History

Founding of Modern Kuwait

The year was 1613 when the town of Kuwait was founded. This town was established on the current location of Kuwait City and initially it was controlled by the Bani Khalid clan. Back then though the town was primarily a fishing village.

As the eighteenth century came around, Kuwait grew rapidly as a commercial centre for all goods that moved between India, Baghdad, Arabia and Muscat. Soon, towards the middle of the 1700s Kuwait became known as a major trade route especially to Aleppo. Then as a direct consequence of Iraqi traders taking refuge in the country during the Persian siege of Basra in 1775, the country became active in maritime commerce.

Even East India Company diverted in 1792 to Kuwait and they secured the entire trade route between India, Africa and Kuwait. Even after the Persians left Basra, commercial activity and trade continued in Kuwait and this played a pivotal role in the stagnation of Basra towards the late 1850s.

Some scholars believe that it was the geopolitical and commercial stagnation of Basra that led to the development of modern day Kuwait. Had it not been for the instability of Basra, maritime commerce would never have moved to Kuwait and the country would never have become the preferred destination for the East India Company.

By the start of the 19th century, Kuwait had made a reputation for itself. They were now known as the best sailors in the gulf and even a significant name when it came to horse trading. Kuwait would regularly engage in shipping horses by sea to various parts of the world. On an average, Kuwait would export around 800 horses to India along. It was also around this time that the country earned the name, “Marseilles of Persian Gulf” because of the ethnic diversity, vitality and economic stability of the region. The population by then consisted of a healthy mix of Jews, Arabs, Persians, Africans, Armenians. Till date the country stands as a religiously tolerant nation.

However, towards the early 20th century Kuwait economy suffered greatly and it was owing to various trade embargoes put up as well as world economic depression. By 1930s Kuwait had lost all its significance in long distance trade and it wasn’t until the oil boom that the country regained its economic stability.

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