Kuwait’s Trail of Tears

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

Growing up in the U.S., there was nothing more embarrassing than having a dirty and dusty car parked in your driveway. And our car was always dirty and dusty. The neighborhood kids found it entertaining to scribble messages in the dust with their fingers. They wrote stuff like, “I need a bath” or “Wash me”. Every day I would have to stuff myself under the dashboard while my mother drove me to school and crawl across the sidewalk to avoid the humiliation of being seen in that dirty car.

I have to wonder how the Kuwaiti people feel about their giant filthy “car” which is the Kuwait Towers located in Salmiya. Do they share a similar humiliation that I felt as a kid? Are other Kuwaittis outraged at the state of the towers? If it were my Statue of Liberty I would hit the roof!

Driving by the towers yesterday, I have to say I was completely and utterly appalled. The towers are dusty and discolored. They look rundown and downright “ghetto”. The towers have what appear to be a ‘trail of tears’ running down the sides of them in the form of streaks of rust. Not only do the towers need a fierce scrubbing but they also need a massive restoration. I recall reading in the newspaper this past summer that one of the circular tiles had fallen down and hit a car smashing the windshield to smithereens. That should have been a huge hint that all is not well with the beloved Kuwait towers and they are at risk of falling to pieces. Literally!

The Kuwait Towers are only about 27 years old but they look middle-aged to me! The towers were inaugurated in 1979. They are one of the most unique and distinctive landmarks from all over the Middle East. A Swedish Architectural firm headed by Sune Lindstrom and Malene Bjorn designed the towers. The first tower is 140 meters tall and holds a water-holding sphere. The second tower is 180 meters tall and boasts a restaurant and rotating observation deck. The third tower holds no sphere but rather has several lights running down the front of it.

The dirty towers should be an embarrassment to all the residents of Kuwait. They are the pride and joy of both Kuwaitis and expatriates alike. The towers represent the fact that no matter how small you are; you can still accomplish great things. Well actually, that is what they use to represent. Right now, they represent how dirt, dust, and pollution can ruin a perfect complexion! I shudder to think what tourists, coming to Kuwait for the very first time, think of the Kuwait Towers when they see them. I guarantee they are not saying, “Wow, what a sparkling feat of architecture and beauty!” More than likely they are saying, “Gee, don’t they sell Windex in Kuwait?”

Other great historical landmarks from across the World have also undergone restorations. So, the Kuwait Towers is not alone in requiring a ‘facelift’. The Statue of Liberty’s, New York City, USA, restoration was completed in 1986. Years of exposure to the salty air had riddled the copper surface with pockmarks that had to be filled in. It also had mass iron corrosion, rust stains, peeling paint, and structural concerns that had to be addressed. I can only imagine the damage to the Kuwait Towers given that the salty air of the seaside has probably damaged it. Another famous restoration takes us to France. The Eiffel Tower is restored every 7 years. Since it is made of cast iron it only requires a splash of anti-corrosive paint to keep it looking beautiful.

If only someone were able to scale the towers or even bungee down from the observation deck, to write in the dust, “Wash Me…Puh-leaze!” I am sure Ministry of Interior would stand up and take notice. But since that is highly unlikely, I guess we’ll have to wait for things to get worse before they get better. Perhaps visitors should start donning hard hats just in case and more tiles plummet to the ground!

If drastic measures are not taken soon to preserve the Kuwait Towers, they might be lost forever and future generations will lose out on witnessing the grandeur of them. The towers should be polished up and shine as they were meant to do.


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