In this month of celebrating Kuwait's proud heritage and independence KTAA are
delighted to have Mr. Reyad Al Baghli speak about one of Kuwait's oldest trades started by his family more than 150 years ago. KTAA hopes you will join them on February 19th to learn about the history of the bisht, how and when to wear one and how the delicate gold braiding "zari" is woven into every bisht.
The Al Baghli family roots come from the famous oasis area in Saudi Arabia called Al Ahsa. (As a side note it is one of the largest oasis in the world). At the time, most of all of the family members worked as traders and tailors of the bisht and Al Ahsa was the center of the bisht trade. They migrated to Kuwait in the 18th century.
The bisht trade was very popular everywhere in the Gulf Area especially in the island of Bahrain and villages along the coast. The Bisht was, and still is, considered traditional clothing for men. People in Kuwait and other Gulf countries used to criticize the man who did not wear a bisht. A man wearing a bisht was seen as a person of authority and respect. It was said in the old days that one Bisht was more valuable than all other items in the closet.
The Al Baghli family established a factory for making bishts which is considered the oldest factory in Kuwait and the family continued working this way until the 1950s.
As the country began slowly to modernize and more trades and job opportunities appeared in Kuwait, the number of the workers in the bisht trade started to decrease. But the founder of the company, the speaker's grandfather, was determined to keep the art of bisht making alive. And so it is that Mohammed Al Baghli, Reyad's father, and Reyad himself continue the proud tradition of bisht making in Kuwait.