Did you experience black rain and polluted air?
The black rain was a weekly event until some time in April. It stained everything,
including my home. The black sky was most severe during the first few months
after liberation. It vanished in November, when the last oil fire was put out. I was
personally exposed to a lot of both.
Did anything about the events of 1990 and 1991 feel good?
Yes. I felt good about the support from the international community, not just
from governments but also from individuals. When we marched in London to
protest the invasion, people of many nationalities joined us. I was proud of the
many ways that Kuwaitis inside the country resisted the illegal regime and of
the many ways that Kuwaitis helped each other after liberation. It was also
heartening that the oil fires were extinguished much sooner than expected and
that the nation’s infrastructure was rebuilt quickly. (See 3371-3378.)
When and why did you decide to document your photographic evidence?
A few days after my return to Kuwait, I decided to take my camera and shoot
the destruction I saw. It was done on an impulse with no plan of what to do
after that. I wanted to show these pictures to my family and friends who were
still outside Kuwait because the Kuwaiti government was moving very fast to
clean up and remove the material evidence of the invasion. By the time most
Kuwaitis came back, they wouldn't see much of it. And this is exactly what
happened. Around June 1991, my brother-in-law, who is also a photographer,
saw my photos and suggested that I have a large poster made of a collage of
the oil fires. I agreed, but, knowing Kuwaitis do not like hanging posters on their
walls as Americans and Europeans do, I added the idea of making a few dozen
postcards. By 1993, I felt it was time to put all the photos and slides in boxes
and file them away as they were taking up much space on my desk. I had taken
around 15,000 photos and almost the same number in slides. Before I did
that, the idea of a book arose. I was not fully satisfied with the book because,
since I did not take the photos with a book in mind, I missed a few subjects
that should have been covered like pollution of the coastal waters, damage to
wildlife, and sabotage of the oil refineries. The book does have a few photos
of wildlife and domestic animals, but it is not enough. Since printing a book is
costly and its distribution is limited, in 2010 I had the idea of creating a website
to commemorate the 20th anniversary of our liberation. Kuwait Invasion: the
evidence was launched on the eve of that anniversary.
Did you discover anything new when doing research on the website?
Several things, but the most important was finding out that the full accurate
story of the battle at Al-Qurain has yet to be told. To this end, I contacted the
Kuwaiti media and put them in touch with one of the battle’s survivors. I also
may write and publish an account of the formation of the Al-Messilah fighters
and of the battle.
Is the website to be your last project on this subject?
Not quite. I am co-producing a documentary on the oil fires that is being
directed by my friend the filmmaker Talal Showaish Salem.