Trips

Recognising that there’s more to Islamic art and culture than can be captured in even the perfect collection, the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah (DAI) organises an average of two cultural expeditions each year. Open to members of the Friends of the DAI, one trip is generally based in the region and the other farther afield.
Regardless of the destination, there are certain constants that make DAI adventures special. First, the trips are well organised, with accommodation, transportation, meals, admissions and guides all pre-arranged. Second, knowing that the group includes Friends of the DAI, the guides are always genial, well versed on their subjects and include a good mix of facts, history and legend. Third, you will learn many things on the journey – some on the itinerary and some off. For example, one group came back from Yemen completely au fait with the clapping rhythms of traditional Kuwaiti sea music. Finally, you will have fun.
What more could you ask for? Be sure to visit our past trips archive.

20-22 October 2020

Qatar

Sheikha Hussa Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, Director General of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah  on a cultural visit to the State of Qatar, accompanied by a group of employees and volunteers. 

The group  visited the Qatar National Museum, the National Library, and the Museum of Islamic Art. The trip was organized to promote cultural understanding and cooperation in the future.

6 – 12 November 2009

Jordan

Aljoun, with a castle built by Saladin’s nephew, and Kerak, a Crusader fort; Um Qais, one of the Roman “Decapolis” and Amman, a modern city with a rich past; the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World; Mount Nebo, burial place of Moses, and Bethany, where John baptized Jesus; there’s a lot to discover in Jordan. For a week, a group of Friends of the DAI traveled the country doing just that.

Trying to cover more than 2.5 millennia in 7 days is a challenge. Their trip started and ended in Amman, with visits to the archeological and folk museums and a trip to Bethany. A stop and go trip to the Dead Sea included visits to Um Qais, the Al-Rabad Castle in Aljoun, and the Roman city of Jerash. A similar trip to Petra featured stops to see the famous mosaics of Madaba, Mount Nebo, and Kerak.
Friends got to spend an entire day in Jordan’s Rose City. Beautiful Petra was carved from sandstone in shades of beige, orange, red and purple in the 6th century BC. After Petra, it was back to Amman for one last look around before returning to Kuwait.

26 March – 2 April 2009

A Land of Wonders

Morocco

A group of intrepid Friends of the DAI took off for a great adventure in North Africa. During eight days in Morocco – from Casablanca to Rabat, , over to Fez, up through the Atlas mountains to Ifrane (snow!) and finally to Marrakech.
The water vendors were one of the highlights of the Casablanca stay and, for many, Salat Aljumaa (Friday Prayer) in the Hassan II Mosque was the other.
Rabat is a vibrant city with a lively mixture of ancient Islamic history and modern cosmopolitan culture, strikingly similar to many European cities and the group enjoyed exploring both facets of Morocco’s capital city. The splendid gates of Meknes were impressive, especially Bab Al-Mansour, also called Bab Al-Eulj (the Gate of the Renegade). In Moulay Ismaiel the travelers noted message sent by Moulay Ismaiel of the importance of embracing religious tolerance.
No trip to Morocco would be complete without stops at the leather tanneries in the oldest imperial city of Fez, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Heading for Marrakech, the group passed through Little Switzerland and got to enjoy a little snow. Once in Marrakech, the trip was all about architecture and entertainment on Alfana Mosque Square.

24 April 2008 – 2 May 2008

Exploring the “Pearls of Uzbekistan”

Uzbekistan

In Spring 2008, a group of Friends of the DAI explored the some of the highlights of Uzbekistan. With stops in Tashkent, Samarqand, Bukhara and Khiva, the group was constantly on the move.
The group got an early start in Tashkent at the Museum of Applied Art. After a quick stop in Mustaqillik Maydoni (Independence Square), they moved on to the beautiful Navoi Theatre. The last stops were three madrassahs: Barak Khan Madrassah, Kukeldash Madrassah and Abdul Kassim Madrassah.
In Samarqand, the group visited Ulugbek’s Observatory, Shahi Zinda Mausoleum, Registan Square, Gur Amir Mausoleum and the Bibi Khanum Mosque and adjacent bazaar. Just outside Samarqand, the group explored Aq Saray Palace (“White Palace”), which was Timur’s Summer home, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Dorus Tilovat Complex, Gumbazi Seydon, Doru Saodat Complex and Hazrat Imam Mosque.
In 24 hours, the travellers visited 11 important sites in Bukhara, including two madrassahs, two mausoleums, three mosques, a fort, the trading domes, a “residential area”, and the compound of Khazreti Mohammed Bakhauddin Nakshbandi, a respected Sufi and founder of the Nakshabandi Tarikat order.
Khiva was the last stop and well worth the visit. The Nurulla Bai Palace featured tiles outside and in and was spectactular as was the many pillared Juma Mosque.

