first to establish a hotel in Kuwait and perhaps in the Arabian Gulf was the
late Yousuf Behbehani, known as Yousuf Sherin, and as mentioned in the research
of the academician Muhammad Ibrahim Habib, Sherine means 'sweet taste' in
Persian and the qualities of the late Behbehani were sweet and decent.
The hotel built in in Safat in
1947 and I still vividly remember its entrance. It was not far from my father's
shop. The late Yousuf Sherin was mentioned frequently in the British documents
because of his commercial adventures and what he was trading in at that time
which was actually strange. He was trading in cigarettes, nuts and dried
fruits. He imported them from Iran and imported sugar from China. It was in the
1920s almost a hundred years ago.
He 'imported' weapons into Kuwait
for himself and to the ruler and such work was contrary to what was claimed by
Britain which was suspicious about his movements although he was inclined to
them. He also helped transfer the remains of Shiites to Najaf and Karbala to
bury them there for a small sum of money but often free of cost which was not
legitimate work at the time but he enjoyed the satisfaction and protection of
He also contributed to organize
many pilgrimage convoys in those difficult days due to the roughness of the
road, the distance, the semi-insecurity and the lack of means of
transportation. The transport was expensive for the pilgrims and profitable for
those who worked in this business. The cost was between 2,000 and 5,000 rupees
(KD 150 to 500) per person and as his business expanded in this area, it caused
him great losses.
The Sadu House Museum is located
on the Arabian Gulf Street and was once a home of Yousuf Sherin where a number
of his grandsons were born. The house was built by Yousuf Al-Marzouq in 1929.
It was the first house build of concrete under the supervision of an Indian
architect. Yousuf Sherin bought the house in 1938 and carried out some renovations
before the State acquired it in 1979 and was dedicated to the Sadu museum.
Unlike the rest of the old houses
and Diwans of Kuwait the name of Yousuf Behbehani was not placed on the
building for his commemoration and I do not know why.
Morad, the second son of Yousuf
Sherin, was born in 1918 and died at the age of 87. Most successful of his sons
in business he had a close relationship with the late Amir Jaber Al-Ahmad. The
late Morad was famous for importing radios, and the first shipment from Switzerland
was 100 devices imported in 1943, two years before he was born.
He also set up a private radio
station for music. He was one of the first Kuwaitis to arrive in America and
imported air conditioners, and then became an agent for Carrier air-conditioners
and the agency has been with his family for 80 years.
He was also the first to import
expensive watches and opening the first television station which then became
the nucleus of Kuwait Television. He also obtained the Volkswagen agency and
other vehicles. He was also the first to introduce advanced printing to Kuwait
and participated in the founding of Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait, was the chairman
for a long time.
These are distinguished
personalities within their surroundings, and they have clear hallmarks, yet
they were ignored inadvertently or deliberately, despite the achievements and
cleanliness in their careers.
He was an honest trader in his
dealings, and we did not hear otherwise about him when we were with him in the
banking world. However a street in Mishref is named after him no more than 400
meters long and this is indeed a shame despite his heirs' approval.
The history of the deceased and
his biography is much greater than that shameful offer, especially in the light
of what we have come to see names of those who have no biography or history
compared to him while they stand more
prominent in the naming of roads and streets.
I also do not remember that I
have seen a street that bears the name of his late father, is this another
By Ahmad alsarraf