أرشيف الوسم: مدينة الكويت

?Neom … the question

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رابط دائم لـ ?Neom … the question

The Neom Project was announced by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, H.H Mohammad Bin Salman, during a big event last week that was attended by some of the world’s biggest names in finance and business. The prince declared that the Kingdom has assigned more than 500 million dollars for the project. An economic zone of 26,000 square kilometers on the north western border of Saudi Arabia has been allocated for this purpose.

The project will create a modern, smart, unconventional city that houses the latest urban technologies and become a hub for the development of nine investment sectors such as energy, transportation, bioengineering, robotics, water, food, digital technology, science and media.

The government of Saudi Arabia marketed the project through a huge media campaign that attracted a lot of attention. Despite the preliminary information that was released about it, there are other major and obvious advantages. Yet, like any other venture, it entails risks and has some concerns that should be taken into consideration.

Here is a list of a few advantages of the project:

– The project presents creative and unconventional thinking.

– It calls for partnership with neighboring countries, which strengthen capabilities and benefit from economic integration with Egypt and Jordan.

– The project is located on the north western border of Saudi Arabia, an area that did not get its equal share of development.

– The project was presented, along with a team of major international financial and business leaders, which reinforces the project and enhances investors’ confidence.

– The announcement that 500 million dollars will be invested by the government will be the basis to attract further international investments.

– The head of the project is the prince himself; he marketed it directly and exhibited good knowledge about the details thereof. His enthusiasm will increase public confidence in the project.

– It is one of the products of Saudi vision 2030, which illustrate commitment to the plan and dedication to pursue its outlined goals.

– While the project is mainly economic, it is also coupled with social and cultural transformations that are necessary to achieve the goals of the project.

– The project seeks to utilize the geographic location of Saudi Arabia and illustrates its ability to become a global commercial hub.

However, there are also some disadvantages. They include:

  • – Most major decisions in the Arab world are taken by individuals and steam from the vision of leadership. This is definitely a negative aspect. Such major economic decisions should be based on wide public participation. Utilizing point of views and local expertise as well as gaining the necessary public support is needed to ensure the success of the project. Money alone cannot guarantee the establishment of great cities; a great city needs social and cultural structures that are based on justice, equality, political participation and freedom of expression.

 

  • – One of the negative aspects of the project is that it will be built on virgin land. This is not a sustainable approach. Many political leaders wrongfully think that the solution is to escape from existing urban centres and their problems.

 

  • – Prince Mohamad Bin Salman announced that this is a capitalistic project and that it will become the first city where its regulations are written by businessmen – despite the advantages that this approach may bring. We need to understand that urban planning is a critical activity and the state must play a major role to oversee it in order to protect the interests of the general public as well as protecting land and the environment. Leaving this task to major cross-continents corporations could jeopardize the city and its inhabitants.

 

  • – Reading the project brief, one can see that it is a “Globalized” project and it lacks the Saudi spirit, which possesses many rich characteristics that could have a positive influence on the project.

 

  • – Finally, although the Saudi society is rich with creative individuals and outstanding businessmen, the initial presentation of the project did not present Saudi faces. Including national individuals could strengthen the project and give the Arab Saudi citizens a chance to proof themselves.

 

Today we look forward to follow the progress of this huge dream project. We hope that it will be successful and that it will be beneficial to the entire region. However, we find ourselves somewhat sceptical with a project of such a scale, where huge investment is allocated at difficult times, such as when oil prices are low, many countries are facing financial deficits, and we are surrounded by political challenges. We hope that it will not be a repeat of other urban schemes where new cities were going to be established, which are yet to  see the light, like Silk City in Kuwait, The New Capital in Egypt and King Abdullah City in Jeddah.

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مشروع نيوم في المملكة العربية السعودية – The Neum project in Saudi Arabia

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حديث ولي العهد السعودي حول مشروع نيوم
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman talks about Neum Project

 

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تبــــديــل “جليب الشيوخ”

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رابط دائم لـ تبــــديــل “جليب الشيوخ”

نقلت الصُحف الكُويتية خبرَ نِية الحُكومة تثمين منطقة “جليب الشُيوخ” لكي يتم إِعادة تنظيمها، وتوزيع قَسائمها على المُواطنين المستحقين للرعاية السَكنية.

