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THIS comes with an apology to our dear friend Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali who said, “Travel and relax” a few days ago.
Our Minister of Health Sheikh Basil Al-Sabah, who came to us with his unique decisions, is the most unsuccessful Minister of Health that Kuwait and the Kuwaitis have ever witnessed, as highlighted by our esteemed friend Dr. Ali Al-Zoubi in Al-Shahed newspaper on July 18.
A few days ago, I had traveled to Lebanon for six days. I ended up suffering both in booking the flight and meeting all the requirements, even though I had received both doses of the vaccine and had taken a PCR test just days before traveling. It is stipulated that the PCR test must be taken 72 hours before travel, and that I must buy health insurance and pay KD 20 in advance for the PCR test that needs to be taken upon return.
I headed to the airport, sent off my luggage and was sitting in the hall and waiting for the call to head to the airplane. I was surprised when I carefully examined my handbag and saw a sign bearing serious measures invented recently by a wise government which said, “If you are carrying more than KD 3,000, you must declare it.” I then said, “Long live socialist Kuwait, which allows billions of stolen public money to leave easily because the one who holds such a huge sum of money is influential. On the other hand, ordinary citizens like us do not have the right to carry more than KD 3,000 with us when traveling?! Are there any decisions that are more confusing and wrong than that?”
We boarded the plane and arrived at Rafik Hariri Airport in Beirut where I was well received. One of the police officers took me by the hand, bypassing the huge number of people standing in line for a PCR test, and referring to me as “Sheikh”. I received my bags without any obstacles, and I went to my hotel, which was a mountain resort that was not in Beirut.
I spent six beautiful nights in Lebanon and its resorts, restaurants and nightlife venues. They were filled with customers who only entered by prior reservation. All customers were without masks except for the service staff in those places or the waiters.
These places were open until the early morning hours, and I couldn’t help but remember the unfortunate situation in my country where places like restaurants, malls and clubs have to close at 8:00 pm based on a decision of the Minister of Health, the young Sheikh Basil Al-Sabah.
When the date for departure approached, I was distressed to return to Kuwait. I had not traveled for more than two years, and this was the first time in my life that something like this happened to me. The other reason is the failed “Kuwait Mosafer” app, which is similar to the one who imposed it.
The travel agent in Kuwait told me that he will send the app to me, but I have to take a PCR test at least 72 hours before traveling. I did it with the help of a doctor who came to my hotel, and I paid him no more than the equivalent of KD 4. This means the price of a PCR test in Kuwait is five times more than the same test in Lebanon … Who benefits from that?
I went to the Kuwait Airways counter at Beirut Airport, and submitted all the papers related to the vaccination and the PCR test, as if we were going to Kuwait from the hills of Bora Bora. I then went to the take-off gate and witnessed some tragic scenes. An elderly Kuwaiti woman had arrived from Jordan with a disabled child, and the “Kuwait Mosafer (don’t travel)” app did not open for them. One of them cried out loud, and the other followed her, shouting, “We want to go back to our country and we have taken all the vaccinations and tests. It is not our fault that the silly Kuwait Mosafer app is not opening.”
We boarded the plane after a delay of 30 minutes, and arrived in Kuwait where we were received by a nurse who took the PCR test for what felt like the 1,000th time. Before leaving, she asked us to show the papers to the exit officials, and we did.
I arrived home wondering with disbelief at the extent of hardship that the Kuwaiti travelers are bearing these days because of the decisions that the wise government has been silent about just like the members of the “Musical Chair” National Assembly, just because most of them have been rewarded by the government with overseas medical treatments, promotions, appointments, and others, while we citizens continue to suffer. The last of such decisions is the notorious one related to the “Kuwait Mosafer” app, which will not allow citizens aged 75 and above to travel.
It is an app approved by the one who promised us that COVID-19 will remain until the Day of Judgement. And I say to him here, “Your mother and your father have reached this age … Will your decision, which is unprecedented in the whole world, apply to them too?”
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil