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Sweeping in Kuwait

Kuwait Sweeping

Phileas and the Mystery Bride in Kuwait

by Phileas Fogg

Phileas Fogg is's foreign sweeping correspondent. Although he usually writes about how sweeping is being done in this or that part of the world, in this case he provided us with his observations, first while waiting in the Cairo airport, then upon arrival at Kuwait International Airport.

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Recently I was required to fly from Cairo to Kuwait, normally an uninteresting event devoid of any drama. As I moved from check-in, through immigration and finally into the departure lounge I noticed a fully kitted out bride about to walk through the security scanner. Now I have never seen this before so you can imagine how it caught my eye. The formidable Mrs. Fogg had elected to stay at home so I did not have readily available a reliable authority on the behaviour or customs of brides.

She was dressed as a traditional Western bride, voluminous, hooped, embroided satin dress, long white gloves and half veil. I couldn't see what shoes she had as the enormous dress reached the floor, she sort of glided about like those Russian dancers. She moved through the metal detector safely but had to squeeze her hoops to fit through the opening. As she came closer I saw that she also clutched a posy of limp white flowers.

I looked around for a bridal party, but nothing! No bridesmaids, mother, flower girls and certainly no groom. What had happened? Was she running away from a wedding; was she running to a wedding? Upon reflection, I decided that as long as she wasn't in seat 26B, I would be OK.

On the aircraft the flight attendants kindly found her an empty row so she could settle down with skirt and hoops after walking down the aisle (aircraft, not church). During the process, she wiped out newspapers, books and anything else aisle passengers had in their hands. Several women passengers bustled around her helping to attach the seat belt and fold her into her seat, all the while generally fussing about like the poor dear's absent mother.

Now this trip had some meaning and I was determined to see what would happen at the other end.

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At Kuwait International Airport I hung around the baggage carousel to see if the bride had fled with luggage or not; lots of luggage would mean going to a wedding, none would mean running from. Ah, lots of bags. Now to look for the groom.

There he was! Thin, young and dressed in what I am sure was his father's best double-breasted suit and clutching a single red rose. Hair slicked down and the suggestion of a moustache hovering around his lip, hands trembling with either fear or anticipation. The pair greeted each other nervously and sort of moved their heads around like mating mallards on a National Geographic film, not sure if they should actually touch or not.

Finally the decision was made to hold hands, and continuing to do so they walked into the arrival hall to be greeted by a large number of "aunties" and other women all making that wonderful trilling, yodelling sound traditionally used by Arab women. This was much better and a wonderful, shy smile now lit up her face. Either his or her relatives hugged and kissed them, ladies fussed with the bride's clothes, smoothing and adjusting.

It was so moving that it even affected this crusty traveller; I went up to them, shook their hands and wished them a good life. Lots of photos were taken and I couldn't help but notice that the background to the photos was the Travelex booth showing exchange rates. Perhaps this was a way of fixing the exchange rate for her dowry.

Everyone moved out to the taxis, women trilling and yodelling, men trying to look stern, all into a fleet of taxis and away. I phoned Mrs. Fogg to tell her the story only to be accused of drinking and exaggerating. I could have given that young man some good advice.

Phileas Fogg is an intrepid and voracious traveler with an abiding interest in the power sweeping industry. He has agreed to, from time-to-time, provide the reading audience with interviews and other information from countries he finds himself in. You may reach Mr. Fogg via email sent to

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