Failaka: The Remnants of War
Since the weather is nice recently and we got a new car, we’re traveling a bit more, or better yet not really traveling but going on short trips around here.
I’ve decided I want to see the long praised island of Failaka (جزيرة فيلكا), suppossedly a paradise compared to mainland of Kuwait; well… might’ve been.
Prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, it was a small (we managed to go around the whole island through the desert roads within an hour) and rather populated island with it’s own infrastructure, schools, shops and people, referred to as Failakawans. Also an interest of several archeological expeditions, due to it’s history of settlements dating back to Alexander the Great and even earlier (up to around 3000 BC), Failaka seemed to be blooming and quiet place to live or visit.
Now, in 2010, it’s a sad and mainly empty place, some herds of camels, sheeps and goats roaming in the heat, with few settlers around the small harbour where a ferry Ikarus lands daily bringing in and out people, be it the few tourists (not expecting what they will meet), tradesmen or a truck loaded with sand to place in a dug archeological site (ok, wait a minute… it’s a desert island. It’s got lotsa sand. Everywhere. So why did they have to bring a truck of sand from the mainland, again?); and very few residents living randomly in the very empty and depression invoking streets, be it out of a silent stubborness or lack of money to buy a better housing somewhere else; because the look upon the streets is, believe me, very sad. Strike out the usual shabbiness caused by desert weather and sand getting everywhere making everything yellowish and looking old – but the ruins of housing, mosques, bullet holes in most of the walls, empty window frames and doors, sand piling inside of the past living room, kid’s room, school rooms, broken kid’s slides and playgrounds and literally noone anywhere, a real ghost town with it’s own spirits looking around for justice… simply because it’s an island 20 kilometres away from the mainland, when the Iraqi military came, the poor people didn’t have where to go except their homes, which got bombarded and shot at. Rather nasty trap created from a paradise.
It’s a sad place; don’t tell me that it’s not. It has a lot of potential though; it would be a great touristic aim, if. If the state of Kuwait actually wanted any tourism in the country, if the few scattered Failakawans wanted their silent although depressing place to be disturbed and if, if, if. It’s a poor place and needs a lot of money to be invested in before it can get any back, and honestly, when I see Kuwaitis and Arabs in general as tourists, maybe it’s better that it stays like that, because they will trash the place in no time. Now the beaches there are empty, but rather clean. There’s one small hotel near the ferry landing and it’s hard to say how profitable it can be; with a small restaurant and a coffee and a sandwich shop (which all were either closed or undergoing very dusty maintanance so we didn’t get to try and taste).
At the very moment it’s a place mainly used by Kuwaitis for roaming around in ships, boats and yachts, obviously by someone for herding, and few wooden fishing boats trying their luck.
Failaka can be nice, one day. At present, it’s a 1990 war museum with few archeological sites, camels, goats, and lots of deserted buildings, a place of decay rather than blooming. But still interesting to see.