Many people in Kuwait are not aware of the treasures on display in a private museum in Faiha, owned by Saud Al-Turaiji. Turaiji has spent years collecting about one and a half million items from all over the world, and has placed them in his museum to give people an opportunity to enjoy them.
Turaiji has been collecting antiques since he was 12 years old. “My passion of collecting old items started when I was a child. But it wasn’t easy at first. I faced many problems with my family, as the first items I brought home were things that our old neighbors left in their houses when they moved from our old neighborhood in Qibla, and later Mirqab, in 1954. My mother feared we might get infected with diseases if the owners of these items were sick. She banned me from bringing them into the house, so I had to keep them on the roof,” he told Kuwait Times.
“Later I moved to Mansouriya, where the museum was still small. Finally about 25 years ago, I moved to this house in Faiha, where I expanded the collection over many rooms. But I still think I need bigger place to display all the items I have. Today, my family members who were against this hobby visit me and praise my hard work. Unfortunately, two years ago, I lost many items in a fire that burned a great part of the museum,” he rued.
His first collections were from Kuwait, but when he started to travel, he had the opportunity to collect items from various countries. “The first items were from Kuwait – most were not locally made but from countries such as India, Indonesia and others that were brought to Kuwait by pearl divers from there. They exchanged these for dates which other divers brought from Iraq. So the divers were bartering the items they brought from abroad,” explained Turaiji.
The collection at the museum is a rich mix of everything. Many items are the first of their kind. For instance, there is the first Kuwaiti nationality certificate of a person with the surname Al-Mudhaf. Turaiji also owns the first manual mixer produced by Edison in the US, which cost him more than $3,000, as it’s more than 120 years old. He also has the first football that was brought to Kuwait in 1930.
Many groups of school and university students have visited the museum. “Students visit the museum to get information or pictures for their research papers, especially since I have items detailing the history of education in Kuwait, including models of old schools, old teaching tools, uniforms, shoes and many others,” he said.
There are more treasures to see at the museum, including the bed of an Ottoman sultan in one of the building’s corners. Then there are tens of weapons of various kinds and ages, some of which were presented to him by sheikhs from the Al-Sabah family. Musical instruments were an essential part of old Kuwaiti life, and Turaiji has tens of them. Most of them are still functioning, so visitors can enjoy listening to old Kuwaiti and Arabic songs.
Coins and stamps are displayed as well, some of them more than 300 years old. Turaiji also has vast collections of old bottles, cigarettes, matches, beauty tools, shoes, household utensils, jewelry, watches, pictures and much more. One of the displays only includes watches of family members who have passed away. Visitors can see entire sections dedicated to old Kuwaiti professions and crafts, with figures demonstrating these craftsmen producing or fixing various products. There is also a special corner narrating the story of the Iraqi invasion, including genuine documents, weapons and other items.
By Nawara Fattahova