Kuwait Airways Reveal New Logo, Uniforms and Plane Livery

Post by Mark

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A few hours ago Kuwait Airways launched a new identity that included a face lifted logo, updated crew uniforms, a brand new aircraft livery, updated website and new flight routes.

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Kuwait Airways were at Boeing in Seattle to collect their first 777-300ER aircraft in which these changes are making their debut on. The event was broadcasted live on their twitter account and you could rewatch the event on Periscope by clicking [Here] The new plane is expected to have it’s first flight on November 7th, 2016.

I’m going to hold back my detailed opinion on the new identity until it is properly launched and I’ve seen all their material, but right now I’ll just say that the new identity feels dated already.

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kuwaitairwayswebsite


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MyFatoorah Payment System

Post by Mark

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The guys from MyFatoorah got in touch with me back in August, they were interested in advertising on the blog and they also wanted me to try out their product so I could review it. Like I tell all my advertisers, I can’t promise you I’ll write about your product, but if I try it and like it then I probably will. After trying their service not only do I like it, but its now become one of the primary ways my clients are paying me. Just to be clear, this isn’t a sponsored post. Not that I need to explain myself but it’s one of the rare occasions I’m writing about a product which is currently being advertised on my blog with a banner, so I just need to point this out for transparency reasons.

MyFatoorah is an online payment solution and I’ve been using them to collect payments from my blog advertisers and from my clients whom I do freelance branding work for. Previously, the methods of payments I had available were bank transfer, cash or cheque but now I also offer knet or credit card payments because of MyFatoorah.

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To begin using their service, the first thing I had to do was download the MyFatoorah app, sign up and add my bank information and that was it. No need to wait for approval, no need to send a copy of my civil id or anything of the sort, you can start invoicing people and collecting payments right away. Within the first 3 days I had invoiced and collected payments from 5 different people and the amounts got deposited straight into my bank account in less than 24 hours.

To invoice people its a fairly simple process, you open the app, click on “Quick Invoice” then you enter the name of the person you’re invoicing and the amount. You then click “Send Invoice” and you could either whatsapp or SMS the person the payment link. That’s it. All that person needs to do then is click the link you sent them and settle the invoice either by Knet or a credit card.

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The service isn’t free, MyFatoorah make their money by charging a transaction fee. Their standard charges are 2% for Knet payments and 3.5% for credit cards, this means if you bill a client KD100, MyFatoorah will take KD2 if the client pays using Knet. The charges are negotiable though, for example I’m getting a ridiculously good rate cuz wasta, but depending on how much business you’re expecting to perform, you could contact them and try to work out a better rate. The way I also have it set up is, if a client pays me with Knet, I accept the charges, but if the client wants to pay using a credit card, they’ll have to pay the 2.5% charge. I like being able to decide that from within the app.

Now another surprising way I’ve started using MyFatoorah is collecting money from friends or family. So for example I bought some event tickets a few weeks back and sent out knet links to my friends to pay me for their tickets. My brother needed to transfer me some money and instead of setting me up as a new beneficiary on his online banking account, I just sent him an invoice for the amount and I got the money that way. It kind of reminded me of the app Venmo. When I was in the States last summer, everyone was using Venmo to pay each other. If a person bought movie tickets for everyone, then the group would pay that person via Venmo and I’ve been using MyFatoorah like that as well.

One final way I’m going to start using MyFatoorah is with a donate button on the blog. I’ve always kinda wanted to do that ever since I started blogging since it was a fairly common thing in the early days of blogging. But since I lived in Kuwait, there wasn’t a way to do that previously. Now I finally can although I’m like a decade late. Basically MyFatoorah allows me to setup a generic payment link which anybody can click on and pay me whatever amount they’d like. So if you want to donate money for my lattes for life fund, here is the [Link]

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There are a couple of features I’d like to see in MyFatoorah that are currently missing. One feature is the ability to copy paste the payment link from within the app to an email. Right now the only two options I have to send an invoice is SMS or Whatsapp. To send a link to a client by email, I need to choose Whatsapp as an option, then when the link opens up in Whatsapp, I copy paste it back into an email. There will supposedly be an option to copy paste the link in the next app update, but as of now this is what I am doing. Another feature I’d like to see is the ability to setup an automated reminder email or message. Right now if someone doesn’t pay me, I need to awkwardly message them and be like “hey, how are you? Hope everything is well. I just wanted to remind you regarding the pending payment…”. I hate doing that so I’d like the app to send an automated reminder on my behalf say once every week to remind the person they have a pending payment. Like an annoying accountant.

