Plans are gathering pace both in the Emiri Diwan and among local private sector real estate developers for the largest construction project seen to date in the region. Called Madinat Hareer (City of Silk), the ambitious mega city project has an estimated overall value of KD 50,000 million ($172,000 million) and will have as its central element a mixed-use tower with a height in excess of 1,000 metres. A source close to the project confirms that the development, revealed by the UK press in January, is going ahead. 'Initial design work is already under way, and we expect there will be a formal announcement on the scheme very soon. This project is being taken very seriously and is aimed at really putting Kuwait on the map.'
To be built over a period of more than 25 years, the new city will be located in the Subiya peninsula, across the bay of Kuwait, where there is very little development. It will comprise all the elements of a modern city, including residential and commercial areas, schools, roads and hospitals, able to service hundreds of thousands of residents. The proposed tower project will have a height of up to 1,100 metres, making it by far the tallest in the world, eclipsing the 800-metre-plus Burj Dubai project. The London office of Eric Kuhne & Associates is understood to have been consulted about the tower's design.
The scheme's local sponsors, Tamdeen Real Estate Company and Ajial Real Estate Company, in conjunction with the office of the new Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, were due to announce the project in mid-January, but the sudden death of the former emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah delayed the announcement. The project is expected to be financed in several different ways, including sales of property and plot leasing, with much of the cost coming directly from the state's considerable budget surplus, which last year exceeded 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Kuwait has consistently struggled to spend this surplus over the past five years, and the city project is expected to be sold to the local population as a national project aimed at revitalising the state and alleviating population and traffic pressure in the capital.