Dubai is dead, with most of its high-rise buildings and property in static mode, thanks to its own subprime crisis which has yet to recover. There won’t be any new building coming up because the city is already bloated with spaces with no takers. However that doesn’t stop its neighbours from doing so on their harsh desert. Saudi Arabia, via Kingdom Holding Co, the investment firm headed by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is building the world’s tallest building, Kingdom Tower, reaching an astonishing 1,000 metres (1 km) above the ground at a cost of $1.2 billion.
But that figure of investment is like a loose change compared to Kuwait’s dream city – Madinat Al Hareer or the City of Silk at an estimated cost of a staggering $132 billion. Although Kuwait is one of the smallest countries on the map, it is nevertheless the fifth wealthiest country per-capita in the world. Now you understand why Saddam Hussein was freaking excited about the plan of invading the tiny city in 1990. In actual fact, the plan for the City of Silk was mooted many years ago and was approved by the Kuwaiti Government in July 2008. It was sketchy then and now it seems the project is set to go in full gear, with construction on infrastructure has already begun.
Madinat Al Hareer would create a modern oasis in the Kuwait desert, a sprawling 62,000 acre metropolis just opposite Kuwait City, upon its completion in 2023. Interestingly, the project would also include the Burj Mubarak al-Kabir, the world’s tallest structure at 1,001 metres tall (1 metre taller than Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, *grin*). Perhaps the Kuwaiti Government should rename the tower, just in case those crazy demonstrators thought the building was built for the former dictator President Hosni Mubarak. Anyway, here are some of the distinctive landmarks to be derived from the $132 billion dream city.
The Jaber Al Ahmed Bridge
This 23 kilometers bridge will connect Madinat Al Hareer with neighboring Kuwait City across Kuwait Bay – reducing travel time between the cities from an hour and a half to under 17 minutes. The bridge will also connect with two small islands in the middle of the bay, each with limited private developments.
The Burj Mubarak al-Kabir
Standing 1,001 meters above the desert, in reference to the popular Arabian Nights fairy tales on the region, the Mubarak al-Kabir Tower will consist of three twisting, interlocking structures and, at the time of its completion in 2016, will be the tallest in the world (Burj Khalifa, the current record holder, is a mere 800 metres while the proposed Kingdom Tower would be 1 metre less at 1,000 metres). Adjustable ailerons will be installed along the sides of the building to help it cope with strong desert winds, as the complex will house 30 story “neighbourhoods” of residential apartments, as well as many offices, restaurants, and businesses.
The Silk Road – Free Enterprise Zone
Advance Enterprise Zone will be designated a Free Zone for trade, investment and business incubator developments. Located next to a new International Airport, it will connect to an expanded Rail, Air and Road Network extending far into Central Asia.
Potentially one of the closest sea ports to Central Asia, the Bubiyan Port is slated for construction on Bubiyan Island, Kuwait’s largest island. The port would handle traffic from Iran, Iraq, and other Middle-Eastern countries.
Resort & Hospitality
Extensive leisure and pleasure facilities will be developed in all four city centres. Riverside development will provide for extensive leisure waterfront activities, and the coastline will be developed as a new Arabian Riviera.
Partnerships with international educational institutions will expand the reach of Kuwait’s Tertiary Education system to include Asian, European and North American places of Higher Learning.
A sprawling assemblage of sporting complexes, Olympic Stadia, recreation centers, parks and health facilities will highlight the City’s focus on athletic events and a commitment to physical excellence. There are also plans for several sports medicine and research academies.
Expanded housing plots, diversity of housing types, compelling family amenities, easy access to health care & education, self-sustaining neighbourhoods and an extensive park system will make these residential communities the most coveted resort and hospitality planned housing developments in the Arabian Gulf.
Convention and Exhibition Centers
How can such a huge project goes with convention centers? Hence, taking a cue from the World’s Fair and other major gatherings of entrepreneurs and professionals, the City’s facilities will host a variety of innovators from around the world to showcase advances in technology, energy, and design.
While Madinat Al Hareer promises to be the future jewel of the Arabian Peninsula, at least that was the dream at this moment, the worry from such an ambitious plan was whether Dubai’s failure would repeat itself in this little Kuwaiti Kingdom.
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