New Renderings of Avenues Phase 4 and Map

Posted by Mark

avenues4

I managed to get a hold of some new renderings of Avenues Phase 4 from the marketing department at Avenues as well as a map to help visualize where everything will be located.

map
You can download the hires version of two maps [Here] and [Here]

I’ve already posted some renderings before but they sent me new ones I hadn’t seen before so I’m sharing them all below along with a little snippet of information which they had emailed me. Based on the map it looks Avenues will be around 20% larger than it’s current state once the final phase is completed.

Avenues Phase IV includes expansions of existing districts that have been highly popular with visitors, including Prestige, Grand Avenue and The Souk. New districts with modern and diverse concepts will also be included to build on the shopping and entertainment experience. The new districts include Arcadia, The Grand Plaza, The Forum, Electra and The Cinema, as well as a five star hotel and another four star hotel.


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Best Coffee Shop in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

bestcoffeeshop

nima

Winner: VOL.1
You know I never really drank coffee. It makes my pee smelly funny. Not haha funny but you know…odd…

But the missus bought an espresso machine and now my pee smells funny all the time. Since then, as luck would have it, Vol.1 opened.

Vol.1 is one of a few local gems that I cannot champion enough. It’s an entirely locally owned and operated coffeehouse that roasts its own beans. It’s a part of what I hope is a growing trend of small, conceptually solid places that have tremendous confidence in their product and don’t stoop to dilute themselves by offering something for everyone. This is a coffeeshop, pure and simple. It sells some of the best coffee in Kuwait. The setting is a vaguely familiar with its diwaniya-style with seating along its walls but the concrete and industrially-styled design makes me think, “wow…chinna berooklyn”. But without any hipsters. Everyone’s a winner.
Tip: It’s summer. Grab a cold one.

Runner up: CAFFEINE
This is another hidden away gem in apparently up-and-coming south mubarakiya (some call it SoMu)(please don’t call it SoMu). The owner and proprietor is a sweetie and his brew’s delicious. Try whatever espresso and ice cream dessert he gave me that was so good I forgot the name.

mark

Winner: VOL.1
Unlike Nima, I don’t drink coffee, I’ve always been a tea person. But I still love VOL.1 and I’ve been going there ever since they opened. All my friends love their coffee and I generally tag along with them whenever they head to Vol.1 just because the atmosphere over there is so cool. With the loud music playing and all the guys and girls coming in and out it’s become one of the most trendiest places in Kuwait. I personally love the treats they sell and they’re pretty healthy which is a big bonus. VOL.1 is also a successful local concept that’s competing in a field dominated by big brand franchises. That’s not an accomplishment that should be taken lightly.

Runner up: Masaha 13
For my runner up I’m going to go with Masaha 13. As a place to go have coffee it’s a different style completely from Vol.1. I would generally go to Masaha 13 for business meetings or to chill with a friend or two quietly. It’s a very cozy atmosphere and I love that about the place. They also have a large space upstairs where they hold different events and exhibitions and I think thats what makes them even more special.

Location: VOL.1 is located in Kuwait City on Mubark Al Kabeer Street in the same building as Almakan. They’re not open all day so check their instagram @vol_1kuwait for timings. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Ramadan Buffets in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

ramadan

I usually post this list at the start of Ramadan but this year I had a difficult time getting in touch with some of the restaurants so I had to physically pass by them. This is the most comprehensive list I have put together with over 30 restaurants listed. Majority have buffets but a number of them have set menus instead.

Like they do every year, many of the restaurants have increased their prices compared to the previous year (some have decreased). I’ve highlighted the increase in red and the decrease in green. The most expensive option available is The Garden Cafe at Jumeirah, they’re charging KD19 for their buffet this year. The most affordable option is Avanti palace, their set menu is just KD3.3. Check out the full list of places below:

Abdel Wahab
Buffet Price: KD10
Telephone: 1821000

Al Forno
Set Menu Price: KD9.5
Telephone: 22214996 or 22283498

Al Jahra Copthorne Hotel & Resort – Taima’a Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD10
Telephone: 24590000

Al Noukhaza Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD12.950 (+1.000)
Telephone: 24757775 or 1823888

Al Sanawbar Lebanese Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD8.950
Telephone: 25756273

