26th Tree Removed

The other day I was walking in old Salmiya and noticed they had removed another tree, the 26th one on the street. And yes, I’ve been keeping count. Previously, 25 large trees had been removed when they turned the street into a pedestrian-only one and I posted about that here.

It was bound to happen since whoever worked on the project decided it was a good idea to bring the road right next to the tree and I guess the low-hanging branches might have been causing an issue with traffic so they removed the tree. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t have kept all the trees and integrated them into the street like the tree in the picture above?

There is still a line of trees left which I’m expecting to be removed any day now, I should probably take pictures from now so I could post before and after photos once they remove them.


KD1,000 Fine for Planting Trees on Government Property

According to @Almajlliss, the baladiya will start fining people who plant greenery in front of their homes (on government property) 1,000 KD. Yup, if you want to make your neighborhood greener, expect to pay a hefty fine doing so.

I don’t know why stuff like this still shocks me and I really really don’t get this hatred towards trees here.


Kuwait & Trees

There are a few beautiful strips of beach I ride my bike next to on the Gulf Road that are filled with trees that provide nice visual greenery as well as shade in the summer for beachgoers. Whenever I ride my bike past those areas I think about how pretty it is and how it doesn’t look like Kuwait which is one of the best compliments you can give something here FYI.

Yesterday I found out that they’ve started removing the trees on the beaches! Sorry, I shouldn’t say removed since you might think they were relocated somewhere else, instead the proper word I should be using is bulldozed. They bulldozed the strips of the beach with the trees and killed everything.

The video above shows how those beaches looked like before they were demolished just to give you an idea of how pretty they were. Why does Kuwait hate trees so much? It’s really upsetting, I’m trying to care less and less about Kuwait but it’s not easy to do especially when I’ve spent the past 40 years caring about this place.

Complaints Kuwait

Keep Kuwait green, stop the government from cutting down our trees!

I love Kuwait with all its flaws except for one, the tree cutting for no reason habit. I can never understand why beautiful green trees get cut down in Kuwait. I am also not the only one who hates this because their is a group on Facebook called “Keep Kuwait Green! Stop the Izala from cutting our trees!” which is fighting to stop this. Here is information about the group:

After the government came and removed our 35 year old Rubber trees without any warning, it made me realize that there are many other houses being effected.

People started calling about the same thing happening to them, and told me stories of horrible murder like incidents of the trees they once planted.

The mission of this group is to report and post pictures of all wrong doing by our government and the removal of trees. Please post the address of the places that you see them removing trees that were not used as a personal garden. If possible post your pictures also.

We will be posting and sending the pictures to all newspapers and blogs and anyone willing to listen to us. Some of the trees in Kuwait are a part of our history.

They have been here long before we have.
Let’s unite and try to keep Kuwait greener!

Picture by Ramez

I would like to add one more thing which is the trimming of the trees and bushes. The Gulf Road area near Burj Hamam was looking pretty green and natural for awhile now and then suddenly yesterday they started trimming all the trees and bushes into cubes. Can someone tell whoever is responsible for that to stop. Trees that look like cubes might look pretty at Disney Land but not on the Gulf Road and they definitely don’t give any shade or protection.

Picture by Ramez

So if you think the government should stop cutting trees down then please join the facebook group and voice your support. Here is the [Link]


They Removed the Tree

Remember I posted about the new large TV screen outside the Kuwait Stock Exchange and how there was a large palm tree blocking the view. Rampurple just messaged me that “KSE have removed the trees”.

Information Kuwait

Second Phase of Waterfront Project has Begun

Last month the first phase of the waterfront refurbishment was completed from Green Island to the Kuwait Towers, and now they’ve started the second phase which is from SVN all the way to Green Island.

They’ve already started bulldozing all the greenery and it’s really sad to watch. It didn’t really show much when they did it in the first phase because that strip wasn’t that green to begin with, but the strip from SVN to Green Island is actually very green with dense trees in some areas. The refurbishment although looks really nice lacks much greenery and so it’s going to be a pretty grey view on my way to work once the second phase is completed.

One thing I’m worried about is the wall of peace sculpture by Jafar Islah which is located next to Burger King. I saw them working in that area today, hopefully they’re not planning to remove it.

