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Kuwait’s landmarks of childhood disappear

Nawara Fattahova

It’s a sad feeling not being able to go to places we used to enjoy visiting when we were kids. Change is a part of life, but when the change removes most or all of your favorite entertainment places and stores, it hurts. The trend started by demolishing Showbiz, the most popular entertainment park in Kuwait during the 1970s and 1980s, before Entertainment City was built in Doha. The place also housed a mini-zoo, pony rides and other attractions. Green Hill opposite Showbiz disappeared much earlier.

Then came the demolition of one of the two complexes of the old Salmiya Souq on Salem Al-Mubarak Street. This complex had many of my favorite shops including Waleed Toys, Family Bookshop, Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor, Hardees fast food and many others. Ten years after it was razed, a new building is being built and the entire street will change in the future to become a promenade where cars will be banned. At least the complex on the opposite side is still standing, so some childhood memories are alive, although the popular toy store disappeared after the liberation in 1991.

The drive-in cinemas, which were not available anywhere else in the region, were also demolished. The main one on the Sixth Ring Road was replaced with 360 Mall. The other smaller one was in Ahmadi. Many other cinemas disappeared too, including Salmiya Cinema next to the post office and Abdulhussein Abdulredha Theatre, Al-Hamra Cinema that used to be in the place of the Al-Hamra Tower, and Garnata Cinema in Khaitan, which has been replaced by a mall.

Last year, Entertainment City, which was the first and largest of its kind in the GCC when it was built in 1984, was closed for maintenance. Rumors swirled that it would reopen after a few months, but this didn’t happen. Some unofficial reports said that it will be demolished completely and rebuilt, and may reopen in 2021.

The other popular entertainment park was Shaab Park on Gulf Road. This park suddenly shut down last month due to a dispute over its license and some other legal issues. It seems it will surely be gone, and visitors of this park have lost the many rides, ice skating rink, rollerblading, pony riding and the only bungee jumping place in Kuwait.

Children now can only play in small entertainment areas in some malls that are not attractive to teenagers and young people. Or they can go to public parks, which many find boring and unsuitable to visit in this hot weather. Where will their childhood memories of Kuwait be created?

By Nawara Fattahova

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