Environmental Urban Plan for Failaka Island, Kuwait: A Study in Urban Geomorphology
2. Site Setting and Goals
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Identifying Site Criteria
3.2. Data Preparation
- A digital elevation model (DEM) from an aerial survey with a spatial resolution of 25 cm, including several topographical analyses such as slope, aspect, and creation of a contour map .
- A geomorphological map, derived from various sources (i.e. , (ground truthing), and aerial photography by a Mavic2 pro drone UVA.
- Soil analysis—including pH, cations, and anions—for 34 samples covering most parts of the island, leading to an updated soil map for the island, and analyses in the Faculty of Science Laboratory, at Alexandria University (Egypt).
- Coastline types (as a shapefile, from .
- Land use/land cover. This represents perhaps the most important dataset for urban and environmental planning, and the most fundamental data of the evaluation model for urban development suitability. It can be derived from multiple sources . To obtain data on the history of urbanization on the island in the past century, the study relied on several historical maps from Mohamed [16,21].
- A 1:50,000 scale geological map .
- Cost-effectiveness criteria. One of the most important criteria for saving expenses and maintaining the environment with the lowest potential so the island does not lose its distinctive environmental character because of human-caused environmental changes. The island was divided into four sectors from west to east, with sector 1 being closest to the port, and sector 4 being the farthest, the aim being to focus urbanization on the western half of the island.
- Land availability criteria. In order to protect archaeological areas and urban areas from human and natural hazards, criteria are selected that provide an urban plan to help preserve historical monuments of the island, especially since the island has several important archaeological sites dating back more than 5000 years [30,31]. For archaeological areas, the island was divided into four archaeological categories (see Land Availability, number 9, Table 1). With regard to the natural hazards, Almatar et al.  provided a map of the areas exposed to the danger of sea level rise and sabkhas. This also divided the island into four sectors (Land Availability, number 10, Table 1).
- Socio-economic criteria are divided into two overarching layers: distance from the main town and the productive capacity of the land. Firstly, the island was again divided into four sectors. Secondly, 34 soil samples were analyzed and compared with the results of a study conducted by Abbadi and El-Sheikh . Furthermore, for understanding soil and land use planning in terms of sustainable development, it was also necessary to define the interactions and competitions which exist between the different uses of soil and land .
3.3. Developing a Composite Suitability Index
3.4. Selecting Suitable Sites
4. Physical and Human Geography of Failaka Island
- Cemented coastal deposits or oolitic complexes. An oolitic complex is a series of part marine and part aeolian ridges. These ridges formed alongside Failaka’s barrier beaches and coastal dunes, which are separated from the Gulf by coastal lagoons and sabkhas. Likely deposited during high water stands, they consist of oolitic sand, sandstone, and limestone. The area of this formation is 6.9 km2, which constitutes 14.88% of the island’s total area.
- Dibdibah formations. These formations, created during the Pleistocene Epoch, appear as coarse-grained, pebbly sand with thin intercalation of clayey sand and clay. These sediments are sometimes combined with calcium carbonate and gypsum, producing conglomerates. They cover 18.81 km2 of the island, or 40.57% of the island’s total area.
- Sabkha deposits. Most of these coastal mudflats are widespread on the island, with surface levels varying between 0 and 3 m in height, but being extremely flat and usually barren of any vegetation [29,31].This type of sediment is usually under the constant influence of saline groundwater and susceptible to floods at certain times, often leaving deposits of different evaporite minerals. The sabkha deposits cover an area of 20.1 km2 constituting 43.35% of the total area of the island .
- Strand line deposit: These shell-sand and shingle sites appear on the coast in the form of beach gravel and minor unconsolidated beach sand. This geological formation covers the lowest area and percentage of the island (0.55 km2 and 1.17%, respectively), perhaps due to the formation of these sediments on the northern coast, where strong sedimentation streams that formed during rainy periods of the Pleistocene Epoch were washed away by the currents from the Shat al-Arab region when it collided with the Headland of Rouisseyah .
4.5. Historic and Archaeological Sites
5. Results and Discussions
5.1. Old Urban Plans
- Environmental changes on the island. For instance, an increase in the area of sabkhas and changes in land cover by the length of the island’s population abandonment and change in State policy regarding settlement of the island.
- Disregard for important archaeological areas that should to be left empty and protected or developed as part of the tourist or urban areas to generate extra income.
- Spreading of sabkha on the island, which now constitutes 43.3% of the land area, and which should be left empty because of the difficulty in road construction. An intelligent environmental plan will reduce costs to the State rather than resorting to continual soil treatments and raising the level of sabkha, especially considering the effects of sea level rise since 1990, which increased the areal extent of sabkha during that timeframe.
- Ignoring beach type. Even going so far as to put a public beach in the area of rocky beaches, and camping areas in sabkhas ranging in depths from 0–3 m, creating hazardous areas for tourists.
