Mubarakiya with a modern twist. That’s the cocktail that is offered in a refurbished corner of the souk. So much so that you would be forgiven for thinking that you are not in Kuwait.
SOMU stands for South Mubarakiya. The square is nestled in the heart of souk, which has always been the icon of Kuwait. With its old dusty shop fronts and stalls bustling with life, colors and flavours, Mubarakiya is as authentic as it gets in Kuwait, whether you are looking for gems, gold, dates or vegetables.
Setting foot in SOMU is the equivalent of stepping into another universe. To find it, go past the women’s area of the souk and seek out a huge mural which spells “I love you Kuwait” in Arabic. Opposite is a Banksy style mural of a man in national dress, throwing a bouquet of flowers in lieu of a Molotov cocktail.
You’ll know immediately when you have arrived. At the center is a bandstand with plants and greenery that reminds you of Paris or London. Around it? Half a dozen quaint cafes and quirky restaurants with outdoors seating areas spilling onto the square. Everyone is smiling and it’s no surprise.
SOMU is a hidden gem and a secret that you hope doesn’t spread too quickly. It’s the kind of area you want to bring only your best friends, hang out and chill with an iced mint coffee in hand, take in the flavours of a perfectly cooked burger that is not oozing oil or indulge into home baked cakes in a rose perfumed Parisian style salon.
It’s a revolution for Kuwait. The square is the anti-thesis of multinational branded outlets. There isn’t an advertisement in sight. The restaurants are not part of a chain, but are owned by Kuwaitis and run as a small business, with passion and character. They breathe authenticity but also quality.
Amongst the cafes and restaurants are also a few shops. A designers offers a range of traditional dress with a modern twist. Another iconic boutique is THOUQ. The outlet epitomizes what this corner of Kuwait is about. The shop is actually a Kuwait brand, started in 2004 as a magazine, then a design studio and now is a concept shop on SOMU square. It boasts creative accessories, clothes and frankly a mish mash of creative and querky stuff that makes shopping feel like exploring through a treasure trove of creative oddities.
THOUQ is the brainchild of Ahmad Al Ghanim and Bader Al Hejailan who took SOMU on as a project and wanted to do something creative and different. The result? A creative heaven, a gourmets hang out and a place with art and soul that is sure to capture your heart. (ends)
MARYANN MAGUIRE – Maryann Maguire is a news reporter and writer. Since 1997, the former Reuters and BBC journalist has worked in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sudan and Libya covering news and current affairs for international media outlets before joining the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a humanitarian worker. She now lives in Kuwait with her young family.