A miniature sailing ship called “Bagalah” built by master qallaf Mr. Hussain Al-Bazaz.
A miniature sailing ship called “Bagalah” built by master qallaf Mr. Hussain Al-Bazaz.

Woodwork crafts are quite important for many Kuwaiti individuals and families. Shipbuilding (qallafah), and carpentry (nijarah) are the two major crafts that continue to be practiced. Through these crafts, many experienced artisans are making living and providing vital services to the local community. Saw-milling (sharrah) is the third wood craft, but it is no longer being practiced due to the use of electrical machines for slicing large timber logs. Many artisans families are named after these crafts, because it became their family’s crafts which were transferred from one generation to the next.

In the past, wooden shipbuilding (Al-Qullafah) was the most famous wood craft in Kuwait. In 1920, Kuwait had over 150 large wooden ships that could carry 100-575 tons of goods. Currently, this craft has retreated to its minimum and is limited to repairing previously built full-size wooden ships, building small wooden ships as models and maintaining them, as well as making miniature ships for decoration and gift purposes. Present wooden ship builders continue practicing their craft in their shops in the city of Doha. Others work at home or in the wood workshop built in their gathering establishment (Dewaniyat Al-Qallaleef).

Carpentry (Nijarah) is another important craft that continues to be practiced in both modern and traditional styles. More woodshops are established every year to meet the increasing demand. Hand and electrical tools are used to help carpenters produce all kinds of residential and commercial furniture, wooden doors, windows, staircases, etc.

The public Authority for Industry is currently the official government agency that provides the official licenses to practice wood crafts at commercial levels. Licensed small wood workshops are largely located in the Shuwaikh, city close to related wood stores. Teak, white, mahogany, oak, and beech are used. The come in the form of main wood, plywood, and medium density fibre sheets (MDF).

Further reading

Jamal, Mohamad A. (2009) The Old Crafts, Trades, and Commercial Activities in Kuwait. Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait. Kuwait.


B-1) Carpentry hand tools of master qallaf Mr. Hussain Al-Bazaz.

B-2) Typical small carpentry workshop with a table saw.

B-3) Several typical electrical and hand carpentry tools in a carpentry workshop.

B-4) Wood door carving with an electrical router done by an experienced carpenter.

B-5) Wood boxes made for small electrical heating devices decorated with colored brass sheets.