Elect me as mayor of Salmiya

Post by Mark

Salmiya

I live in Salmiya, Salam Mubarek Street. The “old” Salmiya. I live right on the main shopping street and have been living on this street for most of my life.

Pre 1990 I was living in the building that had A&W, after 1990 I moved to the building across the street from it and thats where I have been living ever since. As you can imagine, I know the street very well. How well?

I remember The New Super Market before it closed down, I remember when Dairy Queen was open here and then shut down and Jashanmal opened instead. I remember buying my Thermos metal lunch box with the Dukes of Hazzard picture on it from there. I remember the night A&W opened with Mister Donuts right next to it. I remember when Majda el Roumi the famous singer came to open a perfume store right across the street from my building. I remember Hungry Bunny, I remember how after they renovated a cookie store opened inside it which had the best chocolate chunk cookies ever. I also remember the sad day when that cookie area inside got closed down.

I remember the high end stores like Channel, Versace and Cartier. It was a high end street and Rolex and Mercedes are still open here today serving as a reminder to what was once a beautiful street. I remember when Kids R Us opened and I remember what was there before it opened and after it closed. I remember the most popular music stores of their time, Soul II Soul, Bells and Swan Lake. I remember buying my original copy of Windows 95 from Computer World, I remember the small video game store on the ground floor of the same building, he had a NeoGeo in the display and I used to watch the Samurai Showdown demo play while I gazed through the glass hoping to own the system one day. I got my first Swatch from Fay stationary, I remember getting my Peter and Jane books from Family Bookshop. Fay shutdown, Family Bookshop is surprisingly still open.

Well my Salmiya isn’t what it used to be. All the upper scale stores shut down and everyones attention moved up to the Sultan Center area. All thats left here are low end stores all selling the same shit. The whole street has turned into a garbage dump. The sidewalk tiles are damaged, the trees look unhealthy, and the worst thing of all, Salmiya is slowly slowly losing its soul.

I was taking a late night walk just a while ago and I noticed the building that housed Swan Lake was going to get demolished. Thats when I realized I need to do something.

Why do old buildings get demolished and not refurbished? Salmiya (and Kuwait even) would look so much nicer if the old buildings were just redone up. Look at what was done with Beirut. They could have demolished everything and sprung up modern glass buildings but instead they decided to keep Beirut’s soul intact. Why can’t that be done here? My Salmiya really has a lot of history, how many other shopping streets in Kuwait can even begin to compare. No other has sidewalks wider then here nor is any other street located in such a good location. No other street has as much history! The Swan Lake building has a style, it can be cleaned up, updated and reopened but instead its going to get demolished and replaced by a cheap ass low end tiny crappy wannabe mall.

I want to be elected as the mayor of Salmiya. I would clean it up, repaint it, re-tile it and revive it. I don’t know who the mayor is now (if there is even such a position here in Kuwait) but I do know that he can’t be a true Salmiya dweller or else he wouldn’t let it die and rot like this. Vote for me, I won’t let everyone down.


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter




62 comments, add your own...


  1. SUM1 says:

    if u r talking about salem al mobarak street then, they’re gonna re-new it Soon!

  2. Toxy says:

    That’s got to be the most bizarre post I’ve seen from you Mark.

    Actually, believe it or not, I always felt that ‘old’ Salmiya should be restored, renovated and turned into a Pedestrian Zone with Cool Outdoor Cafe’s, Shisha Hangouts etc.

    Much like Downtown Beirut, it would offer something a little different whilst retaining heritage value.

    I heard that a large conglomerate were attempting to buy large plots of land in ‘Old Salmiya’ and build (I was told) a large scale mall in the area. How do I know? Cause I have friends who have offices there – and they were offered large sums of money to leave plus offered relocation fees etc.

    The problem is, most shops (yes even the crappiest, oldest and most decrepit ones) will demand ridiculous key money to even consider vacating. Who is going to bankroll 10’s of millions of KD (yes it will be that much) to kick out all the residents (who might not even agree to leave) before a brick has been laid?!!

    It’s unfortunately a vicious circle – and unless the current residents are either kicked out by force (unlikely) – or someone is ready to bank roll extra-ordinary amounts of cash – nothing will happen in that area anytime soon.

