Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention
Kuwait, in the late 1980s, got richer due to its booming crude oil business. As the oil demand grew in the world, so did escalate the people's need for luxury. One of the prime demands, in particular, was that of new opulent living spaces for the new business class and foreign investors. Most available land in Kuwait is desert and unfit for living due to various factors.
First is the lack of usable resources, primarily water. Second is the unstable land which is not suitable for construction and last but not least is the unbearable dry heat of the desert.
Coastal areas are preferable as the sea breeze reduces temperature during the day and the moisture level is maintained.
The coast of the nation is just 168 kilometres and is mostly occupied by shipping docks and factories. So a different infrastructural approach was to be considered so that the residents can live within the city in comfort.
Problems Come With Solutions
Local engineers came up with the unique idea of taking channels that run inland snaking through the area in such a way that there is more water access.
This city would be known as Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City and would be a luxury establishment with all modern amenities. The project was put on hold due to Iraq's invasion and later the Gulf War which resulted in the liberation of the country in 1991.
This war also caused major oil spills in the area making the project difficult. When the project was restarted after much difficulty there was new semantics to consider. Proper circulation of water was a critical requirement as poor water quality would lead to algae growth making the channels foul-smelling salt pods.
The structure would also need to be designed in such a way that it does not get deformed over the years by constant flooding. To solve this planners developed a complex computer model simulating the natural currents in the area.
Extensive data on wind speed, direction and water quality were collected to draw a schematic model which simulated the hydrodynamic properties of the system. But the possibility of stagnation of water remained.
The popular solution given by global engineers was the installation of pumps but the local community did not agree as it would be a constant requirement in the system. So the cost of electricity to power these pumps would be a load on the economy if implemented.
Not Encroaching But Including Nature
Finally, they reached the unique idea of putting tidal gates on the channels. These kids would open up at high tide due to water pressure and close as the pressure receded. Thus effectively circulating the water and these were completely self-regulated.
At the same time, Dubai was promoting its Palm Jumeirah project along with the ambitious project 'The World' where sand islands would be created on the sea. Today The World is a lost bet with empty islands slowly sinking in as the sea claims its freedom. Contrary to this Sabah Al Ahmad made the city according to the flow of water. Mangroves and other plant species suitable for sea soil were planted in the earlier dredged areas to prevent erosion.
It is currently one of the most famous areas of Kuwait with over 250,000 villas and high-income apartments, along with several resorts for tourists. The secret of its success is that it endeavoured to bring the ocean into the desert and not the desert into the ocean as in the case of 'The World'.