Sites Along Fahad Al Salem

According to the article Framentarium by Robert Fabbri in the book “Urban Modernity in the Contemporary Gulf,” the 1951 Master Plan designated Fahad Al Salem (then called Jahra Road) and Abdullah al Salem (then called Naif Avenue) to become the first modern streets in Kuwait City. “They pointed to Safat Square, the main public space, adjacent to the first municipal park.” Soor (which means wall in Arabic) Street, “replaced the empty corridor left by the demolition of the old city wall… and delineated the inner urban core from the suburbs. On Fahad Al Salem, every merchant family in Kuwait competed to acquire spots to flaunt their businesses, and consequently, land speculation… fueled the credible myth as (the street) as the most expensive mile on the planet.” The street may be my favorite in Kuwait, as “the past and present is so visible in many of the landmarks.” Here are some of those landmarks:

  1. Al Jahra Gate: one of the gates of the old city wall that was torn down in 1957
  2. Thunayan Al-Ghanim Building: completed in 1959, it was the first multi-story building in Kuwait and one of the first to have an elevator. You can see photographs of the interior here.
  3. Salhiya Complex: a luxury mall
  4. Salhiya Cemetery: the large green space on google maps, the cemetery has lovely murals painted on the wall
  5. Anwar Al Sabah Complex: built in the 1960s atop a football field, the deteriorating buildings stands in stark contrast to the adjacent luxury mall
  6. Al Muthanna Complex: constructed in the 1980s atop an old school, it is now largely empty
  7. JW Marriot Hotel: across the street from Al Muthanna, a major renovation began in 2022
  8. Souq Al Kabeer: built in the early 1970s, it is one of Kuwait’s brutalist souqs
  9. Municipal Park: according to “Kuwait City Parks” by Subhi Abdullah Al-Mutawa, the municipal park was formerly a public cemetery until it was designated a park in 1961 because of the city’s expansion. “The task of designing the public park in busy downtown Kuwait began in 1962 when most of the graves were removed.”
  10. Safat Square: mentioned in the Fabbri excerpts above, it has traditionally been the main public space in Kuwait

In his article Fabbri also writes that, “for a decade, (Fahad Al Salem) became Kuwait’s badge of modernity, depicted in all the postcards, official publications, and international magazines illustration Kuwait’s progress.” The map below comes from the American Women’s League of Kuwait’s Yellow Pages, published in 1976. The old postcards were found on ebay. The sketches are from Saba George Shiber’s The Kuwait Urbanization. The next two photos come from this flickr. The final pictures are from Kuwait: A Miracle on the Desert, Kuwait by Ralph Shaw and The Voice of the Oud by Jehan Rejab.

These photos of Fahad Al Salem come from Bader Shaiji‘s instagram account, where he gives the following information:

  • 1961: the most import and prominent street in Kuwait, on the right in the distance is Al Muthanna School
  • 1961: the intersection of Fahad Al Salem with Abdulaziz Al Saqer Street and Al Muthanna School
  • 1961: we can see the Salhiya police station under construction
  • 1962: Carlton Hotel in the middle of Fahad Al Salem
  • 1966: to the left is Al-Muthanna School, which has been replaced with the complex
  • 1967: the Jahra Roundabout
  • 1967: at the top is Fahad Al Salem Street and the municipal garden
  • 1968: Fahad Al Salem Street

These screengrabs are from a series called “Simple Fixes” by architect Asseel Al-Ragam

These photos show the Al-Ghanim building and the Anwar al Sabah buildings under construction. Here are some more postcards, found on delcampe, and a book.

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