“I didn’t want a cinema!” Exclaims Adnan Al Othman, when asked how and why he thought of an Ice Rink when designing The Promenade, and he’d seen the ice rinks abroad to cement the inspiration. “[Cinema] does not serve my preliminary idea of Promenade to be for family and kids, adding value to the community.” These are lofty ideals indeed for a shopping mall but not surprising when you consider the Soapbox project (coming soon!) and the mall tenants already in situ; a cavernous bookstore complete with a piano for community events, child care options, a supermarket, brain-engaging skilled entertainment for all the family, healthier food options available in the food court, and a cultural centre. The goal of Promenade is to operate as a business but in conjunction with serving the community.
The Ice Rink on the first floor is a humble size, at 1000m2 and deliberately so; it is strategically designed to cater for younger children, or at the very least, those who are physically smaller. It is just the right size, enough to give the ideal practice space for little kids to use the ice. The smaller rink size naturally filters out older teenagers and young adults, those more inclined to hang-out, rather than use the space how it was intended. As well as being a place for sporting activity and entertainment, Promenade Ice is an ice skating school aimed specifically at younger children.
“If you don’t create programs in line with creating the rink,” says Adnan Al Othman earnestly, “it will end up [as] something else and doesn’t serve the original idea.” The targeted demographic of 4-13 years is prudent. Start with a young child if you want to see the long-term difference that positive experiences can instill. Given an all-round education, one with sport included, youngsters can learn team-work, commitment and consideration, which bodes well for Kuwait’s future.
This isn’t the only example of incredibly astute and longer-term thinking on the part of qualified engineer, business mogul and philanthropist Adnan Al Othman, where everything must have a purpose. If you don’t challenge yourself, then what’s the point? He insisted on the ice rink itself being elevated to the same floor of the mall on which the children’s activities and shops were located, and he absolutely refused to compromise on this.
As an Engineer, he knows that anything can be achieved, you just need to find the solution. As much as the contractors objected, Adnan Al Othman stuck to his principles and today, you will find Promenade Ice on the first floor and not in the basement like the contractors originally wanted. This way, busy mothers and families can conveniently do everything child-related on the one floor, so they naturally will spend a longer time in the mall. This is not only good for business, but also for the families enjoying The Promenade.
Once the decision was made to build the rink and school, Adnan Al Othman’s vision never wavered, and because of that tenacity everything seemed to fall into place, like finding the right trainers for the school. “I am from the school of outsourcing” Adnan Al Othman says matter-of-factly. He knows that if you must find the best trainers, you may need to look beyond your own borders. “When Promenade Ice began to hire trainers, they [exceeded] my original vision” he proudly admits, going on to explain also about the qualities of passion and patience it takes to deal with children, as well as previous skating experience.
Currently, there are thirty children in the skating program, but there is room for more. Just because there is space, that doesn’t mean that all the spaces in the school will be filled. They are looking for passion, raw talent and a real desire from the kids to learn. It is not always someone who has approached the school that will get on the team; the keen-eyed staff also are on the lookout for talented skaters and have successfully brought participants into the school this way; talent spotting from the children visiting and trying out Promenade Ice for themselves just for fun.
Occasionally, children who start the program may not complete it, which inspires a greater respect for all the ones who do accomplish a full season. The training entails a grueling 12-15 hours a week closer to competitions, but in general can take 2-4 hours a week, every week, throughout the year. The proof is less in the pudding and more in the trophy cabinet, with numerous medal wins in international competitions. The 2018 haul so far includes 73 Gold, 42 Silver and 16 Bronze! Most recently, the Promenade Ice Team competed in Skate Emirates winning First place overall, improving upon their impressive 2017 Second place. “Competition isn’t scary” insists Adnan Al Othman, explaining that it gives a sense of purpose and introduces young children to a life of responsibilities and gives them a foundation on which to build confidence and meet challenges head on.
The next challenge for the Promenade Ice Team? They are keen to improve upon the number of participants in Skate Asia, last year coming in a respectable ninth with only four competitors. Hopefully and with a lot of dedication, the team will achieve this, as well as individual members developing all the additional skills it will take to get these adventurous youngsters to competition. Perhaps it may be your child next!
For details on rink activities and ice camps please call 2227 7138 for more information. Promenade Ice is open from 10:00 am-10:00 pm on weekdays and from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm on weekends. Follow @thepromenadekw for further mall activities and @promenadeculturecentre for culture centre events. For Facebook updates, check out @thepromenadekw.
Images courtesy of Promenade Ice