Posted by Mark
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.
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]
Posted by Mark
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Mark
Back in 2011 I posted about how a team of students from Kuwait came second place in the GCC Microsoft Imagine Cup. The idea that got them there was the creation of an App that would use crowd sourcing to inform the authorities of various problems around Kuwait. Using your phone you could snap a picture of overflowing garbage, large pot holes, accidents etc.. and then send the photos to the proper authorities with a GeoTag of the location.
Fast forward a couple of years and the Riyadh municipality just launched an iPhone App that does all of that. The screenshots above are in Arabic but the App also has English. Another example of a great local idea that gets implemented by another GCC country. [Link]
Posted by Mark
Yesterday I posted the picture above on my Instagram account of a new tshirt I had ordered online. It took me a month to get the tshirt because it was on backorder and so when a friend of mine pointed out that a local fashion store was selling a locally printed version (i.e. imitation) I got upset for two reasons:
1) If its a good creative idea you support the designer who came up with the idea and you don’t get a local printshop to reprint the design for you
2) The store that was selling the fake tshirts (I won’t mention the brand and any mention of the brand in the comments will be deleted) is actually a very well respected brand and one that I actually liked
So I visited their Instagram account and found the tshirt listed for sale there and in the comments I read the following:
The tshirt was by a local designer and not the official one in NYC so I left the following comment:
To my surprise instead of them apologizing for selling imitation goods they responded with the following comment:
I stayed diplomatic and responded highlighting the fact that they themselves said it was by a local designer and not that they had permission from the official brand to reprint it in Kuwait. I also tagged my friend Fajer the lawyer in the comments so that she was aware of the situation as well. A few moments later they deleted all my comments and blocked me from their account.
I decided to contact the original designer just to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake and turns out I hadn’t. According to the designer who created the orignal tshirt she never gave anybody permission to sell or reprint her tshirts. In fact the local store was sent the following email to cease sale of the tshirts:
VIOLATION OF TRADEMARK – Remove Immediately
We have been notified that you are in violation of our trademark ‘Ain’t Laurent Without Yves’. Please immediately cease sale of all materials with our trademark logo on it; Should you continue to sell these items we will pursue severe legal damages for profits lost.
We never gave you, or any other vendor permission to sell our product with our slogan on it. Your claims on twitter are false and are damaging our brand.
The reason I am pointing this situation out is to discuss how criticism is handled in the region. Even when I was right I got attacked and a lot of other people do too. We should be able to have freedom of speech and criticism actually helps companies (and people) to know how they can improve. People in the region need to calm down and start accepting criticism.
If you’re interested in the tshirt above you can purchase it directly from the original designer at whataboutyves.com
Posted by Mark
I didn’t know the Ahmadi Park had a zoo yet alone one that looks this depressing. Based on the pictures a reader sent me this zoo looks even worse than the Kuwait Zoo.