  3. Toxy says:

    SUM1: The Renovation of ‘New’ Salmiya has been proposed for about 20 years now.

    They were talking about closing the entire strip to traffic and make it a walkable area possible with Trams.

    I haven’t heard too much about what the latest in the Salem Mubarek Street Saga, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all still a pipe dream.

    Honestly, it’s been years they’ve been talking about it.

  4. Mo Hat says:

    yeah old salmiya, great times there as a kid, shopping with my parents, and buying genesis videogames from that same store. Now all of it is shutdown, and it is just a mere memory. I’m with you Mark, but I dont think Lebanese people can be Mayor of Salmiya, only Kuwaiti

  5. mohammed says:

    mark i wish something could be done one day they will regret what theyre doin these houses are way nicer than glazed huge malls..hope someone could do something bout it

  6. mohammed says:

    they are now building a small village in kuwait city which shows the old kuwaity mud house..why are they doin this why dont they just let those beautiful mud houses and the houses which came after such as the one in old salmiya alone and renovate them :(

  7. s says:

    Its a pity to see it all go. I dont really like that part of samiya but its nice to hav, it reminds me of alot of nice things and its pretty to hav, shows us the old shops and stuff..
    It would be okii if they just fixed it, made it look nicer in a way but keep its old look.

    “They were talking about closing the entire strip to traffic and make it a walkable area possible with Trams.”

    that sounds nice, we should hav stuff like that here..
    and wait a minute, new malls ! we already hav enough malls. dont think thats a good idea, seems like the only thing we hav here is malls..

    Anyways if its possible, ill vote for you :P

  8. s says:

    ohhh my dad used to take me to the family bookstore when i was a kid. i loved it !
    i dont want it to go..

  9. mohammed says:

    sorry for postin much but this topic took my attention big time..untill when are were goin to build malls..untill we fill the entire country why dont we have just vareity of stuff such as countries here in europe..lastly i was wonderin whethere there any website which has pictures of old salmiya

  10. Toxy says:

    Mohammed, are you talking about “Heritage Village” ?

    I wrote about this before – and it’s not exactly small!!

    http://toxy.wordpress.com/2006/08/24/just-what-the-doctor-orderedheritage-village-kuwait/

  11. mohammed says:

    i just checked your link and sorry for my previous coment it do sound intresting and BIG,me bein an architect student i once had a word with a person incharge of old houses in kuwait and he talled me there ben a rule set not to demolish these beautiful old house and they are renovating them..this talk was three years ago since then i noticed that they have ben workin alot on it..which is quiet good hope they do the same to these 70’s,80′ houses

  12. andy says:

    look what they did to showbiz. showbiz was my childhood home i used to go there twice every week, now they took it down to build some big ass lame mall.

    • jake wolfson says:

      And here we are 10 years later and the old Show Biz, long demolished, and still Salmiya’s biggest derelict site!

  13. x says:

    go for it!

    first step, apply for Kuwaiti citizenship :)

  14. nQ says:

    u got my vote ;)

  15. Moey says:

    I want to be the mayor too.. I’ve lived all of my life behind Fanar :)

  16. PALFORCE says:

    Damn!

    I worked at Swan Lake once. Memories..

  17. Marzouq says:

    Turning Old Salmiya into a Solidare type area would be great only if they adjust the roads behind the main shopping building. Repave, all the roads and in and around Salmiya, its a sad state of affairs..

    As Toxy mentioned, its got a lot to do with the current residents who are asking for rediculous sums. It has a lot of potential.

    And I do remember going to the family bookshop a lot when I was a kid!

  18. moocherx says:

    Turn Divas into a vodka bar, and you’ve got my vote.

  19. ADITLOM says:

    Hey Mark , you remind me of me, If it was in my power I would vote for you buddy, I grew up in the Gulf too, but moved to States.

  20. Purgatory72 says:

    That is how it looks at night!

  21. Purgatory72 says:

    and I want Barakat back! They had good Pizza and Shawerma

  22. Ashish says:

    Peter and Jane books from Family bookshop, Hungry Bunny, Swan Lake, Bellz – all great memories from back in the day! Thanks for the nostalgia trip.

  23. holla says:

    Yeah you’ll be elected mayor of salmiya the same day Marzouq makes me king of kuwait LOL.

