The Slow Demise of Old Salmiya?

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One by one, it seems some of the main buildings of Old Salmiya along Salem Al-Mubarek Street are coming down.  Half of the shops on the ground floor along the street on many of the buildings are empty.  One of my favorite buildings, a big retro-teal, circular apartment complex seems to be in its last stages of life as well.  Does anyone know what the plan is for that area of town?  Is the bulldozer coming to take down all these buildings that look like ghosts of their former selves?  What will Old Salmiya become and what is the development plan? 

2 Responses on "The Slow Demise of Old Salmiya?"

  1. Thomas says:

    About 7 or 8 years ago, during our first phase living in Kuwait, we used to live in Salmiya, just adjacent to 'Fresh' restaurant, a 10 minute walk down from the Sha'ab amusement park. To us that was an absolutely brilliant place to be. Our house, built perhaps 20-30 years eariler, was a solid, three story, brick building in grey and white, with four apartments in it (there's still a few lwft of these in the neighbourhood). What made it brilliant, this 'hood' of ours, was not only the size, scale and massing of the buildings, which varied in size and purpose from individual residences to, quite large, up to seven story apartment buildings, but also to the convenience of distances and services in the area. Ther was a small stationary store just next to our building with a decent selection of both local and international magazines; there were several restaurants, bakeries, a video store, small convenience stores, and even a gym within a stone throw of our flat - all within walking distance. The neighbourhood had a fine balance between residences and services that, unusually for Kuwait, had usually even parking to spare. It was a finely, but delicately, working balance. Now many of the buildings have been torn down, including ours, which now has been replaced with a 15 story apartment building (containing at least 30 flats compared to the 4 that existed in the original building) - something completely out of proportion with the site and its surroundings. Jane Jacobs, in her 'Death and Life of Great American Cities' was right - a working neighbourhood is a delicately attuned thing which value is usually only appreciated once it's been lost. Salmiya used to have this 'je ne sais quoi'. There are still traces left, in the nooks and crannies of the neighbourhoods various blocks. Whether these qualities will still be there in a few years time remains to be seen. Let's hope for the best...


    Victoria says:

    Hey Tom,

    I couldn't agree with you more, and nice drop of one of my favorite books!!! This also brings in the idea of urban walkability that I had put up an article of a while back. I think you are right in that Salmiya is one of the last remaining bastions of urban walkability here in Kuwait! As you go on to say, it is also a problem of scale. Its funny, when I first went to Old Salmiya, it was the first time since being here in Kuwait where I actually felt I was in "a city", I think for the reasons that you speak of.

    Excellent observation. I just wonder if there is a Master Plan for remaking Salmiya or if it will be a building by building build-up, without any larger vision, and with none of the pieces "fitting in" together to make a mixed-use neighborhood.