A wellknown electronics showroom

Posted by Mark

wellknown

Why is the local media so afraid to mention brands in the news? Why not just say a car crashed into X-Cite? It’s a fact, it’s not a rumor and I find it frustrating that they do this.

It’s bad enough when newspapers report on food products that were pulled from the local market for being hazardous but then don’t mention the brand. In this case, it’s just ridiculous they didn’t mention X-Cite. [Link]


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Our Taxis Suck

Posted by Mark

ourtaxissuck

I got a press release from the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai a couple of days back that pissed me off. It’s about a new device that’s being installed in their taxi cabs to help reduce accidents:

Once the taxi reaches a speed of 60km/hour, sensors fitted to the front and rear of the car are activated. If the taxi enters within the safety zone of the vehicle in front, a safety message will be sent to the taxi’s speaker inside the car. Similarly, if a vehicle approaching a taxi breaches the safety zone, they will receive a message through their own radio. This safety message will tell the driver to back away from the vehicle in front and to remember to keep a safe distance as it could be carrying a friend or loved one,” [Link]

The press release pissed me off because it’s frustrating to keep seeing how much more advanced Dubai is getting while we can’t even get our cab drivers to use a simple device like a taximeter. I would personally use cabs more often and I’m sure other people would do if it didn’t mean we would have to haggle for every ride.


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This can’t be right

Posted by Mark

obstruction

Awhile ago as I was pulling up into my street and into my buildings underground parking, I noticed a cop car parked on the side of the road. I then noticed a bunch of cars that were parked legally on the side of the road had tickets on them. So I pulled up next to the cop and I asked him if this was a no parking street, he replied saying no he’s ticketing them for “عرقلة” which means obstruction.

ticket

What exactly are these cars obstructing (for example the 4 pictured on top)? I checked the tickets and noticed he left the space where he’s supposed to explain what the ticket is for blank. That can’t be right or fair can it?


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Why Burgan Bank Sucks While Traveling

Posted by Mark

My primary bank is NBK but due to various issues, mainly this one time when their ATM network was down and I wasn’t able to withdraw money before traveling, I decided to open a secondary bank account with Burgan Bank as a backup. I chose Burgan Bank primarily because they were located in the building adjacent to my apartment building and I liked how the branch looked like. As I found out recently though, turns out for traveling, Burgan Bank was the wrong bank to go with.

Last month while in Cape Town the owner of the bed & breakfast I was staying in asked me if I could pay him in cash since that way he wouldn’t have to pay the credit card transaction fee. So I went to an ATM to withdraw money using my Burgan Bank card. The ATM had a limit on how much I could withdraw at once so I had to withdraw the amount in two parts. After withdrawing the first half I tried to withdraw the second half and got an error. I then received a message on my phone from Burgan Bank saying my card had been declined and I needed to contact them. So I called Burgan Bank up using roaming and after getting a hold of an employee I was told that due to security reasons, Burgan Bank has placed a limit on South Africa and that I could only withdraw a maximum of KD25 a day. I went apeshit over the phone. I told the employee I’m on vacation and they have no right to limit my spending to just KD25. I told him KD25 wouldn’t be enough for me to spend per day and I also needed to pay for my accommodation now and I couldn’t because of this stupid limit. He told me he would put in a request to increase my spending limit temporarily. I was like I needed the limit lifted now so he put me on hold for a few minutes before letting me know my limit was lifted.

plane-window

I came back to Kuwait and basically forgot about the whole incident until this past weekend while I was in Bahrain I ran into another issue. On the day I arrived to Bahrain I tried to use my Burgan Bank ATM card but it got declined. I thought it might have been something with the sellers machine and decided to use my NBK card for the purchase instead. I didn’t use my card for the rest of the trip since I was using my NBK credit card. When I landed in Kuwait Saturday night I headed to the Burgan Bank ATM machine at the airport to withdraw money to pay for parking but I got a declined error again and a message on my phone saying the bank declined my card and I should contact them. So I called Burgan Bank and ask their customer support why they’re declining my transactions and the employee told me it was due to security reasons. I was like what?! He was like when someone uses the ATM card in two different countries in the same day they automatically block my card and I need to call the bank to unblock it. I went apeshit again. I told the employee I had breakfast at the airport and then traveled to Bahrain and wanted to use my card there, are you telling me I am not allowed to do that? Are you saying that if I have breakfast at the airport I am not allowed to use my card again until 24 hours later after arriving to my destination? He was like it’s their policy. I was like I can’t be the only Burgan Bank customer that has complained about this. I was literally yelling at this point and asked him if Burgan Bank customers ever travel??? I told him this was the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard and that IF they were to block my card it should be when someone tries to withdraw a large amount like a KD1,000 or KD5,000 but not KD10! I told him I was fed up with them and that I hated being put in awkward situations because of them. I told him they have no right to keep blocking my card like that because they have no idea what situation I could be in while abroad and needed money but because of their incompetence I would end up being screwed. I told the employee to unblock my card and to put a note to never ever block it again. I told him even if five different people in five different countries try to withdraw money from my card at the same time to let them. Even if someone in Nigeria is trying to withdraw all the money on the card to let them. I just couldn’t handle it anymore, I hate being treated like a child by my bank. If they’re concerned about any transaction on my card they should call me and check on it like NBK does. But to block my card without warning is ridiculous.

So in the next few days when I have some free time I’m going to sadly be closing my account with Burgan Bank. I say sadly because I actually love the branch near my house and have had a pretty good experience with them. Even though both their app and online banking sucks I liked passing by their branch and their bank employees are actually really friendly. But their security policies have completely killed it for me. The whole point of opening an account with them was so that I have a backup system to use when I travel and the one thing I wanted them for they’ve failed in miserably. Now I need to find another bank instead so if anyone has any recommendations let me know below.

Update: Burgan Bank ended up calling me regarding my post and according to them they’ve reengineered some of the processes so that people don’t end up having these issues again. This is the email they sent me:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for raising your customer experience with us in regards to recent issues on your debit cards, firstly we regret the inconvenience caused to you. Due to the recent spate of frauds in card related transactions across the region each bank including ourselves had put in parameters in order to protect & safe guard our customers. Our endeavor has always been to protect our customers assets & ensure better customer experience.

We can reassure you that based on your experience and feedback we have relooked at our processes & reengineered them to ensure better customer experience and we will monitor and review the same on ongoing basis.

Regards,


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Customer Service in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

complaint

That’s why whenever you have a problem always email, tweet, instagram and facebook the companies.


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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.

lounge2

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

demo1

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!

demo2

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

demo3

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.

street

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

weirdmall

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

p2bkentrance

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.

middlearea

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.

sandpark

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.

garbage2

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.

garbage3

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.

garbage4

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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