‘It is certainly a major administrative failure’
KUWAIT CITY, Sept 2: The gateway to any country is its airport and the Kuwait International Airport is no exception to this belief. It is clear to us that the problem of our airport is purely of administrative nature and will never be resolved by the opening of the new airports and marketing it through its architecture or technicality, reports Al-Qabas daily.
The problem runs deeper than the old airport building – cracked tiles, dirty bathrooms and outdated baggage conveyor belts.
The problem lies in the thought and mentality of those responsible. A major dilemma and administrative corruption seeped in through the departure gate. We now talk about a foreign traveler who sees the picture of Kuwait through the eyes of some of the airport employees who are racist.
Most of them do not understand the simplest principles of reception, kindness and the responsibility to represent Kuwait and give it the compassionate image a country that deserves as the ‘country of humanity’.
Many citizens travel to neighboring countries, such as India or the Philippines, Egypt, and other fraternal and friendly countries. What would be our reaction if we received a passing insult without reason from a security officer in those countries, or hurling racist comments and disgraceful criticism in front of other passengers? Inevitably, what happens at the Kuwait International Airport does not reflect our morality.
It is certainly a major administrative failure, no less serious than the crisis of loss of bags, the deterioration of services and delay of flights, which hit the Kuwait International Airport and made it clinically dead ages ago. “We are sure that we will not be able to mention all the shameful experiences that have occurred to some ordinary visitors to the ‘country of humanity’ in this report, but we will be saddened here with some racist stories that summarize some human violations at the airport,” says the daily.
As soon as Mohammed (not the real name) arrived at the Kuwait airport, he headed towards the passport queue for citizens of non-Gulf countries, which was crowded with families and bachelors who had come aboard the same flight. He accidentally went to the counter allocated for Kuwaitis and the GCC citizens because it was empty. He was shocked by a man shouting from behind with disgraceful racist insults that do not reflect respect for others. Yet he did not understand the words because he was not fluent in Arabic, but he realized from the tone of the employee that it was inappropriate, especially that the signs of anger were visible on the face of the employee.
Although he responded to the signs and shouts that he had to go back to the long queue. The passport officer often passed between the rows, shouting at the ‘arrivals’ to stand in orderly queues but this behavior may not be more pleasant with families than the bachelors.
The foreign visitor’s suffering does not stop at this point. He often has to deal with the ‘passport officer’, according to the employee’s psychology. If he is lucky, the employee will greet him with a smile, while the passport officer often remains silent, does not speak to the traveler and asks for a passport or fingerprint without bothering to talk.
Some confirm that the level of respect that the individual receives at Kuwait airport is determined by the destination the traveler comes from, his nationality, the quality of his clothes, and even the airline he is on board. In addition, they lack guidance at the airport, often relying on chance and intuition to pass through the gates, down to the luggage compartment because the first time arrivals find it difficult to find the way.
The annual ranking of international airports is based on direct services related to departures, arrivals and transits, which include airport facilities, customer services, security, passports and shops, as well as the quality of airport-related entertainment such as restaurants, cafés and internet cafés, flexible procedures and language skills of employees at the airport. Some complain that there are not enough entertainment and leisure facilities at the Kuwait airport for travelers, especially those who have to stay in transit at the airport, because the airport lacks waiting rooms, so they have to sit in front of the entry gates because they do not have enough seats, and the designated smoking areas are small and inadequate, especially as the airport staff often use them, and seats are not comfortable for long hours in transit.
Once we talk about the service problems experienced by tourists and visitors at the Kuwait International Airport, we remember the unbearable condition at the airport bathrooms, lack of toilet rolls, bad sanitation and the lack of periodic cleanliness which do not require creativity, not to mention the size of the bathrooms.
Airport officials must be aware that summer is a major travel season. It is obvious services may require exceptional efforts and organization, increased work shifts and more staff, able to facilitate the services for travelers, perhaps the most basic management of the cleanliness.
The first step of activating tourism in the country begins with spreading the culture of acceptance of the others and for this the airport employees must be trained how to deal with foreigners with courtesy and respect. The gateway to turn Kuwait into a financial and economic hub begins with attracting foreigners. Maltreatment leads to making Kuwait a repel tourism country and gives a bad image of Kuwait and Kuwaitis overseas.
Bloomberg News published a rating of the best and worst airports in 2018, and the Kuwait International Airport is listed as one of the worst airports, ranking 141 in the world, with a 5.4 rating out of 10.
The Director of Passports Department at the Airport, Colonel Bader Al-Shayea denied bad treatment of ‘select’ passengers; stressing strict instructions have been given to employees at Kuwait International Airport and specifically to securitymen in all departments to respect all passengers, incoming or outgoing and those in transit irrespective of the nationality without distinction.