In 1958, Abdul Karim Qasim seized power in Iraq and many members of the pro-Western Hashemite regime were killed. This caused concerns of a domino effect in the region. In March 1959, Iraq switched its alliances from the Baghdad Pact to the Soviet Union. In 1960, an Arab League declaration questioned the southern border of Iraq. Iraq claimed that Kuwait’s oil drilling was encroaching on their own oil fields. As Kuwait prepared for independence from Britain in 1961, Qasim claimed that it belonged to Iraq and threatened invasion. This historical context serves as the background for “Our Man in Kuwait.”
The Hubara Club
n Our Man In Kuwait, a significant portion of the story is set in Al-Ahmadi, a town established in the 1940s for Kuwait Oil Company workers. The Hubara Club serves as its social center, featuring amenities such as an Olympic-sized pool, formal dances, and lively bars. This is where the main characters, Gordon Carlisle and his wife, spend their leisure time.
In “Our Man In Kuwait”, Gordon Carlisle befriends Ian Fleming upon his arrival in Kuwait, not realizing that Fleming is working for Naval Intelligence and has been sent to investigate him due to a string of mysterious deaths. They talk about the status of journalist Pip Foster, who is believed to be working for MI6. In reality, Ian Fleming had been hired by the Kuwait Oil Company to write a book about the oil industry, titled “State of Excitement”, but it was never published as the authorities were dissatisfied with its contents.
The Hunting Trip
Ian Fleming and Gordon Carlisle embark on a private hunting trip in the desert to hunt for the houbara, a rare desert bird whose meat is considered an aphrodisiac. The practice of falconry has a long history, but these birds are now protected internationally. In “Our Man in Kuwait,” they are pursued by a group armed with guns, causing Carlisle to suspect an assassination attempt. This photo was taken during the actual expedition.
City of Spies
Ian Fleming tells Gordon Carlisle that he has been staying with the Beirut MI6 station chief, Nicholas Elliot. Beirut was a popular location for spies in 1960 due to the escalation of the Cold War. Russian spy Kim Philby worked as a correspondent in the city before defecting. Known for its casinos, nightclubs, mountains, and seafront, Beirut was considered the “Paris of the Middle East” and is 800 kilometers from Kuwait. In “Our Man in Kuwait,” Gordon learns that his estranged wife has been spotted at The Saint George Hotel, leading him to believe she is having an affair.