The meat is too fatty and the staff are slow to clean up coffee stains — some Kuwaitis quarantined in five-star hotels due to the coronavirus outbreak have a litany of complaints. Authorities in the oil-rich country have forced citizens returning from abroad to isolate for 14 days in luxury properties before they are permitted to re-enter society.
Kuwait has adopted the strictest measures in the Gulf to combat the spread of coronavirus. It has recorded more than 700 cases, and one death. Plush hotels have turned into quarantine shelters, preparing to host around 60,000 Kuwaitis returning from countries including Italy, Germany, Iran, Egypt and Lebanon.
The first batch arrived two weeks ago, and for some accustomed to the best in life, their accommodation has proven less than satisfactory. “Dear minister of finance, the food has no taste, it is inedible and we’re throwing it away,” one woman, who did not reveal her face, said in a video uploaded online.
“We are emotionally tired, and our health is deteriorating because the food is not nutritious,” she added as she examined catering trays delivered to her hotel room. “They served us salad with no dressing, and everything else is also dry.”
Her comments prompted a backlash online with some saying she should be grateful.
“I stayed in a hospital for a week with my mother and did not complain, eating bread and cheese,” one Twitter user fired back.
Another uploaded footage of people in a developing country standing in line to drink water. “If only they saw how we opened our fridge to choose the (brand of) water we want. God, don’t deny us your generosity,” read the sarcastic caption.
Kuwait, which pumps 2.7 million barrels of oil per day, has a sovereign wealth fund worth more than $600 billion, providing a substantial cushion for state finances.
Many of its 1.5 million citizens, who make up just 30 percent of the population, have become accustomed to a life of luxury, especially in Europe where some own palaces and supercars.
One in ten Kuwaitis is a dollar millionaire, a fact proudly announced by the state airline on flight approaches to Kuwait City.
In one social media video, a Kuwaiti man complains that his luggage has not yet reached the hotel room, which he describes as small with “the bed stuck to the closet”. In another, a woman says there is “more fat than I like in my meat”.
Another quarantine guest said it was taking room service “too long to clean a coffee stain on the couch”.
Kuwait has in the past few weeks passed strict regulations to curb the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed more than 82,000 lives worldwide. It has prosecuted more than 100 people for breaking the dusk to dawn curfew or quarantine rules, with offenders facing up to six months in jail or a 10,000 dinar ($32,000) fine.
On Tuesday it announced a lockdown on two areas that are densely populated with expatriate workers. Meanwhile, Kuwait’s cabinet said anyone caught intentionally spreading the virus could face up to 10 years in prison and a 30,000 dinar fine.
The government has also said it will not tolerate online sarcasm or ridicule of the precautionary measures. In one case a citizen returning from Germany posted a video mocking flight attendants in protective gear likening them to “beekeepers”.
Some responded online, calling for calm and support for those on the frontline of the pandemic, including air crews. Kuwaiti parliamentarian Ahmed Nabil al-Fadel urged people to be patient and see the bigger picture.
“It’s very common that the sink does not work properly or that there are some problems… given the short period of time to prepare the place,” Fadel, who was also quarantined after returning from Spain, said of quarantine facilities. “Can you be patient? There are doctors who have not slept in three days.”