- Lack of intensive fieldwork to survey the island, especially the most recent study, issued by the Municipality of Kuwait, showing that they did not consider the archaeological and environmental components of the island, or several other scientific standards (e.g., soils, geomorphology, prior land use).
- Being focused solely on the land layout of the island without considering the link between the existing land use patterns and those proposed. For example, it is necessary to compare the soil types (and condition) of the island with the designated site plans using a new soil map of Failaka Island based on recent studies [19,32], and creating a new soil map analysis via soil samples to determine soil production capacity based on total nutrients in the soil.
5.2. New Urban Plan for Failaka Island
6. Conclusions and Recommendations
- Using transportation that does not pollute the environment, such as a solar-powered electric metro line, circumnavigating the island to avoid the range of Sabkhas and depressions located in the center of the island.
- Preventing vehicles from creating random passages in desert paths, which affects vegetation and living organisms and contributes to non-natural erosion patterns.
- Creating two areas for biodiversity on the island: “Al-Khidr Bay” in the northwest of the island, and “Sabkhas” located in the east of the island between Al-Awazim and Al-Sabahiya.
- Building a road along the coastline that encircles the island (perhaps adjacent to the solar-powered metro line) and two roads that cross the island from north to south, specifically avoiding desert depressions and sabkhas with an elevation of less than 3 m, to avoid the roads turning into salt lakes during the rainy season.
- Enhancing the natural areas of Failaka Island through increased protection and preservation efforts. These natural areas include archaeological sites, coastal dunes, and the coral reef within the intertidal flat.
- Allowing the inland sabkhas to remain in their natural state, using the coastal dunes as a coastal defense in some locations.
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|Environmental||60||1. Elevation (M)||8||10–7.5||7.4–5||4.9–2.5||2.4–0|
|2. Geomorphology||15||Old urban||Flat dry land||Sabkhas||Archaeology site|
|3. Soil PH||8||8.43–8.87||8.19–8.42||8–8.18||7–7.9|
|4. Coastline type||15||Sandy||Sandy rocky||Muddy and gravelly||Rocky|
|5. Geology||10||Cemented coastal deposits||Strand line deposit||Dipdipah formation||Sabkhas deposits|
|Cost-effectiveness||15||7. Distance to port||8||Very near (west)||Near||Middle||Far (East)|
|8. Distance to water and energy line||7||Very near (west)||Near||Middle||Far (East)|
|Land Availability||10||9. Archaeological area||6||Rest of land||–||buffer zone|
|10. Natural hazard||4||Zone 1|
|Socio-economic||15||11. Land use||10||Urban area||Non- urban||Salt deposits||Archaeology site|
|12. Distance from main town||2||Zone 1||Zone 2||Zone 3||–|
|13. The productive capacity of the land||3||Zone 1||Zone 2||Zone 3||–|
|Month||Temp. Ave. |
|Temp. Max. |
|Relative Humidity Ave (%)||Rainfall Amount|
|Wind Speed Ave (m/s)||Wind Speed Max. (m/s)||Evaporation Ave Airport. (mm)|
|Shingle and Mud beaches||3.06||7.89|
|Sandy rocky beaches||2.3||5.96|
|Factors||Criteria||Type||Data Source and Setup|
|Environmental||Geomorphology||Favorable||Field work, drone image, World Veiw2, 2010, 2018|
|Coastline type||Field work, drone image, World Veiw2, 2010, 2018|
|Elevation (M)||Aerial photography, 2004, Kuwait Municipality, 25 cm|
|Soil PH||Al-zaher and Aziz, 2004; Abbadi and El-Sheikh, 2002; Analysis of 34 soil samples|
|Cost-effectiveness||Distance to port||Favorable||The island divided into four sectors from west to east, where priority was given to urbanization areas in the west than east|
|Distance to water and energy line|
|Land Availability||Archaeological area||Boolean||Archaeological areas have been added buffer zone to protect it from urbanism|
|Natural hazard||Sabkha area|
|Socio-economic||Land use||Favorable||The island is divided into four zones, according to the type of land use|
|Distance from main town||The island divided into four sectors from west to east, where priority was given to urbanization areas in the west than east|
|The productive capacity of the land||Analysis of 34 soil samples|
|Landforms or Land Use||km2||%|
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Hassan, A.; G Almatar, M.; Torab, M.; Allen, C.D. Environmental Urban Plan for Failaka Island, Kuwait: A Study in Urban Geomorphology. Sustainability 2020, 12, 7125. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177125
Hassan A, G Almatar M, Torab M, Allen CD. Environmental Urban Plan for Failaka Island, Kuwait: A Study in Urban Geomorphology. Sustainability. 2020; 12(17):7125. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177125Chicago/Turabian Style
Hassan, Ahmed, Muhammad G Almatar, Magdy Torab, and Casey D Allen. 2020. "Environmental Urban Plan for Failaka Island, Kuwait: A Study in Urban Geomorphology" Sustainability 12, no. 17: 7125. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177125