Monday, October 26, 2009

Is Kuwait 'Out-Blanding' itself into Irrelevance..?

Two views of 'ordinary' residential streets in 'ordinary' neighbourhoods. Left - Benalmadena in Spain, right - Salwa in Kuwait...

Greeting from Gold Coast in Queensland Australia... (Slight) Apologies for the somewhat harsh title, but that query above arose when arriving in Brisbane late last night, where the first impression of the city (roughly the size of Kuwait City) was how clean and, call it, 'well mannered' (attentive/ conscious) it was in comparison to where my trip originated. It's easy sometimes to forget, to paint over the cracks, in regards to how shoddy and awkward Kuwait is, or can appear, in comparison to other world cities. Being exposed to a place that functions also performs as a reminder about the effort it takes to make something seem effortless.

The heading aims not to be facetious or derisive, but is posed as a genuine question which is partly catalysed by one of the image captions in a recent post (click here for a link to the post - second image under the sub-heading 'Car-less Transport') as well as some of the issues discussed recently in the local press. The former point referring to the somewhat, perhaps narcissistic, tendency of erecting lustrous towers as iconic symbols of achievement, whilst forgetting that it is usually the space in between a city's buildings (the more communal areas) where her accomplishments are eventually judged; the latter being in reference to the impression of late where it seems like Kuwait's neighbouring nations are progressing with leaps and bounds (the Dubai Metro, KAUST) whilst Kuwait seems to be dragging its feet (leaking sewage plants and other stalled infrastructural projects).

There are some very pleasant, working, even inspiring, urban places in Kuwait, but these are unfortunately few and far between. Too many, both commercial and residential, neighbourhoods suffer from a lack of thought and consistent, overall as well as detailed, planning and implementation. Too often their conveniences are prioritized according to the vehicles that occupy their streets rather than the individuals (a city's flesh & blood) who actually use them.

It's strange, but coming the Brisbane made me angry about living and working in Kuwait, a place with so much potential, heart and talent, yet a place which simply hasn't been able to pull itself together to take advantage of its inherent endowments. I'm becoming upset about the lost opportunities of Kuwait City, perhaps it's time you should too - we shouldn't let this city 'out-bland' itself into irrelevance. Let's begin developing the morsels of budding potentials it still has and make them into something unique, something we can be proud of, a city we are not ashamed to introduce to newcomers, a locale where the notion of 'home' transcends beyond the four walls of our dwellings... It's not all bad, very few things seldom are, but actions by all of us who inhabit it need to be taken sooner rather than later... Let's start with small steps, small day to day interventions which aren't too intimidating or difficult to do (walking to the local co-op instead of driving, opening windows during the cooler seasons as an alternative to AC, petition for the empty lot next door to become a neighbourhood garden) and built from there. With a bit of perseverance those grains of actions and interventions will eventually pile up and hopefully result in something more.

Why shouldn't/ can't Kuwait be a place that inspires?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't read this blog entry but if you're talking about how bad our streets look, Then I agree.

I can't believe that our country is that rich and full of educated people and it ends up now with these bad looking streets..It's just sad ;(.

I hope someone cleans and organize these stuff for the better :).