Conrad Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn Coming to Kuwait

Post by Mark

conrad

Back in April I posted that Conrad Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn both might be coming to Kuwait as part of The Avenues phase 4 expansion and today this news was officially announced. Conrad Hotel will be part of The Prestige section of the mall while Hilton Garden Inn will be connected to the new section of the mall thats being built called The Forum.

hiltoninn

Hilton Garden Inn will also be the brand’s largest hotel in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region with 430 rooms. According to the article, both hotels will be opening in 2019. Here is the link to the article [Link]


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Tourist Electronic Visa Application

Post by Mark

evisa

Even though the MOI website looks like it was designed by a high school student back in 1998, it still gets updated every so often with new features. The latest feature added to the website is the ability for tourists visiting Kuwait to apply for a visa online (eVisa). There is a very short list on the website of nationalities that can use this service, but those nationalities should find this service useful since it will speed up the entry process. Here is the direct link to the eVisa page [Link]


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The New Q8Books Store

Post by Mark

q8books

Last year Q8Books moved from their Bayt Lothan location in Salmiya to DAI (Dar Al Athar Alislamiyah) since Bayt Lothan closed down. This weekend I finally got to pass by and check out their new space and there were some good stuff and bad stuff.

First the good stuff. Visually I like the new space, it looks better, its spaced out nicer and it feels larger. They have over 15,000 books spread out across three different rooms and they even have a kids room and a reading room. It feels like a cozy high school library.

But there were a few things I didn’t like. The location, Yarmouk where DAI is located is just not as accessible as Salmiya is. It’s not near anything and it’s out of everyones way. DAI is also not a very inviting space, it doesn’t feel or look as casual as Bayt Lothan and you won’t find teens hanging around playing music, skateboarding or anything of the sort at DAI. There were also no Q8Books signs, not outside and not inside. I had to call Fajer who owns the place to ask her where the bookshop was since there was nobody at DAI to ask and no signs pointing towards the shop. Turns out I had to walk to the back of the building and then take the stairs one floor up.

If you’re looking to buy, donate or read books then you should pass by and check the place out. They’re open daily from 5PM to 9PM except on Saturdays when they open from 11AM to 9PM. Once you walk into DAI, walk to the back where there is a seating area and then take the stairs up and you’ll find Q8Books there at the end of the corridor on your left. Here is their location on [Google Maps] and they’re on instagram @q8bookstore


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Remembrance at Al-Shaheed Park

Post by Mark

remembrance1

The Memorial Museum at Al Shaheed Park opened a couple of days ago on the anniversary of the 1990 Kuwait invasion. The exhibit space is really beautiful as you can see in the photos and features interactive displays. The opening hours are from 9AM to 9PM but I’d highly recommend you don’t go during the day in the summer.

remembrance2

The museum is located on the far end of the park, opposite where the parking is located. I wanted to visit the museum during the day time so I could have daylight in my shots and so passed by around 3:30. There was literally no shade from the parking to the museum and by the time I got to the exhibit I felt like I had just crossed the Sahara. If anyone in Al Shaheed Park is reading this, you guys need to have some sort of shuttle service from the parking to the museum or at least plant trees that would shade the walk path.


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Mobile Tire Service

Post by Mark

star1

Last week my brother got a flat tire and when he took out his spare tire he noticed that was flat as well. So his choices were:

– Call a tow truck
– Go get his spare fixed and then install it on the car and then drive back to Canada Dry street to get the main tire replaced
– Call a mobile tire service company and have them come over and replace his tire

He ended up going with the third option and called Star Service since it was his most convenient option. Star Service are an emergency roadside assistance service that also do home calls. Say you end up with a dead car battery or flat tire, you would call Star Service up and they’d come over and get you up and running again. If you have a flat tire you could call them up and give them your tire size and brand and they could bring a new tire with them. In my brothers case since his tire was rare, they couldn’t get him one so he ended up buying the tire himself and they then came over to his place to install it for him.

star2

Star Service come over in a small fully equipped van. If you’ve ever had a tire replaced you know that they first need to remove the old tire from the wheel, then install the new tire on the wheel and then get the wheel balanced. Star Service can do all of that inside the van since all the equipment needed is in there. They even have a small generator to power up the computer and the machine needed for the wheel balancing.

ُThe cost to come over and do a tire replacement was surprisingly not too expensive costing just KD10. If you ever get a flat or a dead battery and need their services, they work daily from 11AM to 7PM except for Fridays. Their phone number is 90997823.

Update: Garagee is another company that offers a similar service, their phone number is 50250280 and their instagram account is @garagee.me


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3D Printing Services in Kuwait

Post by Mark

After posting my review of the Micro 3D Printer last week a reader contacted me asking me if I could print something for him. I realized some people might want something printed but don’t want to invest in a printer so this post is a roundup of local places that could print stuff for you in 3D. If you know of any other place, please share it in the comments below.

3D Printing
3DPme – They sell, rent 3D printers as well as print stuff for you
Wain Plus – They can create 3D objects for you as well as print stuff

Other
MB Training Center – They offer 3D printing classes


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Payment System for Home and Small Businesses

Post by Mark

taplogo

Yesterday I had a meeting with TAP, (the local electronic payment company) since they wanted to let me know of some new things they’ll be introducing in a couple a months time. I can’t disclose any of it for now but while meeting with them I did manage to get some details on their current services. To be truthful, I wasn’t a fan of TAP before my meeting and that’s mostly because of the ridiculous no desktop browser rule they had in place. Basically on more than one occasion when I wanted to pay for an item using their service, the link the seller provided wouldn’t work from my computer. Turned out their service would only work when using a mobile phone browser and I thought that was the dumbest thing ever. There was no technical reason for it, they just decided not to allow people on desktops from using their service. Not very practical especially when I would link to workshops on my event page that required TAP payments. Thankfully, this annoyance will be solved with their upcoming updates.

pay

With that rant out of the way, what I wanted to write about in this post is how their payment system is actually really great for home and small businesses in Kuwait. When I was starting a company and wanted to setup a payment system for an online store, the fees involved were ridiculous. Firstly you needed to be an officially registered business which means home businesses couldn’t setup an online payment system. Secondly the cost involved was just too high, depending on the bank you would pay a setup fee of around KD750 (KD1,000 in some cases), then a monthly fee ranging from KD25 to KD50 depending on the bank and then on top of that a charge per transaction, 1% for debit cards and 3% for credit cards. So if you’re just starting up those fees could be pretty brutal.

TAP on the other hand offer two services for home and small businesses and in both services you do not have to be an officially registered business.

GoCollect
The first service is called GoCollect. Say you have an instagram account and you sell cupcakes out of your home, when someone places an order with you through whatsapp, you would provide them with a link that will send them to the TAP website where they could pay you either with a debit card or credit card. There is no setup fee for this service and you can sign up to it from the TAP website. You could be up and running in less than 24 hours. TAP make their money with transaction fees, they charge 200fils 2.5% per debit card transaction and 3% for credit card transactions. TAP gets your customers money and then deposits it into your account. You don’t have to be dealing with a certain bank either, they work with all local banks.

softwares

GoSell
The second service they offer is called GoSell. This is for small businesses that have an online store. Say you’re selling tshirts and you created an online shop using one of the online services like Shopify, Magento, WordPress or whatever, TAP would provide you with a plugin (or API for pros) that would allow you to integrate their payment system with your ecommerce website. They charge around KD300 to set this up for you, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more depending on the size of your business and then like with GoCollect, they charge 200fils 2.5% per debit card transaction and 3% for credit cards. No monthly fees.

If you’re a home or small business or thinking of starting a business then this is currently the easiest way to setup a payment system. If you want to find out more you can visit their website for more details [Here]

Update: I was informed by TAP to replace the 200fils debit card transaction fee in my post with 2.5% since they don’t have a fix rate. Depending on the size of your business and your negotiation ability the debit card transaction fee could be 200fils, could be 1%, could be 2.5% etc.. it varies


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First Ring Road – An Infinite Loop

Post by Mark

firstringloop

Awhile back I was talking to my friends dad who’s been in Kuwait working on the local infrastructure since the 60s and he told me that when the First Ring Road was originally conceived it was meant to be a loop. I don’t remember the exact conversation but they ran into issues (I think a politician didn’t want a bridge overlooking his property or something along those lines) and the project never got completed. Now the project is back on track and those of you who work in the city have probably noticed a lot of road closures. Last week the road from Dasman roundabout to the First Ring Road was shutdown and dug up and yesterday the Dasman roundabout itself was dissected (pictured below) so construction can start there as well.

dasman

I’m going to try and get official pictures of the project but once construction is completed it should look something similar to my drawing on top. I’m guessing as well that once the project is completed you should be able to loop the First Ring Road without stopping at any traffic light so I’m curious to see how they’re planning to connect the current end of the First Ring Road which ends at Souk Mubarakia to the new extension which starts near the Grand Mosque and Kuwait Stock Exchange. I checked the Projects Explorer on the Ministry of Public Works website and according to the information I found there, once this project is completed there will be a total of 5 bridges connecting the current end of the First Ring Road to the start of the First Ring Road. I couldn’t find a completion date nor could I find renderings of how the project will look like also once completed but I’m trying to get my hands on them.

If you have any renderings or more information please share it.


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Kuwait is a Cheap Place to Live

Post by Mark

watertowers

The 2016 Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey was released recently and Kuwait came out pretty low on the MENA list (which is a good thing). The most expensive place to live in the MENA region turned out to be Dubai and the cheapest place to live turned out to be Jeddah.

Top 10 most expensive cities to live in the MENA region:
1- Dubai, UAE
2- Abu Dhabi, UAE
3- Beirut, Lebanon
4- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
5- Manama, Bahrain
6- Doha, Qatar
7- Cairo, Egypt
8- Muscat, Oman
9- Kuwait City, Kuwait
10- Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Mercer’s survey includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. The survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US$. [Source]

The 10 most expensive cities to live in the world are:
1- Hong Kong, Hong Kong
2- Luanda, Angola
3- Zurich, Switzerland
4- Singapore, Singapore
5- Tokyo, Japan
6- Kinshasa, Dem. Rep. of the Congo
7- Shanghai, China
8- Geneva, Switzerland
9- Ndjamena, Chad
10- Beijing, China

If you want to see the full report you need to register on the Mercer website [Here]

via BlogBaladi


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4DX Cinemas Now Available in Kuwait

Post by Mark

4DX auditoriums include high-tech motion seats and special effects including wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water, rain and scents. These effects work in perfect synchronicity with the action on screen creating the most unmissable and exhilarating cinematic experience yet.

Cinescape is launching 4DX tomorrow with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Ticket prices for 4DX films is KD8 which is double the price of regular tickets. According to the Grand Cinemas website they’re also going to be launching 4DX soon.

4dx

Not sure if I care for 4DX much, it sounds like a gimmick but I guess I’ll have to try it out at least once before I make up my mind on it.

Thanks ShadowofMath


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