So yeah I like the app as you can see. It’s great for freelancers and small businesses like me. The software has other features like the ability to integrate into your ecommerce store like Shopify or Magento, but I’ve personally been using it just to collect money from people. So if you’re interested in signing up, you can do so from their website or just download the app on your iPhone or Android device.


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The Secret Garden Was Destroyed

Post by Mark

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The urban community garden know as The Secret Garden was completely destroyed a few days ago (before picture above, after pictures below). I heard about the news yesterday and was pretty upset by it. The Secret Garden was a perfect example of how an abandoned unknown park could be turned into something so beautiful with the help of a dedicated and passionate community. During the cooler months of the year people were encouraged to come by the Secret Garden every Saturday to either plant, paint, build or just socialize. Lots of parents brought their children who planted seeds and then watched them grow over the winter months. Every now and then you also had the Saturday brunches which brought even more people to the garden. It was such a great project and I was really looking forward to it again this year, but now I am not sure if it will be ready for this season.

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You’re probably thinking the garden was vandalized by a bunch of hooligans which is what I had thought at first, but thats not that case. According to Mimi the mastermind behind the Secret Garden project, the garden was destroyed by the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs & Fish Resources (PAAFR). They’re the same organization who a few years ago were laying out poison all over the parks and free trade zone to poison stray dogs (while at the same time accidentally poisoning peoples pets).

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PAAFR reasoning behind the destruction was that the garden was dirty. Even though the Secret Garden wasn’t being used because it was the summer and there are municipality workers that are meant to clean the garden (the Secret Garden community clean the garden themselves during the cooler months), PAAFR decided it would be better to destroy the garden then try and reason with the community. The result? A catastrophic mess leaving the garden in shambles and disarray. They even had the garbage bins Secret Garden had placed removed and now the garden doesn’t even have trash bins for people to put their trash in. PAAFR also destroyed all the planting stations and just left them lying in the park with nails dangerously sticking out.

The Secret Garden community have been back at the park the past few days cleaning up the mess so they can start rebuilding the garden. I hope they’ll get it done in time for this winter season because it was one of the few activities I always looked forward to. If you want to stay posted on the progress then I would recommend you follow @mimikuwait


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Establish A New Company With One Visit

Post by Mark

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I’ve been wanting to post about the Kuwait Business Center ever since I got involved in the project back in April, but I couldn’t since the project was still under wraps and when it soft launched in May, there were still a few kinks that were being worked out. But, a couple of weeks ago the Ministry of Commerce and Industry officially launched the Kuwait Business Center which is why I decided now would be the best time to write about it.

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Anyone who has tried to start a business in Kuwait knows how much running around is needed. Literally. I have a friend who was opening a business and according to his iPhone, he covered the distance of 5KM just running around getting paperwork signed and stamped from one person to the next. KBC is solving all of this by shifting everything online and automating the process while also setting up a one stop shop located in Ishbilia. Now all you need to do is visit their website, apply for your company online and then once everything is approved, you head over to the KBC office in Ishbilia and get everything finalized there. Just 1 visit and just 4 days to issue a license compared to over a month and lots of running around with the old fashioned way.

There are a bunch of other benefits which I’m not sure if they’ve implemented yet or not since the information on the website is all in Arabic. But one new feature I was told about back in April was that small businesses no longer needed to rent an office space so they could get a license, instead they could now use a PO Box which would help keep their overheads low.

So if you’re planning on starting a new business, check out the Kuwait Business Center website [Here]


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Netflix US Working Again in Kuwait

Post by Mark

I stopped using Netflix awhile back since the US version stopped working with my DNS Proxy provider and the Kuwait version lacked all the real estate reality shows I enjoy watching (like Beachfront Bargain Hunt). But recently, my DNS provider Smart DNS Proxy fixed the issue and Netflix US has started working again in Kuwait. According to their support page dating September 30th:

We have restored Netflix for many of our users and are working on getting everyone back ASAP. If you see a “United States 01-10” region here, give it a try! Browsers should work without any other changes, devices may need static routes setup.

So there you have it, if you want to use the US version of Netflix in Kuwait you can now do so again. It’s $4.99 a month for the proxy account and you can get it [Link]

Update: There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding Netflix US vs Netflix Kuwait. If you aren’t using a proxy, then you’re accessing Netflix Kuwait. It doesn’t matter if you have a Netflix US account with a US credit card, if you’re in Kuwait you’ll automatically access Netflix Kuwait. Netflix Kuwait and Netflix US look exactly the same, but the Netflix Kuwait library is a lot smaller. Here is a simple test to tell which Netflix you have. Search for the show “Lakefront Bargain Hunt”. If you have Netflix US it will show up, if you have Netflix Kuwait it will tell you not found.


