50s to 90s Interesting Kuwait

Saving the Ahmadi Cinema and Market

I’ve always been fascinated with Ahmadi because of how different it looked to the rest of Kuwait. Most of it hasn’t changed since it was originally built in the late 1940s, but over the decades, some important landmarks, including the Ahmadi Cinema and Market, fell into disrepair. Now, the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters has a very cool project to save them.

I was given a tour of both sites, but the first we visited was the cinema. It was designed by the renowned architect Sayed Karim in the 1960s. The ground floor has shops and restaurants which are still used today, but the upper floor where the cinema was is closed off from the public and empty. The large hall that used to hold over 1,200 cinema seats is now empty and derelict. But, a lot of the interior is still intact and original, which is why it was interesting to explore the building. The cinema stands as one of the last cultural centers in Kuwait, and is the only remaining building of its kind in the country. The rehabilitation project aims to restore it to its original state and function while supporting and enhancing the local performing arts industry.

The second location we visited was the market. Similar to the cinema the aim will be to restore the market to its original state. The market is in pretty bad shape and so will be a more difficult project for them to restore. But, one building has already been refurbished and I got to tour that as well. One thing I only discovered while on the tour was that the metal beams on the building facade are actually functional. They open and close to control the amount of sunlight that comes in. That must have been so ahead of its time back when it was built.

This restoration project is the pilot model for the NCCAL, which aims to create policies and procedures to preserve and protect heritage sites throughout Kuwait. The Ahmadi Township is also being considered for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which would a huge benefit to Ahmadi and Kuwait if that happens.

I feel relieved knowing that there are now people working on preserving Kuwait’s history and I can’t wait to see their future projects. Follow @ahmadi_township if you want to stay updated on the Ahmadi project.

For more photos which I took on the tour, click here.

5 replies on “Saving the Ahmadi Cinema and Market”

Good news.
I wish and hope they don’t cut down old trees around this building. Being in Ahmadi on daily basis (my work place) I have witnessed so many indigenous old trees been cut down in the parks, around the houses and the new construction sites. There used to be a lot of bee hives nestled in these old trees and unfortunately for the past few years, literally I haven’t seen any bee hives neither any beautiful birds which could be seen commonly around this area. In the past we could see parrots, wood peckers and and randomly falcons too. Unfortunately no more. Last winter I witnessed some bees while I was sitting outside a coffee shop beside the cinema. Shocked to see the bee was buzzing around me and then sit on the empty coffee cup to suck up the coffee “nectar”. The worst part I witnessed some of them going inside an empty coca cola can near the trash dumpster and getting food for their babies. I wish I could follow them to find where the bee hives still left in Ahmadi. I wish and hope the authorities also consider to preserve the beautiful flora and fauna in this area and elsewhere in the desert. Cutting a tree should be considered a crime. I can only wish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *