Getting a piece of the action

Kuwait is not known as a tourist destination, but with the Failaka project under way, the state is planning for a fruitful future.

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By  John Irish Published  May 25, 2003

Kuwait has taken its first steps towards establishing a tourism infrastructure following the decision to transform its Failaka Island into a major tourism destination. The island lies 20km east of Kuwait City and is considered the country’s main archaeological site.

Kuwait, which has sovereignty over 9 islands in the region, estimates the project’s value at KD 1 billion (US $3.3B). The government presented a 5-year plan highlighting the building, operating and transfer agreement for possible and foreign investors.

“We will offer the private sector the opportunity to invest in this project. There will be hotels, parks, shops, restaurants and renovation of ruins from the Roman age. There is an ancient church, which was buried underground, and a lot of environmental sites and marine tourism sites,” Nabila Al Anjiri, assistant undersecretary for Kuwait’s Tourism Affairs Sector told Arabian Business.

She added that foreigners and Kuwaitis alike would be allowed to invest in the development, which would be a first in the country. Investors will be offered long term leases that could be renewed after 50 years. The general public will also be able to buy shares in the project.

“We prefer one prime investor who can take over the whole project and have sub-investors,” said Hamed Khajah, undersecretary, Information Ministry. “Or, we could take a maximum of three investors,” he said.

According to Hajjah, the response for the project has not been as enthusiastic as expected possibly due to the instability caused by the crisis in Iraq.

However, with the conflict abating, the tourism authority, which still runs under the umbrella of the information ministry, is aiming to complete a comprehensive study of the country’s tourism potential by the end of the year.

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