The Revamped Pearl Lounge Sucks

Posted by Mark

lounge

Last month I posted about the new revamped Pearl Lounge and based on the photos I assumed the new lounge looked better. Well I’m in the lounge right now and I think the images I saw of the lounge made it look a lot better than it actually is. I’m sitting in the lounge waiting for my flight and there are two main issues I have with the place:

1) The new lounge looks and feels very cold and I don’t mean temperature wise which right now is actually pretty warm along with the rest of the airport (the AC must be down). The beige tiled floors, the fake beige leather chairs along with the plain beige walls makes the lounge feel like a boring doctors waiting room sans the magazines.

2) The new chairs are stiff with very upright backs making them extremely uncomfortable to sit on not only for long durations but even for a few minutes.

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The old lounge was very cozy and comfortable, sure the couches needed some TLC but even if they had left them the way they were I think it was better than the lounge right now. On the plus side there are power plugs everywhere now which is great in case you want to charge your electronics but urgh!! I hate the new lounge!


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Demolition Blunder

Posted by Mark

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So you know that parking lot in Salmiya I’ve posted about that’s filled with graffiti and is now getting demolished? Well whoever is demolishing the building messed up, not just once, not twice, but three times!

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As you can see from the photos, the demolition has damaged the still brand new unopened mall in three different places.

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What probably is worse is the fact that the demolition area isn’t cordoned off which means kids from the neighborhood could just walk into the demolition site or just go up the easily accessible stairs of the partly demolished lot. Sadly it’s not a big deal because most of us here have grown accustomed to the lack of professionalism involved in demolition. On a similar topic, a reader the other day left the following comment under the Family Bookshop post:

Speaking of demolishing. An Indian that works for our company became paralyzed from the waste down just this past month because the building next door was being demolished. The side wall of the building fell into their building knocking down the wall to his room.

That’s messed up.


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The Family Bookshop & Old Salmiya

Posted by Mark

familybookshop

I’m still on vacation and will get back to blogging next week but I was flipping through some old photos when I found the photos below of The Family Bookshop before they closed down.

It really pisses me off how they demolished the whole block of buildings three years ago taking away a lot of great stores as well as the street’s life from the area. Until this day there’s nothing to show for it except a large big hole in the ground.

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They even closed off the sidewalk and parking spots adjacent to the construction site.

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The mall that was supposed to be built in that place pictured above (here’s a video as well) was supposed to be completed this year but as you can see below, construction hasn’t even started.

hole


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The State of the P2BK Village Today

Posted by Mark

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Yesterday a reader sent me photos he took a couple of days ago of the Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti village in Mishref. It seems after the event was over it turned into an abandoned village with no one willing to clean it up. The images of the garbage covered village had already been circulating around social media so I decided to pass by myself this morning and check it out myself.

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When I first arrived to the P2BK main gate I quickly recognized the scene from one of the photos I had been sent. Outside the village wall, the area between the P2BK village and the Remal Sand Park area looked like it had been hit by a tornado. There was trash everywhere, overturned stands, painted sculptures lying all over the place and lots of broken gypsum boards. It was a disaster.

Then I proceeded through the main gates into the P2BK village and the scene wasn’t as bad inside. The place is abandoned and it’s outdoor so obviously it’s not going to be in pristine condition.

village

There was trash lying around mostly in corners or up against the walls but the majority of the space in the village was just empty. It was windy this morning so while walking around there was lots of banging of doors that hadn’t been closed. Lots of doors had fallen off their hinges even but the majority were just flapping with the wind.

Once I was done wandering around the village I decided to head across to the Remal Sand Park area. The Remal Sand Park was the largest sand sculpture park when open and even though the space is abandoned and the park long closed, majority of the sand sculptures are still up and in excellent condition. They definitely didn’t just use sand and water to build these things.

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The majority of this space like the village was empty and clean of trash except for one side, where I spotted a bunch of overturned stands and broken gypsum boards strewn across the floor. I have no idea why there is so much broken gypsum boards everywhere, I think that made up the majority of the litter at the park and village.

