Kuwaitis I met in my brief four days there where the border guards at the Abdali and Nuwasib crossings. In the capital during its rather strict ramadan regulations, I met Filipino/as, Sri Lankans, Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Ghanians, Nepalis, and Pakistanis. It was only upon entering Saudi territory that I found myself suddenly speaking my poor Arabic again.