Kuwaiti society bases much of its culture on the country’s ancient folklore, which is replete with land and sea tales, riddles and proverbs. In 1956, the Folklore Preservation Centre was established to collect, record, and classify Kuwaiti folklore. Songs based on these tales are sung on public and private occasions.
Kuwaiti drama troupes have won numerous prizes and awards all over the world, and several theatrical companies exist throughout the country. Some examples of these are the Gulf Theatre, the Popular Theatre, and the Kuwaiti Theatre. In 1973, the Ministry of Information established the Higher Institute for Theatrical Arts to prepare future artists in the field of theatrical arts and ethics, and to promote widespread theatrical awareness and appreciation.
The music of Kuwait is a reflection of its diverse heritage. Kuwaiti traders brought back music from East Africa and India. Traders from foreign shores left their music behind too. The result is the rich and vibrant sound of Kuwaiti music.
A traditional musical instrument of the Bedouin is the single-string ‘Rubabah’, made of parchment wrapped round a wooden frame. Other popular instruments are the ‘Oud’ (a lute), ‘Al-mirwas’ (small drums), ‘Al-habban’ (a bagpipe) and ‘Al-tanbarah’ (a string instrument). Songs are an integral part of dances that are performed at weddings and other celebrations.
Traditional dance is an important part of feasts and celebrations. The Ardah dance is performed by men at feasts and weddings. Dancers carry swords while dancing to the rhythm of folk music played on drums and tambourines. The Samiri , Fraisah, Al Zifan, Khamari, and Tanboura are dances that are performed by women at family and social gatherings.
The first film shot in, and about, Kuwait was a documentary called Sons of Sinbad’ in 1930. Till the mid-1960s, most films were made by foreigners. The entry of Kuwaitis in the fields of production, direction as well as technical areas, was a turning point. Today, video production, television and advertising are popular avenues for young Kuwaitis.
A major breakthrough was achieved when Kuwait’s very first feature film, Bas Ya Bahar made in 1972, won nine international film festival awards!