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The historical cemeteries of Kuwait City

These photos show the old Hasawi cemetery in Kuwait City managed by the Kuwait Municipality and closed to new burials in 1973. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Nawara Fattahova

Although it has been closed for over 40 years, a few visitors still visit the Jaafaria Cemetery in Kuwait City that was in use from 1868 till 1973. After space at this and other cemeteries in the area ran out, burials were moved to the present cemetery in Sulaibikhat.

There are six cemeteries in this area and many others around Kuwait. In the past, all cemeteries were located in Kuwait City, as it was a vital area where the majority of the population lived. Hilal Al-Mutairi Cemetery was the first graveyard in Kuwait, followed by Sawaber, Madwa North and South, Hasawiya, Jaafariya and Qibla. There are other cemeteries in Kuwait City too for non-Muslims, Jews and others.

Kuwait Times visited the Hasawiya and Jaafaria cemeteries that are located opposite each other after obtaining permission from the Municipality. Both were closed in 1973 to new burials. Out of respect for the deceased and their descendants, we did to take close up shots of headstones but were also to photograph the overall area to show Kuwait continues to care for the departed.

“Although being out of service and not witnessing any visits, cleaners still do the rounds of these old cemeteries twice or thrice a week. The guard of the cemetery gathers the waste in one corner, and when the cleaners come, they take it,” Akbar Al-Blushi from the funeral affairs department of the Municipality told Kuwait Times.

He added the Municipality is keen on taking care of cemeteries. “Dr Faisal Al-Awadhi, Director of the Funeral Affairs Department, wants to keep all cemeteries tidy and proper looking. Since these old cemeteries are located in strategic areas in the heart of Kuwait City between modern towers, new walls have been built around them to improve the view,” added Blushi.

Currently, only five cemeteries in Kuwait are functional – for Sunnis, Shiites and non-Muslims – out of a total of 61 cemeteries. Fifty of these are fenced, while 11 are unfenced. Hilal Al-Mutairi Cemetery was the first registered burial ground, named after Hilal Fajhan Al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti businessman who granted the land for a cemetery and was buried in it after he died in 1938.

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