Historical Background

The Amiri Diwan (or Al-Diwan Al-Amiri as it is known in Arabic) is seen as one of the symbols of the State of Kuwait's sovereignty. It is the headquarters and the permanent centre of the country's rulers.

During Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah's reign (1950 – 1965), the Amiri Diwan was headed by Sheikh Khaled Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber who continued in this role until 1990. When Kuwait was liberated after the invasion of the former Iraqi regime, His Excellency Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah took over as Minister of the Amiri Diwan on September 10th, 1991. His successor and the present incumbent is Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who took up the position on February 12th, 2006.

Due to its unique geographical position, throughout its history, Kuwait has been a major trading centre. This was especially evident during the reign of Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah (Mubarak the Great) who ruled the country from 1896 to 1915. During this time, many delegations and merchants came to Kuwait to conduct business. Thus, the need for a palace that would be the reigning monarch's headquarters and government office became acute. In 1904, a decision was taken to build a palace overlooking the sea (al seif). It therefore became known as Al Seif palace.

Since then, Kuwait's rulers have developed and expanded the original palace which is seen as an integral part of Kuwait's history and progress. Sheikh Salem bin Mubarak Al-Sabah was the first to renew the building in 1917. On its main gate, the words: "If it lasted for others it wouldn't have passed to you" are inscribed.

The late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah also carried out major alterations and additions in 1961, and by the end of the following year, it was named "Al-Diwan Al-Amiri".

Many features of Islamic architecture can be seen throughout Al Seif Palace, such as the use of arches, Islamic arabesque, and wooden oriels - all are testaments to Kuwait's rich heritage. Local materials, including clay, rocks, limestone, wood and metals were used in its construction. One of Seif Palace's best-known features is the watch tower - it is covered in blue tiles and its roof is plated in pure gold.

The State of Kuwait has witnessed remarkable development over the past few years, and with it came the need to expand the palace in line with the country's growth and success. The building project began in 1987, but had to be suspended due to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. However, work resumed after liberation. Offices for both HH the Crown Prince and HH the Prime Minister were constructed as were buildings for Cabinet meetings and the General Secretariat.

But the old Seif Palace still retains an important place in the hearts of Kuwaitis. A special action plan was therefore initiated to sympathetically restore and renovate the original palace.


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