Iranian Bread & Zubaidi Fish

 

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Warm & delicious Iranian Bread

If there’s anything that is a MUST in every Kuwaiti household for a weekly groceries,that is a bunch of Iranian Bread and Zubaidi fish (or Silver Pomfret).

While in Western culture ,the  bread ( loaf or any other type )  is the queen of every table and for Asians, it is rice, then here in Kuwait, this is every family’s staple. For  Kuwaitis, Iranian bread is as  almost as important as oil. They have eaten Iranian bread since they were born and start solids. Their grandfathers also did the same. Every morning after prayers, people dash to the Iranian bakeries and queue to get their stock. Since Kuwait became richer, maids and drivers now queue up instead, but still there are a lot of people waiting. They eat it with almost anything. With grilled fish, kebabs, chicken, hummus, tahini or just as it is. Its simply delicious.

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An Expat’s  favorite meal : Kebabs, shish tawook, Hummus, fries & Iranian Bread

The Kuwaiti nation eats also rice, and other things but you cannot compensate them with something else. I love Arabic bread (smaller pita bread or Kubz) that you can usually find in packs at the co-op). It’s very nice, but it cannot replace warm Iranian bread. Sometimes when I go to buy the bread, I eat one on the way back because it’s so warm and fresh and tasty, especially if you pay a bit extra like 5 fils and get sesame seeds on them. As an Expat, I have grown fond of eating this especially when its fresh and I used it to make home made shawerma. My Dutch husband taught me an very awesome trick to preserve breads, and that is putting it in the fridge and just take it out to defrost when I would like to eat it. It tastes as fresh as it was & surely, we don’t have stale & wasted bread anymore! This is how I preserve Iranian bread & Kubz.

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Local sightings : Local bakers using old-fashioned oven in making Iranian bread.

When I visit the Mubarakiya, I still see locals who make Iranian bread in a very old fashioned stone ovens. Normally you can find these small bakeries tucked in any governorate but mostly in nearby Co-op. One place I visited before was the one in Shamiya where I really love the taste of it. The smell and the sight of it is very interesting and every Expat should try this. Whenever you eat out in a restaurant ( or locally called as Matam ) they normally served hot & freshly baked Iranian bread along with any meal, while in any other fancy restaurant they also served different types of bread like the one we have tried in Leila’s ( a Lebanese restaurant ) which is more of hot  buns. I could finish the bread while waiting for our orders!

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Leila’s hot delicious hot buns
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A sumptous Zubaidi meal with rice

Although Kuwait is  abundant in all types of food, having a home cooked meal of Zubaidi & rice is always special. This very tasty fish with rice is often served in homes in the Arabian Gulf.  Zubaidi (Silver Pomfret) fish is Kuwait’s national fish that is local but can be found in the frozen section of many Middle Eastern or Asian shops. (You may have to degut them yourself). While some prefer to eat them with rice alone, others  make Kuwaiti Tomato Sauce (Dukkous Al-Tamat) to serve as an accompaniment.

Have you tried any Arabic  dish with Zubaidi or the Iranian Bread? How was your experience?

Read more on my Expat guides & tips in my Life as an Expat in Kuwait section and learn to embrace the Arabic culture to beat your culture shock.

Arab Organizations HQ Building

Last Saturday I visited the Arab Organization HQ building. I needed to satisfy my curiosity why this building is acclaimed to be world renowned for its beauty in the Middle East and has been attracting visitors around the globe. Now I know why.

The Arab Organizations HQ building houses 4 major Arab organizations namely  : 1. ) Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development,2.)  OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), 3.) Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation and the 4.) Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company. This building costs USD $ 150 Million & was completed in 1994.

The exterior of the building itself offers a lot of history & functional concept behind it.  I don’t know about you but beyond every aesthetics, I’d like to know the concept behind it since what lies behind the facade is quite interesting.Outside it looks like a box-type massive structure with deep recessed windows but these features are intentional.In a climate where day time temperatures can reach 50° C, heat and light posed critical design challenges.  The virtually maintenance-free rough stone and granite exterior creates a natural sand trap.  Windows on each face of the building are deeply recessed and angled to offer indirect sunlight.The whole building blends modern architectural techniques with traditional Arabic artisan crafts.

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As I entered the building, I am faced to this massive hand-carved door. A total stunner which is labor of love considering the thousand pieces that this door needs to be assembled. This door is used as the main entrance of the building. Each door weighs one ton, and they’re so well-balanced that they will open at the touch of a finger. A Tunisian carved stone surround the entrance of this building.

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The colossal Moroccan wall fountain & giant tile work on both sides of the interior of the lobby area which gives a delight surprise to any visitor.This building houses approximately 2,500 kinds of indoor plants all imported from the Netherlands .

