Kuwait is a ‘60s town-planner’s dream; looping expressways cossetting scrupulously laid out suburban blocks, as far as the eye can see. Successive city-plans have bequeathed commercial districts thronged with glinting jade towers, tidy city parks, carefully located retail zones, and neatly-planned residential neighbourhoods.

But through this ordered world snakes an internal periphery, a central edgeland where haphazard meanings emerge.

Making my way through the cityscape, I was confronted by a riot of symbols - plasterboard mansions, ladders to nowhere, empty shrouds, mirrors enough for a thousand princes.

There were moments when the the city became curiously insubstantial, dissolving into its dream of itself. The nagging sense of Kuwait’s precariousness, usually suppressed, asserted itself in instances of the surreal.

I kept walking, and kept looking for the cracks in the city’s poker face.

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