In April, reports about shutting down and demolishing the Ice Skating Rink spread in Kuwait. Officials didn’t provide exact information on the expected date of the closure, and even the staff working at the rink were unsure about it. I felt sad, and thousands other fans of the rink were also despondent. So I tried to go skating as much as I could to exploit the remaining time to the maximum.
But this week I was very happy to hear about one of the best decisions made by a public institution to protect the Ice Skating Rink from being demolished. The National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) has decided to determine the Ice Skating Rink a national landmark that should be protected from demolition and should remain for the next generations, as this building has historical and cultural value.
So NCCAL registered the Ice Skating Rink in the national register of historic buildings (no. KHBR-11104-18). The council also sent an official letter to the Municipality on this issue, which included a report by specialists who evaluated the historical and cultural value of the rink. NCCAL also demanded the Municipality not to issue a demolition license for this building and refrain from any demolition procedures.
A proposal to expand Al Shaheed Park with a third phase was behind the plan to demolish the Ice Skating Rink, in addition to the Dancing Fountain and Discovery Mall. I was wondering who could come up with such a terrible idea, as we don’t need more parks. The current huge Al Shaheed Park that consists of two phases is more than enough for the people of Kuwait. Also, we don’t need more places for children. Besides, Discovery Mall is also a place for kids to play and the Ice Skating Rink to practice a useful sport.
Young people in Kuwait are suffering from a lack of entertainment places. It started with shutting down Shaab Park with illogical excuses, followed by closing Entertainment City without having any alternative theme or leisure parks except those for small children.
The Ice Skating Rink was always one of Kuwait’s symbols and a part of the childhood memory of everyone born in Kuwait in the 1970s and 1980s. This place was never replaced by competitors, even when Shaab Park opened in the early 1990s with a small ice rink. The rink is not just a place for fun, as skating is also a sport. It is a great place that should not be demolished unless another ice skating rink is built of a similar or larger size.
The Ice Skating Rink opened in March 1980 over an area of 8,398 sq m, and was the first of its kind in the GCC region. It includes two rinks – an Olympic rink with 1,600 seats for the audience, and a smaller rink for women and children. There is also a cafeteria, restaurant and some booths, in addition to a shop for skating equipment and rentals.
Not only does the public enjoy skating at the Ice Skating Rink, it also serves professional ice hockey players of the Kuwait hockey team, who train there. Ice skating courses are also available for beginners. This place was never abandoned – it is always busy, even during weekdays. Besides skating, the rink is a venue for hosting popular musical concerts in Kuwait, especially the Hala February concerts. Tens of popular singers from all over the Arab world have participated in these concerts for over 20 years, and thousands of people have enjoyed attending them.
By Nawara Fattahova