Kuwait seeks heritage status for Failaka Island

Destination severely impacted by Iraqi invasion in frame for World Heritage List

Kuwait's Failaka Island.

Kuwait's Failaka Island.

Kuwait is hoping that an island which was depopulated when Iraqi forces invaded during the Gulf War could be added to the World Heritage List.

Kuwait's permanent delegation to the UNESCO, Ali Ahmad Al-Tarrah, said he has submitted a bid for Failaka Island to be included in the list which aims to identify cultural and natural heritage sites around the world and protect them.

"Kuwait's National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) developed the Failaka file which has been tendered to World Heritage Center," Al-Tarrah told Kuwait News Agency.

"The file sets forth the historical and humanitarian significance of the island," he said. 

Prior to the Iraqi invasion, the island had over 2,000 residents and several schools.

During 1990 and 1991, the invading Iraqis depopulated the island, expelling all of its residents to the mainland.

The Iraqi military mined the beaches and used the island's facilities and buildings for target practice. In 1991, the allied forces forced the Iraqi army forces occupying the island to surrender.

After the war, Failaka was cleared of mines, but it remains under military use. Nevertheless, Failaka Island is becoming a popular holiday destination from Kuwait City.

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Posted by: Omar

Incredibly, the article (and the posters above) neglected to mention that Failaka is the only place on the Arab side of the Gulf to have ancient Greek ruins - Doric columns from the time of Alexander the Great. Admittedly, both the upkeep of the ancient site and the island more generally has been shambolic. Little development has occurred since Iraqi forces were expelled; the island is a mess of bullet-hole ridden buildings and dilapidated infrastructure that has seen better days. It's about time this place was sorted out. If submitting Failaka to UNESCO for World Heritage status is the only way to get this place cleaned up and protected then that has to be a good thing.

Posted by: SAM

It is good to know that the cultural identity of Kuwait is represented by a barren island that is not even fit as a French nuclear testing-ground. They should not worry; pay enough cash and you'll get any designation you want.

Posted by: jay

this is a joke the island is rubbish strewn riddled with grafitti has little or no services and what is it offering as world heritage status
i have been several times to the island and the evidence of the gullf war is there to see but world heritage no if you go to normandy there are museums trenches etc to see so becomes educational
it needs significant facilities increases there is no public transport no public washrooms or signage to say where the remnats of war are the beaches are dirty and the one and only hotel is 2-3 star and has seen better days
Kuwait has no policy whether on Failika or mainland to keep the place clean and tidy just walk along any beach and judge for yourself

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