Sawaber Complex

Al Sawaber Complex was built in 1981 as an “attempt to renationalize Kuwait City.” It was demolished in 2019. The photographs of the complex above come from twitter, reddit, this site and the flickr of Evan M. You can see more pictures here.

When the old wall was torn down in 1957, Kuwaitis were moved out of the historic center into new suburbs. In her work Kuwait Transformed, Farah Al Nakib writes that, “suburbanization and the mandatory vacating of the city center by its former inhabitants constituted the most considerable urban transformation of the early oil years. Dislocation from the urban center was not optional for city residents.” The photos below come from Voice of the Oud and Kuwait Transformed. The final photo shows the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters under construction in 1961, behind which Sawaber would be built.

The housing authorities claimed that Sawaber, “would allow its residents to enjoy all the amenities of modern city life while contributing to the larger community of Kuwait Town.” In her article The Destruction of Moenrist Heritage: The Myth of Al-Sawaber, Asseel Al-Ragam writes that, “it enjoyed a short period of success after which its lack of maintenance and demographic shifts in Kuwait City’s population resulted in its deterioration and subsequent calls for demolition.”

Residents were ordered to vacate in 2016 and the complex was demolished in January of 2019, despite the protests of many. The images of its destruction below come from this instagram account. The wonderful piece of artwork, entitled “On the Destruction of Al Sawaber,” is by Dana al Rashid. “Here, viewers can observe the shock and disappointment of activists as they watch the demolition of the Al Sawaber Complex right in front of their eyes, despite their efforts to prevent such a cruel fate. However, the positive result of this occurrence is that it noticeably increased society’s awareness about the need to preserve historical buildings and modern heritage.” The final image comes from the flickr of Phil White.

Here is the empty lot today:

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