The historic urban center of Kuwait was within the old city walls (where the Green Belt is today), but “between 1954 and 1959, eight new neighborhood districts were constructed within the first three concentric ring roads; by 1960 a fourth ring was added to the road system and an additional seven new suburbs were completed by 1965.” This ushered in a process of state-led suburbanization, brilliantly detailed in Kuwait Transformed: A History of Oil and Urban Life by Farah Al-Nakib. Kuwaiti families moved out of their traditional homes in the urban center and into large villas in the new suburbs. The neighborhood units constructed beyond the Green Belt in the 1950s and 60s were “intended exclusively for the Kuwaiti section of the population. Apartment buildings were strictly prohibited within the neighborhoods, as was renting of any kind. Non-Kuwaitis were prohibited from owning property in Kuwait and therefore could only rent accommodations in privately owned, multi-occupancy buildings. Such buildings were restricted to commercial areas being developed by the private sector, such as Salmiya, Hawalli, and the city center. By 1969, 81 percent of the inhabitants of Salmiya, Hawalli, and Kuwait city were non-Kuwaiti.” I’m not sure what the statistics are today, but Hawally remains primarily occupied by expats (who make up more than half of the overall population of Kuwait). Here are some interesting sites around the neighborhood:
- St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church – I can’t find any information on when this church was built, but you can see photographs of the beautiful interior here and here.
- Hassawi Complex – this residential complex was built between 1968 and 1973 and was designed by the late Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji, recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In the article Souq Brutal, Sara Saragoça Soares writes that “his motivations… were clearly influenced by a regionalized architecture that preserved a sense of place”
- Abdulaziz Al Qattan Mosque – as I was walking around exploring Hawally, I was surprised to see a mosque that looked so similar to the historic mosques you see in the capital. This mosque was built in 1956, just two years after Hawally was arranged by the municipality and one year before the old city wall was torn down. I’m not sure if it is the oldest mosque in Hawally, but it certainly must be one of them.
- Al Rehab Complex – Al Rehab was built between 1971 and 1973 during the Second Master Plan. Today, it is where you go if you want to buy video games. It also has this Vintage Toys Museum. There’s also a (spooky) tree with a protective gate around it in the nearby parking lot. No information on how old it is, but thought it was cool!
- Al Nugra Complex – further down on Beirut Street you can find the northern and southern Nugra complexes (only the northern complex remains open). Designed to be a commercial and residential complex, “Nugra promised not only housing and high living standards, but also a new lifestyle with all the aesthetic references of a ‘futuristic’ living. Built in different stages the scheme can be understood from the air-conditioned pedestrian bridge that connects the commercial southern complex to the mixed-use complex north” (Kuwait Modern Architecture)