Souk Mubarakiya is Kuwait’s oldest market, unaltered despite the passage of time. Near the Sheikh Mubarak Kiosk, built early last century, is situated the old date market. Still retaining its original design, the date market runs along a corridor of no more than forty meters, with fifteen shops occupying each side. If one day you have the opportunity to visit, be sure to show up very early in the morning to meet the oldest shop-owner, Ali Fahad Al-Ajeel, whose store has been around since the 1940s. Ali sells grains, rice, tea and other food commodities. Nearby, Hussein Abdulrazzaq's shop still carries the same aura of years past, with the help of Abu Jaber. Despite the change in activity of certain shops, the twelve shops continue to stock their dates traditionally. Within their four walls, these merchants - in their old surviving stalls - are the keepers of our culture.
At a young age I found myself gravitating towards the art of portraiture. I found the candid rawness of the human face to be extremely moving, especially when combined with the chaos of their urban surroundings. I believe good portraiture creates a humbling and intimate experience for the viewer, as one is granted for a brief moment a glimpse into the private spheres of another’s life. As a Kuwaiti photographer, I used my portraits to capture the fleeting history of Kuwaiti culture; a traditional culture which is slowly fading with the extreme modernisation and westernisation of the society by the younger generation. In the brief moments of the ‘souk’ (market), I find the history of the Kuwaiti culture still surviving within the four narrow walls of some of the oldest surviving stalls. These merchant men have watched over the ever evolving souk, whilst retained their age-old methods, ever constant in an ever advancing society. While conversing with them, I find the simplicity of their mannerisms inspiring, their stories entertaining and thought provoking. I try to capture the modesty of their lives through my encounters, in the hopes that my camera can somehow portray their narrative along with their image.