Bait Ghaith is an old, pre-oil home of a merchant, built in the 1930s and located in Sharq. Sharq (to the east) and Jibla (to the west) are the two main sea-facing quarters in Kuwait City. In her work Kuwait Transformed Farah al-Nakib tells us that in pre-oil times, Jibla was known as the mercantile quarter and was the hub of the urban oligarchy who controlled the deep-sea carrying trade but weren’t necessarily sailors themselves. Sharq was known as the maritime quarter and was home to those more directly engaged in seafaring, such as pearl merchants. Sharq, “also absorbed most of the newcomers to the town… and became the largest and most culturally heterogeneous district.” Al-Nakib also writes that, “houses in the pre-oil town were not used as projections of social status or as makers of ethnic identity” and that “most looked the same from the outside.” You can see how the house fell into disrepair, but thankfully it was not torn down and instead was renovated by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters and today houses a “ceramics house.” At the beginning of 2020, there was a porcelain handicraft workshop titled “the murals of Failaka old houses” at Bait Ghaith. Within walking distance of the historic house is another one of Kuwait’s historic mosques, Shamlan Bin Ali bin Saif Al Roumi. It was originally built in 1893. In recent years, it was torn down but rebuilt as it would have first looked. As mentioned in an earlier post, in pre-oil times, mosques in Kuwait were built by wealthy individuals as a contribution to their community. According to Kuwait History, the sponsor of this particular mosque (pictured below) had a son who was martyred in the Battle of Jahra in 1920, his younger brother donated 5000 rupees to build Mubarakiya School in the 1910s, and he himself visited Paris in the early 1930s.
These photos from the instagram of Ali al Rais show the building before renovation. The final picture was posted on 248. As a before and after it highlights, “the constant aggressive destruction of Kuwait’s heritage and cultural areas.”