Old Kout

My family used to live in the heart of Hofuf, the Old Kout neighborhood. My grandfather and his two brothers owned small adjacent houses in those narrow allies, before they moved out to newer areas of the city over 40 years ago. My grandfather passed away when my father was only six years old, and my grandmother had to work to provide for the family, but they could not even afford to have electricity.

The financial hardships have caused my father to think of dropping high school and get a job, but his mother firmly refused and insisted that he continues his education. He studied under the dim light of a kerosene lamp, and went to become teacher. May his soul rest in peace.

Roba’s recent post about her fascination in abandoned spaces has encouraged me to do something I have always wanted to do. I wanted to go downtown and take pictures of the old houses, although I have never lived in them but something about them just kept pulling me. Maybe it was the stories my family have told me, maybe it is something else, but I have finally decided to go there with my new camera.

Sadly, most of the muddy houses have been destroyed by rain and fires. Despite going there many times with my father when I was younger, I could not recognize the houses. The rest of the neighborhood is mostly deserted except for a few houses occupied by poor workers.

11 thoughts on “Old Kout

  1. Stories passed on to us on how our ancestors lived their lives always tend to leave this deep impact in our memories. These photos actually served us visuals for those verbal memories.

    Looks like it used to be a closely-knit neighborhood :)

  2. Fascinating photos! I love them, some of the derelict houses look as if they were quite grand in earlier times.
    Thanks for sharing this personal history.

  3. my father if from al Quaseem and when i was about 10 he drove me around to show me the old houses his grandparents lived in and where he lived most of his childhood. I have only seen them once, but i sitll remember every detail about the houses, 20 years later. those things do impact us – on a very sublime level.

  4. Well, don’t worry. With all the cheating, conning, and fraud going on in construction, new houses are more likely to colapse before the the old ones. Better hold on to that deed!

  5. Is there no program for rebuilding historical neighborhoods? I mean, if they can do it successfully in countries like Jordan and Israel then why not in KSA? It is really something, to see a rebuilt but old neighborhood…combining the old designs but with new technology. It really is very nice.

  6. oh my gosh! these houses brought tears to my eyes!! You brought back so many memories!
    i remember every time we go to visit my grandmother and we pass by houses similar to those!! and my dad will always have a new story to tell us each time we see them!!!! :(
    He even showed us the well where my uncle fell in and died!! (may his soul rest in peace)… many would look at these houses at disgust, but like you said something pulls you towards them like something sentimental….

    thanks for sharing!!!!!!! you brought back memories!!

  7. I was a part of a team to devolop these areas.
    Kout, Arrifa’a, Alna’athel, etc…

    and have more than 300 pictures and tons of old and new maps about the area…

    Of course, we are all students in KFU (king faisal university) Urban and rural planing Engineers…

    I can say that our ONE YEAR project was thrown away, even that it costed thousands of riyals, hundreds of working hours.

    anyway, all we recall are good times there.
    We stayed there for a good 3 months there including ramadan last year.
    Mostly in Arrifa’a, because it still have many locals living there.

    we bonded with them, and i admire thier life style.

    Our team, all Sunnah, and all locals where Shia’a.
    Still, we got along really well.
    shared good times, and got to know good people.

    Even, we were let in to a very ancient and huge Hussayniah, and visited some old sites.

    Only in one hood (only 1.5 by 2KM), we counted more than 42 husaynias.

    we had the chance of knowing some of the traditions there, such as the recitels in ramadan before Iftar.

    I loved the people, buildings and the life style.

    It is a shame to let this treasuer just go away..

  8. Funnily enough, I just got a trackback on this post (two years later!), and it’s the first time I got to read it.

    Great post Ahmed. I love the imagery, and I love the architecture! My memories of Riyadh are solely of 80’s style architecture :)

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