KUWAIT: Kuwait’s first pharmacy or ‘dawakhana’ as Kuwaitis used to call it, was opened in 1919 by Abulelah Al-Qenai. The dawakhana, fully operated by Qenai back then, provided complete medical services including preparing different medicines, treating regular diseases and vaccinations against epidemics that would spread every now and then. In his book titled ‘Dawakhana’ published by the Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait in 2005, Dr Khaled Al-Jarallah said Abdulelah’s father Abdullah Al-Qenai was a prominent figure in Kuwaiti society. He noted that Abdulelah learned English, literature, religion, science and document preservation from his father.

Abdullah Al-Qenai used to work for the British political commission in Kuwait in 1904 and was honored by an award for his efforts. This had given Abdulelah the chance to work as an assistant doctor in the commission’s clinic in 1909, Jarallah said. He kept working at the clinic until late 1918, when he decided to benefit from the knowledge and skills he had gained to work on his own. In 1919, Qenai travelled to Bombay in India to learn about different medicines and medical equipment. He then went to merchant Hussein bin Essa, who was living in India, to ship all drugs and equipment needed for his pharmacy in Kuwait.

Jarallah said the dawakhana, located in the middle of the souq under the kiosk of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, served people throughout the ’20s and ’30s. From there on, Qenai showed great skills in treating diseases in different fields including the digestive system, urinary tract, lungs, dermatology and ophthalmology. He also treated wounds and toothaches and performed simple surgeries. Moreover, Abulelah provided vaccinations against smallpox that was widely spreading in Kuwait and the Gulf region back then. The dawakhana gave way to the opening of other pharmacies later, including the national Islamic pharmacy in 1927 by Abdullatif Al-Duhaim and many others. – KUNA