14 – 17 May 2008

Damascus

Based on the rich history and culture of Syria, Louvre curator and archaeologist Andrea Parrout was moved to write “each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria.” While three days wasn’t enough time to spark mass migration, it did give participants the chance to understand his passion for the country.
As the 2008 Arab Cultural Capital, Damascus hosted prestigious cultural performers and speakers from around the world, including Friend of the DAI Sulayman al-Bassam. Sulayman had been invited to present his production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” for five nights, from 12 May to 16th May at the Damascus Opera House. Other Friends of the DAI were invited to participate in a three day trip (14 – 17 May) to Damascus to see the play and explore the inspiration for Parrout’s quote.
Over the course of the trip, adventurers enjoyed a guided tour of the National Museum, the beautiful Old City, the Grand Umayyad Mosque and Tekkiah Sulaimaniyah. Finally, a small group added a day trip to Palmyra, while others spent the day contributing to the economy of Damascus in the Hamidiyeh Souk and enjoying Bakdash ice cream.

21 – 28 February 2007

DAI Visits Arabia Felix

Yemen

The ancient Arab root for Yemen is ymn, or prosperity. It has also been known as Arabia Felix, Fortunate Arabia by Roman travelers, who were struck by the contrast between Yemen and the surrounding deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Later, John Milton referred to Yemen as “bless’d Araby.” This country is, in part, peacefully green, lushly mountainous, rugged, vastly sandy, yet at every turn staggeringly beautiful.

Friends of the DAI got to see the staggering beauty for themselves on a very special trip to Yemen. Traveling from south to north, then over to the coast gave the travelers a chance to view the full spectrum of Yemen’s geography and culture. It also allowed them to interact with a good cross-section of the Yemeni population, from the academics who shared a cultural evening with us to the ultimate honey dealer to the old men chewing khat in Old Sana’a.

Best of all, the travelers got to know the children – the ones who wanted their picture taken; the ones that ‘volunteered’ to help them get around the souks; the ones who appreciated a simple pencil and the ones eager to practice their English. Thanks to the children, the participants got to see Arabia Gauisus – Happy Arabia.

21–27 April 2002

1 – 8 April 2006

April In Iran . . . By Popular Demand

Iran

Iran is just too big to cover in one trip, even if that trip was 80 days instead of eight. However, the concentration of art and history in Isfahan and Shiraz (with a side trip to Persepolis) made the cities ideal destinations in 2002 and the most requested destinations in the years that followed.
In Isfahan, the groups really explored the city – by day and by night. Out in the cold, bright sunshine, they visited the Chehelsotoun Palace,
the Armenian Vank Cathedral, Imam Square, Minar Jonban, Jame mosque and, of course, a carpet workshop and the bazaar. In the evening, the group visited Khaju and Si-O-Se pol bridges and enjoyed mingling with the locals out for a stroll.
The drive to Shiraz was full of stops that broke up the long ride. Palaces, the tomb of Cyrus the Great and a caravanserai were included on that list.
In Shiraz, gardens beckoned, as did several museums and mosques exquisite in their architecture and ornamentation. The Hafiz and Sadi tomes and Eram gardens were among the most talked about sites in Shiraz. A day trip to Persepolis added to the adventure and beauty of the trip as the remains of this ancient city captured the imagination of everyone.

9 January – 12 January 2006

Oman

The difference between Oman and Kuwait’s other Gulf neighbours is more than geographic, although that aspect can’t be overlooked. The difference is also cultural. DAI Friends went to see for themselves and came back “enamoured with the country or at least the parts we saw”.
The trip started in Muscat, the capital city. The Grand Mosque, a modern architectural marvel, and the two 16th century Portuguese forts provided a perfect example
 of how the past and the present successfully merge in Oman. The mosque, which holds 20,000 worshippers, is the dominant visual in Muscat, and the Mirani Fort at night conjured up visions of fairytales, with handsome princes and sleeping beauties.
The group left Muscat for Nizwa, the ancient inland capital, after a couple of days. As usual, the trip was just as interesting as the destination. Driving through arid lands, wadis and oasis villages, Nizwa was the seat of learning and the birthplace of Islam in Oman and home to one of the country’s most striking castles, Jabreen.
Finally, no visit to Oman would be complete without a visit to Wadi Nakhr and Jebel Shams in the Western Hajjar Mountians. Both sites proved magnificent, especially for travelers coming from the flat, desert of Kuwait.
 

