Away from upheavals, Kuwait celebrates 50th anniversary of independenceBy Prashant Sood, IANS
Saturday, February 26, 2011
KUWAIT CITY - Homes decked in colours of its national flag, children cheering and waving, women clicking moments for memory - Kuwait was in a festive mood Saturday, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence, shielded from the ongoing upheavals elsewhere in the Arab World.
Several homes along the main highways of the city have put up the country’s national flag on the front walls. There are also replicas of the flag that dazzle in the evening sky through delicate white, green and black bulbs.
Roads from the airport have also been decked with festival lights.
The month-long celebration in Kuwait, home to around 600,000 Indians working there, started Jan 26. The Gulf state is holding celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence Feb 25, the 20th anniversary of Liberation Feb 26 and fifth anniversary of the emir’s accession to office Jan 29.
People came out in large numbers to witness fireworks display near the Kuwait Tower Friday evening, causing long traffic jams.
India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who was on his way back from a community reception hosted by the Indian Embassy here, was also caught in the jam for about half an hour.
Children waved flags and families clicked photographs late into the evening as the skyline was lit with firecrackers.
The celebratory mood continued Saturday as people headed for the venue of the military parade.
Tanks, rocket launchers and multi-barrelled guns of allies of the 1990-91 Gulf War were paraded at Al-Subiya military base, marking the 20th anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi occupation.
Several heads of state and senior ministers, including India’s S. M. Krishna, witnessed the over two-hour long parade that saw fighter planes perform acrobatics and fly in various formations.
Apart from participation of Kuwaiti ground and air forces, the parade saw participation of allied forces including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
“All citizens are very happy. They are feeling great about the country,” Ali Mohammad, a government employee, told IANS.
He said that there was a carnival atmosphere in the city.
The announcement by the government of an “emiri grant” of 1,000 Kuwaiti Dinar to every citizen has also added to the mood of celebration.
People have also been given two holidays to mark the celebrations.
Several heads of state and senior ministers from different parts of the world are in the Gulf state to celebrate the golden jubilee of its independence.
Kuwait gained independence from Britain June 19, 1961. In May 1964, a formal decision was made to celebrate Kuwait’s National Day Feb 25 in honour of the late emir Sheikh Abdallah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, whose rule had began the same day in 1950.
Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation Feb 26, 1991.
The festive mood in Kuwait stood out in contrast to a wave of pro-democracy protests that have hit several Arab states from Libya to Yemen and Bahrain.