Salmiya is a Garbage Dump


Last year when I was in Dubai having lunch I started chatting with the waiter and it turned out he had just moved to Dubai from Kuwait. He was in Kuwait getting training for just a short period of time before being sent to their Dubai branch. I asked him what he thought about Kuwait in the time he had spent here and he replied saying he was surprised at how dirty it was. Usually the most common response is that Kuwait is too hot or the fact they hated it because there was no social life or alcohol but that was the first time someone had told me they thought Kuwait was dirty. That comment stuck with me ever since because it made me realize, I’ve kinda gotten immune to the garbage like I’ve gotten immune to the heat or the fact that there is sand everywhere.


The photos in this post are my latest submission to the Deera App. All this garbage is located in a sand lot behind my apartment building, the same sand lot which at one point someone had dug a large pit to dump all the garbage in.


The way I see it there are a few things that need to be done to solve the garbage issue:

1) Clean up the garbage. Not sure how much money is allocated to cleaning up the garbage but either they should allocate more money or work more efficiently. In this one sand lot behind my place a quick solution for now would be to add more bins. When people dug a pit in the lot to throw garbage it was because the 7 bins weren’t enough. Instead of adding more bins to solve the issue they removed two leaving just 5 so obviously the garbage is going be overflowing. But its also not just about the garbage bins, there is litter all over the floor all around Salmiya and that never gets cleaned up.

2) Educate people. A nationwide anti-littering campaign would be a good start. I can’t even remember the last time there was an anti-littering campaign in Kuwait, maybe back in the 80s.

3) Fine people for littering. This is far fetched of course because I’ve seen cops let people run red lights and not chase them so I doubt they’re going to fine people for littering.


4) Finally put me in charge of Salmiya because whoever is in charge now obviously doesn’t give a shit about the area.

Update: Just a quick note, it took two trucks but thanks to the Deera App the garbage was all cleaned and the building that had caused most of the waste in the first photo was also fined.


63 replies on “Salmiya is a Garbage Dump”

I don’t thinking adding more garbage bins will solve the actual problem which is the absurd amount of garbage that is created on a daily bases.

It would be better if a law was passed and enforced to ensure that each building has its own garbage and recycling processing units and from there all the garbage that can’t be recycled can be recycled elsewhere and the existing recycled material given back to the community for reuse.

Also these empty plots, who owns them? Aren’t there laws that force owners to fence up these areas.

Good morning, I loved your article and the candidness of it, but a much needed truth to be told! Well, as we know nothing seems to get done here or projects never truly materialise, so we could all start one together somehow? Problem now is combatting the heat and we are approaching Ramadan. When I was out and about a few days ago with one of my stops being the bank, I’d realised ( but already am aware of) that they are very organised and kept talking about having their policies in place etc. Now, my point is this, why is it that banks are organised as it is an institution concerning money but somehow nothing else has policies or organisation etc here in our wonderful country? Maybe I’m not being clear enough but what I’m saying is that no one blatantly cares unless its for personal gain!!! I take pride in the fact that as a Kuwaiti, I can say that I have never littered, stolen, abused any of my lovely help at home, I raise my kids myself, I go to work everyday sick or not, I pay my bills, and don’t run around Kuwait driving like a maniac, and respect all walks of life!!! I know what you are thinking…… Doesn’t this person realise that it’s all bullshit here and that no one REALLY does care enough about the country? Well….I do, maybe I’m just positive and have hope, maybe I see the simplicity of being able to put things right and for all to live a very sound, moral, safe and healthy way. It is attainable!! What’s your opinion?

Baladiya is responsible for cleaning and picking up garbage, and each household pays a negligible amount for the service per month. What might work is find a way so that baladiya only cleans highways and let the local coop in every neighbourhood be responsible to clean up the neighbourhoods. Yes it might eat out of the end of year dividends paid out by the coop but I doubt people will complain about that if their areas are clean and green.

This is the problem with Arab countries mindset. We behave like consumers only and expect someone to clean after us. We take no responsibility for our own mess.

Really? All Arab countries have the same mindset? All of them have the same problem? Even Yemen and Tunis?

Here I thought this was common to all countries with horrible and incompetent government bodies, but no it’s in fact a problem just for Arabs. It’s not like Japan or Singapore had these problems and dealt with them, of course not because they’re not Arab. If they were Arab they’d still be marred in their own filth.


A topic along the same lines – I live in block 9 of Salmiya and there is a large open waste-ground in front of the building. Usually it’s only used for parking, but the construction site started up behind us is using as a washing-out area for their concrete trucks. Surely this is illegal?

