The history of the Jews in Kuwait is connected to the history of the Jews in Iraq. In 1776, Sadeq Khan captured Basra, hence many of the inhabitants left the country and among them were Jews who went to Kuwait. With the Jews’ efforts, the country flourished with its buildings and trades. Around 1860, their number increased and their trade flourished. The Jews had a market called “The Jews’ market “, which was next to the market Mosque. It was known that the Jews used to make wine and alcohol which they sold to the public. The Jews were known to be very careful with trading. They were mostly wholesalers and worked with India, Baghdad and Aleppo. They also exported to Europe and China.
There were about 80 Jewish familiesand before 1914 there were about 200 Jews living in Kuwait in one district where the Bank of Trade is now. The Jews also wore the Zboun and Fez although some wore European suits but they covered their head with Fez. They had their own Synagogue and observed Saturday as a sacred day and also had their own Cemetery. There were a few wealthy Jews in Kuwait but most were middle class, being Jewellers or material traders. Among the wealthy Jews were Saleh Mahlab who owned the first ice factory in 1912. Gurgi Sasson and Menashi Eliahou who were traders and financiers.
The Jewish community that came to Kuwait belonged to the ‘Babylonian’ Jews who had lived in Mesopotamia for millennia. Their language was Arabic, and they had traded between Baghdad and India for centuries. The majority were involved in textiles, and they had their own market where people of all origins came to buy the cloth they imported. They usually educated their children in their synagogue. It was a community in flux, with constant comings and goings, rather than a stable group who arrived together and left together, and it was made up of diverse individuals.
Kuwait in the last decades of the nineteenth century had become a dynamic place for its time. There was a building boom in both houses and ships, and business opportunities abounded. The country was peaceful and stable. The combination of services available and economic prospects drew people from surrounding countries searching for a better life. When Sheikh Salem al Mubarak came to power in February 1917 (he was the 9th ruler), he wanted to stop the Jews from dealing with alcoholic spirits. When King Faisal the first came to rule Iraq, most of them went back to Baghdad and few went to India. The King had Jewish acquaintances like Wiseman and Sasson Heskel who became the Minister of Finance in Iraq. During the 1920′s, all the Jews left Kuwait.
The government of Kuwait had approved on building a new city called Madinat al-Hareer or The City of Silk. A super mega-project that will host 1001 m high skyscraper. The super tall tower will include a Muslim Mosque, a Jewish Synagogue and a Christian church under a single roof.