“I will go to Kuwait tomorrow”I uttered those words over lunch with my family.
My brother suddenly stopped blinking and looked me straight in the eye for a few seconds, with his spoon full of rice a few inches away from his mouth. He then started a flood of questions: “What? You? Why?When? Where are you staying there? When are you coming back? Who are you meeting?”
“why are you asking me all these questions!” I said as I felt slightly annoyed.
“I’m afraid for you” he said as he started chewing again,
“Of what?” I said opening my eyes as a sign of disapproval
“Of Kuwait. Kuwaiti guys harass girls everywhere.They do stupid things”
I said nothing. I am already filled with fears before this talk. I heard so much about Kuwait. My brother only escalated my worries. So I thanked him for his genuine care, went to my room and started packing.
I couldn’t sleep well that night. Whenever I managed to sleep for a few minutes, I would have nightmares to wake me up. The last time I woke up, I was determined to cancel my trip. It was a business email I received at the time that made me change my mind at the last minute. And so I flew early morning.
Even though my reception in Kuwait airport was warm and I was welcomed with smiles from everyone in the airport, I was still scared.
I heard that taxi drivers in Kuwait are very rude. So, I was too scared to hire a taxi alone to the hotel. I was so grateful that my Kuwaiti friend was receiving me at the airport.
After I reached my hotel, I did not leave my room at all. I ordered dinner and it tasted bad. I felt like that was the beginning of proving all what I heard!
Next day, I went to the conference I came for. I met with many Kuwaitis and to my surprise they were super polite. I even asked some of them about their nationality, but they assured me they are from Kuwait.
Part of the conference was located in an industrial area away from Kuwait city. There were no taxis there. It was around 10 pm and people started to leave. I called the hotel taxi driver who told me that his duty was over. I started to be alarmed!
My last option was asking a saleswoman for help who called her driver to pick me up. I was above and beyond grateful. Again, she was from Kuwait.
I met many of my online friends on this trip. They were amazing. Again, They were Kuwaitis.
In the last day of any trip I take, I go for a walk. I dared to do that in Kuwait. Though there were no many pedestrians, things went well.
“But how did that negative image build up inside of me?” I thought in my way to the airport for my return flight.
The answer is simple. It was built over time by the Kuwaiti media, TV shows and social media influencers. The constant negative talk about Kuwait contributed in building nonexistent things about Kuwait.
Unfortunately, many of the media influencers in Kuwait do not represent a fair image of it. Traditional and social media channels are strong tools in the hands of unqualified people “not all though”. What would happen if Instagram and Snapchat influencers focused on the cultural conferences, art galleries, music concerts that happen in Kuwait quite a lot with no much publicity or attention, instead of focusing on food, restaurants, fashionistas and problems?
Kuwait is beautiful from outside, but it is also really beautiful from the inside. It is now time to show it.