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60,000 leave Kuwait for New Year
January 1, 2014, 11:31 pm
Nearly 60,000 people are expected to leave Kuwait and spend the New Year Holiday abroad, said a senior official at the Kuwait International Airport who announced that 13 extra flights were added to 322 scheduled ones to cope with the large number of passengers. Dubai, Jeddah, Egypt and Najaf (Iraq) are the most popular destinations for those who chose to spend the four-day holiday outside Kuwait, said Essam Al-Zamel, the operations manager at the Directorate General for Civil Aviation. He further told Al- Qabas daily on Tuesday that 104 flights left Kuwait on that day, in addition to six extra flights, carrying a total of 19,327 passengers. He added that 18,565 passengers were set to leave yesterday on 106 flights plus three extra flights, whereas 22,178 are set to leave today on board of 122 scheduled flights plus four extra ones.
Preparations for the holiday started early in Kuwait as 80 percent of students in public and private schools skipped class on Tuesday, according to educational sources quoted by Al-Qabas. The high nonattendance rate highlights once again the Ministry of Education’s inability to stop students’ mass absence ahead of every official holiday throughout the year. The situation was not better in the public sector, as Tuesday’s attendance rate at the Ministries’ Compound was estimated at 56 percent, according to officials there. The government tried to tackle this problem by linking the Ministry of Health’s database for public medical facilities with the Civil Service Commission’s database in order to have more control over sick leaves.
This measure does not stop people from having sick leaves signed at private clinics, however. Kuwait welcomed the New Year quietly compared to other countries, as lack of ‘New Year’s Eve’ celebrations and events resulted in drop in restaurant and hotel reservations locally according to officials working in the field. “The government informed restaurants that speakers, artistic displays or any forms of celebration on New Year’s Eve are banned, which naturally reflects negatively on clients who are seeking a special atmosphere that we are unable to provide”, a restaurant manager told Al-Rai daily, preferring to keep his identity anonymous. Meanwhile, Waseem Mahdi, the sales manager at Safir Hotel and Residences – Fintas, attributed the notable drop in hotel bookings on New Year’s Eve (40 percent compared to last year according to Al- Rai) to “people preferring to celebrate the occasion outside Kuwait”.
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