Kuwait keen on restor­ing cul­tural glory with con­struc­tion boom

Am­bi­tious plan to re­store ‘Pearl of the Ara­bian Gulf’ moniker

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

Since its in­de­pen­dence, Kuwait has been a re­gional cul­ture and art hub, at­trac­tive for artists and artl-overs from across the re­gion and be­yond. The pi­o­neer­ing and il­lu­mi­nat­ing role of its cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions gave it a well-de­served ad­vanced po­si­tion on re­gional cul­tural map and the coun­try was named ‘the Pearl of the Ara­bian Gulf.’

But this role has been in­ter­rupted by the Iraqi in­va­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion of Kuwait in 1990 and the en­su­ing ma­jor events. In the past few years, the govern­ment em­barked on an am­bi­tious plan to re­store the coun­try’s cul­tural glory. It in­au­gu­rated a large num­ber of cul­tural cen­ters, mu­se­ums, the­aters, and cin­e­mas to en­rich cul­ture life as well as to cre­ate new plat­forms to bring to­gether Kuwaiti artists and art lovers.

Al-Sha­heed Park

On April 12th, His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAh­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah pa­tron­ized and at­tended the open­ing of the sec­ond phase of Al-Sha­heed Park which is lo­cated on the pe­riph­ery of Kuwait city. Al-Sha­heed Park nar­rates the story of Kuwait’s land, his­tory and cul­ture. The park con­sists of 200,000 square me­ters of green­ery, fea­tur­ing beau­ti­ful botan­i­cal gar­dens, two mu­se­ums: Thekra and the Habi­tat, a vis­i­tor cen­ter, a lake, walk­ways, and jog­ging tracks, mak­ing it the largest ur­ban park in Kuwait.

At Thekra, Al-Sha­heed Park’s memo­rial mu­seum, vis­i­tors are pro­vided with more knowl­edge on the his­tory of Kuwait, its past bat­tles and the Gulf War. “Thekra Mu­seum is meant to shed lights on Kuwait’s her­itage and his­tory, to give us strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion for deal­ing with the fu­ture and its chal­lenges,” the Mu­seum of­fi­cial En­gi­neer Bashayer Al-Awwad said.

She un­der­lined the im­por­tant role played by mu­se­ums and dif­fer­ent cul­ture cen­ters in fos­ter­ing cul­tural ac­tivism and en­hance pa­tri­otic values. She also stressed cul­ture cen­ters need to do more to woo chil­dren and youth through a se­ries of spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grams.

The Habi­tat, Al-Sha­heed Park’s en­vi­ron­men­tal mu­seum, is ded­i­cated to the Kuwait en­vi­ron­ment and bird mi­gra­tion. “The Habi­tat mu­seum, the first of its kind in Kuwait, was in­au­gu­rated in March, 2017, to show­case the coun­try’s ge­o­graphic and en­vi­ron­ment char­ac­ter­is­tics as well as plant and an­i­mal re­sources through a wide ar­ray of so­phis­ti­cated tools,” the Habi­tat of­fi­cial Mo­ham­mad Al-Kharafi told KUNA.

On Oc­to­ber 31 last, His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in­au­gu­rated Sheikh Jaber AlAh­mad Cul­tural Cen­ter (JACC) in Kuwait City. The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cul­tural Cen­tre is a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary pub­lic space owned by the Amiri Di­wan striv­ing to en­ter­tain, ed­u­cate and in­spire the peo­ple of Kuwait. It of­fers a range of events - in mu­sic, theatre, film, work­shops and spo­ken word - for ev­ery gen­er­a­tion and sec­tor of so­ci­ety.

JACC pro­vides a space for di­a­logue to share and show­case skills and knowl­edge, giv­ing younger voices a fo­rum in which to speak. The cul­tural cen­ter is a plat­form for ed­u­ca­tional and cul­tural ex­change; more­over, it func­tions as an in­flu­en­tial en­ter­tain­ment and cul­ture pow­er­house and pro­duc­tive space for the re­gion.

Cul­tural dis­trict

Kuwaiti cul­tural cir­cles are also wait­ing the near in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Sheikh Ab­dul­lah Al-Salem Cul­tural Cen­tre. To­gether with the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad Cul­tural Cen­tre, it is ex­pected to form Kuwait’s new na­tional cul­tural dis­trict.

Each build­ing will con­tain an ar­ray of per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary world-class ex­hibits and art­works. Walk­ing through the cul­tural dis­trict be­neath the canopy of the street will be a jour­ney full of sur­prises, with stunning views deep into the heart of the mu­se­ums where vis­i­tors will see framed vis­tas of price­less ex­hibits. The mu­se­ums will cel­e­brate Kuwaiti, Is­lamic and Arab cul­ture and his­tory. They will also em­brace and show­case the rich di­ver­sity of the world’s finest cul­tural achieve­ments. It will con­sist of six main build­ings: Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum; Sci­ence Mu­seum; Mu­seum of Is­lamic His­tory, Space Mu­seum, Fine Arts Cen­tre; and a theatre. “Cul­tural cen­ters are en­rich­ing cul­tural life, if they are pro­fes­sion­ally uti­lized for this goal,” Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of Kuwait Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Talal AlRu­maidhi said. He called for pre­par­ing plans to host a slew of cul­tural and artis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties and ex­hi­bi­tions in the new cen­ters to at­tract cul­ture and art lovers from dif­fer­ent seg­ments of the so­ci­ety. —KUNA

—KUNA pho­tos

KUWAIT: A pic­ture of Kuwait City’s sky­line taken from Al-Sha­heed Park.

Al-Sha­heed Park at night.

A replica of Al-Jal­bout ship, lo­cated in the sec­ond phase of Al-Sha­heed Park.

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad Cul­tural Cen­ter in Kuwait City.

A folk­lore per­for­mance at Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad Cul­tural Cen­ter.

The Na­tional Theater is the big­gest theater in Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cul­tural Cen­tre.

The Ab­dul­hu­sain Ab­dul­ridha Theater.

An aerial view of the Ab­dul­lah Al-Salem Cul­tural Cen­ter.

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