Be­gin­ning of change

Bal­loon of hap­pi­ness

Arab Times - - LOCAL -

YBy Ah­mad Al-Sar­raf

ousef is a small boy in­tel­li­gent and dis­cern­ing. He was very fa­mil­iar of his fa­ther the way he talked about his ac­counts in banks, about his prop­erty abroad, saw money in his fa­ther’s hands, and how he used the credit cards to buy the house­hold needs.

Yousef also ob­served that his fa­ther did not spend money ei­ther on him­self or his house­hold com­pared to his wealth.

His mother was al­ways com­plain­ing and ar­gu­ing with his fa­ther about the house­hold ex­penses when it came to ei­ther ren­o­vat­ing the kitchen, the bath­rooms or buy­ing new fur­ni­ture for their old house, and re­pair to the en­trance of the house and re­plac­ing the worn out stair­case which even the guests had com­plained about.

He also saw how his fa­ther al­ways re­sponded to his mother’s ur­gent re­quests.

The con­trac­tors came and went. Dis­cus­sions with them con­cern­ing ren­o­va­tion of the house con­tin­ued to make the house a bet­ter place for liv­ing.

Yousef saw his fa­ther ask­ing for of­fers, spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the kitchen, the color of bath­room tiles and the qual­ity of en­trance mar­ble but more of­ten than not noth­ing hap­pened and the sit­u­a­tion re­turned to square one with mother and fa­ther ar­gu­ing over the same is­sues.

One day his fa­ther re­turned from work and sur­prised Yousef with a blue bal­loon which was tied to a string and handed it to him. Yousef was very happy and cheer­ful and showed ev­ery­one what his fa­ther had bought for him, while ev­ery­one around was sur­prised of Yousef’s hap­pi­ness since all that he got from his fa­ther was a very cheap bal­loon.

What those around him did not know was the truth about his feel­ings and the sym­bol of the bal­loon.

They did not know Yousef was tired be­cause there was no joy in the house and the sit­u­a­tion of the house had largely re­mained un­changed. Ev­ery­one around had com­plained about the bad sit­u­a­tion of the house since there was no change, and ev­ery­one around him com­plained and com­plained but there was no re­sponse in spite of the avail­abil­ity of money and

Al-Sar­raf

good­will of con­trac­tors and oth­ers to meet all de­mands of mother and fa­ther, and there­fore Yousef thought that the blue bal­loon was the be­gin­ning of change.

Now we come to an­other Yousef — Yousef Al-Jassem, chair­man of the Kuwait Air­ways Cor­po­ra­tion who was ridiculed for his ex­ag­ger­ated cel­e­bra­tion of the open­ing of the Ter­mi­nal 4 tem­po­rary pas­sen­ger build­ing, which looks like a blue bal­loon com­pared to the world’s ma­jor air­ports.

How­ever, al­most all of us were wit­ness to that hap­pen­ing. We re­joiced hold­ing the blue bal­loons, not be­cause of the price of the bal­loon, or the new ter­mi­nal, but for the sym­bol of the event it­self, and the be­gin­ning of the end of the suf­fer­ing of more than four-and-a-half mil­lion pas­sen­gers who fly Kuwait Air­ways ev­ery year.

I per­son­ally have suf­fered from the mal­func­tion­ing of Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Air­port, with its flac­cid man­age­ment and its in­abil­ity to in­no­vate in any way, even tem­po­rar­ily.

For a quar­ter of a cen­tury, I have had more than 400 back and forth ex­pe­ri­ences through this un­happy air­port, half of which was a mis­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause of poor ser­vice, in­se­cu­rity, over­crowd­ing, hav­ing to use high stair­cases up and down, board­ing worn out buses with­out air-con­di­tion­ing to get to or from the air­craft, and other in­tru­sions. It was not strange, there­fore, that many oth­ers, like me, re­fused to fly the Kuwait Air­ways be­cause of bad ser­vices.

The com­pany still needs a lot to be­come truly re­li­able, but our hope is that the suc­cess­ful son of Kuwait Air­ways will suc­ceed in lift­ing it out of its bad sit­u­a­tion, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for which in­evitably does not fall on those who have pre­vi­ously man­aged it.

Rather, it is the gov­ern­ment that is to be blamed for us­ing the com­pany for years to win the sat­is­fac­tion of MPs and their ac­cep­tance to em­ploy their rel­a­tives, giv­ing them free travel, and spend­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions ev­ery year to cover their losses while the gov­ern­ment was not in­ter­ested in know­ing the losses as a re­sult it was no sur­prise that the sit­u­a­tion of the com­pany had reached its present level.

We will def­i­nitely re­turn to Kuwait Air­ways, with its new man­age­ment, and we hope that the cur­rent board of di­rec­tors will be sta­ble and the staff will not change with each min­is­te­rial change.

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