I have been wanting to document my experience of the events of Kuwait in 1990 for a long time, but never dedicated the time to do so. I have started to realize that memories fade over time, and if I do not document this now, 25 years later, my beautiful daughters, Malak & Nour, might never get a chance to know this part of my life. So the next few blog entries will be dedicated to document these events as I have experienced them.
London to Kuwait (End of July 1990)
I am 17 years old and a member of the Kuwaiti national diving team. I was amongst 17 divers who had just completed a three week training camp in Crystal Palace England. We are training for the Arabian Gulf (The Persian gulf for the rest of th world) Aquatics championships, which was to be held in Kuwait in early August 1990.
When we arrived in Kuwait and we were sent from the airport directly to the Messila hotel for a local training camp in preparation for our competition in a few days. My Entire family father, mother, and siblings, as well as my two uncles, two aunts with all their children were vacationing in Syria during that summer. My only close relatives whom were still in Kuwait were my paternal grandfather and his wife (my step grandmother), my maternal grandmother, my paternal uncle Hussain, and paternal aunt Umm Ahmed.
The aquatics championship included three sports: swimming, diving and water polo. All three Kuwait national teams were residing at the same hotel. Teams from the other GCC countries started arriving and joining us at the Messila Hotel as well. When we first arrived at the hotel, I said hello and had a small chat with my good friends from the Kuwaiti water polo team Maytham AlMouly & Mohammad AlSaegh (whom is amongst my best friends today).
The only countries participating in the diving events were, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and for the first time Iraq was to join in the GCC championships. All teams arrived except the Iraqi team.
The diving competition was to be held at the Salmiya Sports Club swimming pool. We would wake up early every morning, drive the bus to the Salmiya swimming pool, conduct our training then come back to the hotel to rest before the second daily training. The swimming pool was swimming with activities in preparation for the competition that was to be broadcasted live on TV in Kuwait and GCC member countries. Score boards were being setup. Shading was being installed for the coaches and referees. This was the end of July, Kuwait at its hottest times. The sun was unforgiving. You cannot even walk the pool deck bare footed as the ground was blazing hot.
My specialty was the 3 meter springboard event. My peers and teammates included AbdulAmeer Al-Matrouk, Faisal Al-Baghli and Sulaiman Qabazard (whom is to be my best friend and future coach in the 1996 Olympics).
On August 1st 1990, after our final training of the day, we were back at the hotel having our dinner. All GCC teams have arrived to Kuwait except for the Iraqi team. We were told that evening that the Iraqi team will be arriving the next morning. They never did. Instead 1,000,000 Iraqi soldiers marched into Kuwait with full artillery early the next morning. My life was never the same after that.
—More on that in my next blog entry