Best Bank in Kuwait 2015

Post by Mark

bestbank

nima

I bank with two banks in Kuwait personally. I use another 3 or 4 for work. I bitch about them all. People will often tell me, “hey why don’t switch to this bank or that bank?”, not knowing that I probably already use that bank. And that bank sucks. The best thing about banks in Kuwait is that they all smell nice, universally across the board. We have the best smelling banks in the world. But being asked to choose the best bank is like being asked to select a favourite fart. Eye-watering and offensive.

Sometimes people will tell me, and even I’ll find myself thinking, “man banks in London or the US or in Canada blah blah blah…” No no no. Those banks are garbage. Banks everywhere in the world are garbage. American and Canadian banks barely understand there are other countries. And once you explain that there is a place called ‘the rest of the world’ then you have to start explaining to them why their useless 1-800 number is useless.

As far as banks go, the best you can hope for is bukhur at the door and that they don’t block your card when you travel. After that, it doesn’t really matter. Be happy they’re not American banks. Or Greek banks (too soon?).

mark

I use both NBK and Burgan Bank, and I have issues with both. The reason I have two in the first place is so that one covers the other when I travel. I’ve had so many strange issues when traveling I now need to have three different sources of debit and credit cards, the third one being American Express. How badly do my banks suck?

With NBK I’m a Thahabi customer which means I should get “better” service. A few weeks back I get called into my branch and into my personal banking officers room. He starts basically interrogating me, supposedly I transferred a large sum of money abroad to a company called Pershing LLC and it raised a flag with them. He passed me a form to fill which included a ton of personal questions, I told him I wasn’t going to fill it because they already have all my information. My banker told me this was not related to the money transfer and they’re just updating all their customers data. I told him thats bullshit and this was directly related to the money transfer. So he told me to go tell the manager I wasn’t going to fill it, so I did. I went to the manager and told him you guys are interrogating me over a transfer I made and now you want me to fill out this form with all this personal information which you should have already since I’ve been banking with you guys for 15 years. So the manager starts flipping through my files and asks me if I transferred an X amount of money a couple of months back. I right away recognized what that transfer was. I looked at him dumbfounded. Yes I did, I used my NBK brokerage account to transfer more money into it. I told him I don’t know who Pershing LLC is but my guess its a company you guys deal with (I later found out with a quick google it’s their clearing firm). I told him the transfer you’ve been interrogating me about was a transfer to you guys, NBK. I transferred my money to YOU. The manager was like give me five me minutes just to make a few calls and confirm. I told him I’ve already been here for 30 minutes and I’m not going to sit here any longer and they need to get their shit together because this was embarrassing and I walked out.

Burgan Bank on the other hand I had the weirdest issue last month. I launched the Burgan Bank app on my phone and forgot what my password was. Why? Because when they force you to change your password it has to be different than the last 6 passwords I’ve used with them. WTF. That actually makes it less secure not more secure because if I started using my level A password, the second time I’m going to use my level B, then C etc.. until I turn into a complete idiot and start using my name as my password. So I have to keep creating new difficult level A passwords which I’ve never used anywhere else in my life just for Burgan Bank. It’s hard enough to remember the all the passwords I already have so its natural I’m going to forget the special one I had to create just for Burgan Bank. So I clicked on the forget password link and it asked me my secret question and I put in my answer. It was wrong, so I put in another answer. Suddenly the app tells me I’ve put my answer wrong too many times and my account is now blocked and I need to go to their website, printout a form and then take it to a local branch. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I answered my secret question wrong twice (not three times)(and it’s my secret question not even password) and I could no longer access my account from the app, nor can I access it from the website (even though I know my password there) or anywhere else. And then to make it worse, I had to print out a form, fill it up and take it to their branch. I tried to unlock it over the phone by calling the call center which is what I can do with NBK but I was told I needed to print that form and take it to the branch physically. I was surprised they didn’t want me to fax anything or mail them a postcard.

So yeah, these are just two of the most recent problems, I’ve had A LOT more. I hate banks so there will be no winner nor even a runner up for this award.


