National Geographic : 1969 May
long hall from the kitchen I admired the family room where, my host explained, "we sit on the floor Arab-style and drink our tea and watch television." Later, in the handsome library, or makta bah, I noticed among the hundreds of Arabic volumes a copy of National Geographic's Wondrous World of Fishes. "I used material from it on my TV pro gram," said Mr. al-Shatti, who until recently conducted his own popular Tuesday-night show over Kuwait State Television. Old Town's Gates Were Locked at Dusk In the days that now rippled swiftly by, I had many chances to explore the new Ku wait. But like many Kuwaitis themselves, I often felt the lure of the peaceful past. I liked to wander at twilight toward shadowy sectors of the old town, which bulldozers eventually will rip apart. By the sea in one such area is the hospital of the Arabian Mission of the Reformed Church in America, founded in 1911 and until 1949 Kuwait's only hospital. It has been a state health service facility since 1967. I asked Dr. Lewis R. Scudder, formerly the hospital's Chief Medical Officer, what Ku wait looked like in the quieter days before oil. "It was a very simple little town when I came here in 1939," said the American physi cian, who still lives in the hospital compound. "The wall gates were locked at night, and you had to get a watchman up to let you through. Most houses were one story high, made of mud or coral rock with mud interiors." When I mentioned this to my friend Bashar Abdul Rahman, he said, "My father-in-law owns such a house. He doesn't live in it any longer but likes to go there and sit in the court yard sun with his friends. I'll borrow the key." We soon halted before the house, with one of the massive teak doors justly famous in Kuwait. Bashar opened a small door framed within the larger one, spraddled through, un latched the big door studded with iron bolts, and bade me enter. I discovered the house was not one but four-built in a row with front and rear walls common to all. We had entered the first wife's home. A short passageway led to a sun warmed walled courtyard, shaded by pome granate and lemon trees. Off the courtyard on three sides opened a number of rooms. "Each member of the family occupied a room," said Bashar, "and here"-leading me into a large chamber-"was the family sitting room. There would have been a Persian rug 650 Egyptian educator, Dr. Zaghloul el-Naggar, a professor at Kuwait University, lectures to a second-year class in paleontology. Eager to learn, this youngster pays close atten tion to her teacher at Qadisiya Intermediate School, one of 73 set up to educate Kuwait's girls.