On this day in 1950, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah ascended to the throne, becoming Emir of the State of Kuwait. He would go on to lead the diplomatic initiative that resulted in the Gulf State declaring independence from the British Empire on June 19, 1961, and signing a new constitution affirming Kuwait’s status as a sovereign state in 1962.
In recognition of Sheikh Al-Sabah’s diplomatic accomplishment, Kuwait celebrates its national day each year on this day. A day off from work and school, many celebrate by gathering with their family for outdoor celebrations while the red, white, black, and green flag flies everywhere.
The day is a great time to enjoy authentic Kuwaiti cuisine as well. While fūl, hummus, and falafel are always popular, the national dish is machboos, a bowl of fragrant rice made with mutton, chicken, or fish fresh from the Gulf, topped with spicy broth and red sauce called dakoos.
Many Kuwaitis also dress in traditional garb—dishdashas for men and daraas and abayas for women. While adults enjoy parades, concerts, light shows, and firework displays, children celebrate the occasion playing with water balloons and squirt guns. Don’t be surprised if you get soaked—it’s all part of the fun.
Happy National Day, Kuwait!