Car-Free Days

Post by Mark

Yesterday parts of Fahad Al Salem street was closed off to cars due to the amount of pedestrians in the city because of Christmas. The cops were only letting in busses and cabs and it was pretty surreal I guess because I’m so used to that street being a chaotic mess.

There has been talk about closing Salem Mubarek Street in Salmiya to cars permanently for years now but nothing has ever come of it. But even if they don’t close it to cars permanently, they really should close it off every now and then and turn it into an outdoor market.

The last time they closed Salem Mubarek Street I think was back in 2005 as part of the national day parade. But imagine how much better it could be today, imagine if Salem Mubarek Street was one giant Qout Market. Actually, imagine if Shakshooka and Qout Market both collaborated and took over the street for a day, I think that would be amazing. We really need car-free days.

Barrak Al-Babtain from the blog re:kuwait has spoken about turning SAM street into pedestrian only a number of times before and even has some pretty good creative proposals. Check out some of his old posts below:

NY High Line
SAM Street
SAM Street Analysis
SAM Street: Winter Only?

And this is a quote by him from back in 2009

I think SAM street is probably one of the best spaces in Kuwait where a real public space can happen. A place where people can go window shopping and listen to live music and buy food from street vendors. The intervention is relatively minor but the potential is incredible. We can ignore it and let it suffocate or we breathe new life into the street and create something that Kuwait doesn’t really have; a lively, free and open public space.

If you make me the mayor of Salmiya I’ll make Barrak the urban planner. #voteformark


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10 comments, add your own...


  1. Yousef says:

    I completely agree mate! My family has had retail stores on salem mubarak for over 30 years now. It used to be THE place but ever since malls came into play the street isn’t what it used to be.

    But if they just closed it off to cars and turned into what would be Kuwait’s only pedestrian-only street it would be fantastic!

    • Mark says:

      i agree, i even updated the post now with some proposals by re:kuwait who had a bunch of great ideas for SAM street

    • zaydoun says:

      Yes the malls have taken over but I sense a soft backlash among the younger crowds who now gravitate to street life in Downtown Kuwait City, but more for eating and coffee than actual shopping. There’s an authenticity in street life that malls can never replicate.

      I passed by SAM last week for the first time in years and wondered out loud when its turn to be gentrified/hipsterized will come.

  2. Simple_Man says:

    MERRY CHRISTMAS
    BLESSINGS TO ALL

  3. k says:

    this is such a good idea.

  4. zaydoun says:

    Mark that top photo looks like riot police LOL

  5. em says:

    #Barrackforurbanplanner (Y)

  6. Tinderbox says:

    Wow the top photo looks like a scene from a zombie apocalypse with the fog!

  7. Cds says:

    It would have been okay if only parts of the Fahad Al Salem Street were closed. Nearby, off Gulf Road there is the Evangelical Church and there is a single lane that leads to it. There is a large open ground opposite the church where worshippers park their cars. On Christmas day, cops blocked entry to this lane. So no cars could be parked on the ground. All other parking spaces within half a mile distance were full. Christians wanting to reach Church for Christmas service had a harrowing time, many reaching almost at the end of the services. The same scenario will be repeated on 31st December night when mid-night services will be held at the Church. No one knows why this happens or the rationale behind blocking entry to the Church lane for all vehicles every Christmas and New Year.


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