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Failaka...a General Manager's Story - Chapter 7
Although we did not know it at the time 2007 was to be our busiest year to date, during 2006 many camera crews came over to the village to use it for various adverts, films and serials, also for many news programmes.....we became quite famous. The time had therefore come for more expansion and more infrastructure....work had started on the Oasis Complex in the last quarter of 2006 and opened for National and Liberation Days at the end of February in 2007.Construction of Qa'at Al Khair started in October 2007 and was completed in time for Eid Al Fitr.
THE OASIS COMPLEX
As mentioned in the previous paragraph work started on the Oasis Complex towards the end of 2006; it would consist of the Failaka Restaurant with 120 seats serving buffet breakfast, luncheon and a la carte dinners. The design was the Failaka Restaurant with the main kitchen and six additional buildings, seven outlets in all:
The whole area was landscaped and facing the sea; the plan is shown below
Luncheon Buffet in Failaka Restaurant
Work started on Qa'at Al Khair at the end of October 2007 and the planned opening was for Eid Al Fitr towards the end of the year. Qa'at Al Khair was urgently needed for large functions, previously we had used the courtyard of the Palace of Sheikh 'Abdullah, but had extremes of weather problems; we erected a large canvas tent to fill the gap for the summer of 2007 to cover our 100% increase in business, upon completion of Qa'at Al Khair this was removed. Qa'at Al Khair is 650 square meters and can seat 350 guests, many more in theatre mode. The metal structure was prepared first with our welders and then we poured the concrete base. The top and sides consisted of three layers....waterproof layer, heatproof layer and a canvas layer, to finish it off we used double glazed windows and doors.
The decoration, once, again completed by the village staff, was to use a silk type material draped from the ceiling to give a tent effect and the cladding of all walls with the outer cuttings of varnished pine. Mohamed Dashti provided old photographs for the walls and models of old building in Kuwait, many of which are now demolished, and a large model dhow.....Qa'at Al Khair thus also became a museum as well as a banqueting hall.
We also built in a dedicated DJ area and our Chief Engineer, Rahimi gave us an excellent lighting system.......finally it was carpeted and air-conditioned. Qa'at Al Khair opened on schedule for Eid Al Fitr.
Qa'at Al Khair on completion
Qa'at Al Khair ready for the first function
Waiting for the first guests
The front view of Qa'at Al Khair
Also in 2007 Denise and I had the honour of being invited to visit Prince Charles and Camilla at the British Embassy in Kuwait. We actually had time to chat with Prince Charles about the village and present him with a chest made in the village by our artisans....Denise and Camilla of course chatted about horses. We also decided to take our vacation during Ramadan when the village was very quiet leaving in September and returning for the work on Qa'at Al Khair in October.
Denise and myself presenting the chest to Prince Charles
Denise chatting with Camilla......horse talk!
Chris was born in Yorkshire, UK in July 1944; leaving school in September 1962 he joined the Merchant Navy as an Assistant Purser, seeing service as an Assiatnt Purser, and Chief Purser with Booth Line, Shaw Savill Lines, Cunard SS Company and many other well known companies. He married his wife Denise, who had just left the University College of South Wales with a BSc in Industrial Microbiology in April 1974.
It was a working honeymoon as Chris was a Purser with the Kuwait Shipping Company at the time and Denise joined him on the voyage to Kuwait onboard the MV Al Shamiya, they then roamed the ocean blue for a further two years.
1976 saw them in Egypt where Chris was the Port Catering Superintendent for oil rigs and shore establishments working for Offshore International.
The late seventies saw him working in Saudia Arabia, and the early eighties in the Sudan as General Manager for Institutional and Industrial catering companies; GrandMet Site Services, Taylorplan and ORS
In the mid to late eighties Chris joined Channel Island Ferries as Chief Purser onboard the MV Corbiere, and then came ashore as General Manager of the St. Mellion Golf Hotel & Country Club in Cornwall, UK.
1991, Kuwait called and he joined Safir International Hotel Management as a Project Director for the upcoming GCC summit at Bayan Palace, followed by stints as the GM of Safir Nile Cruise and Safir Hotel Hurghada in Egypt.
In 1996 the call of the Caribbean saw Chris and Denise working in St. Lucia and Jamaica at two of the top resorts in the World, Anse Chastanet Resort and CocoLaPalm Resort.
In May 2001 the UK called and both Chris and Denise worked in top class, Relais & Chateaux, country house hotels in the UK for three years.
May 2004 saw them both back again in Kuwait at Failaka Heritage Village on Failaka Island owned and operated by Masharee Al Khair a Kuwait Charitable company.
Chris is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Fellow of the Cookery & Food Association and a Master of the Restaurant Services Guild. Denise is a Member of the Institute of Hospitaly, she has a BSc in Industrial Microbiology and is an accomplished equestrienne.
Failaka...a General Manager's Story www.failakaheritagevillage.com.
To Explore the history of Failaka Island provided by "Rafahiya" Magazine, the in-flight magazine for Wataniya Airways 'Click Here' - PDF (1.5MB).
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