In a recent post, Dr. Thomas Modeen talks about his observations of old Salhiya. He describes its ambience and says that because the place is truly cosmopolitan and free that you can just be yourself there:
“It’s the only urban locale in Kuwait that, at least for me, sounds, smells, feels like a city. A place for casual conversations, people-watching, a quick cup of tea or Turkish-coffee, that do not necessitate one to adapt ones mannerism to the more regimented social confines set by the persnickety establishments around the corner.”
He goes on to say that places like old Salhiya really can’t be designed and simply emerge because of the density and demands of a city. I can’t argue that old Salhiya really does embody that spirit of a city and is probably one of the few places in Kuwait that does so. The charm of the place comes from the fact that it’s so messy and people from all walks of life are there, but that same freedom also bring with it a certain level of danger.
People, and especially women and girls, feel more comfortable in shopping malls because that privacy offers a basic level of safety. I think that’s a critical issue for public space and the reason why most fail is because they lack security and order. Women who aren’t covered from head to toe will be leered at and made uncomfortable. The question then becomes how can we provide this level of security and public safety while still maintaining that spirit of freedom that makes the public space so enthralling in the first place.