Al Seif Palace

The Seif palace dates back to the late 19th century; before that, rulers may have lived in the old fort for which Kuwait is named. In her work Kuwait Transformed, Farah Nakib writes that, “local tradition claims that the Al Sabah had taken over the Bani Khalid fort when they came to power in 1752. In 1860, the residence of ruler Sabah al-Jaber was described as a ‘ruin,’ which may have been the Bani Khalid fort in disrepair. By the 1890s, the rulers’ residence was located next to the port in the center of the town’s coastline. Whether this structure was the old fort or a newer building is unknown. In 1904, Sheikh Mubarak imposed a 2 percent customs tax on mercantile imports… he used the newfound wealth to transform the rulers’ nondescript residence on the seafront, of al-Seif, into a fortified and luxurious palace complex, perhaps as a symbol of his growing prestige.” Nakib also writes that, “as a further reflection of his increasing political power, Mubarak constructed a new double-story building (popularly known as his kishk or kiosk) in the town market in which to hold his daily majlis with the townspeople. His office was located on the second floor, from which he observed and monitored all activity in the market below in panopticon style.” Starting in 1988, the palace was expanded and modernized even further. The aerial photograph below comes from  the book “Kuwait from Above.” The older photos come from “Kuwait by the first Photographers” and show the palace during the time of Sheikh Mubarak.

These images come from The Kuwait Urbanization by Saba George Shiber.


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