Old Currency No Longer Accepted

Post by Mark


Spotted the notice above at my local Sultan Center. Kinda seems a bit too soon to start not accepting old currency since it’s barely been a year since the new ones were introduced.

Update: According to the Central Bank of Kuwait website, the old currency (5th issue) will no longer be accepted anywhere starting October 1st. After that date you’ll have until April 2025 to exchange your old currency for the new one by visiting the CBK Banking Hall. [Link]

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A Visit to the GCCJPPI

Post by Mark


Last week after posting about how the new Iftah Ya Simsim was now being filmed in Abu Dhabi instead of Kuwait, two readers commented that even though Iftah Ya Simsim was being shot in Abu Dhabi, some of the editing was still being done in Kuwait. One of the readers even invited me to pass by the GCCJPI facilities to check it out which I did.

GCCJPPI stands for Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Program Production Institution. A super long name but if you grew up in Kuwait during the 80s, all it takes is one look at their logo to recognize who they are. GCCJPPI are behind some of the most memorable shows on television back in the 80s. They were behind most of the popular Arabized cartoons and they also created shows like Salamatak (سلامتك), Quff (قف) and of course the Middle East version of Sesame Street, Iftah Ya Simsim.


The GCCJPPI facilities are located in Salmiya across the street from Souq Salmiya. It’s a building I’ve driven by on numerous occasions but never really paid any attention to. The ground floor of the building has one of the largest theaters in Kuwait containing 850 seats while the rest of the floors are offices, recording and editing studios and my favorite, the GCCJPPI archives.


I had assumed all their archive was lost during the 1990 invasion but turns out they still have copies of everything, their archive is stacked old tapes. According to Nawaf Alshallal, the technical advisor who was showing me around, the Kuwait GCCJPPI office is currently digitizing their whole archive which I got to take a peek at. Not only are they digitizing all their videos but they’re also scanning all their old photos as well. Since I recently watched the documentary “I Am Big Bird” I was curious to see if they had behind the scene photos taken on set of Iftah Ya Simsim. Turns out they did and I flipped through them and there’s some really great never before seen stuff. I’ve already submitted a request to get a copy of these photos so I could share them on the blog. Hopefully I get the approval.

From what I felt during my visit, the GCCJPPI are finally coming back to life. I was even told they’re planning on bringing back Salamatak and Quff which is something I think we really need. I just hope whatever they create ends up on YouTube because theres no way I’d go back to watching KTV again.

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Instagram Ads Launching in the Region Soon

Post by Mark


As some of you might have heard, Instagram advertising soft launched awhile back in the States, but what you might not be aware of is that it will also be soft launching in our region very soon. Advertisers will soon be able to place ads within your photo stream which will most likely have a big impact on Instagrammers who currently charge for posts.

Not only will advertisers no longer need to pay Instagrammers, but by placing ads directly with Instagram they can accurately target their customer base. Right now there is no way for example to tell where the followers of a certain Instagrammer are residing, that will all change with Instagram advertising since advertisers would be able to specify who they want their ads to be seen by.

The official word from Instagram MENA is that they will be beta launching the program shortly with a limited group of advertisers. They wouldn’t give me a specific launch date since it still hasn’t been finalized, but from what I’ve been hearing in the grapevine, its expected to launch within the next couple of months. The partners for this launch have already been set and I know one of them but I sadly can’t share who they are because I was told off the record.

Instagram advertisers will have two buying mechanisms once this program launches:

Self-serve: This will work similar to how Facebook Ads work and, similarly, will be priced by an auction.

Insertion Order: Managed clients will also be able to book these which are sold on a fixed price, but rates aren’t yet established for the region.

The targeting aspect of these ads will function similarly to how Facebook targeting currently works.

As I mentioned, Instagram will be soft launching soon with a limited group of advertising partners. This means for now Instagrammers will not be losing a lot of income. But once this program launches officially and to everyone, they’ll most likely feel the pinch.

Update: I just opened Instagram and noticed the ad below so I’m guessing the soft launch might take place this month.


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The Mubarakiya School

Post by Mark


I tried passing by the Mubarakiya School last year but when I did they were closed and then I just forgot about it and never went back. Then last week I got an email from a reader that reminded me about it so I ended up passing by yesterday to check it out. The Mubarakiya School is a museum celebrating 100 years of education in Kuwait and after visiting it I’m not sure what to think of it.


I got there around 12:30 which according to the sign outside was after closing time but the door was open so I just walked in. There was a security guard at the desk who didn’t seem to mind I had come in so I just proceeded to walk into the museum. For a museum on education I thought the interior was… whats the word, futuristic? scifi-ish? Lots of geometric shaped walls with very dim lighting giving the illusion I was onboard a spaceship. I mean I liked it, a lot, but the interior seemed to overshadow the actual museum pieces which sadly there wasn’t enough of. There were just a handful of displays showcasing historical artifacts and documents in the main corridor and then there were 3 or 4 film viewing rooms. The viewing rooms had TVs that displayed historical footage (or photos) with a voice narrating, actually I’m not sure what the TV screens were displaying because they were off with just the voice narration playing. According to the security guard sometimes the AC effects the TVs, I didn’t understand how but thats why the TVs weren’t working according to him.


