By Khaled Al-Abdulhadi
KUWAIT: Kuwait has a coastline measuring roughly 500km, which, for a relatively small country, undoubtedly makes it one of its key characteristics. Therefore, its preservation, development and utilization are essential in maintaining the country’s sea-faring culture. Jenan Behzad, General Secretary of the Kuwait Environment protection emphasized that local interest in ecotourism is not a modern concept. The Kuwait Society for the Protection of the Environment (KEPS) has proposed various projects in that regard, including the creation of a geopark in Anjafa or Khairan beach areas, where geological environments harbor sedimentary rocks of geological and scientific importance.
Behzad also advocated for the promotion of sustainable kashta (desert picnic) programs, which have gained popularity among the youth. These programs offer one-day kashta services, allowing people to connect with nature. She suggests the establishment and management of nature reserves, transforming them into havens for researchers, scientists and the general public. “This approach can enlighten people about Kuwait’s diverse natural habitats and the organisms inhabiting them,” she said. Behzad highlights the significance of organizing visits to islands and raising awareness about the need for responsible treatment of the southern islands.
This is particularly crucial due to the presence of sensitive coral reefs and the importance of preserving the local ecosystems. Today, the development of natural and artificial marine islands, such as the islands of Jaber Causeway and Green Island, is a feasible proposition due to existing infrastructure, proximity to tourists and the potential to incorporate innovative technological ideas. Behzad underscored the necessity of marine nature reserves being accessible to all, along with specialized centers for marine sports.
“These facilities can attract young people, promote ecotourism, boost small and medium enterprises and engage young individuals in productive activities while contributing to scientific and social knowledge,” she pointed out. Behzad insists Failaka Island should not be neglected when discussing tourism and environmental development. It has the potential to become a nature park and a special reserve, offering a wide range of possibilities. She asserted that Kuwait possesses unique natural features and opportunities for entertainment and ecotourism that can’t solely cater to local demand but also have the potential to draw global attention.
“It is not possible to talk about tourism and neglect the importance of environmental and touristic development on Failaka Island and maximizing its potential,” she said. Rachel Mullholland of the Center for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science at the British Embassy emphasizes that beach and marine tourism extend beyond economic benefits. They also have cultural, educational and health value. “Kuwait’s coastal landscapes not only offer recreational opportunities, but they can also serve as cultural hubs, preserving traditions and lifestyles deeply rooted in coastal communities.
In Kuwait, the cultural ties with the sea are deep, as the nation’s heritage and traditions are intricately woven with pearl diving, fishing, and the maritime trade. Beach and marine tourism offer invaluable educational opportunities, allowing visitors to explore diverse ecosystems, learn about local species and habitats, and gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world,” she said, adding that Kuwait’s coastal destinations often offer therapeutic benefits, promoting mental and physical well-being. Mullholland stressed the importance of responsible tourism practices to ensure these natural resources are preserved for future generations.
“Sustainable practices, such as taking any litter away with you and not disturbing any local animals or plants during your visit, will help to protect these environments while safeguarding the cultural heritage intertwined with these coastal regions,” Mulholland added. In early July, the Environment Public Authority announced that its inspectors are conducting campaigns against violations on Kuwait’s beaches and islands.
These efforts, in collaboration with environmental police since mid-June, aim to raise public awareness about the importance of keeping local beaches clean. EPA’s Acting Director General Samira Al-Kandari warned that littering could result in fines of up to KD 500, while harming or killing wildlife may incur fines of up to KD 5,000. She emphasized that EPA inspectors are actively educating the public about environmental preservation and the penalties outlined in the environment protection law for actions detrimental to the environment.