Applebee’s
Set Menu Price: KD8 (+1.050)
Telephone: 1844466

Assaha Lebanese Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD11 (+3.000)
Telephone: 22533377

Avanti Palace
Set Menu Price: KD3.300 – min 4 people (-0.300)
Telephone: 25751081

Boccini Pizzeria
Set Menu Price: KD15
Telephone: 22200669

Burj Al-Hamam
Buffet Price: KD12.5
Telephone: 22529095

Cafe Blanc – The Avenues
Buffet Price: KD7.750 (Buffets only on weekends)
Telephone: 22597568

Courtyard by Marriott
Buffet Price: KD13 (+1.000)
Telephone: 22997000

Crowne Plaza – Al Ahmadi Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD12.950 (+0.450)
Telephone: 24757775

Dean & Deluca
Set Menu Price: KD9.950 – min 4 people
Telephone: 22242224

Hilton Resort – Teatro Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD15.500 (+0.500)
Telephone: 22256222

Jeans Grill
Buffet Price: KD7.750
Telephone: 25625811

Jumeirah Messilah Beach – Garden Cafe
Buffet Price: KD19 (+3.000)
Telephone: 22269600

JW Marriott
Buffet Price: KD14 (+1.000)
Telephone: 22455550

Katsuya
Set Menu Price: KD12.5 – serves 2 to 3 people
Telephone: 22283195/6 or 22214985

Kosebasi
Set Menu Price: KD10
Telephone: 22251303

Leila
Set Menu Price: KD9 – min 6 people (+1.000)
Telephone: 22996414

Millennium Hotel & Convention – Lamar International Restaurant
Set Menu Price: KD13
Telephone: 22050505

Movenpick – Free Zone – Bays Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD11.9 (-1.600)
Telephone: 24610033

Movenpick – Al Bida’a – Breeze Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD14
Telephone: 22253100

Naranj
Buffet Price: KD13 (+0.500)
Telephone: 22268666

Qasr Al-Saraya
Buffet Price: KD8.5 (+0.500)
Telephone: 25711101

Radisson Blu – Al Bustan Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD14 (+1.000)
Telephone: 25673000

Red Lobster
Set Menu Price: TBA
Telephone: 22200536

Ruby Tuesday
Set Menu Price: KD6.950 (+1.200)
Telephone: 22444454

Sheraton – Coral Tent
Buffet Price: KD17.250
Telephone: 22422055

Symphony Style Hotel – Luna Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD14
Telephone: 25770000

THE One
Buffet Price: KD9.800 (+0.300)
Telephone: 22244511

The Regency Kuwait – Silk Road Restaurant
Buffet Price: KD18
Telephone: 25766880

The Southern
Set Menu Price: KD9 (-0.500)
Telephone: 98949799

Vapiano
Set Menu Price: KD4.950
Telephone: 22597171

Veranda
Set Menu Price: KD12
Telephone: 22283141

Villa Fayrouz
Buffet Price: KD13 (+0.500)
Telephone: 22650052

Zafran
Buffet Price: KD7.5
Telephone: 25750647

Zahr El Laymoun – 360 Mall
Buffet Price: KD8.250 (+0.250)
Telephone: 25309511

If you’d like to add a restaurant to the list above [Email Me]

Update: Added Al Forno and Lamar International Restaurant
Update2: Added Jeans Grill, cheapest buffet on the list as of now
Update3: Original price listed for Jeans Grill was their Suhoor buffet
Update4: Added Burj Al-Hamam, Al-Sanawbar Lebanese Restaurant and Taima’a Restaurant
Update5: Added Katsuya


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Ramadan Timings

Posted by Mark

ramadan

Below are some important Ramadan timings, if you’d like add anything leave it in the comments below.

Banks: 10AM to 1:30PM (Airport 24 hours)
Government: 9:30AM to 2PM
360 Mall: 11AM to 3PM & 8:30PM to 1AM
Avenues Mall: 10AM to 4 & 8PM to 1AM
Gate Mall: 10AM to 3PM & 8PM to 12AM
Marina Mall: 11AM to 4PM & 8:30PM to 1AM
Salhiya: 10:30AM to 2:30PM & 8:30PM – 12:30AM
Souq Sharq: 10AM to 4PM & 8:30PM to 1AM


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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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