Faces of Mubarakiya
For many people in Kuwait, the original Souq marked an early start for various Kuwaiti and Expatriate business owners. Some have gone on to expand their business across the country, while others choose to stay and work at the old Souq. Today, the people who work at the Souq represent a melting pot of different nationalities spanning from Kuwait, Iran, Egypt and beyond. Merchants from all walks of life give Souq Al-Mubarakiya its essence and character. Join us as we celebrate all of these wonderful people!
I didn’t know the meaning of the word Souq, so when I reached the place, all my senses were awakened. – Chiara Mondi
Chiara Mondi, Operations Manager for espressamente illy and the t-lounge by Dilmah at Al-Hajery and Sons Co. Ltd – Kuwait, told bazaar that her first experience at the Souq’s restaurants square served as one of her first experiences of Kuwait. Al-Hajery and Sons Co. is a local company that currently operates Kuwaiti restaurant Khaneen located in Al-Mubarakiya. She explained, “In 2012, I landed in Kuwait for the first time for business along with my Italian colleague. One of our dinners was planned in the Souq. I didn’t know the meaning of this word, so when I reached the place, all my senses were awakened. The ‘labyrinth’-like architecture, the variety of meat and fish, the colors and the smiling picture of the Emir: all of these created a sense of marvelous happiness for me.” Chiara navigated the market, and ended up buying an abaya and hijab, as she was interested to wear the traditional garb during her planned dinner. When one of the planned attendees arrived to the dinner, he didn’t recognize her and questioned where ‘the second Italian visitor’ was! Chiara has been living in Kuwait for more than a year, and makes sure to spend time at the Souq whenever the opportunity arises.
I am no suburbanite; I am a city person, and Souq Al-Mubarakiya always gives me that feeling.
– Waleed Shalaan
Waleed Shalaan is recognized regionally for his many talents and vision. You would probably recognize him from his impressive visual diary on Instagram, his awesome reading glasses and also our February cover for our print issue. Now a Senior Projects Director at United Real Estate Company, URC, he first started his company, previously known as BrainStorm, at the top floor of the parking garage of Kuwait’s Souq in the late 90s. He said, “It meant a lot to me because this is where I felt that I was living in Kuwait and connected to its past. I vividly remember grabbing my lunch break, or inviting guests at Souq Al-Mubarakiya’s restaurants, having fresh fish dinners in the streets and even the alleys reminded me of the population density of Cairo, which I need.” While Waleed might not be an advocate of completely modernizing the Souq, he does believe that a successful mix of people from all walks of life is the key to maintaining a balance. He explains, “I would love to see a slice of life with the good, bad and the ugly not to be isolated in a manicured artificial environment. We have so many in the malls of the endless suburban sprawl. Seeing people live, work and interact is what gives the Souq its character.”
Of course the essence of Mubarakiya comes from the vendors, the shoppers and all the people that frequent this beautiful market.
Our time in Mubarakiya was inspiring, exciting and fun. We met people from all walks of life and from all over the world. Check out our day in Mubarakiya!