  24. Mark says:

    How could I forget to mention Baraket, they had the best chicken shawerma ever. Best meat shawerma also.

  25. KtheKuwaiti says:

    I think old salmiya would benefit from a solidare-style renovation .. the area has tons of potential. My gripes with it is the the traffic .. I only head to that area of Kuwait if I need something from the electronic stores and Hawalli is packed.

    And .. Mark, get the fck out of Kuwait (24 comments, and nobody said it yet)

  26. Toxy says:

    Andy, come on man! That new Showbiz looks way cooler than the old one!

    Mark has a great point that not everything should be smashed and replaced by sky high glass towers. Monumental buildings should be given a nice clean ‘face lift’ to keep its characteristic.

    You can see buildings in London or Paris which have been there for centuries – you don’t see them getting torn down do you?

    I would hate for Kuwait to turn into that nasty, soulless concrete jungle that Dubai has become.

  27. Fatality says:

    They shutdown lots of “old” or heritage areas in Kuwait. Why should they spare the old Salmiya ? Each square meter in that area costs lots of money.

  28. Toxy says:

    Fatality, honestly, how would you propose to do that?

    People have shops there – shops which pay for their livelihood.

  29. TweeZ says:

    oh man! Mark, dude…..you made my eyes tear!

  30. rampurple says:

    Me and Mark share the same memories since we are siblings so I am not going to add to anything he says since I totally agree with him (Mark is this the first time we agree??)

    Anyways, it does hurt to see these old buildings being demolished. It’s like they are taking my memories with them. I always heard that they will close down the streets and turn it into a pedestrian area and all that but I don’t believe they will do so. Shopping complexes have been replacing those old buildings for a while. Salmiya used to be the only place to shop outdoors.

    I still live in that area. I used to walk down that street on a daily basis and now I barely walk there because I hate it. I hate what it’s become and what it is becoming.

  31. Bluhsh says:

    I love the way you guys care about it. Since you have so much fire in you to start something your blog might reach the right people. oh who am i kidding we live in Kuwait it wont make a diffrence with them as long as they money that all they care about its pathetic !

  32. Sunny says:

    Hey mark if u open up a bar there with actual drinks, my vote’s yours.

  33. Bluhsh says:

    as long as they make money thats all they care about ;)

  34. mohammed says:

    barakan,hungry bunny,toy’srus,piza hut what a lovely memeory i prefer old salmiya than fanar and marena out together i do like marina but i didnt use to c much gezing like i do in marena,,as for barakat hes a relative of mine and sadly the owner died while hes family resides n lebanon and some n saudi

  35. zaydoun says:

    The reason these buildings get demolished is because the concept of regular maintenance is unheard of this country. Buildings just deteriorate until they’re beyond repair, and then tearing them down becomes more cost effective than restoring them.. Now I’m only talking about privately owned commercial buildings like in Salmiya and even Downtown

    As for the recent government restorations of “heritage” buildings, a few select buildings like the old American Hospital look wonderful now. Others are waiting their turn.

    And.. mmmmmmm… BARAKAT! HUNGRY BUNNY!!!!

  36. steve_leb says:

    Hey mark.. Why don’t you write an article on how famous you are getting..

    Let me tell you a small story..

    First am a graphic designer, that means I always search and google the net for new Mac technology, so 2 weeks ago while I was searching Mac Kuwait I got to your website..

    Now that is not the point..

    The point is that I have started reading your articles and bits.. I was really takin by your stories and thought.. Shit I don’t need to leave the house to check what’s new in Kuwait and what’s best to visit.. So as days went by I was reading more.. Then your story of fame started (for me at least) that when I started telling my friend about you, GUESS WHAT.. EVERYONE I KNOW CHECK YOUR BLOG AT LEAST ONES EVERY 2 DAYS.. WTF.. WHY NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT YOU BEFORE.. WHAT!! AM I THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY..

    Keep it up man.. (What can I say just another Lebanese) HA HAY

  37. Laziale says:

    “I would hate for Kuwait to turn into that nasty, soulless concrete jungle that Dubai has become”

    i agree with you Toxy

  38. O-sansei says:

    You did not mention anything about BARAKAT!

