‘Little Manila’: A destination for lovers of Filipino culture

By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: Kuwait enjoys cultural diversity among its population, as is considered a good destination for expats searching for better career opportunities for a stable financial life. These expats also create their own communities that help them feel comfortable away from home. The old Salmiya souq or “Barayeh Salem” has turned into a distinguished place for the Filipino community, who have turned this street into one full of Filipino food and people and a totally different atmosphere, so much that this area is called “Little Manila”.

People of other nationalities also go there to experience Manila’s markets without buying a ticket to the Philippines, according to a Kuwaiti enjoying his time there. The citizen, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Kuwait Times he has visited the Philippines several times. After he started coming to this market, he felt he was in one of the small markets in the Philippines. “It is very beautiful to see an example of coexistence between communities, as Kuwait is built on a fusion of different cultures,” he said. Kuwait Times explored the market and asked Filipinos how it helps them adapt to the different culture they live in.

KUWAIT: Filipino expatriates and lovers of Filipino culture enjoy a taste of the Philippines at Barayeh Salem. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

A Filipina who came to Kuwait almost two years ago said despite the good hospitality she has experienced from Kuwaitis and other nationals, this place helped her to meet people from her own community. “This area makes us feel we are in our home country, with the presence of Filipino restaurants, original products at affordable prices and multiple events that alleviate the burden of being away from our families,” she said. Another Filipina said being a part of a different culture is a big challenge for any person who lives outside their country.

“Kuwait made it easier for us by facilitating a convenient environment for us through this place,” she said. “Every weekend you can see this place becomes a small version of Philippine cities, where everyone gathers to feel the atmosphere of our country,” she added. A Filipino restaurant owner told Kuwait Times that in addition to the great vibes that people feel in this place, it also provides many Filipinos a good opportunity to invest in a unique business in the Kuwaiti market.

“This community helped me to grow my business, because most of my clients know what I provide and the type of food. It is boosting our culture among not only those who are familiar with it, but also attracts new customers who would like to try out our food, such as Kuwaitis and Arabs,” he said. A Jordanian visiting the place spoke about the huge transformation that has occurred in this area.

“I have been in Kuwait for more than 30 years, and I used to come to this market back when it was one of the famous places for shopping and spending time with the family,” he said. He added that seeing this transformation made him realize how Kuwait is becoming more open to other communities. He stressed Kuwait should keep up encouraging this diversity in communities that benefits it at all levels, while providing new entertainment locations and attracting tourists to experience cultural diversity in Kuwait.

The post ‘Little Manila’: A destination for lovers of Filipino culture appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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