Sneak Peek: Al Hamra Tower

Post by Mark

One of the best things about blogging is the fact I get invited to check out a lot of cool work in progress projects like Messilah Beach, Missoni Hotel and The Regency Palace. My dad’s an interior designer and as a kid I used to tag along with him on Friday mornings to various construction sites which is why now whenever I get invited to visit one I can never say no. It brings back good childhood memories and that’s why when I was asked if I wanted to tour the Al Hamra Tower I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a big fan of the tower for a long time to get a tour of it before completion would literally be a once in a life time opportunity since they’re only going to build it once.

First a bit of history and some facts. Al Hamra used to be Kuwait’s and the GCC’s first indoor cinema. It had two large theaters, one played Bollywood movies while the other played Western movies. Al Hamra Tower is being built in the same location where Al Hamra Cinema used to be located. It’s currently the second tallest building in the region with Burj Khalifa being the tallest. It’s the tallest asymmetrical structure in the world (no side is like the other side) and it’s also the second tallest concrete building in the world.

So my tour started off with a video presentation of the tower. It wasn’t really boring since there was a presenter and I was able to interrupt and ask questions. After the presentation I was taken to the mall that’s located at the bottom of the tower. The mall is made up of five floors and each floor will be around the size of a floor at Al Raya mall across the street. The fifth floor will hold the Al Hamra Cinema. Whats special about this cinema is the fact it will be the first non-Cinescape theater in 50 years. Back in 1953 Cinescape got a 50 year exclusivity for cinema’s in Kuwait. That exclusivity expired in 2003. The mall will be a luxurious one and having Hermes there is a good start.

Once we were done walking around the mall we headed to the main tower lobby (pictured above) which is really going to be huge when completed. Although the tower is super tall your average wait time for a lift will be under 30 seconds, the lift also travels at a speed of 10 floors a second. To get to the top floor of the tower we had to take a lift up to a lobby on the 54th floor I think and then swap to another lift and continue up to the very last floor.


[YouTube]

Once we got to the last floor it was filled with scaffolding since they still have a few more glass panels they’re installing at the very top. But the space up there is just astonishing, the ceiling is incredibly high and the view is just overwhelming. I shot the video above to try and show what I was experiencing and seeing but you really need to be there (Trivia: Can you tell when I hit my head on a scaffolding? Luckily I was wearing a hard hat!). Once completed this last floor will sadly be a private invite only chairman’s club and not a restaurant like I had previously heard. This means very few people will actually get to enjoy this beautiful view.

It’s hard not to like Al Hamra Tower, it’s an office tower done right and we don’t have many “done right” projects in Kuwait. I really can’t wait for it to launch which should be September of this year. Below are some pictures I took today.

Update: Forgot to mention that the windows will be cleaned by a team of robots and it will take a month to clean all the windows. Burj Khalifa on the other hand employs 36 window cleaners who take 3 months to clean all the windows. Burj Arab I believe uses 2 people who take a full month to clean their windows.


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32 comments, add your own...


  1. Haneyl says:

    I think it was called the “Firdous” theatre back then. This is an amazing post. Really wanted to know how the tower was doing. At 0:33, you can clearly see my home! :D

  2. damon dash says:

    i didn’t know that the cinema there will be a new company not cinescape that sounds awesome, thanks for the preview and info, any update on when will it be open?

  3. Security Adviser says:

    Haneyl

    You are right.. It was 02 theaters in the same loaction on the right was Al Hamra usually showing Hindi or Arabic movies and on the left Firdous showing English movies.

    Nice post Mark.. Too bad about the last floor being made a private invitee area only. Would have been an amazing restaurant that would have had no comparison or rivals

  4. Sbd says:

    Already in love with the tower!
    Mashala w its gd to hav such projects in k-town

  5. nemo says:

    WOW That’s really impressive

    thanks for the pictures!

  6. Kuwait says:

    Not to take some shine of this truly world class project but 28 LTIs (including a fatality) in 18 million man hours is a huge HSE failure.