  39. Jafar says:

    Mark,
    This post really brings back memories.30 years ago I went to the late Saleh Shehab who was the asst.undersecretary at the Ministry of Information in charge of historic Buildings in Kuwait.I was asking him why the old museum building next to the Dasman Palace is not taken care off after the museum moved to the present location.He said the Ministry can not afford the price or even the rent ! The whole building was later rented to an egyptian tribe with 30 per room right next door to the late Ameer’s residence.Eventually the building was allowed to turn into ruins ! Now you want to safe the Swan Building ?! Good luck and you have my vote.

  40. Maze says:

    Yalla u’ve got my vote too!

  41. smoothtony says:

    Hi Mark, We are pratically neighbours. I’ve been living about KFC for 9 years after my marriage.
    During my childhood, I lived in City – Salem Mubarak Str. It was during that time city was the place to be. Now it’s all commercial :(
    Hope things still stay the same in old Salmiya – hate to move from this comfy & cool place.

  42. red for now says:

    What an important issue. This is the best post you’ve had in a while. This is the story of Kuwait. Demolish the old and unroll the strip mall. Do we really need another one? There is so much potential here, as many of the comments have already pointed out. What a shame. It’s the same thing that was done to our gorgeous seafront. Now all we have left of the past is the Dickson House and a few other buildings. I don’t know much about the Heritage area, but there’s not much left to preserve and if they’re just building imitations of the old architectural style, isn’t that a bit like Disneyland? Although better that, a hundred times, then another Marina Mall. Kuwait has no sense of the past or future. We couldn’t care less about preserving the positive things about the past and we have no long-term vision when it comes to the future. How sad.

  43. anon says:

    If you think Salmiya would turn into some kinda solidare or whatever, then you have another thing comming. So long as you have the majlis al omah full of bearded idots (that should be in a mosque rather than concocting ridiculas laws of segrigation and star academy etc) Kuwait will move at a VERY slow pace. Yes, indeed, we are turning into another Saudi arabia, where our lives will be at the mercy of bearded twits.

  44. Eddy says:

    i think ud be better of being king…

  45. fractal00 says:

    Old salmiya is still way better than the new salmiya well for me at least …. btw nice photo love the composition and how the colors seem to blend like a pastel portrait

  46. zz says:

    gosh…..what a trip down memory lane, u must be around the same age as me – especially the a&w’s memories – we used to go and hang out there (rather sad) and see who could get out with the most huge root beer glasses – my brother still has his. You are so right…why are all these incredible old building not renovated – think the pedestrian idea sounds incredible. Go on Mark, do something!!!!

  47. Mark says:

    Picture taken by a Motorola V3x

  48. andy says:

    shit i live on salem al mubarak st too (marriam complex) most of you guys live near by!!!
    toxy: i am just saying that the old showbiz was full of memories and the new one will be full of 3agad!!

  49. roro says:

    bearded twits, ha ha ha

  50. roro says:

    you know what’s weird, when I came back last year, and passed “old” salmiya to head to the Sultan strip, I stared. I was surprised at really just how old and neglected it has become….and I was :( Ya, because of the memories. I used to go to a book store there, i think the one you guys are talking about, for Archie comics.
    Hell, if they can renovate, it’d be so smart. I guess folk here are very used to “out with the old, and in with the new”. Ya, some of you posted at how sad that is, it is… :(

  51. Soul II Soul, Bells and Swan Lake

    made me cry….remember begging my mom to go in while she did her shopping….wow memories.

    id vote for u!

  52. Eddy says:

    are there even mayors of different areas in kuwait???????? e.g. salmiya, jabriya, hawally, etc……

  53. Borzaiga says:

    ok lets say i voted for u to be mayor of salmiya :p Whats the first 3 things youll do ? that would be an amaizing post every body imagining himself what would he/her do ! i bet by the end of that post and comments, well have like the middle eastern las vegas ;) *2 thumbs up*

  54. Kleio says:

    Being a historian, you can imagine how much it hurts me to see Kuwait constantly being torn down and built up in such a hideous manner. Your memories of Salmiya are ones we all share, down to the most minute detail. Because Kuwait was different then – there used to be a sense of community here that no longer exists. As for tearing things down, they just tore down most of Fahed Al-Salem street – Kuwait’s second oldest “modern” city street built up in the 1950s. It breaks my heart to see our government and our people keep making the same mistake over and over again. And like a couple of people have said above, why tear down the old and then rebuild a “replica” village? Don’t tear down the original, you won’t need to build a replica! And the few buildings that they have renovated in Kuwait City, like the Dickson House and the American Mission Hospital and the old Nurses Residence – while they might look nice to the unknowing eye, I can tell you that the renovations have very little to do with what they were originally like. Hire a historian, and just get it right!