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A historical carpet hung just above the information area of the lobby.

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Wood screen carved in traditional Arabesque design.

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This beautiful view of a chandelier from Germany above the spiral staircase leading to the second floor of the Library.

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Woodwork of the base of the spiral staircase.

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The outer view of the wood frame separating the Main Lobby to the Library. Once inside the Library, the viewer has a different view of the movements from the outside and the reflection of light creates a rather formidable pattern.

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Beautiful Tunisian woodwork pattern inside the Tunisian Room.The highly polished surfaces of the Tunisian Room  reflect the exquisite craftsmanship of the Tunisian ceramic tile panels and exquisitely carved stone work.  The huge marble conference table is surrounded by arches gracefully supported by double columns.  The walls are carved Tunisian stone and the floors, columns and arches are hewn from Jordanian stone.  Decorative panels of wood and stone repeat the ceramic designs.  The Moroccan cedar wood of the ceiling flagrantly scents the air.

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So much adore for this majestic Atrium of the Arab Organization HQ building. These trees are revolving to get equal amount of sunlight and aged 40 years old.Once in the Central Atrium, the trees are positioned in gravel using Hydroculture.  Since there is no soil around the trees, their nutrients are supplied in the water.  Their under floor pots are regularly turned to prevent any natural tilting towards the sunlight from the Glass Wall.

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The majestic Egyptian Mashrabia towers the full 9 stories in height in the center of the  main Atrium surrounded with 40 years old revolving trees .

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Imagine the feeling of lightness created by nine stories of pure air in the core of the building. The sky seems to stretch endlessly upward, unhindered by the large glass skylight in the ceiling and the enormous suspended glass wall on the north east.Here we see many of the traditional features. The majestic Egyptian Mashrabiya towers a full nine stories high. Lush vegetation and central trees (each over 40 years old) provide additional shade. The Syrian fountain adds soothing water music.  The marble floor repeats the geometric star patterns of the skylight and fountain.

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This Syrian fountain located in the center of the Atrium depicting the traditional hoash or central courtyard of classic Arab house design. The gentle water sounds lend a cool tranquility. It’s concentric star design repeats in the inlaid marble of the Atrium floor.It serves as a common ground for the building’s occupants and visitors, a comfortable area for socialization and interaction.

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The ground-floor Pre-function Hall displays Moroccan design from the refined detail of the gypsum ceiling to the zellige mosaics adorning each wall and a fountain . The marble pillars are inlaid with Moroccan tiles. A Moroccan carpet covers the center of the floor. Even the small brass table surrounded by four chairs boasts an intricately designed base. Hand-painted door from Morocco lead from Pre-function Room. And every ornament, every stitch here has been executed by hand.

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Another interesting feature of this building is the ceiling lights designed to coordinate the whole design of this VIP receiving area.

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Furnished in black leather and cherry wood and equipped with remote controlled programmable lighting and simultaneous translation services, the Multi-function Hall is the largest conference room inside the Arab Organization HQ building.

Large hand-woven wall-hangings, designed by a Kuwaiti artist, depict Arab history and culture, while enhancing the room’s acoustics.  A carved wooden suspended ceiling incorporates subtle lighting, enhanced by the indirect light that filters through the marble screen.  The traditional star design of the floor is repeated in the inlaid tops of the cherry wood tables.

I had an overdose  of artworks displayed in this building. I’ve said to myself to myself that it’s no wonder people flocked to see Arab Organizations HQ. Now, I have high respect for each of the intricate wood carvings and in every detail of this structure. I cannot even give justice to the actual views compared to my photos. One must need to be in this tour to learn about how rich the culture behind the walls of this building. This is indeed a fusion of Moroccan, Egyptian, Tunisian,Syrian and overall Arabic design & culture into one.

A visit to this place turned an ordinary Saturday morning into a memorable one. I am so grateful with Aware Center for enabling this tour to be accessible for Expats like me. It was a pleasure once again to discover beautiful building like the Arab Organization HQ building. The tour itself was very well done & executed in a very detailed manner. I highly appreciate even the coffee break in the Atrium’s cafeteria which offered a delightful snack with a majestic view of the glass wall panels with a view from outside & the Artwork inside the Atrium.

I highly recommend for anyone who is in Kuwait to try to visit this building, you won’t regret it. Should you want to learn more about this beautiful architecture, then you can explore their website here. You can even view their virtual tour here. This place has contributed to my cravings to see much more of Kuwait cultural heritage,its amazing architecture & advanced engineering designs.

Have you visited any important building or structure lately? What was it significance?

If you would like to visit any monumental structure of architectural importance, what would it be?

 

 

 

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