Firmly back on its feet after the first Gulf War, oil-rich Kuwait is an intriguing blend of traditional and modern. Enjoy thrilling high-tech rollercoaster rides at Entertainment City theme park or soak up thousands of years of history at Al-Jahra's Red Fort and Failaka Island's bronze-age ruins. In Kuwait City, haggle for spices in labyrinthine souks, covered markets, or shop for designer goods in all-glass, air-conditioned malls like Villa Moda.
The striking of oil in 1938 transformed this nation of pearl divers and spice merchants into one of the world's richest countries. The scars of the Iraqi occupation took years to heal, but Kuwaitis are resilient. Most of Kuwait is covered by the Arabian Desert but you'll also find 180 miles of largely undeveloped coastline to the east. Dive or snorkel in the warm Persian Gulf waters. Despite the abundance of sand, you can play golf and ice-skate too. Enjoy vibrant Kuwait City even with a spate of modern developments, this seaside city manages to hold onto its heritage and traditions.
The traditional and modern contrast in Kuwait City. Enjoy a bird's-eye view from the observation deck of the 613-foot-high Kuwait Towers, then bargain for baharat, a blend of exotic spices, or hallmarked gold in one of the old covered souk markets. See traditional Bedouin weaving demonstrated at Sadu House, then unwind with some ice-skating or even a round of golf. Experience the bustle of the Sharq fish market and visit the Scientific Centre (the Middle East's largest aquarium). Head to the town of Al-Jahra, and see the historic Red Fort, a stronghold from a 1920 battle. Go to Al-Ahmadi town and visit the Oil Display Centre to learn about the 'black gold' industry.
Watch traditional wooden dhow sailing boats being built at Doha village. Take a boat trip to Failaka Island, the country's most important archaeological site, dating from the Bronze Age. Dive the coral reefs off Kubbar Island, then picnic on one of the other uninhabited Persian Gulf islands. Watch the sun set and see the stars on a desert camping trip to Wafra.