Architecture & Design

Boost for souq

Shuaib with an infographic showing the scope of Souk Al-Mubarakiya’s redevelopment.

Kuwait’s famous Souk Al-Mubarakiya, which was established around 120 years ago, is in the midst of a major redevelopment programme that is aimed at restoring it to its past glory while enhancing its appeal to domestic and international visitors.

In line with Kuwait’s ambition to position its capital city as a touristic destination for both business and cultural tourism, the Municipality of Kuwait earlier this year signed a consultancy agreement with leading regional multidisciplinary firm Pace to upgrade the Souk Al-Mubarakiya.

The project aims to create an enhanced and modernised touristic experience for visitors, whilst preserving the rich cultural identity of the historical markets, according to Tarek Shuaib, CEO of the Kuwait-based Pace.

Souk Al-Mubarakiya retains its old-world aura.

Souk Al-Mubarakiya retains its old-world aura.

A traditional market that has remained rooted in the past – and yet still remains a relevant one today – Souk Al-Mubarakiya took its name from the then Amir Shaikh Mubarak Al-Sabah who was the first to build a “Kishk” (a booth) a year after he took over the reins of the nation in 1897.

What makes Souk Al-Mubarakiya eye-catching is that the market retains its old-world aura despite the passage of time, making the location very popular among Gulf, Arab, and foreign tourists, says Shuaib.

In commissioning Pace to undertake the architectural re-design and construction supervision for the project, the municipality has embarked on the refurbishment of five key areas within the markets, in addition to the adjacent municipality park, as well as the improvement of traffic and pedestrian access and circulation within the entire facility, he adds.

“The development will also introduce a set of new facilities that will enhance the experience for domestic and foreign tourists,” Shuaib explains. These will include a new mosque, an information centre, and an international hotel – all designed with the same modern architectural language that is inspired by the local traditional elements. The adjacent municipality park will be revamped and linked with the project to include an amphitheatre for various activities.”

The new international hotel proposed is aimed at boosting the markets’ current activities by providing hospitality services to visitors and tourists and meeting the needs of business travellers and short-stay visitors. The information centre will provide a range of services and cultural activities and include a gift shop for souvenirs and Kuwaiti mementos.

In addition, the area will be redesigned to include more open spaces, recreational parks, and shaded plazas, suited for both adults and children, in an effort to enhance the urban landscape in the capital.

Enhanced access points will ease both pedestrian and traffic flow into and out of the markets, with ample parking spaces to accommodate more than 1,400 cars.

The 200-key Waldorf Astoria hotel ... neutral tones are used to create a feeling of tranquility.

The 200-key Waldorf Astoria hotel ... neutral tones are used to create a feeling of tranquility.

Meanwhile, as part of the latest expansion of Kuwait’s showpiece The Avenues Mall, Pace is now delivering the five-star international luxury business and leisure hotel, Waldorf Astoria, located on the south side of the mall.  This follows the completion of the 430-room Hilton Garden Inn, which was delivered in 2019 by Pace.

The 200-key Waldorf Astoria hotel offers special rooms and venues with unique interiors and functional work areas.

“The design of the hotel reflects the opulence of the Waldorf brand while incorporating cues from nature. Neutral tones are used to create a feeling of tranquility and the resplendent detail in furnishing, lighting and artworks highlight the luxury surroundings.

The leisure and recreation facilities provided include a large temperature-controlled swimming pool with a roof terrace, and a large health club area integrated with a spa, gym and health facilities. The ballrooms will add value to the hospitality experience of the hotel, with an expanded area of 1,000 sq m.