It’s really shameful the distance you have to travel in Kuwait to find an area that hasn’t been completely trashed. I think that as well Mark’s first point, Kuwait should be using some of their pennies to introduce recycling facilities, and begin to move people away from their impulse to just trash anything that’s no longer of use.
What about charity shops? I’ve not encountered a single place where I could go to donate my old clothes – and this is in a country which is just as consumer driven than most Western nations.
As a teacher it depresses me to see parents’ callous attitudes towards this issue being passed down to their children. To combat this we should be trying to increase environmental awareness (and national pride!) in schools – organise beach clearing trips, set up clubs, get children in on an anti-littering campaign by hosting a competition to design posters etc – there is so much that could be done yet it clearly isn’t a priority.
I just think it would be great if come next February I genuinely could take pride in and celebrate Kuwait’s beauty.

Operation Hope will take your donations. There are good people out there, you just have to ask. Mark has written about them in the past, just do a search on this blog and you’ll find them.

What makes the situation in Kuwait even more unacceptable is that the Baladiya actually subcontracts all the cleaning to private companies and pays tens of millions of KD to these companies which are not performing their jobs. The Baladiya isn’t doing it’s job monitoring the performance of these companies.

Of course all this is made even worse by the littering. Not a day goes by where I don’t see someone throwing their trash on the street regardless whether they’re a pedestrian or driver.

It’s sad and there’s no reason why it should be allowed to remain this way.

Hey mark … Wanted to report something on the deera app… Would they contact you or something or they would just take action and close the case…

I’ve driven by the rubbish facilities, a couple of times, on the way to the camel racing.
It truly is disgusting around there. And here lies the root of the problem. Kuwait produces too much rubbish to be effectively dealt with. It has a “throw-away” mind-set that needs to be addressed. It’s no good throwing money at problems (i.e. pay people to move the problem elsewhere), the problem needs to be removed.
If discarded food was properly recycled, then maybe it could be used to fertilise the farming areas (North and South). Paper, plastic etc needs to be properly segregated and recycled. If someone took responsibility and large recycling bins were placed all over the residential areas, then maybe we might be able to change the mind-set.
Here’s an idea that will never be accepted – do away with drive-throughs. Make everyone eat inside and put their rubbish in organised bins, instead of throwing their rubbish out of the car window.

The entire matter comes down to too many people living in too little land… Kuwait is a small country sure but by most estimates less than 10% of the land is inhabited. The government is way too slow at developing new areas, which is also partly why it costs more than $1 million to buy a plot of land in most areas.

Baladiya is the mother of all corruptions. Baladiya allows high rise buildings without proper infrastructure. You end up with a super high density ugly city with every space filled with either parked cars or garbage.

It would appear as though some in Kuwait are willing to disown Salmiya as being part of the Kuwaiti sovereign post the liberation which is sad since the once silk stocking district of Salem Mubarak is also part of Salmiya.

Trouble is the Baladiya is in some sort of a mad competition with Kuwait Airways on boasting of the most number of pencil pushers in its employ. The only fix to this is to outsource the Baladiya to Abu Dhabi or Masqat and let them deal with it since obviously no one at the Baladiya in Kuwait cares enough or believes in keeping Kuwait clean and beautiful.

It is commendable you chose to spotlight the pestilience of garbage in Salmeya when you could have just as easily chosen to look the other way and cover the opening of La Maison du Chocolat Paris at the Grand Avenues or some such earth shattering development.

Kuwait has the potential to become the next Singapore or Dubai

But this potential is being wasted

Emiratis are much more conservative than Kuwaitis, yet UAE has booze, strip clubs, night clubs… a great nightlife

Even Qatar has a nightlife, even though Qataris are much more conservative than Kuwaitis

Even Oman has a nightlife, even though Omanis are much more conservative than Kuwaitis

What is Kuwait’s problem, exactly? The government doesn’t want the country to progress

In the 2020’s, Kuwait will face significant economic problems. I look forward to the post-oil era

Nightlife and Progress aren’t the same thing. Too many Kuwaitis think they are a bastion of liberalism for being ok with Alcohol but then having stupid backwards views in every other sense.

Kuwaitis are the most liberal Gulf Arabs + Kuwaitis are also the most liberal people in the Arabian Peninsula

Among the Gulf states:

1. Kuwait has the highest percentage of local women who don’t wear the hijab
2. Highest percentage of local women who don’t wear the Abaya
3. Highest percentage of local women working (labour force participation).

Kuwait has some of the most liberal people in the Gulf, and also some of the most conservative people in the gulf. Kuwaitis are a diverse people with diverse views.

This is a good thing, not bad.

Kuwaiti society is the most liberal society in the Gulf

Let’s compare Kuwaiti society to other societies in the Gulf:

In Emirati society, all Emirati women wear the black abaya (because they’re not allowed to wear Western-style clothes)

In Qatari society, all Qatari women wear the black abaya (because they’re not allowed to wear Western-style clothes)

In Omani society, all Omani women wear the black abaya (bcoz they’re not allowed to wear Western-style clothes)

In Saudi society, all Saudi women wear the black abaya (bcoz theyre not allowed to wear Western-style clothes)

In Yemeni society, all Yemeni women wear the black abaya (bcoz theyre not allowed to wear Western style clothes)

In Bahraini society, 98% of Bahraini women wear the black abaya (visit Bahrain University, ALL the Bahrainis are wearing black abaya)

Kuwait has the highest percentage of local women who don’t wear the Abaya because Kuwaiti society is the most liberal society in the Gulf

Communities take care of their neighborhoods. If a community decide to treat its neighborhood like garbage, it will end up being garbage. That’s why some neighborhoods in the same residential area vary dramatically in their neatness.

we have established by now that one of the reasons that some expats are not welcomed because they treat the country as temp place.

those who care about their neighborhoods contribute to it. All it takes,from you is,to,pick up the phone and call balaadiya. They’d deal with the issue,immediately. I believe some of,our,friends here have already experienced baladiya responce.

Well there is a good reason why expats treat Kuwait as a temporary place. Due to the laws in place they can only remain here temporarily…

That was always my first impression when I arrived in Kuwait. I remember walking round the corner on my first day to the sea front on gulf road and I couldn’t believe all the rubbish left scattered across the sand and rocks. Sadly its the life style of the locals.

Most of the people littering Kuwait are foreigners, not Kuwaitis

We Kuwaitis use the trashbin. Whereas most expatriates treat Kuwait like a temporary place, hence litter

STRONGLY disagree. Many expats come from countries where there is a strong culture of no-littering. I wouldn’t dream of either putting fast food trash out my car window or emptying my pockets of rubbish onto the street or going for a picnic and leaving trash or trash bags behind. These are things I see locals (well-dressed probably educated people) doing far too frequently. One thing that makes Kuwaiti areas seem cleaner is the HUGELY better public services. Live in Mangaf/ Mahboula? Good luck spotting garbage collection. Live in Egalia? FLEET of cleaners sweeping, street cleaning and tidying the shrubbery!

The only reason so much never gets done no Kuwaiti can be held accountable or ever fired nothing will ever change. That is the same reason no privet company wants to employ Kuwaiti’s they can not be fired when they fail in the position they are hired for.

Mark, I’d also like to add to your list, the problem with these large garbage cans occupying almost half the road in Salmiya (specially Block 10).
I believe they move it to the road, so that it doesnt block/occupy a parking spot, but then it blocks the road and specially in a place like Salmiya where people double park and drive recklessly, it just adds on to the congestion.

What’s the best solution for this? Can we report this using the Deera app?

I always give people who throw trash on the street my two cents, for the most it is expats from countries who look like a dumb. But yes it is also Kuwaiti who expect the expat to pick up after him.

Can it be fixed of course, if you have naughty kids at home, not behaving correctly, how would you correct it? By expressing how you want it, then you reenforce it with penalties if not understood. But most important you have to be the good example to follow.

Expats should have some rules to follow before they enter a country. And same laws apply to all nationalities, no matter your status, color or salary.

Is there hope for Kuwait, yes but it will take time…

At this rate, Mark, you stand a very good chance of being nominated Minister for Expat affairs 🙂
The funny thing is this is one area where the demographics haven’t changed all that much before and after the invasion although the Jordanian Palestinian and Iraqi diaspora in Salmiya is much trimmer now.
Still it’s hard to put a thumb on what has changed between then and now. Granted there is today ad hoc construction happening of ten plus storeyed apartment blocks all over the place but then in the 70s and 80s dont let’s forget there were 11-13 individuals per Palestinian household and yet the streets were spotlessly clean and devoid of garbage heaped up in piles and strewn outside the litter bins. The cleaners I would think were also more or less the same, I.e.from the subcontinent. Dont think there were ever any Turks or Eastern European cleaners in Kuwait but I may be mistaken. So what is so different now compared to then ?

If you hate it so much here and think it’s a “dump” and is “so boring” then just leave. You are so ungrateful as to what this country has done for people like you. Go back to Lebanon and let’s see how you’ll survive there 🙂

Anyone living, working and spending money in Kuwait has every right to comment on things they see and experience. And yes they’re free to leave if they want but they’re obviously staying because they’re generally happy and something is keeping them here. Its people like you who embarrass the majority of good Kuwaitis like us who welcome all expats and appreciate their contributions to the country!

Garbage IS a serious problem in places like Salmiya, Hawalli, Bneid Elgar, Jleeb Elshuyoukh and elsewhere; places you probably don’t go to at all. And just look at the part of Sharq right behind Hamra mall. It’s filthy!!

Mark called Salmiya a dump because it IS a dump, and even provided photo evidence. What the hell more do you want?!

Thank you for taking out of context a 7 year old quote of mine and sharing it here.

The actual quote is “I think Kuwait will remain a backward stone age country until people start getting the freedom to do what they want.”

Your question on why Lebanese people are racist is racist in itself. If anything the more important question here is what is your agenda?

You said Kuwait is lagging behind other GCC states because the church isn’t separated from the state

FYI, Mark

Kuwait has separated the church from the state more than all other GCC countries

Kuwait’s judicial system is the most SECULAR judicial system in the GCC, except for the alcohol ban

In UAE, it’s illegal for Emirati women to marry non-Muslims. It’s not illegal in Kuwait.

In Bahrain, UAE & Qatar, Muslims who commit apostasy get the DEATH SENTENCE. There is no death sentence for apostasy in Kuwait

In Dubai, raped Christian women get jailed because they can’t provide Sharia law evidence that they got raped by a man, so the raped Christian women get jailed for ‘pre-marital sex’

In Qatar, Muslims who get caught drinking alcohol get FLOGGED because the Qatari judicial system uses a strict Sharia Islamic law. Muslims aren’t allowed to drink in Qatar, flogging is used in Qatar as a common punishment for Muslims drinking alcohol and also for Muslims caught doing illicit sexual relations.

There is no flogging in Kuwait, its not part of the Kuwaiti judicial system. Kuwait has never given LASHES to anyone

Last year, Qatar gave a Muslim guy 40 lashes because he was caught drinking alcohol

In 2012 in Qatar, at least 6 foreign nationals were sentenced to floggings of either 40 or 100 lashes

Do the research first and then talk

Sara I don’t discuss politics and religion on my blog and I definitely won’t be elaborating on or discussing a comment I might have made 7 years ago. You need to let go and move on.

Flogging is also used for punishment in UAE

UAE judicial system has more Sharia Law than Kuwait’s judicial system

Please don’t embarrass yourself by speaking nonsense, please remember that when you talk about Kuwait, u represent all of the Kuwaitis, and I don’t want to be represented by someone who thinks like you.

Thank you for taking out of context a 7 year old quote of mine and sharing it here.

The actual quote is “I think Kuwait will remain a backward stone age country until people start getting the freedom to do what they want.”

If you really think that he has no respect in Kuwait, then excuse me for the word, but ur very stupid. I see and know a lot of people who are willing to do things to help Kuwait, most of them, if not all of them are Kuwaiti nationals, but they just talk. Mark is the only guy I know who doesn’t just only try to make Kuwait a better place (both physically and mentally) but he succeeds in doing so. So before you start judging other people, please ask ur self, what have you done to this country? use up oxygen?

As a Western expat who has lived in Kuwait for a long time, I have to say that if I could change one thing about kuwait, it would be the garbage /pollution situation. People complain about lack of alcohol and nightlife, expenses, driving etc. but for me, my wish is to see Kuwait as the clean and pretty country it could easily be. I have seen many expats throwing their garbage and spitting mucus on the ground (always 2 nationalities in particular !!) and it makes my blood boil! As guests, we must respect our hosts! And for the Kuwaitis who I have also seen littering the streets and schoolyards on which they live and grow, I wonder: “How can you seriously and consciously create and then live in your own filth!!?”

I’m from Ontario, Canada and the mindset –in terms of trash disposal–is different in many ways; First, if someone DARES to throw garbage on the ground, they will get yelled at And dirty looks from regular citizens just passing by! There is a collective value-system in place. And those who don’t oblige WILL be fined! Want to throw your tissue on the ground?? That will cost you $120 and people will liken you with a pig. Also, there IS a public campaign .., garbage and recycling cans everyway, an organized system of waste collection for houses, apartments, and business’ — monitored by the government. This campaign extends to a daily reminder on every single vehicle’s license plate that reads: “Keep Canada Beautiful”. It works there, and it could here too. Instead of billboards along the roads promoting phone companies and clothing stores, put reminders about and pictures of proper garbage disposal. That’s at least a place to start.

If we don’t respect ourselves, families, and our neighbours enough to keep the environment clean — and use our voices and efforts to protect it — we owe it to our mighty Creator, to preserve the world HE designed for us.

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