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Sawaber tenants watch memories fall with decaying complex – 35-year complex to be evacuated by March 31

Sawaber residential complex
Sawaber residential complex

KUWAIT: The looming demolition of the Sawaber residential complex has saddened many current and former residents, who have dear memories of this housing estate. The remaining tenants have been issued official orders to vacate the complex by March 31, 2016. Sawaber was built in early 1980s in Kuwait City on approximately 245,000 sq m of land, consisting of 33 buildings with differing number of floors and flats. Each flat has an area of about 225 sq m, with a total of 524 units in the complex.

By February, a majority of tenants had left the complex, while its evacuation was reportedly set to complete by last week. All those who resided in Sawaber, and even those who never lived there have fond memories of this decaying housing complex.

Dejected
Um Aziz, one of the resisting tenants who stayed there until a few days before the evacuation deadline, feels very dejected for being forced to leave. “I have lived here for 20 years. I moved here when my son was two months old, and now he is 20. I have many good memories of these long years. Kids gathered in the yard of the complex and they all knew each other. The older ones guarded the younger ones, and if a stranger came to play with them, they made sure to find out in which flat he lived in, or whether he really lived here,” she told Kuwait Times.

“We were as one family, and we knew each other. We used to meet daily when going to and back from work, or in other situations. The decision to demolish this complex separated us, but I am still in contact with some of my neighbors. We do not want to leave, but the interest of our country is most important, as they want to change downtown to a commercial and not a residential area,” added Um Aziz.

Good friends
Samya lived in Sawaber for nine years, where she was renting a flat, before moving to her own house. “During the few years that I lived there, I made many good friends who became like family, and I am still in contact with them. My kids grew up in this complex and they used to play there safely, and we parents were not worried about them. I think it is a great pity to demolish this complex,” she rued.

Bu Salem lived in Sawaber since 1995 until last month, when he was forced to leave due to the evacuation orders. He feels sorry to see this great complex fall along with his memories. “I always felt safe when I lived in the complex as there were security guards the entire time. There was a garden and at the yards in front of the complex had fountains. Not mentioning the great location of Sawaber in the heart of Kuwait City, which made it easy for us to go walking to the nearby malls and the seaside when we were teenagers,” he noted.

Deterioration
The condition of Sawaber further deteriorated after the decision to raze it. “When this decision was announced, the management withdrew the harises (building janitors) and guards, so we lost security and some maids were harassed. Also, some owners rented their flats to bachelors, who lived in groups of 20 people in a flat, and some flats were even used for prostitution. Also, after the big fire that damaged one of the buildings, the government compensated the residents with temporary houses, and some of them did not move back,” lamented Bu Salem.

By Nawara Fattahova

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