IconiCity: Seeking Identity by Building Iconic Architectures in Kuwait

Roberto Fabbri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Emirates Airlines website welcomes visitors by stating that Dubai’s iconic architecture is not only encouraged, but “actively pursued.” A subsequent list of evidence describing extreme heights, unconventional shapes, and cutting-edge materials supports the claim.2 The Gulf states have turned to architecture as a way to build globally-recognized skylines. This wave of new, iconic buildings is often an attempt to build an urban uniqueness which, moreover, is part of the quest for a stronger national and social identity.
A landmark is traditionally a symbol that raises a sense of belonging in the local population, but normally monuments are few in the urban fabric, and they are limited to specific spaces of public interest. But what happens when the city itself becomes composed of a significant number of icons, and the urban fabric is just the “in between”? Kuwait is an interesting case in the Gulf because it has a more consolidated pre-existing urban form, and these ‘new objects’ are not related at any level, neither in scale nor in language to the surrounding context. The current transformation process focuses on the development of isolated elements, self-standing on their own plot and auto-referential. Around them, the connective fabric is left with poor design and modest construction quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)13-16
Number of pages4
JournalOxford Gulf & Arabian Peninsula Studies Forum
Issue number2016
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urban Studies


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