Desert Tycoon

Posted by Mark

Desert Tycoon is an iPhone game created by two guys one of whom is Kuwaiti Abdullah Al Zabin. The game is similar to SimCity but in this case you are based in the Gulf and you start off as a humble Bedouin. Step by step you build your business empire of real estate, business, energy, and tourism assets with the aim of basically turning your city into an Arabian metropolis like how Dubai is today.

The cartoon graphics are great and the music fits the game perfectly. More importantly the game is free and available to download from the iTunes store right now. [English Version] [Arabic Version]

Update: I got an email from Abdullah with some details regarding who they are. This is what he had to say:

A brief background about us. Myself and my business partner Ali Diab started Lumba in January of this year with a simple premise: build the next generation Arab mobile entertainment company. We are based in San Francisco, actually in the same shared office where many of the [now] large mobile game developers (Pocket Gems, SuperCell, Kabam, etc.) started over the past 3 years.

Our team consists of:
– Product Managers that worked for AdMob, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Bain
– Artists and Illustrators that worked with Pixar, Dreamworks, Fox, and Disney
– Software Engineers that worked for Google
– Music composer and producer who scored music for console game titles on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. He also produced music for Kelly Rowland, Rick Ross, Black Eyed Peas, and Nicole Scherzinger

We are taking it upon ourselves to tastefully fuse Silicon Valley tech with our Arab cultural roots for all our mobile games. We hope our first, Desert Tycoon, is representative of that.


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Google Maps for the iPhone

Posted by Mark

Google released Google Maps for the iPhone today and other than the fact it’s a lot better than Apple Maps its also a lot better than the older Google Maps that was built into the iPhone software. The new version of Google Maps is using vector based graphics which makes it a lot smoother than the older version and it also has new features like traffic and turn by turn directions. You can download Google Maps right now from the Apple Store by simply searching for Google Maps.


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iPhone 5 Official Kuwait Launch this Month

Posted by Mark

According to Arabian Business, Apple will officially be launching the iPhone 5 in Kuwait and the GCC on December 14th. So if you were planning to purchase an iPhone 5, put it on hold until it’s officially out. My guess is the 16GB version will end up costing around KD220 when it’ officially launched here. [Link]


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First Impression: iPad mini

Posted by Mark

Xcite dropped off the new iPad mini for me to play around with earlier today and I’m honestly surprised that I like it. I really wasn’t interested in the iPad mini when it was first announced and didn’t think it made sense until I took it out of the box and held it in my hands. Now I’m wondering if there is a purpose for the regular sized iPad. The new iPad mini feels a lot lighter and slimmer than my now huge iPad 3 and I really LOVE the black anodized aluminum finish on the back.

Once I downloaded Zinio and the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine I realized why I’d rather have my iPad 3 over the mini. The problem with most of the magazines on Zinio is that they were originally intended for print in sizes similar to that of the regular iPad. Since the iPad mini is smaller, all the text in the magazines become smaller as well and makes it a lot more difficult to read. The fact the iPad mini doesn’t have a retina display isn’t helping its case either.

But for a first impression, other than the issue I would have reading magazines on it the iPad mini does make sense. I’ve stopped carrying my iPad when I travel and instead have been carrying my 13″ MacBook Air and my Kindle because it didn’t make sense to carry iPad 3 and MacBook Air at the same time. If I had the iPad mini on the other hand I wouldn’t mind taking it along since it wouldn’t be adding that much weight or size.

If you want to check out the iPad mini yourself, Xcite have them on display right now at their Avenues and Al Rai locations.


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Which iPhone 5 LTE Frequency will work in Kuwait?

Posted by Mark

According to the blog Qortuba Valley, Kuwait’s approved LTE frequency is 1800 MHz which means iPhone 5’s purchased from the UK will work in Kuwait while ones purchased from the US will not. [Link]

Update: Arab Times also confirms the approved frequency is 1800 MHz [Link]


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First Impression: The iPhone 5

Posted by Mark

I was leaving the house this morning when I got a phone call from Xcite letting me know they received the new iPhone 5 and if I was interested in picking it up to check it out. Luckily traffic wasn’t that bad and I was over at their head office 15 minutes later picking up the phone.