Generally, both areas weren’t that bad with the biggest issue being the space between the Remal Sand Park and the P2BK village. As I was about to leave in my car I noticed the wind was blowing garbage into this area from one direction. I looked in that direction and noticed two large garbage bins, one was overflowing with garbage, the other empty but there was garbage on the floor all around.

garbage

You can also see a trail of garbage from these two bins towards the area between the P2BK and Sand Park. I realized what was happening, whenever there was strong wind, garbage was flying from these bins towards the village where they gathered outside the village walls. I continued driving past those two bins and spotted another large pile of trash in the area behind the sand park.

So is the situation bad? Yes, but just as bad as it is anywhere else in Kuwait. I think what makes this situation different is the name of the event, Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti and here you have the event over and the place looking like a junk yard. Most of it is not their fault, at least garbage wise which seems to fly towards their space from the large dumpsters nearby. But the broken gypsum boards everywhere and overturned stands and decorations, those are their fault. It shouldn’t be difficult to clean up but the question is then what? Well I think I have a solution.

P2BK Village Idea
I think this area should be turned into a paint ball park. It literally looks like a small village which ads realism and it also means lots of hiding places. A round of MILSIM there would be amazing.

bikepark

Remal Sand Park Idea
Unlike the village, the ground here is just sand so I came up with an idea which I think would work and it’s something we don’t have in Kuwait, a mountain bike park. Mountain bikes are meant for off-road trails which we really don’t have any in Kuwait (maybe just the Mutla Ridges). In the US and in Europe you can find mountain bike parks which are man-made trails with various obstacles to recreate riding your bike on a mountain trail. The picture above is an example of one. There are already some elevations and tunnels in the current sand park, all you would need to do is compound the sand in some areas, add floodlights to make it usable during the evenings, add maybe a few ramps, maybe some wooden boards here and there and you’ll end up with a great looking mountain bike park surrounded by beautiful large sand sculptures.

So thats what I’d like to see happen to the village and sand park. If you have any better ideas just leave them in the comments.

fluffy

On my way out of the fair grounds I kept spotting white fluffy stuff all over the sidewalks everywhere. At first I thought they were some kind of tacky decorations but on closer inspection I realized they were tissues, papers and white nylon bags that were caught in the weeds that had grown from the sidewalks. If anything I thought that was a bigger issue since its in everyones face on their way in and out of the fair grounds. Depressing.


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Salmiya is a Garbage Dump

Posted by Mark

garbage1

Last year when I was in Dubai having lunch I started chatting with the waiter and it turned out he had just moved to Dubai from Kuwait. He was in Kuwait getting training for just a short period of time before being sent to their Dubai branch. I asked him what he thought about Kuwait in the time he had spent here and he replied saying he was surprised at how dirty it was. Usually the most common response is that Kuwait is too hot or the fact they hated it because there was no social life or alcohol but that was the first time someone had told me they thought Kuwait was dirty. That comment stuck with me ever since because it made me realize, I’ve kinda gotten immune to the garbage like I’ve gotten immune to the heat or the fact that there is sand everywhere.

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The photos in this post are my latest submission to the Deera App. All this garbage is located in a sand lot behind my apartment building, the same sand lot which at one point someone had dug a large pit to dump all the garbage in.

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The way I see it there are a few things that need to be done to solve the garbage issue:

1) Clean up the garbage. Not sure how much money is allocated to cleaning up the garbage but either they should allocate more money or work more efficiently. In this one sand lot behind my place a quick solution for now would be to add more bins. When people dug a pit in the lot to throw garbage it was because the 7 bins weren’t enough. Instead of adding more bins to solve the issue they removed two leaving just 5 so obviously the garbage is going be overflowing. But its also not just about the garbage bins, there is litter all over the floor all around Salmiya and that never gets cleaned up.

2) Educate people. A nationwide anti-littering campaign would be a good start. I can’t even remember the last time there was an anti-littering campaign in Kuwait, maybe back in the 80s.

3) Fine people for littering. This is far fetched of course because I’ve seen cops let people run red lights and not chase them so I doubt they’re going to fine people for littering.

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4) Finally put me in charge of Salmiya because whoever is in charge now obviously doesn’t give a shit about the area.

