Monday, 29 March 2010
Diwan Shamlan - Kuwait
Diwan Shamlan is the house where the Shamlan men have received guests since 1918. The architecture is authentic, the log wood that carries the roof was brought in from Kenya and this determined the room's width. The house was built as a diwan but is not the oldest standing structure, A few other are still operating where the elderly men sit in for tea, and younger generation comes in to talk about the latest in town.
This Diwan has the distinct characteristic of history. Subjects are often about the ways of the past. The family tree is displayed as photos of those who made the family and each man carries his story. A separate special room is meant to leave a trace of chronology where every inch of the walls show a record of Kuwait as far back as possible, from the first areal view of the Safat roundabout, to the water transported, to the pearl diving to the boats that went for months, to the people who made it happen.
The archival interest is of great value and the question remains on how can Kuwait erase its own history for the sake of making room for the new concrete towers. Today, around the Shamlan Diwan, a touristic heritage neighborhood is being built, hoping to recreate what is lost.
Will it have any soul left? Wouldn't it be better to spend money and effort to help those, with memory, preserving the fading pictures and the stories of all these events?