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With a scoop, ice cream lovers, vendors beat the Kuwait heat

‘All thanks to the Almighty’; Hidden stories on wheels

By Passant Hisham & Chidi Emmanuel

KUWAIT: Pushing their tricycles with colorful umbrellas that stand out boldly among the vehicles driving around them, ice cream vendors are easily spotted roaming the streets of Kuwait all year long. But how many of us have ever wondered about the nature of their job or how do they endure remaining outdoors during the summer, given the extreme heat of the country?

Employed by dairy companies, the vendors are offered the ice cream carts to sell the brands’ products each day, earning a commission rate on their sales. “Some days, I might make KD 10 and certain days I might even make KD 20. It depends,” said Hassan, a 32-year-old Syrian ice cream vendor. Although he noted that he doesn’t keep the entire amount, as the company takes nearly 60 percent of it. “Having a car instead of an ice cream tricycle is more like a dream for us. We’ve been asking for that for years, but with no hope,” he said, even though he recently lowered the bar of his expectations. “All we ask for now is a better umbrella, one that provides more shade.”

When asked why some vendors still roam the streets in the afternoon even when the outdoor working ban during summer is in force to protect them from the adverse effect of heat, Hassan simply replied, “It’s not as if they have a choice. Some of them just want to make a living.” However, by violating the law, they not only put their health at risk, but they also risk losing their jobs too. “If they get caught, many might be expelled by their companies,” he added.

According to him, the ban hours, from 11 am to 4 pm, are usually their peak time to sell because it is when employees are working. He rhetorically asked, “Who goes outside after 4 pm? Almost everyone will be resting or sleeping at home after a long day of work.” Besides the ban, summer is, somehow, an off-season for ice cream vendors. Hassan said that their sales are highly affected by the summer vacation for schools. They lose sight of their primary targeted customers on the streets which are children. Although he mentioned that the job involves a lot of hardships, Hassan seemed grateful for what he has as he didn’t skip a sentence without saying, “All thanks to the Almighty.”

Ice cream vendors are an essential part of the culinary landscape in Kuwait. They provide Kuwait’s residents with a variety of mouth-watering flavors. “Kuwait is also known for its love of ice cream. The scorching heat calls for a refreshing treat, and what would be a better way to beat the heat than with a scoop of mouth-watering vanilla ice cream?” Christina Angelo, a Filipino expat, wondered.

Kuwait’s ice cream vendors play a vital role in keeping the tradition of ice cream alive. These vendors ensure that the flavors and techniques remain authentic. “We sell authentic products. Our company makes a vast variety of flavors. It is unique and affordable; that’s why many people buy from us,” Ali Bader, an ice vendor, told the Kuwait Times. The ice cream industry in Kuwait continues to evolve with vendors adapting to meet the demands of the modern consumer. Their dedication to keeping the tradition of ice cream alive, along with their innovative flavors, has made them a beloved part of the community.

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