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Edfa3ly Update – I won’t Retract My Post

Post by Mark

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I’ve never retracted a review since I started blogging over a decade ago. The most I’ve done was go back to a review and add a little note at the bottom mentioning what has changed about the place and thats about it. But, the amount of backlash I’ve gotten over my review of the US forwarding mailbox service Edfa3ly has been like no other which has made me consider retracting my original review. But I won’t and here is why.

Back in August I posted about how Edfa3ly was the cheapest way to ship lightweight packages from the States to Kuwait. Some of the advantages were the fact that they charged per 100grams, that you wouldn’t pay any US sales tax and you wouldn’t pay any local customs clearance fee. I had ordered an item from Amazon and had just paid around 500fils to have it shipped to me and it took 10 days to arrive. Two days later I posted a coupon that my readers could use to waive the international shipping fee and thats when things started going downhill.

First sign of trouble was when a reader left a message saying that once the package arrived to Kuwait he had to pay KD2 to have it delivered to his door and that he also had to pay KD5 for custom clearance. Then two more readers left messages stating the same thing. That turned out to be a temporary fuck up on Edfa3ly part but they fixed the issue.

More signs of trouble kept coming in though. A lot of readers were complaining that they couldn’t get hold of customer support. Some spent days trying to get a hold of someone to no avail. It seems people had more luck getting a response back from Edfa3ly by leaving a comment on the blog then trying to reach support through the proper channels.

Another problem was also brought to my attention. I had originally stated that you wouldn’t have to pay any US sales tax but Edfa3ly changed their policy and started charging a US sales tax. I also posted packages would take around 10 days to be delivered since thats how long it had taken mine to arrive but people started complaining how shipping was taking over 3 weeks with many going missing.

I couldn’t retract or update the review without trying the service out again myself, so I placed an order for another cheap lightweight item, a USB charging cable for my Game Boy Advance. These were the charges:

Item Price: $4.99
Sales Tax Inside US: $0.35
Customs: $0.25
Clearance Fees: $3.32
Edfa3ly Kuwait Fees: $0.05
International Shipping Fees (1.33 dollar(s) per 100gm): $6.65 (0.5KG)

Total: $15.61
Free Shipping Discount Coupon: – $6.95

Final Amount: $8.66

25grams

Item order was placed on September 9, it arrived in my mailbox September 19, it then shipped out on September 23 and I finally got it October 6. So I ended up paying around KD1 to have the item delivered to me in Kuwait and it took 17 days to be delivered to me after shipping from the States. Thats not bad, it wasn’t an important item so I wasn’t in a rush and shipping was still much cheaper than the alternatives. If I had ordered using PostaPlus, the same item would have cost me at least KD3.5 to have it delivered to Kuwait while with Aramex it would have cost me KD4.25. Now true I had used a free shipping coupon with this order but it seems they constantly have a free shipping coupon listed on their website. One confusing aspect is why they marked my package as weighing 500grams when the item weighs just 25grams as you can see in the picture above. But since I had the coupon for free shipping I didn’t care or contact them to find out. If I was paying for shipping I would have definitely made an issue about this.

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Now one final comparison. In my original review I posted a breakdown of how much it cost me to ship a Nikon Rubber Eyecup for my camera from Amazon (pictured above). The breakdown was as follows:

Item Price: $10.7
Customs Fee: $0.54
Edfa3ly Fees: $0.54
International Shipping Fees: $1.33

Total Price: $13.11

If I was to place the exact same order today and not use a free shipping coupon, the breakdown would be as following:

Item Price $10.4 (it’s 30cents cheaper now on Amazon)
Sales Tax Inside US: $0.73
Customs Fee: $0.56
Edfa3ly Fees: $0.1
Clearance Fees: $3.32
International shipping fees: $1.33

Total Price: $16.43

So while previously it cost me $2.41 on top of the item to have it shipped to Kuwait, this time around it would have cost me $6.03 which clearly isn’t as cheap but still cheaper than PostaPlus or Aramex.

So will I continue to use Edfa3ly? Yes like I have been… for really cheap small and light items that wouldn’t be worth shipping with PostaPlus or Aramex. They’re also items I don’t need urgently. For everything else I’ll continue to use PostaPlus like I have been doing. Someone emailed me telling me they ordered a Kindle with Edfa3ly, I personally wouldn’t order a Kindle with Edfa3ly. It’s more reliable to order a Kindle to my PostaPlus account and PostaPlus would also most likely be cheaper. People tend to skim through my posts no matter how short or long they are. I only recommended Edfa3ly specificaly for “tiny cheap stuff”, packages that weigh under 1/2kg. Look at what I ordered as a perfect example, a rubber eye cup for my camera that costs $10 and a tiny custom USB cable for my Game Boy that cost $5. I didn’t order a MacBook or an Xbox.