Update: Just a quick note, it took two trucks but thanks to the Deera App the garbage was all cleaned and the building that had caused most of the waste in the first photo was also fined.

cleaned


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Two of my favorite local apps have gone evil

Posted by Mark

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There two iPhone apps I’ve recommended on the blog previously that have now become unusable, the E-Gate App and the KAFI airport app. Not sure what got into the developers mind (both apps were produced by the same company) but I can no longer use the apps, not unless I spam a friend that is.

Just out of the blue both apps locked up and now refuse to work unless I tweet, facebook, sms, email or whatsapp a friend with a message telling them to download the app. WTF? Obviously I refused and have since deleted both apps from my phone. I’m not going to be forced by a local company to send adverts to my friends just so I could use their apps especially E-Gate which isn’t a free app.

If you want to check your traffic violations do it for free [Here]
If you want to check flight arrivals and departures download the Q8 Airport app [Here]


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The Emergency Lane Confusion

Posted by Mark

copemergencylane

I have no idea whats going on with the emergency lane situation in Kuwait but there seriously seems to be some major confusion. The other day an article in the Arab Times said the following:

Jail, 3-Mth Vehicle Seizure For Emergency Lane Violators
Director of Public Relations and Moral Guidance Department and Acting Director of Security Media Department, Brigadier Adel Al-Hashash has announced the activation of a traffic law which punishes motorists who use the emergency lanes, reports Al-Shahed daily.

Al-Hashash explained those who drive in the emergency lanes will be detained at police stations for between 24 and 48 hours and the Al-Anba daily added their vehicles will be impounded for three months. He denied motorists were allowed to use the emergency lanes because of traffic congestion. He added, the Interior Ministry’s media department had earlier issued a statement in this regard. He said the law was activated on May 19 and the security authorities will implement this law in its strict sense.[Source]

First of all it seems no one gives a crap about that new law because over the weekend during heavy traffic on the Fahaheel Expressway not only were people using both the left and right emergency lanes, they were using it even when there was a police car in front of them (pictured above). No one was afraid of getting stopped, fined or punished. But then again, I’ve seen people run red lights in front of cops with no reaction from the cops so don’t know why I was surprised by this.

If that wasn’t bad enough, today there is another article in the Arab Times but this one contradicts the statement I highlighted in bold and italics in the article above. I’ve copy pasted this new article below:

Move To Reduce Congestion
Ministry of Interior has permitted the use of safety lanes on certain roads at specific times to reduce congestion.

In a statement, the ministry indicated roads specified for this purpose include King Faisal Expressway from the Sixth Ring Road, King Abdul-Aziz Road from the Sixth Ring Road to First Ring Road, and Al- Maghrib Highway from King Fahad Road to the First Ring Road.

The permitted timings are 6:00am-9:00am and 12:30pm-3:30pm, noting the times specified are the busiest in the country because Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti employees and students leave and return from the schools, institutes and universities during the period.

The statement added the decision was based on directives from the Interior Minister and Acting Minister of Awqaf Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah and the Undersecretary Lieutenant General Suleiman Fahad Al-Fahad.

The road users can only use the safety lanes during the specific period and at specified locations to follow regulations, reiterating the lane is originally for ambulances, fire engines, police cars and civil defense but other vehicles can use it now, as instructed, and the speed limit is 45 km/h. [Source]

So a few days after one person issues a statement saying that no one is allowed to use the emergency lane not even during rush hour, another person releases another statement contradicting the the first person. Talk about lack of communication and confusion on this subject.


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Getting paperwork done in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

passport

Getting government related paperwork done can be such an emotional roller coaster. I got a new passport yesterday and all I had to do was move my residency from the old passport to the new one and the processes was just so exhausting. I originally went to the Hawalli Immigration office who then told me to go the Kuwait City office who then told me to go back to the Hawalli office. I was like no way, I just came from there and they said I needed to get the transfer done here. I was then sent from one person to another, to another, to another and had to do lots of pointless waiting around before I finally ended up in a room by myself with all hope lost of getting my stuff done before I travel in a few days. Then suddenly out of the blue, a guy randomly walked in, looked at my papers, signed them, called someone in another department and then sent me to him to get the papers processed. Just like that by mere coincidence I was done.

