Powered Paragliding in Kuwait

Post by Mark

I love it when people say there isn’t anything to do in Kuwait because it just makes me want to work harder trying to prove them wrong. This weekend I went paragliding in Kuwait and it’s just another one of many activities you can now add to your to do list.

Last week I called the Kuwait Aviation Club and booked a paragliding appointment for Friday afternoon. The meetup point was also the takeoff point and that was past Khiran City near exit 285 [Map]. Once I arrived I met with Sultan Alanizi who is the only certified paragliding instructor in Kuwait and the guy who would be piloting our flight. Since the wind was a bit strong we had to hang out a bit and wait for it to slow down. While waiting, two other paragliders joined us as well. Turns out it’s sort of a club and they usually go flying together whenever they can. After around 30 minutes of waiting the wind had slowed down and we were ready to take off.


[YouTube]

The setup is a sort of an open cage buggy with a large engine and fan connected at the back. The buggy has two seats, the one in the front is for the pilot while the one in the back is for the passenger. After doing some safety checks, I was asked to put on my helmet and strapped myself into the chair. A few moments later we took off.


[YouTube]

Right after take of we started gaining a lot of altitude very quickly and we ended up going pretty high up. It was close to sunset and it was also low tide so I ended up taking a lot of beautiful shots from the sky. We flew towards Khiran City and circled it a few times while changing altitude every now and then. It was very cool although it kinda became repetitive after circling the third time. Finally after 30 minutes we headed back to our original take off spot and landed.

If you’re interested in paragliding you can do so by calling Sultan on 66515855. The cost is KD30 for 30 minutes and you need to hurry up because once the weather gets warmer they stop flying.


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It’s Jet Ski season again, here’s what you need to know

Post by Mark

The weather this past week has been fantastic, it was sunny and the skies were a deep blue with very little wind. It’s really the best time for outdoor activities including jet skiing.

If you’ve never jet skied before it’s really very easy and not complicated at all. Jet ski has just two buttons and one leaver. The buttons are for starting and shutting down the engine while the lever is for accelerating. To slow down the jet ski you just let go of the lever. You don’t need to know how to balance a jet ski or anything of the sort, you just sit on it and pull the leaver and that’s pretty much it.

There are various locations on the Gulf Road where you can rent jet skis from and they all basically follow the same guidelines. You need to keep your Civil ID with them while the jet ski is out with you and you also have to sign a waiver/contract. Some locations offer lockers to put your stuff in others don’t. I would recommend you keep everything in the car anyway and then either leave your keys with them so they don’t get wet or get a small waterproof pouch to take with you. Some jet ski renters also give you a cheap Casio watch to wear so you know how much time you’ve been out for and when you need to be back by. Most also have a tap/shower to rinse off once you’re done.

The cost of renting a jet ski is KD10 for 30 minutes or KD15 for 1 hour. If you’re interested in renting one below are some Google Map links to various locations along the Gulf Road. If you’re planning to take pictures make sure your phone has a water poof case.

Location 1
Location 2
Location 3
Location 4


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The Shooting Range

Post by Mark

As a final leg of the Kuwait tour, me and my friend who’s visiting Kuwait decided to pass by the shooting range. I hadn’t been to the shooting range since they first opened around 9 years ago and all I remembered about the place was that it was pricey which is why I never went back again.

There are two different types of weapons you can fire, rifles and handguns. In each category you have different weapons to choose from and each with a different price. This is the list:

Handguns:
9mm – 20 rounds for KD6
38mm – 20 rounds for KD6 (revolver)
40mm – 20 rounds for KD6
45mm – 20 rounds for KD7

Rifles:
.22 Long Rifle – 10 rounds for KD5
9mm Assault Rifle – 20 rounds for KD6
.223 Assault Rifle – 10 rounds for KD7
7.62 Hunting Rifle – 10 rounds for KD8

We started with the handguns first and then moved to the rifles after that. If you’ve never fired a gun before it’s not an issue since there will be an expert with you the whole time who will briefly teach you about the weapon as well as how to load the bullets and aim properly. 20 rounds won’t really last long but they will last you longer than you’d expect them to since you will be taking your time and aiming properly before every shot. The magazine holds 8 bullets (I think) so you will also have to reload it half way through.

The rifle was pretty fun to fire as well and maybe even more fun than the handguns. They’re easier to aim with because they come with scopes but they’re tricky since any slight movement while pulling the trigger and you’re off target. The 10 rifle bullets lasted me longer than the 20 handgun bullets because you really take your time aiming accurately. If you’ve always wanted to be a sniper this is your chance.

The shooting range complex is located off the 6th Ring Road right behind the Hunting and Equestrian Club. Here is the location on [Google Maps]. Make sure you have some sort of ID with you since you won’t be able to fire a gun without one. There is also an ATM machine at the location and they accept credit cards and Knet.


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Star Trails Session IV

Post by Mark

Calling all photographers, if you’re interested in taking part in a group activity then this is a good one. Star trails photography involves long exposure shots of either the sky or landscapes where the movement of the stars in the sky form light trails in your shots (similar to the shot above). Not only will you end up with some interesting shots but its also a great way to meet new people.