    I’m in town visiting for the week and I spent the whole afternoon today (before reading this post) driving around Kuwait City and just feeling so sad and frustrated. This is a very significant issue to me – what has happened to our country. I’m telling you, it eats at me constantly. And let’s not even get into what they’ve done to our environment, with all that land reclaimed from the sea – the new Seif Palace, Souq Sharq, Marina Crescent, and all the trash in between. It’s funny you mention being mayor of Salmiya, because as I was driving around I was actually imagining all the changes I’d make to this country if I were “president”.

    Anyway, I’ve written a couple of posts on something similar recently you might be interested in:

    http://kaleidokleio.blogspot.com/2006/10/why.html
    http://kaleidokleio.blogspot.com/2006/10/why-ii.html

    My original plan was to post something on the topic you’ll see in these links at least once a week, but unfortunately time is a bit of an issue.

  55. loulou says:

    Well this is what I think.Sorry if my opinion is a little offensive.Kuwait is a nice country and it really has changed for the better.But really, there isn’t much to do in Kuwait. Besides malls, shopping,restaraunts,and maybe a few other things, thats about it.There are not many tourist attractions or archeological sites.I actually was a little bored during my stay in kuwait.I felt as if I did not have very much freedom as well.Maybe Im wrong maybe Im just a really tough critc.Convince me wrong my please.

    thank you for your time
    loulou

  56. Touché….those were the days when Kuwait had an uber cool air of sophistication about her that would not seem out of place with the Beirut of the 1950s. Not only do I not seem able to get over such places, as the New Supermarket, Fay Trading and Swan Lake recordings, but I also sometimes wished they had never existed in the first place to make my life miserable in their absence. I still remember going out with that ‘Funny Girl’ who used to live a few blocks down the street, or the smell of Chanel No. 5 wafting from across Wazzan Tea house and the sights and smell of La Patisserie further down the high street.
    At the bottom of this road, remember, we used to be greeted by vintage opulence à la Mobilia House & Domus Scandinavia.
    Those that were strikingly absent then, were the intolerant, the ignorant and the anti-modern. One would have to have incredibly thick skin to NOT feel the urge to cry reminiscing about Kuwait’s silk stocking district of the mid and late 70s and early 80s.

  57. Aboud says:

    Oh man, how old are u Mark.

    The time i should have spent in school was spent at Mr Donut, A&W, and eating pancakes at Hungry Bunny

  58. Faisal says:

    Wait till you guys see what is planned for this area. Go to the back of the south salmiyah complex (where the bookstore is) and witness all the demolition in preperation for this plan :(

  59. khalid says:

    bro ,you took me down memorylane that was my neighborhood the only toy shop at that time was Waleed’s .Hardees was Wimpy chicken tikka inn was chicken tikka .a ladies shop called Reem and shoe shop called Nabil otherside of the road was some exchange co., my family,s best shopping spot was UTC . the round building. millionaire etc
    from the firestation till adidas was like bond street at onetime

  60. Nina says:

    Hi Mark,
    Its been over 17 years since I last lived in kuwait. Left after school although my folks are leaving for good in a couple of days after 32 years there. My days in Kuwait were among the happiest in my life. I can’t really relate to all these flashy new malls trying to outdo each other and when i think of Kuwait the old Salmiya high street is what comes to mind. Family bookshop and Fay were the regular places and hungry bunny and pizza hut. Boushari for the photos and Mogawi for Stationary and Mona laundry for dry cleaning and UTC or all sorts of sundries!
    Last time i visited Kuwait in early 2007, i could not believe how much its changed. All the places of my childhood are no more…Another sad thing was seeing Salmiya cinema demolished.

    Anyway thanks for taking me down memory lane again!!


Leave a Reply



Commenting is a privilege not a right. I allow comments on the site because I believe that you can make a valuable contribution but in return I expect that you comment responsibly.


Contribute

If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
[Email Me]