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Kuwaitis among first to ride automobiles in Gulf region

KUWAIT: Kuwait took precedence in many fields within the region, including the introduction and usage of automobiles. Kuwait introduced cars over a century ago, when camels, horses and donkeys were still used as means of transportation. In this context, Bassem Abdulaziz Al-Loughani mentions in his book “Cars in Kuwait’s history” that the first car appeared in Kuwait in 1911 and Bahrain followed two years later when Sheikh Eisa Al-Khalifa brought one in 1913.

The first vehicle to enter the Najd region (modern Saudi Arabia) was a gift from the Ottoman Empire to the Amir of Hael Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Rashid in 1915. Loughani emphasized that first car used in Kuwait was a Belgian Minerva model imported by Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, but it did not last long because of breakdowns. According to a study conducted by writer Yaqoub Al-Ibrahim, the Kuwaiti people called that particular car the “elephant”, because it was a giant vehicle. The second car to enter Kuwait was also a Minerva, which tradesman Jassem bin Mohammed Al-Ibrahim gave to Amir Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, Loughani added.
The first to acquire private cars were Kuwaiti citizens Hamad Al-Khaled and Shamlan bin Saif, each acquiring a Ford, Hilal Al-Mutairi a acquired Hudson, then Hamad Al-Sager and Mulla Saleh bought Overland vehicles. Sheikha Badriya Saud Al-Sabah was considered as the first Kuwaiti woman to drive a car after her study abroad concluded and she was appointed a supervisor of public health in 1947.

Hamed Al-Naqeeb, the first Kuwaiti to obtain the right to distribute Ford cars in Kuwait and (Right) The Belgian Minerva automobile was among the earliest vehicles that entered Kuwait. —KUNA photos

British-made Humber cars were well-known in the fifties and sixties – Kuwait Oil Company workers used them to cross the desert in order to reach oil wells. In the late 1920s, Ali Al-Kulaib Al-Khalid obtained the right to distribute cars under an agreement with Chevrolet, Buick and GMC agents in Iraq. In 1936, Hamed Al-Naqeeb obtained the right to distribute Ford cars.

Loughani mentions the first recorded traffic ticket was handed to Al-Sayed Eisa Yousef Abduljaleel on September 22, 1938, while the first death in Kuwait due to a car accident was in 1937. He adds that Mohammed Al-Sayed Omar, Eisa Saleh and Abdullah Al-Saif were the first Kuwaitis to have a driving license, while the youngest Kuwaiti to obtain a driving license was Sulaiman Al-Othman at age 14. – KUNA

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