Update: Looks like a lot of people are up in arms about the removal of all the trees so TEC issued a statement about it which you can read here.

Update2: According to TEC, the Wall of Peace will NOT be demolished.

Banned Shopping

No More Christmas 2023 Edition

Last night I passed by Sultan Center in Boulevard to pick up a Christmas tree, but when I got to the top floor where the Christmas decorations would be, the shelves were all empty. I asked one of the staff where the Christmas trees were and he told me that the baladiya had told them to remove them. I didn’t think much of it and decided to walk over to Ace Hardware on the other end of the mall. When I got to Ace it was the same situation, all the Christmas decorations were removed and the shelves were empty. I figured ok, someone must have been in Boulevard and seen the Christmas decorations and complained, which is why the shops Boulevard were asked to remove the Christmas stuff.

Then I decided to head to Daiso in Souq Salmiya. As I’m walking into Daiso I spotted Christmas trees on the opposite end of City Center. I was like great I can pick up a tree from here. Once I got close to the trees I noticed staff were busy packing up all the Christmas decorations as well. They still hadn’t packed the trees so I picked one up and then headed to Daiso. Once in Daiso I noticed they were also packing up their Christmas decorations. So I asked the staff there and they told me the same thing, that they were told to remove the Christmas decorations.

Looks like its going to be one of those years where Christmas is banned in Kuwait. I’m hoping the shops in Avenues haven’t been told to remove their Christmas stuff as well. There were some Christmas tree ornaments I was hoping to pick up this weekend but now have to head there today to try and get them before they get taken off the shelves.

Information Kuwait

Salem Al Mubarak Street Progress

Back in September, they announced that part of Salem Al Mubarak Street was going to be turned into pedestrian only. I took the video above this morning right outside my apartment building to show you the current status, and as you can see the project has progressed considerably since my last post on the street.

Salmiya street progress

My biggest issue with the project was that they had killed 25 trees on that street that had been there for over 50 years. They’ve now planted new palm trees instead which although is a nice gesture, palm trees just don’t offer any shade and can’t house as many birds as the older trees did. I really wished they had managed to keep those older trees.

Salmiya street progress

In any case, the street is starting to shape up and I think they’re trying to have everything done by February 25th which right now seems unattainable.

But, a new issue is starting to pop up and that is gentrification. Because the street is getting fixed up, the value of real estate around it is also going up. My rent was already slightly increased since my building is suddenly now in a prime location, people are also now bidding on the empty stores in my building which previously nobody wanted. I’d really really hate it if my apartment rent goes up to the point where I’ll be priced out and be forced to move.

On the bright side, they haven’t sorted the parking issue in the area. Parking in my neighborhood has always been historically terrible and now they’ve gone and removed all the parking spots on the main street without adding any new ones. With this street facelift, we’re now going to have even a higher influx of people come into the area than before, so the parking situation will be even worse which is kinda great for me. Hopefully this parking mess is going to help keep the popularity of the area down to a reasonable level, which in return should keep my rent at a reasonable level.

Complaints Kuwait Personal

Friendship Ended with Salmiya, Now Netflix is My Best Friend

A few days ago I posted about how Salem Al Mubarak Street is finally turning into a pedestrian only street. One of the negatives I highlighted was the fact they had chopped down some of the old trees that have been there for nearly 50 years. I was upset about it, but when I asked the engineer behind the project if they were removing the old trees, he responded saying “only some”. So I assumed they had chopped down the trees that they didn’t need and all the ones left were the ones they were keeping. Well last night I noticed they had removed nearly all the remaining trees. Using Google Maps I counted 28 trees that were originally planted on that street and there are now only 3 left. That means 25 trees in total were removed! One of the remaining trees currently has a chainsaw parked under it so it might not even be there anymore by the time this post gets published. I’ve marked all the removed trees with x’s in the above picture and the ones remaining with circles.

How is 3 trees out of 28 considered “only some”? Why are they removing the trees anyway? If they were building an airport runway I could understand but they’re not so why? Some of the trees were fairly large and it would have been pretty cute to have small cafes underneath with seating areas around them. The trees were large enough to provide shade, they didn’t need any watering because they were well rooted and the trees were also homes to a lot of birds.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore.