On my way out I picked up the museum brochure which actually contained interesting information and a bunch of old photos. Personally would have liked to have seen those old photos enlarged and on display at the museum along with the corresponding info. I’m guessing they might be part of the films in the viewing rooms which I couldn’t see but even if they were, when it comes to old photos I generally like viewing them as printed old photos. The Mubarakiya School is located in Souq Mubarakiya [Map] and is worth passing by if you happen to be in the area since its free and looks great for a museum in Souq Mubarakiya. Their opening hours are too complicated to list so instead here is a picture of their opening hours sign [Link]

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Kuwait Worst Destination for Expats

Post by Mark


Kuwait occupies the 64th and last place of the overall ranking, particularly due to its low score in the Ease of Settling In Index. In fact, 53% of respondents are unhappy with the general friendliness of local residents. The opportunities to find new friends also leave a lot to be desired for one-third of respondents.

Unfortunately, the situation is similarly grim when it comes to the overall quality of life. Many expats are not satisfied with the available leisure options, while others see their personal happiness suffering. Only for the Job Security and Language subcategories does the country receive some decent results, making it to 26th and 25th place, respectively.

InterNations, the networking group for expats yesterday released the results of its latest annual survey. The organization asked expats in a bunch of countries a wide range of questions about their life and impressions of their adopted country and the results were charted. Kuwait came last which we could sit here and debate all day but what was surprising was the fact that Saudi Arabia was ranked as a better destination. How the hell is that even possible?? [Link]

Thanks James

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Kuwait is fairly ‘liveable’

Post by Mark


The 2015 Global Liveability Ranking list came out a few days ago and Kuwait came 3rd amongst the most liveable GCC cities right after Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The liveability ranking is based on 30 different factors related to things like safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure and environment. Kuwait scored high in most of the categories but fell through when it came to the Culture & Environment one. Below is Kuwait’s rankings compared to other GCC countries:

75 – Dubai, UAE
79 – Abu Dhabi, UAE
83 – Kuwait City, Kuwait
85 – Doha, Qatar
89 – Muscat, Oman
92 – Bahrain, Bahrain
107 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
111 – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

To find out more about these rankings you can check out The Economist article [Here] or download the full ranking which includes a breakdown of the score [Here]

Thanks Salue

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Snapchat should be banned, says Kuwait lawyer

Post by Mark

“According to the lawyer, some of the material that people posted Thursday when Snapchat went live in Kuwait City under the hashtag #KuwaitCityLive were offensive and ‘damages’ the country’s image. The lawyer did not elaborate on the nature of the offensive snaps,” the paper reported.

I swear it wasn’t me… [Link]

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Win the creative journey of a lifetime to Japan

Post by Mark


Got talent? If yes then check out the competition below.

Together with Art Jameel, Crossway Foundation has recently launched an open call to find talented young artists, photographers, filmmakers and designers aged 18-25 in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Eight winners will have the opportunity to travel to Japan in November 2015 where they will experience one of the most inspiring cultures in the world. Kuwaiti visual artist, Monira Al Qadiri, has been appointed Artistic Lead, and will mentor the winners during their time in Japan.

To enter the competition, applicants must complete an application form on the Crossway Foundation website: www.crossway-foundation.org

Applicants must submit a creative project that relates to the theme: “Encounters with another World.” The project can either be pre-existing artwork or devised especially for the competition. The deadline for the competition is 15 September 2015.

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Snapchat Live from Kuwait Tomorrow

Post by Mark

Snapchat will be broadcasting Kuwait live tomorrow (Thursday) for the whole world to see. Last time they broadcasted Ahmadi which turned out to be so bad it was funny but, from what I understand this time all of Kuwait can participate. I haven’t been on Snapchat for over three months now since I’m so over it but I’m actually tempted to get back on it tomorrow and just snapchat all the overflowing garbage behind my house.

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Sky Cinemas – The new Cinema Operator in town

Post by Mark


I’ve been hearing rumblings of a third cinema operator coming to Kuwait for awhile now but I didn’t think it would ever happen. The market is just too small and Cinescape is so dominant that I figured it just wouldn’t make financial sense for a third cinema operator to want to come in and compete. I guess I was wrong.

Sky Cinemas is the new cinema operator in town and they’ve just soft launched their first location in Dalal Complex on Salem Al Mubarek Street. If you’re wondering what building that is, it’s the new tower opposite Zahra Complex [Map]. Right now they have one theater operational and it’s playing Ant-Man but by next week they’ll have two more theaters operational as well as more movies to choose from including the new Mission Impossible.

Their ticket prices are KD3.5 which is exactly like Grand Cinemas and Cinescape plus they don’t have IMAX, so I don’t really see what their advantage is. They’re also located right in the middle between Cinescape Fanar and Cinescape Marina Mall so they have their work cut out for them. If you’re interested in trying them out, check out their website [Here]

The mall they’re located in is fairly empty at the moment with I think 4 shops open only.

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