The Picnic That Wasn’t

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

Kuwait picnicFamily picnics are one of America’s great pastimes. A picnic is a great opportunity to not only spend time in the great outdoors but also spend time with your family while enjoying a wide variety of food. However, most state and local governments in America have strict picnicking regulations as to where picnics can be held and whether or not equipment like charcoal grills can be used on public property.

Contrastingly, in the Gulf state of Kuwait, no such regulation exists mandating the “whens” and “wheres” of a picnic. In Kuwait, one of the richest countries in the world, every day is ripe for a picnic. Both Kuwaiti citizens and expatriates alike enjoy a good picnic. And despite the differing cultures that make up the melting pot of Kuwait, most picnics are relatively the same. A small hibachi-type grill, skewers of lamb and chicken and a patch of grass are all it takes to create a fabulous picnic.

However, over the years, a veritable picnic revolution has taken place. And while picnics are evident on almost every day of the week, even in small measure, Friday is the primary day for holding a family picnic in Kuwait. On Fridays, the picnic fanatics come out in droves kind of like a swarm of hungry locusts descending upon a lush green tree. They park their blankets and barbeque gear right on public property next to highways, restaurants and malls. There are so many picnic enthusiasts on Friday, that a drive down Gulf Road will fill your car with the scent of freshly grilled kababs and the smoke from fanning the flames of the grills makes the road look like it is under a military attack.

The aftermath of the Friday picnics, however, looks worse than a war zone. Piles of trash and smoldering charcoal embers are precariously left behind. It’s not uncommon for small children and even stray animals to be burned by the hot coals. Date palm trees have even caught on fire as a result of the reckless disposal of the smoldering embers. It seemed for a long time that the Friday picnic menagerie would go on unabated despite numerous complaints from the larger anti-picnic public.

Fortunately, authorities in Kuwait recently decided to crack down on picnicking in public places.  According to new regulations, anyone caught cooking outdoors will be fined between 100-300KD. In addition, signs will be placed in popular picnic areas warning the public to avoid grilling on public property. However, it remains to be seen if the crackdown includes people who picnic with their own food from home, or a local restaurant, without lighting up a grill. The very first Friday that inspectors were out enforcing the new regulation, approximately 125 people were given formal citations.


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