I will be placing an update under my original review mentioning the fact they now charge a US sales tax and a clearance fee, but I will not be retracting my original post since I still stand with what I originally stated. Edfa3ly are the cheapest way to ship light packages from the US to Kuwait. They are just no longer as cheap as they originally were.


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Sheikh Jaber Causeway Project Website

Post by Mark

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So turns out the Sheikh Jaber Causeway Bridge that is set to be completed in 2018 has a pretty cool website. I use the word cool here not because of the design, but because of the kind of content thats available on the site like the project map, project overview, monthly updates, images, video and more. You can even book a trip to their visitors center! Check out the website [Here]

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Now here is the thing. This “bridge” is set to be completed in two years time and it already has a website yet the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre which is set to open end of this month still doesn’t have one? A bridge has a website but the cultural centre doesn’t? How does that make sense? Are there any shows that will be coming? And why is all this information so hush hush?


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Jumo Coffee Now at Al Hamra Tower

Post by Mark

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With all the coffee shops popping up around Kuwait, it’s going to be pretty difficult for the different coffee shops to stick out. Jumo Coffee already have an advantage since they’ve got a great location at Sadu House but they’re also approaching the coffee scene a bit differently. Instead of just serving their coffee at their location, they’re also providing other restaurants with the ability to brew Jumo Coffee. Yesterday I found out one of those restaurants is Junkyard in the Al Hamra Tower food court.

Junkyard now has a small Jumo Coffee corner which means you can finally get a decent cup of coffee before heading to the movies. Since my office is in Al Hamra Tower, this is going to be my morning go to coffee place until Arabica opens up across the street. And to top it off, if you work in Al Hamra (like Alghanim and Ministry of Youth employees), you get a 25% discount. Just make sure you have your tower badge with you.


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Hessah Al Mubarak Real Estate Development Project

Post by Mark

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Back in April I noticed a large area of land was being cleared opposite The Green Island on the Gulf Road. The area turned out was being prepped for a new real estate project by KIPCO and a few days ago they launched the project officially with press releases and interviews. KIPCO are aware of how unique and rare this plot of space is which is why they will be setting an example with the high level of planning and construction and from what I’ve read and seen, looks like they’re on track. They’re basically building a whole neighborhood from the ground up. This was my favorite bit from the press release:

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The land plot measures 227,066 sqm, of which close to 50% is dedicated to public services and amenities. This includes gardens, open public spaces, urban plazas, streets, multi-story public parking and utilities. Gardens and green areas across the project have been allocated 23,400 sqm. [Source]

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Finally someone is doing it right and based on the photos it looks like there will also be sidewalks. You would think sidewalks would be something common but just try walking around a residential neighborhood like Salmiya or Salwa, no sidewalks to walk on.. at all. Also good to see lots of space being utilized for gardens and public spaces. In the 80s when I was a kid, me and my friends used to play in empty sand lots in our neighborhoods, football, marbles, whatever but today kids don’t have those spaces. All the empty plots have either been replaced with towering buildings or are filled with cars so it’s great that KIPCO are putting aside 50% of the land for public services and amenities.

Check out the video of the project below which should give you a much clearer overview of the whole project.


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Latest on the Cultural Centre

Post by Mark

culturalcenter

I dropped by the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre late last week to check out the progress. On this latest trip I passed by the fountain area which I wasn’t aware of previously. It wasn’t in the original renderings and the area has a large fountain in the middle surrounded by 18 restaurants and shops. On top of the restaurants is a walkway which reminded me of the High Line in New York since it was surrounded by greenery and pools of water. The high path overlooks the fountain area and leads all the way to the back of the four main structures. I shot a video of the fountain area which you can see in the video below.

I’m trying to get a list of all the places that will be opening up there but still haven’t received them yet. One source of mine has informed me the soft launch is now on October 15th. Even though there is still lots of work taking place near the fountain area, the main buildings are basically done. I walked into one of them and it was sparkling clean with workers busy still cleaning. Another contact of mine also involved in the project has denied they will be soft launching on October 15th and instead plans are still underway for an October 31st launch. We’ll have to see which one turns out to be right.

I don’t have any information on what performances will be taking part at the Cultural Center nor do I even know if there is a website for it. If I find out anything I’ll surely post it.


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