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Best Shopping Mall in Kuwait 2015

Post by Mark

bestshoppingmall

grandavenues

nima

Winner: The Avenues (anytime before you and your friends show up)
I often amuse myself by thinking of Kuwait in different ages. For example, the technique boys and girls would use to secretly flirt in recent history (BB, bluetooth, throwing your number at another human being, high-risk chase with the intention of shouting at your future wife from your car into her car); but more often, I like to split it up into the Ages of Malls. There was The Age of Fanar, followed by The Age of Sharq, followed by The Age of Marina. The age before Fanar was only darkness but today we’re in The Age of Avenues. And sure, 360 is trying, but meh, who cares? The interesting thing about Avenues is that because of it’s massive size, it kept opening new phases years after the first phase and overcame this…mall-ecular stagnation.

And my goodness, what a goddamn mall it is. It has literally everything you could ever need/want. When people visit Kuwait from the west, I always end up taking them to Avenues. We’ve reduced all of western consumerism and fitted it into this outdoor shopaholic theme park with a roof over it. That’s craziness.

But I’ll be honest with you, I’m a guy who goes to the mall with shit to do. All business. I do it and leave. I don’t do the zombie shuffle like a lethargic dancer in Thriller. In fact, when I’m swiftly moving from one end of the goddamn mall to the other goddamn side, and you and your possé are all dressed thematically the same, standing shoulder to shoulder forming some sort of slow moving linear amoeba, I imagine kicking each one of you off a cliff. You’d probably fall slow just to annoy the bitch out of me.

Which is why I cannot strongly advocate more, going to the mall on a morning. Before people show up. Minimum stabbing risk. Plenty of parking, plenty of room to quickly get errands done and restock of the plenty of supplies I need to keep myself from the public, plenty plenty plenty and what better good do you expect from a mall than plenty of plenty.

Avenues Tip:
Less this (Link)
More this (Link)

Runner up: 360 Mall
How could anyone not like 360 mall? It’s never got traffic on the way there and if you can survive parking somewhere, it has probably the most worthwhile unique places in kuwait (not original unique, but single-location unique). It has some good shops. It has some great restaurants I like eating at. It has a great Nespresso store I drink at for free by acting like i’m going to buy a sleeve or two before feeling guilty and buying a sleeve or two. And it’s close to my friend Aziz Humaidhi’s house. Aziz you scumbag, call me man.

mark

Winner: The Avenues
The winner for this category was an easy one and not because the other malls suck (obviously many do) but because Avenues is so way ahead of everything else. It’s a place I also take tourists even though I personally hate going to malls when I travel. I hate malls everywhere actually, except in Kuwait. What I think really makes Avenues special though is the beautiful Grand Avenues. Like Nima I tend to go to the malls when I need something but I actually enjoy going to Grand Avenues to just walk around and window shop. Occasionally I’ll also sit at Veranda and have tea with a friend while watching the same people go up and down over and over. I don’t like Phase I or II on the other hand, they look like any other mall and I tend to refer to them as the ghetto cuz really thats what they are compared to Grand Avenues. Prestige I don’t even think anyone ever goes there and the old souk area is usually filled by people you never see in the other phases. But thats also what makes Avenues so great, it’s so big and the sections are so different, there is something for everyone. It’s a modern day landmark for Kuwait.

Runner up: Marina Crescent (on a Friday morning when the weather is great)
I love Marina Crescent on Friday mornings, it gets packed with people all outdoor enjoying the beautiful weather and having breakfast. It doesn’t feel like you’re in Kuwait and mostly because we spend all year round avoiding the outdoor weather. The rest of the mall isn’t special, it used to be when they used to open the roofs but now its just bleh.


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Best Local Store 2015

Post by Mark

goodgame

nima

Winner: Good Game
I’ve been seeing a lot of party games at gatherings in recent years. There was Monopoly Deal for a while and then the more entertaining Kuwaiti knockoff. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Cards Against Humanity, the fart joke of the party game market. Garbage. I seriously can’t stand that game. It’s like watching a compilation of “thats what she said” jokes.

So what better opportunity to tell you about Good Game, a shop in Sanabil Tower specialising in all types of tabletop games. If it has dice, a board, cards, figures or any combination of them, chances are they sell it there. They have an absurd collection of games fillings their walls with varying degrees of difficulty and complexity, they have something for everyone, nerd or non-nerd alike.