  7. Hansel says:

    Amazing view!
    You hit your head at 00:17 =)

  8. Al Hindi says:

    My company is the Facilities Management Company who is going to maintain that whole place…i’m down there every week, trust me.. its the best place to be…we got our office in the parking lot behind the tower…

  9. Dana says:

    thank you mark for your time and this great post. kuwait i have to thank you first for your interest in the project, as this is a world class project as you mentioned we also have a world class team our contractor Ahmadiah and the project managment company Turner intenational apply very strict safety regulations but acciedents do happen and we cant escape human error which is the main cause of injuries or fatalities .

  10. Jetkat says:

    I love this project. But this deal with turning the most significant space in the tower, the one space the original designers at SOM had intended to be a restauran with prime gulf views to be enjoyed by any visitor to this masterpeice, to make it a mere private club is just one big … FAIL!!!!

  11. Danderma says:

    a new non cinescape movie company?! That’s great news!!! At last we got some competition!!!

    and the place looks awesome! I knew it was tall but i didn’t know it was one of the tallest buildings out there!!! Good Job!!!

    My husband’s work might be relocating to Alhamra once they open up! If that happens i would be very jealous indeed!!! it must be amazing to work in such an important land mark with shops and cinema below you… very nice!

  12. Dana says:

    jetkat, i understand your dissapointment. but as you know every space needs an investor/operator as a result you might see a change in how this space is managed.

    danderma if your husband relocates you have a very good reason to visit Al Hamra on a daily bases

    • Jetkat says:

      Well I hope this change does happen. I think it’s the tower owners responsibility to enforce this change if they want to still claim it a landmark of Kuwait city.

      It’s like saying to the world that eifel tower is a Paris landmark, then when visitors come to Paris and ask to go up you tell them it’s private members only!!!!! You can’t claim ur a landmark with your prime location reserved to a few people!

  13. Bu Yousef says:

    What surprised me about Al Hamra is that they didn’t include a hotel in their plan. I too, like many, love the attention to detail in this project.

    Allow me to please share the post below when I took some photos back in November:

    http://utterrelease.com/blog/2010/11/7/getting-high.html

  14. Dana says:

    bu yousef beautiful post, thank you very much . thank you also for bringing it to my attention !

  15. Realist says:

    If the rents in this building is as high as its floors, they would have a tough time renting it out. Why do a mall that looks or has the size of alraya ? Luxury malls are on the way out, they are too boring. I wish Kuwait was NYC, it would give this tower a better meaning.

    • Grit says:

      I beg to differ, just look at how expensive the “5elew” is for a store in Salhiya complex for example. Luxury malls are meant to have less crowds because that is what high end customers want.

  16. Burhan says:

    To give you an idea of the scale and ingenuity of this thing, they had to bring in special elevators to keep up with the high floors and to shuttle people around. Plus to compensate for the heat, they used a special mesh of stones to line the side of the building.

    It truly is something unique. The concrete wall itself is a wonder.

    For more information on it, discovery channel’s “build it bigger” program did an episode on the hamra tower. If I am not mistaken mark did post about it but I can’t seem to find the post now. You should give that episode a good viewing to get an idea around the engineering of the building.

    Sadly I will only be able to afford parking and popcorn – not an office in such a high scale tower.

    One question I do have though; what are they going to do about the traffic flow? There is one tiny street that runs by the tower from 30th, and clearly it is going to be a madhouse when the mall opens.

  17. jhonybravo says:

    My Suggestion from the mark’s video post

    “Well.. if you look at the shadow… its seems like a clock.. well.. wooo i got an idea.. .. y dont they put a camera on top of the bulding.. and put a big screen below.. showing that image.. as natural clock.. just a concept .. . . what do you think guyzzz!!!”
    http://www.248am.com/mark/interesting/al-hamra-tower-timelapse/#comment-519609

  18. Mathai says:

    If the top floors are no longer going to be accessible to us normal folk then I’m glad some of us got a chance to get to the top and shoot pictures. Wonder if they’ll let us up again before the opening :)

  19. meh says:

    Hopefully there will be a parking for more than 50 cars.

  20. Dana says:

    no mark i have to correct you on this , it 2000 cars :)

  21. abdullah says:

    the cinema that will open called GRAND CINEMAS, its pretty big and classy cinema company, they are open now in UAE, LEBANON & JORDAN soon in kuwait (Hamra mall) and Syria!

    just google GRAND CINEMAS and enter their site, its amazing, will be much much better than cinescape


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