The mall offers elegant, simulated pedestrian streets, edged with trees and lined with cafés and luxury-brand stores, all under a translucent glass roof that admits natural light but keeps at bay the hostile outside temperatures, which can rise above a hundred and twenty degrees. The mall is Kuwait’s principal recreational resort: twenty-two million visitors went there in 2013, eight times the population of the country. In 2014, four hundred and fifty thousand of them went to KidZania, which ranks as Kuwait City’s No. 1 attraction on TripAdvisor.
Kuwait, it was explained to her, has almost no tourist industry—its only visitors are Saudis for whom Dubai is too racy—and so drawing local visitors back repeatedly would be key to KidZania’s success. One particular concern was attracting parents, for whom there is little to do inside KidZania, and who had been voicing objections to the twenty-seven-dollar adult entrance fee.
The ceremony took place in KidZania’s theatre, most recently used for an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” that conformed to local mores. (The representation of wizards is forbidden in Kuwait, so in KidZania’s version the wizard was on vacation.)
Kuwait sounds like a shithole.