Last night I got so upset about the whole situation I emotionally booked two trips for the next two weekends. Why am I getting so worked up about all of this? It’s not my country, I don’t own the street nor were the trees mine. Why am I even surprised about all of this? Based on the renderings the engineer shared I should have known no good was going to come out of this. When you demolish historical buildings in your renderings and replace them with fancy shiny malls, it says a lot about the thinking process. Chopping historical trees isn’t only a Kuwait thing either, it happens everywhere. In Lebanon for example a politician cut down part of an ancient cedar forrest so he could setup an outdoor venue for his son’s wedding. I mean like wtf? If shit is gonna happen its gonna happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

So starting today I’m hopefully emotionally disconnecting myself from Salmiya. I no longer want to be mayor. If anyone wants to take over the responsibility of giving a fuck, they’ve only started construction work on half of old Salmiya. They haven’t started on the other half yet (pictured above) and based on Google Maps there are approximately 38 trees there. Good luck trying to save them.

Animals & Wildlife

Our Natural Heritage is Vanishing

In 2011, there was a meeting held between the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’S PATH) and en.v, a Kuwaiti social responsibility organization. The purpose of that meeting was to discuss how, with limited sponsorship and very limited government support, the two organizations could work together to provide real, tangible, and lasting protection for some of the last remaining coastal habitat areas in Kuwait Bay. The result, after much discussion, was the joint venture Al Yaal, whose mission would be to conduct hands-on conservation in three coastal habitats, document those efforts, and educate the population of Kuwait about the needs of our fragile environment. From the beginning, we didn’t know if the program would work. There was no way to predict whether or not our work would be enough to improve the environment we set out to protect, nor whether or not we would be able to engage the community to conserve coastal areas they had never seen before and had no vested interest in. The program was destined from the beginning to be a small, grass-roots effort to protect something we all knew would vanish if no one fought for it. The results would be surprising in more ways than one.

K’S PATH has been around now for about ten years, providing animal sheltering, education, lobbying, habitat protection, consultancy, and more. People who interact with us for the first time are often surprised that an organization like ours exists, not just because we help animals, but even more so because we are so professional in the way we work. Their surprise is understandable, because in general, we don’t make a lot of noise. We are able to do all of the things we do, and do them well, because we invest most of our time and effort into our programs and have very little left over for publicity. We brought this same focus and dedication to the Al Yaal program. There are many organizations that clean beaches in Kuwait, and they all deserve commendation for doing so. What most of them have in common is that they clean beaches humans use for recreation. With our animal and environment-centric focus, we wanted to protect areas that are important coastal habitat, so we started doing some research to see what areas were the most at risk of pollution and encroachment. Through a process of interviews and observation, we selected three beach areas notable for their plant life, their bird life, their animal life, their lack of development, lack of human visitation, and heavy pollution. Two sites were chosen in Sulaibikhat area, and one in the Doha area.

K’S PATH has always operated with a simple philosophy: planning and hard work equals results. Planning for this program included hiring program manager Angelique Bhattacharjie-Jeremiah, purchasing equipment, organizing volunteers, getting ministry permits, and coordinating between the different organizations involved. By April of 2011, planning was complete and the hard work began. Cleaning a beach with the idea of habitat preservation in mind is a meticulous job. Heavy equipment and teams of laborers play no part in removing waste from a sensitive habitat. Each item of waste has to be carefully removed by hand without destroying or even damaging plants or animal dens. The pace is slow, the temperature grueling, and success comes at a snails pace. Despite dozens of bags of garbage collected, it’s difficult to notice any improvement after the first few cleanups. Still, the volunteers kept coming.

The Al Yaal concept doesn’t rely upon a single body or group of volunteers. Instead, a different social group, school, or society is involved in each clean up, thereby maximizing the number of people who participate in this important project. After all, participation is an incredibly effective form of education, and engaging so many different people from so many different walks of life helped tremendously in breaking up the tedium of our efforts. K’S PATH staff and dedicated program volunteers in particular deserve a very hearty thank you for their consistent hard work (they were present at nearly every clean up for two years), but even after the first dozen clean ups, nothing much seemed to change. Sans instant gratification, we just kept working. And working. And working. All told, we came back 45 times and cleaned up over 5 tons of waste at Doha beach alone. The task was arduous, but rewarding.