January 23, 2011 by Atif Siddiqui
KUWAIT: Senior Municipal Council officials recently conducted a tour of locations on Failaka Island, where the government plans to develop a major tourism resort. The officials, along with a number of media personnel, visited various sites, including the island’s museum and sites of historical interest amongst others. During the visit, officials from the council’s technical committee laid on a workshop for the officials and the other visitors on the development plans for the island. “We chose to come t
o Failaka and hold the workshop here to see the locations on the island which should be taken into consideration when discussing the development plan,” explained committee chairman Abdullah Al-Enezi.
There are many bodies working on [plans for] the island, including the cabinet, the development projects and initiations committee, and others, who are working in cooperation with the municipality, and we will hold further workshops to discuss these issues.” Many developing countries have already outpaced Kuwait in terms of leisure and entertainment facilities, said council chairman Zeid Al-Azmi, adding that Kuwaitis are eager to catch up with the competition.
All Kuwaitis are obsessed with the idea of having resorts, and Failaka is the ideal place for these,” he explained. “The Municipal Council has held many workshops previously and there have been some mistakes. Today we saw the sites of interest and utilities on the island, and all the locations which need to be further studied by different ministries.
The council chief also revealed that competition is fierce among contractors bidding to carry out the work needed to develop the island as a resort: “We’ve received many bids from foreign companies over the last five or six years to carry out the development work, but we prefer to leave this to local companies and authorities,” he stated. “We have the ability, so why should we leave it to other countries?” And this is an honor for us as Kuwaitis.
Engineer Maziad Al-Mutairi from the council delivered a presentation explaining the development plans for the island resort: “Failaka will be a complete entertainment and tourism center,” he said. “There will be caf�s, restaurants, a mall, a ‘cinema city,’ art museum, concert hall, safari area, gondola ski lift, amusement park, the ‘Ikaros’ resort, golf courses, sport centers, an indoor skiing center, villas overlooking the water, and other facilities.
Visitors to the resort will be able to enjoy many sporting and other leisure activities, Al-Mutairi continued: “There will be many activities, such as concerts, festivals, scuba diving, water sports, winter sports, tennis, car racing, football and much more,” he revealed. “We hope to see the island having much greater turnover.
Another of the municipal council’s engineering staff, named only as Manal, told the visitors that the council is currently in the final phase of selecting the project consultant to carry out the major development work: “This consultant will provide a full study of the whole island,” she explained. “The work should be carried out according to the proper environmental regulations, and there are high standards in place to ensure the right project consultant is appointed.
Another engineer, Jinan Bushehri, stressed the importance of ensuring that Failaka Island’s natural environment and sites of historical interest are not harmed in the development process: “The Municipal Council is unsure if the development plan will be executed according to the BOT [Build Operate Transfer] system or if Failaka will be divided into zones with each allocated to a different body for development,” she revealed. “We don’t want to lose the historical value of this island; we want it to be a tou
rism destination for Kuwait and the GCC countries.
Meanwhile, engineer Ashwaq Al-Mudhaf, the technical committee’s rapporteur, noted the previously undeveloped state of the island, saying that this is a plus point in its development. “This island hasn’t been developed previously and doesn’t have any modern utilities,” she explained. “It’s a perfect place for investors to work in. There are 145 private homes and a few property ownership claims, as well as huge empty spaces, and it would be a pity to leave it like this.