ويسكُن اليوم في منطقة ” جليب الشُيوخ” قُرابة مائتان و خمسون ألف نسمة، غالبيتهم من الوافدين، والعمالة المتدنية الدخل، والعزّاب من الذكور. وبعد أن غضّت الحُكومة العَينَ عن المنطقة، وأتاحت لمُلاك القَسائم أن يقوموا بالتأجير للعمال، أصبحت المنطقة مُكتظة، تسودها الفوضى العارمة.

وقد صاحب هذا الوضع بُروز العَديدِ من الظواهر السلبية والجرائم، وأصبحت المنطقة ملاذاً لمخالفي الإقامة، والهاربين، وغدت عَصية على رِجال الأمن.

ومع ذلك، ولكي نتمكن من الحُكم على القَضية بِموضوعية، علينا أن ندركَ أن هناك خللٌ في التركيبة السُكانية في دولة الكُويت، حيثُ تبلغ نِسبة الوافدين ما نسبته 70% من السكّان. وعلاوة على ذلك، تبلغ نِسبة الوافدين من الذكور70% تقريباً ، وهي نسب عالية، وغير طبيعية.

ومن المعلوم فإن الغالبية العظمى من هؤلاء الوافدين يعملون في وظائف محدودة الدخل، لا يشغلها المواطنون الكويتيون، ناهيك عن ما يعانيه الكثير منهم من قوانين العمل، وجشع تجّار الإقامات!

بالإضافة إلى ذلك، أَغفلت السِياساتُ التَخطِيطِيةُ في دولة الكُويت هذه الفئة، ولم تُوليها الاهتمام اللازم. لذلك، تُواجه هذه الفئة صُعوبة كبيرة في إيجاد سكنٍ ملائم، ناهيك عن رفض المناطق السكنية الخاصة تأجير هؤلاء المواطنين، وترفضهم مَناطق السَكن الاستثماري، حيث يسُكن الوافدون وعائلاتُهم من ذوي الدخل المتوسط، أيضا.

ومنذ عشرة سنوات ماضية، باءت مُحاولات الحُكومة في طرح المُدن العُمّالية كُلها بِالفشل ، على ما فيها من عُيوب، وما لنا عليها من تحفُظات.

إنني أكتب هذا المَقال، وأرى رُوح الكُويتي تتغير، لاسِيما في الفَترة القَريبة المَاضية، وتَحت الظُروف الاقتصادية الصعبة، تعالت أصواتُ البعض بإلقاء اللومِ على الوافدين، وتحميلهم وِزر كل جوانب القُصور في البلد.

نعم، نحن نُدرك حَجم مُشكلة السكن، ونعي ما تعانيه الأُسر الكُويتية من جراء ارتفاع أسعار العقارات والإيجارات، وطُول مدة انتظار استلام المنزل الحكومي. ولكن، يجب أن ندركَ أن الوافدين شركاؤنا في الوطن، ونحن دعوناهم للعيش بيننا، ونحن بلا شك بحاجة ماسة إليهم. فكون البعض منهم ضعفاء، ويفتقرون للتمثيل، والأنظمة التشريعية لا تمنحهم صوتا، فهذا لا يعني أن تُهملَ حُقوقُهم أو أن يُستهان بكرامتهم.

فليس من مصلحتنا كمُجتمع أن نهز أركان السُلم الاجتماعي الذي عرفت به الكُويت، ففي هذه الأيام حيث تتعالى فيه أصوات غاضبة على الوافدين، استذكر ذلك الخِطاب التاريخي الذي ألقاه صاحب السُمو الراحل الشيخ جابر الأحمد الصُباح – رحمه الله – في الهيئة العامة للأمم المتحدة بتاريخ 27/9/1990م أثناء فترة الغزو الغاشم، والذي قال فيه، وعيناه تدمعان:

“سنعود إلى كُويتنا كما عهدناها دار أمنٍ وأمان وواحة أصيلةٍ وارفة الظلال، يستظل بها كل الطيبين والشرفاء من الكُويتيين وإخوانهم المُقيمين، يعملون بِيد واحدة من أجل الخير والبناء”.

فهل نقبل بعد ذلك أن نتحولَ إلى مُجتمع مُتطرف وانتقائي يسعى لرفاهية أبناءه بينما يُعاني جِيرانه وشركاءه صُعوبات الحياة !!!

ومن الناحية التخطيطية، يجب أن ندركَ أن مُشكلةَ السكن العشوائي لن تُحل بتثمين منطقة “جليب الشيوخ”، مهما رُصدت لها من مِيزانيات، وإن هذا القرار لا يختلف عن ذلك الذي يكنس القاذورات تحت السجّادة ظنّاً منه أنه أنهى المُشكلة طالما أنه لا يراها. ثقوا أننا إذا أخرجنا العمالة من “منطقة الجليب”، فإنهم بطبيعة الحال سينتقلون إلى منطقة أخرى، وسيعيدون إنشاء نموذج “الجليب” بمكانٍ آخر.

أرجو أن ندرس المُشكلة بِتأني، وأن ندركَ أبعادها، وإنني على ثِقة أننا قادرون عل إيجاد حُلول تَخطيطية تُوفر مساكن ملائمة للمواطنين والمقيمين بكل فِئاتهم، وعلينا أن نُحافظ على وطن مُتنوع يعيش فيه الجميعُ بأمنٍ وأمان واستقرار.

ويجب أن تُبنى السياسات التخطيطية على رؤية واضحة، وأن تنبعَ من أسسٍ إنسانية وأخلاقية في المقام  الأول.

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RE-PLACE “Jleeb”

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  • بتاريخ : 15 أكتوبر 2017
رابط دائم لـ RE-PLACE “Jleeb”

Kuwaiti newspapers announced the government’s intention to compulsory purchase “Jleeb Al Shuyoukh Neighbourhood”, in order to re-plan it as a single family housing area for Kuwaitis that are entitled for housing welfare.

Today, there are more than thirty thousand living at “Jleeb Al Shuyoukh”. The vast majority are made up of single male expatriates and low income workers. The government has shut its eyes to the area and allowed land owners to rent housing units to low income workers; the area has gradually become crowded and chaotic. This situation has been coupled with many negative phenomenon and crimes. The area is  a haven for illegal immigrants and fugitives, and it is now a major challenge to law enforcement.

This being said, in order to be able to build an objective opinion about the matter, we have to be aware that there is a defect in the demographic composition of the State of Kuwait, where the percentage of expatriates reached 70 % and male expats are 50% of the population. These are high and unnatural percentages.

It is known that the vast majority of expatriates are employed in low-wage jobs. In addition they struggle with labour laws and the injustice of the illegal residency merchants.

In addition, planning policies in Kuwait neglected this essential part of the population which resulted in serious challenges to find suitable housing. As in Kuwait, both single family neighbourhoods and high density investment housing refuse them. The places where medium income expatriates and families reside also do not accept them. Even the governmental attempts to establish labour cities in the past ten years have failed.

I am writing this article as I see the spirit of Kuwait is transforming. Especially under these difficult times, many voices began to blame the expatriates and their increasing of the problems of the country.

Yes, we are aware of the housing issue, as well as the suffering of Kuwaiti families due to increasing real estate prices and rents. In addition, to the extended and unreasonable periods of waiting for the provision of public housing. However, we have to realize that the expatriates are partners in the country; we have invited them to live with us, and surely we need their help. The fact that some expatriates are weak, lack representation, and our legal regulation does not allow them to express their voice, does not mean that we should neglect their rights or violate their dignity.

We need to understand that it’s not of our interest to shake the social peace that Kuwait is known for. Lately, there have been some angry voices against the expatriates. I recall a speech that was read by the late Amir of Kuwait Shaikh Jaber Al Sabah while his eyes were filled with tears, at the general assembly meeting of the United Nations on the 27th of September 1990 during the invasion of Kuwait:

“We shall return to our Kuwait as we know it, a home of safety and security and a shaded genuine oasis where all the good people; Kuwaitis and their brothers and sisters who live among them find shelter, work together as one hand for good and building”

Do we accept, after that, to become a polar society, selective and radical, that seeks the welfare of some, while watching fellow neighbours struggle with a difficult life?

From a planning point of view, we should see that the problem of random illegal housing will not be solved simply by compulsory purchasing “Jleeb Al Shuyoukh” no matter how much budget we allocate for the task. This decision is just like a man who tries to hide dirt under the carpet, and by not seeing it, he thinks that it does not exist. Be assured that once we displace the workers from “Jleeb Al Shuyoukh” they will move to another area and re-establish the typology of “Jleeb” at another location.

I hope that we study the problem closely and develop a deeper understanding of its various dimensions. I fully trust that we are able to find many solutions that provide adequate housing for citizens and expatriates of all categories to preserve a diverse country where all people live in security and safety.

Planning policies shall be based on a vision, and this vision must first stem from humane and moral bases.

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