Committed to the goal of transforming Kuwait into a commercial and financial hub for the northern Gulf region, Kuwait’s government commissioned New Kuwait Vision 2035 in 2017. Since then, considerable progress has been made on several infrastructure projects over the last two years.
Construction of the World’s Longest Bridge
Hyundai Engineering & Construction (E&C) and Kuwait’s Combined Group Contracting Company was awarded the contract for the construction of a 48.53-kilometer bridge in November 2013 and, according to Hyundai E&C, work on the bridge was 92 percent complete as of January 2019. The bridge is expected to be finished by November 2019. Known as the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway, the bridge will link Kuwait City with the Subiyah area through Kuwait Bay and, in turn, cut travel time between the two regions from 70 to 20 minutes.
The design of the 36.1-kilometer main bridge employs building information modelling to minimize errors, while Hyundai E&C completed safety testing to ensure it would be able to endure the strong winds and relatively high temperatures of the region. The other part of the bridge is the 12.43-kilometer Doha Link. Measuring 48.53 kilometers, the bridge will be almost 7 kilometers longer than China’s Haiyan Bridge, which is currently the longest bridge in the world. Approximately 330,000 square meters of artificial islands are also being built to prevent the bridge from impeding the natural flow of seawater and to protect ocean wildlife during construction.
As of January 2019, the construction of the new Al-Adan Hospital in Mubarak Al-Kabeer was nearly 40 percent finished with an expected completion date of April 2020, according to the Saud Al-Awadh, the general secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD). The hospital, which will cost an estimated USD 766 million, is being constructed as part of the Ministry of Health’s Kuwait National Healthcare Development Plan.
The new hospital is being built by the Kuwait-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm Pace, which is best known for developing the Kuwait Business Tower and Arraya Tower. Once complete, the hospital will have more than 630 beds across 14 floors, as well as an additional 280,000 square meters of space for support facilities, such as a general surgical unit, a nutrition and dietetics unit, same-day surgery care, and an adult and pediatrics physiotherapy and rehabilitation unit. There will also be a multi-story parking lot. Fixed sun screens will wrap around the main entrance clinical podium area to give the appearance of a folding pattern along the glass facade and provide necessary shade from the hot sun, whereas the upper ward towers will be adorned with horizontal light shelves to help reduce natural light transmission and provide patients with comforting views.
Kuwait International Airport Expansion Project
Terminal 4 at the Kuwait International Airport (KIA) officially opened in December 2018. The 55,000-square-foot terminal has 14 gates with a capacity of 4.5 million passengers per year and is believed to generate upwards of USD 60 million in revenue per year. It will be used solely by Kuwait Airways and will feature parking for up to 2,450 vehicles and a 470-square-meter duty free retail area. The expansion of the government-owned airport is only the beginning of the country’s plans to spend USD 20 billion on civil aviation infrastructure over the course of the next 10 years.
Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, the president of Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, made the announcement during the Mumbai, India-based Global Aviation Summit and acknowledged that investments will go toward further improvements to the KIA. In addition to the opening of Terminal 4, a new air traffic control tower is under construction. By 2022, the country’s government hopes to increase annual capacity at the KIA to 25 million passengers.
Railway to Connect the Six Gulf States
Construction work on the 111-kilometer railway project to connect Kuwait with the other five Gulf Cooperation Council countries was set to begin this past August, but in November Ahmad Al-Hassan, director general of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Roads and Transportation, asked for the approval of a special budget of USD 59.3 million to secure an international advisor to assist with plans for the project. The project has been reportedly pushed back due to the tightening of budgets as a result of low oil prices, but is expected to begin in the next fiscal year once the special budget receives approval from the finance ministry.
The railway in Kuwait will be part of a much larger project, the first phase of which is expected to cost USD 3 billion and link Kuwait City and Boubyan Port. Once complete, the 2,100-kilometer cargo and passenger network will stretch across all six GCC states. Work is moving ahead as anticipated on the railway portions in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but Bahrain isn’t expected to connect its portion of the railway to the network until 2023 at the earliest.