It’s insane, you literally have to walk on egg shells every time you get sent to someone to get a signature or a stamp. You have to hope they’re in a good mood, you need to make sure you don’t do anything that might aggravate them like stand too close to the desk or interrupt them while they’re whatsapping. It feels like you need a favor from every person you need a signature or stamp from. I hate it.

egov

On the bright side, not sure if many of you know about this but there is a half decent government website with information and forms you need to get various jobs done. It’s the Kuwait Government Online website and the section I’m talking about is called Citizens & Residents. Check it out [Here]


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Sheraton roundabout to use AstroTurf

Posted by Mark

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Most of you by now know I’m not a big fan of AstroTurf. I think AstroTurf belongs inside mini football fields and shouldn’t be used to beautify Kuwait. If you want to use AstroTurf to beautify the backstreets of Jabriya, sure, I guess I might understand the reasoning behind that. But, using AstroTurf on a monumental location like the Sheraton Roundabout? That I have a major problem with.

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Yesterday, while driving around the Sheraton roundabout I noticed workers were busy behind the fence working on the landscaping and I also noticed super bright green grass. I thought to myself no way, they can’t be using AstroTurf are they? So I parked my car in the nearest parking lot and decided to cross the busy street and take a closer look. Turns out instead of planting real grass in the roundabout they’ve decided to go with the tacky and flat looking AstroTurf.

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The irony is the landscapers have large signs all around the roundabout stating “We Keep Kuwait Green and Beautiful. Go Green Save Earth”. I guess by keeping Kuwait green they meant literally the color green. On the bright side they’re using real palm trees and flowers so I guess thats a plus.


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My beef with my bank (my lawyer said I can’t say which bank)

Posted by Mark

Around a month ago I was at the airport early morning, I had just finished checking in and headed towards the money exchange to get some currency. I gave the exchange employee my Knet card but got an error saying my card was declined. I tried it again but got the same error. I knew I had money on the card since I had double checked the night before. In any case I decided to log in with my banks app and double check but I got an error logging in as well. I then told the money exchange clerk I would be back and headed to one of the ATM machines at the airport to withdraw money but also got an error. So I called the banks call center number and spoke to an employee who proceeded to tell me their system was going under maintenance and I wouldn’t be able withdraw any money or use any of my cards for the next two hours.

I was furious.

Here I was at the airport about to travel and I didn’t have any cash on me and I wouldn’t be able to get any cash either and not because I didn’t have any money but because my bank wouldn’t give me access to it. When I asked the employee why they didn’t inform me and their other customers about this so that we would be prepared (I could have converted currency the night before and withdrawn money), his response was we did… on Instagram and Twitter. And this is where the problem lies. I hung up with the call center employee and headed to the lounge where I proceeded to tweet my frustration as well as send their customer care an email. I didn’t get any response from them until 30 days later when I had to tweet and remind them that it had been 30 days without a response.

Now this is where I would be interested to hear from you guys since maybe I’m over reacting here or maybe it’s me being an asshole but wouldn’t you agree it would be best if the bank SMS’ed their clients important information like when you won’t be able to access your money or any of your cards for two hours instead of posting that kind of important information on twitter or instagram?

First of all why the hell would I want to follow my bank on twitter or instagram? I follow only 15 friends on twitter and I follow around 100 friends on Instagram. The image above is a result of me following my banks twitter account (I had to so I could send them a direct message). They tweet so much and so often they ended up taking over my twitter feed. Why would I want to flood my twitter feed with their tweets on a daily basis?

Secondly, my bank have my phone number and I receive a ton of useless advertisements from them all the time. Why is it ok to SMS me useless adverts but not ok to SMS me important information like when I will not be able to use my ATM or credit cards because their system will be down?

So this is my suggestion to my bank (you know who you are):

1- SMS or Email your customers when there will be a major disruption in the service

2- Be clear about what the disruption will be. “System will be undergoing maintenance” could mean anything from I won’t be able to log in to your website to your call center employees won’t be able to order their daily fix of Caesars pizza. It’s too generic, instead tell your customers clearly that on a certain date at a certain time they will not be able to use their ATM cards.

3- Respond to emails. 30 days with no response means you’re ignoring me. I sent an email to Zain the other day and got a response in 15 minutes so if they can do it so can you.

That’s my 2 cents. And yes this post was censored by Fajer.


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