The historic urban center of Kuwait was within the old city walls, 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, Hawally, 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:
- Kuwait Disabled Sports Club: a prominent building, behind which stands what appears to be an abandoned hotel
- Al Habesha Restaurant – you can find lots of great local restaurants and many different kinds of food in Hawally, given the diversity of the population, but a personal favorite are the Ethiopian Restaurants across from the gold suq.
- Gold Suq – there are several gold suqs around Kuwait, including along Ibn Khaldoun Street in Hawally
- Al Othman Mosque – a historic mosque dating back to 1958
- Bait al Othman – opened in 2013, Bait al Othman museum is centered on the history of Kuwait
- Ornate Water Fountain – near the Kuwait National English School is a beautiful, Safavid-style water fountain. Directly next to the school is an interesting, old looking building, parts of which are being torn down as of the summer of 2022 (as seen below). The image looking down on the building was taken in 2009 and comes from this flickr account.
- St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church – you can see photographs of the beautiful interior here and here
- Al Nugra Complex – at the end of 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). The first photo of the interior of the pedestrian bridge was taken in 2020, the second in 2022. The photo of the complex under construction was posted by Abdulraouf Murad.
- Rakan Book Store: close by to Al Nugra, it primarily sells book in Arabic, although you can find some books in English