The camping season begins in Kuwait in early November with the arrival of mild weather and the onset of winter. This used to be bad news for the desert, as camps were randomly pitched and campers often destroyed desert flora and fauna. This prompted the government to designate 15 areas of the Kuwaiti desert where people can enjoy camping safely, while protecting our natural treasures.
Two years ago, the Municipality established an online service to apply for camping licenses. It enables users to book and pay online and receive the license later from the affiliated governorate department. Kuwait Times went through the registration procedure to determine the extent of its practicality. Unfortunately the website is not very user-friendly. Firstly, it is in Arabic only. The process is also a bit clunky and a user will have to know what to do because there are no specific instructions.
It takes two clicks to reach the camp licensing page, where you type in your personal information. An interactive satellite map will then open up, enabling you to pin your preferred camping spot. The map clearly shows 15 camping sites across the desert and spots that have already been booked. But the user is advised to first check the physical site in person to ensure its availability for camping before booking, and note its coordinates.
If you are a new user, the procedure will definitely be confusing. In addition to no instructions, the website doesn’t tell you how much will you pay for the permit and the additional insurance fees until you reach the payment page. Furthermore, any change in the camp’s location can only be done by a new registration.
It’s worth noting that the website will ask whether you’re married, single, divorced or widowed as a part of the required data, in addition to your name, civil ID and nationality. After collecting your license from the affiliated governorate department, it must be at hand in your tent, as inspection tours are regularly conducted in the camping grounds.
NOTE: The camping season will continue until the end of March. For more information, call the Municipality hotline #139 or visit www.baladia.gov.kw
By Athoob Al-Shuaibi