Here is a list of gear you need to bring:
1. A DSLR
2. A tripod
3. Bring extra batteries or at least fully charge yours
4. A high capacity memory card
5. Shutter release
6. Food
7. Flashlights
8. Mat or chair to sit on

The meetup point will be the Mishref CO-OP parking lot on March 15th at 6PM. For more details check this [Link]

Photo above taken by Saleh AlRashaid

Thanks Kim


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Kuwait City Museums

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I decided to pass by three museums with a friend of mine. All three museums are located right next to each other so you could cover them all in under two hours. There’s actually a fourth museum right next to the Maritime Museum which you could visit as well, the Modern Art Museum, but they were closed when I passed by.

Maritime Museum
Our first stop was the Maritime Museum which is located opposite Souk Sharq. It’s easy to spot since they have to large wooden ships parked outside with a miniature light house [Google Maps]. The museum is pretty nicely designed on the inside, it’s two floors and pretty modern looking with a ship like structure being the main inspiration to the design. They have a lot of sea related items on display from old tools used to build the ships to fishermen gear. Really worth checking out.

Here is their visiting hours:

Monday to Saturday
8:30AM to 12:30PM and 4:30PM to 8:30PM

Friday
4:30PM to 8:30PM

Dickson House Cultural Centre
Further up the road was the Dickson House Cultural Centre. The Dickson House served as offices and residences for the British Political Agents in the early 1900’s. I didn’t like this place much since there wasn’t much to see inside and the whole interior was refurbished but not to the original state. The outdoor yard in the back on the other hand was nice and the Dickson House caretaker Fayez, whom one of my readers nicknamed the Tour Guide Nazi (in reference to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi) was a really interesting character. I actually enjoyed sitting on the bench in the yard chatting with him more than the actual tour. [Google Maps]

Here is their visiting hours:

Monday to Saturday
8:30AM to 11:30AM and 4:30PM to 8:30PM

Friday
4:30PM to 8:30PM

Amricani Cultural Centre
The final destination was the Amricani Cultural Centre which is located across the street from the House of Parliament. The Amricani was originally the American Mission Hospital and just recently got renovated and opened to the public. Lectures and exhibitions take place there occasionally but when I passed by there wasn’t anything going on. They do have a 20 minute movie you can watch about the history of the hospital but personally I’d go there just to see their freaky looking display. It’s a small corner showing how the hospital used to look like when it first opened but it really looks like a scene from the movie SAW. Definitely worth checking out. They didn’t have opening hours displayed and I couldn’t find anything on their website but my guess it’s similar to the other two museums above. [Google Maps]

Monday to Saturday
8:30AM to 11:30AM and 4:30PM to 8:30PM

Friday
4:30PM to 8:30PM

All the museums above are free of charge to enter.


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A day at the Kuwait Camel Race Track

Post by Mark

Yesterday me and some friends headed to the Kuwait Camel Race Club in Kabd. I had never been to a camel race before and when my friend proposed it I figured it would be something exciting to do on a quiet Saturday afternoon. My friend got in contact with a person at the track so when we got there we had a guide waiting for us.


[YouTube]

The guide got into the car with us and took us past the security gate into the center of the race track where the camel owners drive alongside their camels during the race. The Kuwait Camel Club no longer use human jockeys but instead use robotic ones due to the controversial child jockey problems faced in the past. During the race the camel owners drive down the track alongside their camels controlling their robot jockeys with wireless controllers. The guide made me tune into 93.1mhz on the FM radio because there was a live broadcast of the actual race so we could follow it that way. You could watch the short video above to get a feel of the view from inside the car. During the start of every race all the cars drive to the starting line where the owners make last checks on their camels. The camels don’t start in front of the spectators stand but 3KM away from the finish line. Once the camels are ready they are lined up and the race begins. The cars drive alongside the camels all the way to the finish line and then the cars drive back to the starting line to check on the other set of camels. We did this maybe five or six times until all the races had been finished and then we drove back to the spectator stands.

There was a black tent near the track where the winner was given his prize. Afterwards we were invited to some dates with camel butter and camel milk. The butter was absolutely delicious and even the milk didn’t taste bad at all, kinda like something between buttermilk and laban.

If you’re interested in visiting the tracks to watch a race it’s very easy to find and do. Take the 6th Ring Road and if 360 Mall is on your right keep heading straight past the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium. Keep driving until you pass the new Kuwait University campus on your left (currently just hills and hills of sand surrounded by hoarding) and then after that in a bit you’ll see a sign for the 604 exit. Once you take the exit stop at the traffic light and then take a left and pass under the bridge. Then keep driving straight until you get to a roundabout, drive straight past that roundabout and keep driving until you get to a second roundabout. Once again pass that roundabout and keep driving until you hit the third roundabout. At the third roundabout go left and then head all the way till the end of the road. Once your read the end go right until you get to the end of the road again and you’ll spot the Kuwait Camel Club on your left. The whole ride shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. There is no entrance fee and races are held every Saturday from 2:30pm between October and April. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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House of Mirrors

Post by Mark


Lidia al-Qattan explaining the Big Bang Room

I’ve being thinking about this post for the past few days trying to figure out what I was going to write exactly. The place turned out to be such a cool and surreal experience that I just couldn’t figure out where to start or how to say what I wanted to say. In the end I decided that I’ll be brief and not go into details so that you go there with no expectations other than having a good time.


