The word ‘Qout’ is an old Arabic word that roughly translates to ‘daily sustenance’. Qout Market came together in 2013 out of the need for a platform. A platform for local farmers, craftsmen, and food enthusiasts to connect with each other and a wider community of like-minded people in a relaxed setting.
Co-founders Noaf Hussein of @PLTQ8 and Budour Al Qassar of @OvenExperiments also felt that Kuwait needed a place where people could while away a Saturday morning and afternoon, grab a cup of artisanal coffee, peruse market stalls and plan to run into a neighbor.
It was always what both co-founders loved to do on their travels. The notion of ‘hand-produced’ and ‘locally-grown’ was something they both felt was important to explore within the context of their home country.
And so they spent a few months researching and looking for the vendors needed to represent the vendor community. At the time, they were few and far between. It would most often be somebody who was making gluten-free products for themselves because they couldn’t find what they needed locally. Somebody who made nut butters from scratch because commercial products had too many additives. A person with a demanding day job who found a passion for farming.
Carefully and painstakingly, this community was pieced together. And that’s when the magic happened.
The seasonal market was to run from the peak growing season of November to April. After many months of planning and research, the first market took place in November of 2013, and it featured less than 20 stalls.
The co-founders wondered – was this a niche interest with a small following? The answer was a loud and resounding no. The very first market was set up to handle foot traffic in the low hundreds and was met with foot traffic in the low thousands, with many stalls selling out nine hours before the scheduled closing time.
Niche interest it was not. Delighted and exhausted, the co-founders sprang into action. A month later, the market was expanded to meet the demand, ballooning to six times the size and moving to the rooftop of a multi-story parking garage.
And so the market remained— large and bustling— all the way until the end of its second season in April of 2015.
The Need To Nourish
Nourish and FarmTable were two initiatives Qout Market felt compelled to put together in the second season to further empower the community formed via the monthly market platform.
After interacting with the vendors on a monthly basis for the entire first season, the co-founders realized they had tapped into a collective pool of knowledge unlike any other. Qout Market vendors were not only knowledgable about their subject and product, but personable and fantastic at transferring their passion and knowledge to others.
And so Nourish was born – to nourish the mind as well as body. The week-long series of free workshops took place in October of 2014 with topics that included things like the basics of nutrition in both English and Arabic, to food demonstrations, inspirational talks, food photography, crafting, lifestyle, and kitchen skills.
Classes were completely funded with the support of Al Zain Al Sabah of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, had a class size of only 20 to allow for intimacy and an environment conducive to learning, and was wonderful for both instructors and participants.
The second way Qout Market wanted to nourish the local community was by means of weekend trips to local farms. To really understand farming in Kuwait, one had to experience it firsthand!
FarmTable took place in December of the second season, with an activity-packed itinerary. Visitors were transported to Kenaneya Farms and were taken on an informative tour by the farmer, given the chance to pick produce, and served a farm-to-table feast cooked in the open kitchen by a local chef. After brunch and the tour, visitors were given the chance to relax while watching the sun set on the field. To end the experience, neighboring farms were called in for a mini farmers market. Visitors left exhausted after the day-long experience that uniquely combined education with relaxation.
A Flourishing Community
Now in its third season, Qout Market has become the place where people come expecting to discover, mingle, learn something new and spend a full enriching day with their families and friends.
There is now an awareness and demand for the hand-produced item made in small batches. Many market-goers have formed and maintained a relationship with the farmers. Local businesses have collaborated with the vendors, many of whom have moved from stall to brick-and-mortar establishments.
The Qout Market community flourished, but the co-founders still felt a sense of responsibility toword this burgeoning coterie.
The third season of Qout Market begins this November, in a new format, at a new venue, and on a different schedule.
This schedule will be allowed to ebb and flow organically. Instead of being on the first Saturday of every month from November to April, it will now be on a more flexible schedule, with markets taking place twice a month most months. Other months, like January for example, there will be space for planning only one market and combining it with a series of FarmTables should the weather allow. Schedules will be posted online ahead of time, found at the bottom of every page of the website.
Murouj, next to the Sahara Golf Club, will serve as a most elegant and understated venue perfect for the vision in year three. The markets will be scaled down in size so the curation can remain powerful and engaging. It’s a chance for every visitor to interact with all our vendors while still getting the full Qout Market experience.
The market will continue to combine local farm produce, artisanal food products, and crafts with a street food section aimed at highlighting the culinary diversity of Kuwait’s food community. Children have a dedicated section for enriching activities and local musical acts will get the chance to perform.
A Commitment To Quality
Qout Market was meant to form a microcosm of all the wonderful people and things that make Kuwait, Kuwait.
Vendors are carefully chosen for their product and passion, but most importantly their character and commitment to this sense of community. Qout Market vendors represent over twenty countries (and counting) bringing wonderful diversity to this carefully cultivated community.
The educational initiatives will continue as part of the Qout Market commitment to empower and nourish the community they have brought together.
The Siren Song
A coming together of such wonderful products and producers is a siren song for the curious. The founders of Qout Market work tirelessly to seek out the unexpected. That way, every interaction with their organization is a journey of discovery and learning. By maintaining standards, they are able to keep visitors hungry and curious. The market has become both a place to spend a sunny Saturday on a journey of discovery and a place to socialize. The educational initiatives seek to nourish and empower this community in ways that complete the market experience. The way Noaf and Budour see it, it is a recipe for magic.
Qout Market is a seasonal artisanal food and crafts market founded in 2013 and still run by Noaf Hussein and Budour Al Qassar. Visit www.qoutmarket.com for more information, or stalk them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook @QoutMarket. Photography by Amina Al Abdulmohsen and Aziza Al Ghunaim.