The new iPhone 5 looks smaller than my iPhone 4s even though it’s taller. It looks very slick and slim while the iPhone 4s which I didn’t have a problem with an hour ago now looks pretty bulky sitting next to the iPhone 5 on my desk. I have the black iPhone 5 with me which is black all over including the side trimming which is what is also helping the iPhone 5 look smaller than it actually is.

Even though I was expecting the iPhone 5 to be light based on the reviews I read online, I wasn’t expecting it to feel this much lighter than the 4s. It’s really the first thing that grabbed my attention when I picked it up and it kinda feels like the phone is hollow on the inside. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the aluminum back of the phone. To me it doesn’t look or feel like aluminum but more like a plastic. I think it’s because I was expecting the metal to have some sort of texture which is doesn’t.

I booked my nano sim card from Viva [Here] but I still haven’t received the sim card yet nor do I know when they’ll be available. So right now if you want to use the iPhone 5 you’re going to have to cut and sand your sim card down to the size of the nano.

If you want to check out the iPhone 5 yourself you can since Xcite have it on display right now at their Avenues location. They aren’t selling them just yet nor have they priced them since they’re waiting to secure a large quantity of phones first. If you have any questions or curiosities about the phone let me know since I’m going to have it with me for a few more hours.

Update: Xcite just informed me they’re now selling the iPhone 5 starting at KD299


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Major bug in iOS6

Posted by Mark

Not sure if only Kuwait is affected by this bug but a reader made me realize that if you have iOS6 installed on your phone and you try to open an SMS you’ve received from your bank, telecom operator, shipping company etc.. you’ll get a blank message. Then, when you close the message it will disappear completely from your messages list.

The above picture is of a message I received from American Express, it showed as empty when I opened it and then when I clicked back it got deleted. The reader shot a YouTube video which shows this [Here]

That’s pretty messed up.

Thanks Ahmad

Update: OK there is some good news here. New messages from your bank, telecom etc. will display in iOS6 normally. I just received one from Aramex now and it was fine. But old messages that were there before updating to iOS6 won’t show.


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Nano Sim Cards in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

The new iPhone 5 uses new “nano” sim cards that are smaller and slimmer than micro sim cards. Luckily it seems all local telecom providers will be getting nano sim cards and we won’t have to do any cutting or card slimming to get it working with our iPhone 5’s. Wataniya already posted on twitter that they will have nano sim cards and Viva just confirmed to me that they will also have nano sim cards available. I’ve contacted Zain as well but I’m still waiting for a reply from them.


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Where to order an unlocked iPhone 5 from

Posted by Mark

If you want to order an iPhone 5 the easiest and most likely the quickest way right now is to get it from the UK Apple store. The UK Apple Store sells the iPhone 5 unlocked and you can ship it to your UK Shop & Ship or a UK Borderlinx mailbox. You don’t require a UK credit card, any local Kuwaiti card would work.

Price wise the 16GB costs around KD240 but then you would also have to add the shipping price to Kuwait and the 5% local tax both Aramex and Borderlinx are charging. It doesn’t come out very cheap in the end but if you’re in a hurry this is the best way to go about it and it’s what I did last year.

This year though I’m not in a rush to get it and instead I’m going to wait either for the US store to start selling the unlocked versions (they sell them cheaper than the UK) or for Viva to get them early like they did last year.

Here is the link to the iPhone 5 on the UK Apple Store. [Link]


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OSN Play for the iPad

Posted by Mark

I just found out from Jacqui that OSN have released an iPad App for their OSN Play service. OSN Play allows you to stream movies and tv shows on the go and now with the iPad App you’ll be able to stream the content onto your iPad wherever you are in the Middle East. It’s perfect timing with the olympics currently taking place.

But I can’t get the App to work for some odd reason. I logged into my account but whenever I try to stream anything I get the error “You’ve now registered the maximum number of devices for this account.” I have no idea what that means but I’m hoping its a technical issue from their side that will be worked out soon.

If you’re an OSN subscriber you automatically have free access to OSN Play and you can download the App from [Here]

Update: Turns out every time you log in to OSN Play from a different computer it adds that computer as a device. You can have maximum two devices which I already have which is why I couldn’t get OSN Play to work on the iPad. There is a workaround without having to remove an already added device. OSN Play allows you to have other members in the house create sub accounts so I just created a second account for myself and this should solve the problem.


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