The place is great. Everyone who works in the shop has played nearly if not every game and are able to answer questions or recommend a game based what you tell them you like. I love that it became the light to which all nerds in kuwait fluttered. The place is more than a shop, it’s become something more than that. It’s become a community.

Runner up: Orchidaceae
On Mr. Mark’s recommendation, I went to Orchidaceae a few months ago to get flowers for my wife (for my cat to nibble to pieces). It is hidden away in the reinhabited industrial MadMax wasteland that is Shuwaikh. Great design, the staff know their business and they aren’t quick to recommend things they know are impractical. Surprisingly affordable insta-class.

mark

Winner: Good Game
First full disclosure, the owner of Good Game is a really good friend of mine as well as Nima. Actually, the first time I met the owner is when Nima invited me over to play the Game of Thrones board game with him and a couple of other people around two years back (what a complicated board game that was, I still don’t understand it). The owner loves board games, like REALLY loves them which is why he opened up Good Game in the first place. What I love about the shop and the reason I chose it as a winner is the fact that it has become more than just a place where you go and buy stuff. Anyone with money can open a store but what Good Game has done is create a wonderful community. Pass by anytime during the evening and you’ll find a group of guys sitting in the store playing board games, if you pass by on weekends it’s even more packed. The shop has created a space where people into board games can go socialize and pass time. In a place like Kuwait where we’re always looking for something to do, Good Game is a treasure.

Runner up: Pet Zone
If it wasn’t for the community aspect of Good Game I personally would have chosen Pet Zone as the winner. We really are lucky to have a pet shop this huge here in Kuwait especially considering dogs aren’t really loved over here. If you have a pet and you’ve never been to Pet Zone in Shuwaikh then please make sure you do.

Location: Good Game is located in Al-Sanabil Tower in Sharq, on Mezzanine 2. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Best Coffee Shop in Kuwait 2015

Post by Mark

bestcoffeeshop

vol1

nima

Winner: VOL.1
You know I never really drank coffee. It makes my pee smelly funny. Not haha funny but you know…odd…

But the missus bought an espresso machine and now my pee smells funny all the time. Since then, as luck would have it, Vol.1 opened.

Vol.1 is one of a few local gems that I cannot champion enough. It’s an entirely locally owned and operated coffeehouse that roasts its own beans. It’s a part of what I hope is a growing trend of small, conceptually solid places that have tremendous confidence in their product and don’t stoop to dilute themselves by offering something for everyone. This is a coffeeshop, pure and simple. It sells some of the best coffee in Kuwait. The setting is a vaguely familiar with its diwaniya-style with seating along its walls but the concrete and industrially-styled design makes me think, “wow…chinna berooklyn”. But without any hipsters. Everyone’s a winner.
Tip: It’s summer. Grab a cold one.

Runner up: CAFFEINE
This is another hidden away gem in apparently up-and-coming south mubarakiya (some call it SoMu)(please don’t call it SoMu). The owner and proprietor is a sweetie and his brew’s delicious. Try whatever espresso and ice cream dessert he gave me that was so good I forgot the name.

mark

Winner: VOL.1
Unlike Nima, I don’t drink coffee, I’ve always been a tea person. But I still love VOL.1 and I’ve been going there ever since they opened. All my friends love their coffee and I generally tag along with them whenever they head to Vol.1 just because the atmosphere over there is so cool. With the loud music playing and all the guys and girls coming in and out it’s become one of the most trendiest places in Kuwait. I personally love the treats they sell and they’re pretty healthy which is a big bonus. VOL.1 is also a successful local concept that’s competing in a field dominated by big brand franchises. That’s not an accomplishment that should be taken lightly.

Runner up: Masaha 13
For my runner up I’m going to go with Masaha 13. As a place to go have coffee it’s a different style completely from Vol.1. I would generally go to Masaha 13 for business meetings or to chill with a friend or two quietly. It’s a very cozy atmosphere and I love that about the place. They also have a large space upstairs where they hold different events and exhibitions and I think thats what makes them even more special.

Location: VOL.1 is located in Kuwait City on Mubark Al Kabeer Street in the same building as Almakan. They’re not open all day so check their instagram @vol_1kuwait for timings. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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