Kuwait occasionally has the power to surprise. I’m not a great lover of IKEA, being neither in my mid 20’s nor having a relish for unfinished pine and flat-pack. It so happens, however, to be the 25th anniversary of their startup here and instead of stark, Scandinavian minimalia, in a corner of the restaurant there was an exhibition of Arabic craftsmanship, with artisans using hands, feet and curiously shaped, improbably sharp knives with the cavalier abandon born of a lifetime’s practice, making beautiful furniture, children’s toys and sea-chests, in celebration of local culture. The contrast was curiously warming, like finding something beautiful in a place where beauty ought not to be, like a flower seller in a war zone. This man took less than twenty minutes of relaxed, effortless manipulation to make a child’s toy from scratch, including stripping the date palm, making holes, fitting and finishing. An impressive performance indeed.
Yesterday’s post was depressing and in bad taste. Perhaps this will redress the balance a little