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THE one who took us to the last place with an enviable merit is His Excellency our Minister of Health, the young Sheikh, with the blessing of his colleagues in the wise government and most of the MPs of the December 5, 2020 elections who remained silent even though they had deafened our ears with endless suggestions and statements that we have been plagued by some of them until now.
The Parliament did not hold a single proper session, including the opening session, the elections of the National Assembly Speaker and his deputy, and the mess and battles that accompanied them, and the effects of which we are still suffering from until now.
Let’s go back to the last position that the wise government brought us to. The local newspapers (for example, Al-Seyassah daily on February 16) had published that Kuwait is at the bottom when compared to the GCC countries in terms of COVID-19 vaccinations.
To be precise, it ranked sixth among the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and 66th among 87 countries of the world that have begun vaccinations against COVID-19.
Even though Kuwait was among the first countries to launch vaccination campaigns against the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe slow pace of the vaccination process led the country to occupy this disappointing place regionally and globally.
We must pause here to talk about our brothers in the GCC countries whose circumstances are similar to ours. These countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, did not close their air and sea ports like we did, thanks to our rational decisions. Rather, those who wanted to come to Kuwait from Asian and African countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and others came via Dubai. And these countries preceded us and left us in the last place.
A dear retired friend of mine has a home in Bahrain, and spends long and short periods of stay there. He was in Kuwait a few days ago and I was shocked when I recently got a call from him from his Bahraini mobile phone. I asked him how he reached his second home country, Bahrain, these days when the borders and travel facilities are all closed, and even if they are open, travellers are forced to stay under quarantine for more than a week.
He told me he went to Bahrain by land, and was tested for COVID-19 at the Saudi-Kuwaiti border. The result was negative, and he was tested again at the Saudi-Bahraini borders and the result then was also negative.
He was then told to stay at home or a hotel for a period of no more than seven hours … I repeat hours, not days. He then received a message on his mobile phone stating that he is healthy and can leave his home or the hotel.
This is a true story that we dedicate to the Minister of Prevention, the young doctor who destroyed us with the health safety and quarantine decisions. We now find ourselves lagging behind our brothers in everything including the processes of vaccinations and quarantine which recently reached even the graves. This is another sad story that we leave for a different time, as it also proves that we are grieved for being in the last place at all levels.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil