The preliminary designs for the estimated KD25bn ($86bn) Madinat Hareer project, known as the City of Silk, have been approved by the Municipal Council’s technical committee.

The city will cover 250 square kilometres on the Subiya peninsula across the Bay of Kuwait from Kuwait City. It will be developed over 25 years. The centrepiece of the development will be a 200-storey-plus, 1,001-metre tower called Mubarak al-Kabir.

The city will be split into themed districts, including culture, film, media, industry, business, sports, leisure, environment and health, as well as a national wildlife sanctuary. It will also feature exhibition centres, parks and housing to accommodate up to 700,000 people. The Council of Ministers (cabinet) first approved the project in early 2006.

The project’s two main sponsors, Tamdeen Real Estate and Ajial Real Estate, declined to comment on the development. “The project is a gift to the government, so we do not want to talk about it,” says a Tamdeen spokesperson.

In a related move, the estimated $1.5bn Subiya causeway, which will provide access to the City of Silk, has been approved after it was redesigned to mitigate the impact it will have on the environment.

Officially known as the Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah Causeway, the project was extended from 21 to 36 kilometres at a total cost of more than KD600m on condition that all negative effects on the environment are taken into consideration and suitable solutions sought to protect it.

The Public Authority for Environment, the Environment Protection Authority and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research all opposed the project. Kuwait Oil Company officials also demanded the bridge had clearance of at least 23 metres to allow drilling towers to pass underneath.

The project involves the construction of an eight-lane causeway across Kuwait Bay to link Kuwait City with the City of Silk and will greatly reduce travel times between the two areas.

The scheme’s central element is a 27-kilometre, low-level elevated bridge across the shipping channel with a main span of 150-200 metres. The contract also calls for the construction of a 25-hectare artificial island to support the bridge, a 5km approach road on the northern side and a 3km elevated road through the Shuwaikh port district on the southern side.

The tender process is not expected to start until early next year, and it is unclear whether the original list of prequalifiers selected in May 2006 will remain valid.

The initial conceptual and route studies for the project were completed by Denmark’s Cowi (MEED 6:4:07).