Me posing outside the house with @kuzmoz

Last week a friend asked me if I wanted to join them on a tour of the House of Mirrors and since I had never been I decided to join them. The House of Mirrors belongs to Lidia al-Qattan, the widow of Khalifa al-Qattan, a renowned Kuwaiti artist. She started decorating one small wall with mirrors and through time more and more walls were decorated until the whole house inside and out was covered with mirrors.


The reception area with munchies

As I said, I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to ruin the experience for you but simply put Lidia is such an amazing person. We were expecting the tour of the house to take around 30 minutes but it took us 3 hours and the 3 hours literally flew by. She was such an incredible host full of stories and the whole experience was seriously pretty trippy.

If you’ve never been to the House of Mirrors you should and when you do make sure you go with a bunch of friends since its an experience that should be shared. The cost of the tour is KD2 per person on weekdays and KD3 on weekends. The location of the house Street 94 Qadisiya, House 17 Block 9. You need to call ahead and make an appointed on this number 22518522.


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Activity: Wakeboarding

Post by Mark

Around a two weeks back Nat wanted us to go wakeboarding so I did a bit of research and found a group called Q8 Balance. For a fixed hourly rate they provide you with the gear, wakeboards and most importantly a boat. I ended up booking an hour for Nat and I this past Thursday but I ended up going alone since she got caught up with some work.

Balance do all their wakeboarding in Sabah Al-Ahmad Sea City down south since the water over there in the channels is very still. I hadn’t been there before just seen the Discovery Channel documentary on it but now that I’ve been there I’m definitely going back in the middle of the week to swim and chill out on the sand. It’s like virgin beaches all around with no trash and extremely clean water. I loved the place.

Balance sent me a map to the location of where they will be waiting for me. It took around 50 minutes from Salmiya to that location without any traffic. It’s pretty far. Once I got to the beach they picked me up and started explaining to me how everything will work since I hadn’t wakeboarded before (I’m not a sea person). They were very friendly and explained everything very clearly. I strapped on the gear and jumped in the water and the session began. Honestly for the first 15 minutes I didn’t think I’d ever be able to wakeboard since I kept falling down and drinking so much sea water. It was horrible but then gradually my body got used to it and I was finally able to stand and wakeboard. It’s really harder than it looks.

The guys were super friendly and helpful and I really had a lot of fun. The only downside really is the price. It’s KD35 an hour which isn’t so bad if you split it up between two or three people but since I did it alone it was a big chunk to pay. They’re also pretty popular so you’ve got to book ahead of time which means no spontaneous outings, you need to book a week or more in advance in most cases. I was actually considering not posting about them since I didn’t want to end up having trouble finding an empty time slot with them. If you’re interested in wakeboarding with Q8 Balance you can visit their website [Here] or their Facebook page [Here]


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Rugby Players Needed

Post by Mark

There’s a youth rugby club in Kuwait under the name of Saracens Kuwait. They’ve been around for a few years and were previously known as the Nomads. There are different divisions of different ages ranging from under 8’s and under 19’s, for both boys and girls. They play competitively around the Middle East and this year, the under 19’s division has a chance to tour in England and South Africa. However, the under 19’s division is currently in need of more people to join in order to make an official team.

If you are interested in joining then you can come to the Hassan Abul Sports Center in Dasma on Friday from 8:30am to 10:30am. Participants do not need to know how to play rugby in order to join.

The first 3 weeks of practice are free and if the participants are interested in joining the club, then they will have to pay 50KD for the year and will receive everything they need.

Saracens has a website but it is a little outdated, you can check it out [Here]

If you have any question you can contact Aziz on azoznfl@yahoo.com

Although not very popular in Kuwait, rugby has been played here since way back in the 1940’s. Check out some old photos [Here]


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Auditions for a New Improv Group

Post by Mark

Do you constantly make your friends and family laugh?
Do you enjoy being part of a dynamic team?
Are you looking for ways to get involved in Kuwait?

If you answered with a resounding YES to any of the questions above, then…

Audition for Kuwait’s first-ever “Sketch & Improv Comedy Troupe” (in the style of Whose Line Is It Anyway, SNL, etc.)

Auditions are this coming Tuesday, September 25 at 7:00pm at the Kuwait Little Theatre in Ahmadi.

No preparation necessary. Just show up with a positive attitude and be willing to play a few theatre games. A brief workshop reviewing the major tenets of improvisation comedy will be held at the auditions. Once selections are made, the troupe members will rehearse on a weekly basis and perform throughout the year.

For questions, contact Hassan at 97329695 or by email using [This Form]


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