|Failaka Island used to supply Kuwait with required quantity of vegetables, when it caught the eyes of archaeologists who were searching for ancient monuments. Danish archaeologists were the first to come to Failaka in 1958 for carrying out excavations.|
It is said that Carlsberg Company, owner of the well-known beer brand, was the one to finance the exploration process. Of course, this was during a time when we were more open and liberal.
Until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Failaka was the homeland for some thousands of Kuwaiti citizens. The late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem used to spend time there for relaxation purposes. The small museum in Failaka is named after the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem but it is in dire need of a lot of care and maintenance.
Failaka was a leisure resort for many families who used to go there to spend their weekends. However, all this has become a part of the past. Shortly after the liberation of Kuwait, the government evacuated the residents of Failaka and took over their homes.
For almost quarter of a century, Failaka suffered from huge negligence which resulted in the deterioration of buildings and touristic sites, and brought an end to agricultural activities. The old port in Failaka is in a miserable state and in urgent need of maintenance.
There are only some tens of residents in Failaka now, compared to the thousands who used to live there in the past. Probably because of the presence of those few residents there, we can say there is still some life in that island; otherwise it would have been completely dead. Nevertheless, Failaka today is dying especially due to lack of electricity which forces the residents to carry diesel in order to operate their generators.
What I saw at Failaka Island is truly like a Shakespearean play with a mix of smiles and tears, loyalty and treachery and life and death.
How did all this happen? How did we destroy one of the best locations of Kuwait, the land of which is the most expensive in the world? How could we deliberately neglect it for more than 50 years?
If we had to wait for 40 years for fuel stations to be developed, how long will we have to wait for the development of Failaka Island? It is alright if it takes one hundred years but let us start now at least.
In conclusion, what happened to the plans of the Higher Planning Council to develop Failaka Island and transform it into a major touristic location?
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf