Avenues Phase 4 Updates

Posted by Mark

The Mabanee 2014 annual report recently got released and with it some updated information on the Avenues Phase 4 project:

– There will be two hotels not one, a five-star hotel and a four-star hotel
– The final new districts are: Arcadia, Electra, The Forum, The Grand Plaza and The Cinema
– Grand Avenue, Prestige and the Souk will all be expanded as well
– The new opening has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2018

Mabanee, the mall’s owning company is also building The Avenues Riyadh, The Avenues Khobar and The Avenues Bahrain. The total Phase 4 expansion will be adding 400 new stores to the Avenues, taking the total up to approximately 1200 stores. I honestly have no idea what else is still left to open, we pretty much have everything already as it is.

Check out my previous posts on the Avenues Phase 4 [Here]

Thanks Khaled


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Shipito US Mail Forwarding

Posted by Mark

shipito

At the moment my two favorite mail forwarding companies are Aramex and MyUS. I use the Aramex Shop & Ship service for packages that I am not in a rush to get and I use MyUS for packages that I need ASAP. The way these mailboxes work for those of you who aren’t aware, a lot of online stores don’t mail products outside of the US. With a US forwarding mailbox you order stuff online and mail it to your US address, then your packages gets shipped from that mailbox to your address in Kuwait and you just pay the shipping cost. Makes online shopping a lot easier.

A few weeks back I got an email from another US mail forwarding company called Shipito. According to the original email, Shipito are the biggest mail forwarders to South America and Europe and they’re hoping to become the same in the Middle East. To try out their service, they offered to ship any package for me that weighed up to 10KG. 10 freakin kilos!! I was ordering a MacBook Air around that same time but I was like nahhh, that wouldn’t really be taking advantage of their offer since it’s so light. After a bit of online shopping I realized that all the winter gear was heavily discounted because the season was over so I decided to order a snowboard, snowboard bindings and boots. They were 2015 models and were selling for 40% off at Backcountry (a really great store btw), so I decided to order them in hopes I would still manage to get some snowboarding done before the summer. That was obviously before I hurt my ankle last week.

myorder

I roughly calculated the weight of all my snowboard gear and it was going to be around 10KG, so I placed the order and shipped it to my Shipito mailbox which they had setup for me. Shipito provides you with three different US mailboxes to use each with their own advantage:

Minden, NV
The biggest Shipito warehouse. More storage (six times bigger mailbox capacity for free storage compared to California, or double of Oregon). 180 days storage for Virtual Mailbox (other locations offer 90 days). Lowest shipping cost for USPS, FedEx and DHL.

Tualatin, OR
No sales tax in Oregon! Save on 7-9% expensive purchases! Full service location. More storage space for your Virtual mailbox and shipping rates slightly higher than in California.

Hawthorne 2, CA
All shipping methods available. Consolidation available. Low shipping cost and fast speed due to proximity to LAX airport. Russian Post available. Lowest price for Airmail.

Clearly the biggest advantage Shipito has over Aramex and MyUS was the fact they have an Oregon location which means you don’t pay taxes. When I ordered my Macbook Air from the Apple Store, I paid $87.43 in taxes when I shipped it to MyUS mailbox. If I had shipped it to Shipito’s Oregon address I wouldn’t have paid any tax whatsoever. I placed my order for the snowboard gear and two days later it reached my Shipito mailbox.

snowboardgear

Once a package arrives to your Shipito mailbox, you have the option to have 10 photos of your items taken before they ship it (costs: $2.5). My packages arrived in two shipments so they took 20 photos in total and emailed them to me. They then gave me a bunch of options to help cut down on shipping. First thing I wanted to do is consolidate the two shipments into one. Then I had the option to completely get rid of all the boxes to cut down on shipping cost, or to keep the product boxes but have them repackage them so they can minimize the space used, or to leave everything the way it is. Since I needed the product boxes incase I needed to return an item, I had them redo the packaging. They did that and also sent me pictures of the whole process by email. Finally the package was ready to send and they gave me the following carriers I could ship with: DHL Express, FedEx Priority, FedEx Economy, USPS Priority Mail, USPS Express Mail, Airmail Economy, TNT Economy, TNT Express and USPS First Class International Parcel.

wrapped

I chose DHL Express and a couple of days later my package had arrived to my doorstep in Kuwait.

So would I use Shipito again?

Obviously my first experience was great since I didn’t pay for anything but since I have the mailbox already setup with them I would probably use them again. For one thing they’re great when ordering from the Apple Store. I placed an order for an Apple Watch and it still hasn’t gotten canceled by Apple so I think they ship to Shipito mailboxes. I tried previously with both my Aramex and MyUS mailboxes and both orders got canceled. Plus you don’t pay tax, that has to be the biggest advantage. Shipping cost on the other hand varies. Aramex is by far the cheapest option but also the slowest. Shipito vs MyUS is more difficult to calculate because MyUS now doesn’t charge based on volumetric weight but on actual weight (up to a certain size). So if its a big box MyUS will probably be cheaper. But if it’s a smaller box Shipito is cheaper. For example a 25x25x25cm box weighing 1KG would cost $47 with Shipito but $52 with MyUS. So yes I would use my Shipito address again mostly when ordering small electronics like laptops, cameras and other items that don’t come in a large box. Also expensive items I would save a lot on by not paying any tax.

If you want to find out more about Shipito you can visit their website [Here]


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New Ice Skating Rink, Musical Fountains a Skatepark and other new projects

Posted by Mark

iceskating

Awhile back a reader on the blog mentioned that TEC (Touristic Enterprises Company) were building a skatepark, so I emailed the person asking about it as well as a few other things and this is what I found out:

– The new skatepark will be located next to the ice skating rink in Kuwait City. There will be a new sports complex built there and the skatepark will be a part of it. The project is currently on hold because TEC is working with the Diwan Al Amiri to integrate the whole area which will include a new ice skating rink and a new musical fountain with water screens and fire shows. Initially they wanted to build each of the projects separately but the new TEC CEO wants to combine them all into one large project and make it as great as Al Shaheed Park which is right next door. The new project will have to work around the existing Discovery Mall building.

– Regarding the Kuwait Towers, the Amir wants the Kuwait Towers to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site so all work on the interior had to be put on hold. Work will continue after a meeting with UNESCO in Paris where they will receive the rules and specifications required to be approved as a UNESCO site. UNESCO doesn’t mind the exterior as much as the interior but the original plan of the towers had a disco dance floor as well as a bar so they’re waiting to see exactly how much of that can be changed.

entertainmentcity

– As I previously posted, Entertainment City is shutting down. They’re bringing in a firm to do a feasibility study so they can rebuild the park from the ground up. My contact didn’t mention Six Flags and he literally said “we will start re-building it” so my guess is the park will remain with TEC.

– TEC is currently considering turning Shaab Park into a LEGO Theme Park

– There are still around 12 other projects in the pipeline including a world class water park

I found all this very encouraging and exciting except for one aspect, the ice skating rink. I really hope they don’t demolish the current one, I think it’s as important to Kuwait’s History and landscape as are the water towers and Kuwait Towers. I wasn’t able to get access to the 3D renderings of the sports complex project because the contracts with the design firm hasn’t been finalized but if anyone here has them by any chance please email me them.

If I find out any more information on any of the above projects I’ll make sure to share them here on the blog.

Entertainment City photo by Ahmed Al Bather


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Kuwait is Building the Largest Museum in the World

Posted by Mark

According to the 40 minute film below, the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center that is currently under construction will be the largest museum in the world once completed. The museum will be located next to Shaab Park on the Gulf Road and include:

– A Natural History Museum
– A Science Museum
– A Museum of Islamic History
– A Space Museum
– A Fine Arts Center
– A 350 seat Theatre


[YouTube]

I knew the project was huge but I didn’t think it would end up being the largest museum in the world. I still find that hard to believe. Check out the film above and for more information on the project including 3D renderings click [Here]

Thanks Arad


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Local Tap Water Wins Again

Posted by Mark

Last summer I posted about how tap water is safe to drink even though the general consensus was that it wasn’t. Now a video is making its rounds around social media where four different bottled water brands have their pH levels tested alongside tap water and it seems tap water scores another win by being alkalized. According to proponents, alkalized water can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively. Check out the video above or on [YouTube]


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Snapchat is Live from Kuwait Tomorrow

Posted by Mark

snapchatkuwait

After Dubai and Riyadh went live on Snapchat last week, it’s now Kuwait’s turn. According to an instagram post by Viva, Snapchat will be live in Kuwait tomorrow… but theres a catch. It will only be broadcasting snaps from Ahmadi. What this means is that snapchats taken in the Ahmadi area will be eligible to go live but not snaps from the rest of Kuwait. No idea why Snapchat chose Ahmadi but I guess it’s better than nothing.


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Kuwait is Unhappy

Posted by Mark

sad

The third World Happiness Report was recently released by the United Nations and Kuwait dropped down the list instead of moving up. Originally when the list came out in 2012, Kuwait was ranked 31 under the list of happy nations. In 2013, Kuwait dropped one place to 32 and now in the third release Kuwait dropped further down to 39.

Not sure what caused the drop, I mean since the 2013 report we’ve had a ton of new burger joints open and Abercrombie & Fitch as well. Everyone should be super happy by now.

Download the full report from the World Happiness website [Here]


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Picking up mail from the Post Office

Posted by Mark

parceldelivery

Today I picked up a package from the post office for the very first time and I was pleasantly surprised with my experience.

A few weeks ago I ordered an item from an online store in Germany and chose DHL as my shipping option. Little did I know that DHL also had postal mail which is how the store mailed my package to Kuwait. When I found out they had shipped it by regular mail I almost had a heart attack. The item was limited (just 1 of 5) and I thought it was gonna get lost for sure because I kept hearing how screwed the local mail system was. It took around 10 days for the package to get here and I finally had the time today to go pick it up.

mail

I took my tracking number and headed to the Kaifan Post Office where all international mail gets delivered to. Package pickups are in the basement and all I had to do was give a woman behind a counter my tracking number which she then typed out on a computer and told me that it had arrived and to wait while they get it. Five minutes later my name was called and I showed them my civil ID card and signed a paper that I had received the shipment. My shipment was then passed over to the customs agent who opened to see what was inside before handing it over to me.

post-office

It was such an incredibly easy process that I think I’m going to be shipping stuff to Kuwait via regular mail much more often. Things to note, they’re open from 8AM to 1PM and once a package arrives to Kuwait they store it for 40 days before sending it back or destroying it. If you want to know where the post office is, here it is on [Google Maps]


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Kayak 4 Kuwait – Operation 200K

Posted by Mark

kayak

Yesterday, local activist Bashar Al-Huneidi set out on a 200km kayak journey around Kuwait’s islands to raise awareness about our local maritime environment and the issues affecting it, especially the many forms of pollution. This morning Bashar ran into an issue with his support boat and now the journey has been postponed a bit.

map

Bashar is documenting and sharing his journey via his instagram account using solar powered internet from his sponsor Gulf Telecom, so he’s got internet even out in the middle of nowhere. Make sure you follow him not only as encouragement but also because this is for a good cause and any exposure will help. His instagram account is @kayak4kuwait

via Red Paddle Co Q8


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100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40

Posted by Mark

top100

Arabian Business published a list of “100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40″ and Kuwait made the list four times. In fact, the second most powerful Arab on the list is Kuwait’s Bader Al Kharafi who holds several high-profile roles including being a board member of Gulf Bank, a board member of Foulath Holding (Bahrain Steel), chairman and managing director of Gulf Cables & Electrical Industries and vice chairman of Zain Group. The other Kuwaitis on the list were Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (#58), Ghosson Al Khaled (#69) and Mishaery Al Afasy (#87). Check out the full list [Here]


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