5 April – 10 April 2005

Aleppo

Since the 3rd millennium BC Aleppo was the meeting point of several important commercial roads in the north. It was the link in trade between Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent and Egypt. It was also the destination of the DAI Spring 2005 cultural trip. From 5 April to 10 April, members of the group explored the history of this ancient city, visiting many cultural, architectural and historic landmarks. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a day trip to Damascus was added to the tour.
In Aleppo, participants visited extraordinary sites, including St. Semion, Qalaat Samaan, Serjaleah, Ebla, Aphamia, Ugarit, and Citadel. A half-day at the Aleppo
Museum gave the visitors an overview of the history of the area and a look at many of the priceless antiquities recovered during various archeological expeditions. Time spent in the Old Bazaar proved to be a great mix of ancient history and present-day shopping.
For having just one day in Damascus, the participants covered a lot of ground, visiting everything from the Great Umayyad Mosque to St. Paul’s window. Stops at the National Museum, Azem Palace and Hamidiah Bazaar gave them the opportunity to compare the histories and developments of these two important cities.

13 – 22 April 2004
Istanbul

Fitting for Islantbul, a city divided by the Bosphorus, Friends of the DAI on the Turkey expedition divided their time – between Asia and Europe, water and land, ancient history and modern shopping. In addition to the requisite visits to Topkapi, Agios Sophia, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and Sinan’s masterpiece, the Suleymaniye Mosque, they enjoyed a cruise on the Bosphorus, a stroll through the Grand Covered Bazaar, and a visit to Beylerbeyi Palace, the summer residence of Ottoman sultans.
 
From Istanbul, the travellers headed to Konya. According to legend, two dervishes were making an excursion through the skies. When they flew over the lands of central Anatolia, one asked “Konayim mi?” (“Shall I land?”). The other answered “Kon ya!” (“Sure, land.”) So they landed and founded the city of Konya.
And what a special city it was. Konya was the capital city of the Seljuks and the home of Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumî, Sufi poet and founder of the Whirling Dervish order. During their stop in Konya, DAI travellers visited the Mevlana Museum which includes the tomb of Rumi and the Ince Minare Museum, originally built as a Muslim theological seminary and now a museum of wooden artefacts and stone carving.

23 – 31 January 2003

Incredible  India  Tour

Few places have  the romantic (and  yes, historic) allure  of Agra. Built by Shah Jehan as a memorial for his beloved wife Mumtaz, 

the Taj Mahal (one  of several architectural treasures in Agra) is the most splendid of all buildings and  perhaps the most perfect architectural monument in the world. But it is not the only noteworthy creations in the area, the Agra Fort, palaces, pavilions  and  gardens are almost as spectacular.  So it’s no  surprise that the itinerary centers on Agra.

Equally, given  the importance of the Moghul dynasties in Islamic culture, stops at Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandara and  the Red Fort, Delhi’s most opulent fort and palace were also necessary. 

By visiting the Emperor Akbar’s capital city (Fatehpur Sikri), for example, DAI travelers were to fully appreciate what court life might have been like in the days  of its grandeur.

Rajput architecture and  the stimulating sights and  sounds of the old  market areas in Delhi and Jaipur were the perfect lagniappe to transform a special  journey into an exceptional one.

18-24th January 2014 by Tarif El Hoss

DAI Trip to Saudi Arabia.

Inspired by the international exhibition organised by the Kingdom of   SaudiArabia entitled ‘Roads of Arabia’ and  the lecture given by Dr Maha Sinan on the  arts in Arabia  from earliest times to the present at the Maidan theatre last October, the  hidden wonders of Arabia were the theme of the latest journey taken by a group of DAI  friends for a week  from  18-24 January.  Our adventure started in the holy city of Medina the Radiant (al madina al munawwara) for an overnight stop before continuing the next day to explore the historic sites of Arabia. Part of the group embarked on a nocturnal visit to the Prophet’s  Noble Sanctuary (al haram al nabawi al sharif) and  had a quick tour of the city of Medina passing by the Ottoman Hijaz Railway Station and  the pilgrims mosque facing it.

The Hijaz Railway was laid out by the Ottomans to reduce the journey  time and ensure the safety of pilgrims  travelling from  Damascus to Mecca. It reduced travelling time from  over  two months to three days, but the railway  was not completed to Mecca obliging pilgrims  to travel from  Medina with the caravans. The  next day  we set off for Al Ula, 350 kms north of Medina. Our  route followed the ancient incense trail that crossed Arabia  from  Ma’in and  the Hadhramaut valley in the south through the kingdoms of Madain Saleh and  Petra to the Mediterranean sea and  on to all parts of the ancient world.  The  caravans transported spices  from  India; gold  from  Nubia;  lapis lazuli from  Afghanistan and the most valuable commodities of the time, myrrh, frankincense and  aromatic resins from  the kingdom of Saba. The  treasure