Sneak Peek: Al Shaheed Park

Posted by Mark

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Last week I posted a link to an article on Al Shaheed Park which contained beautiful photos as well as a bit of information on the park. Well on Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited for a walk-around tour of the park which still hasn’t opened to the public and I have to say, it’s as impressive as the pictures made it out to be.

In this post I’m going to try and share some information that I think hasn’t been shared yet anywhere as well as answering some questions some readers asked under my previous post. First here is a photo from the park map listing all the different spaces:

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The primary areas of the park are the two museums, the Habitat Museum and the Remembrance Museum. The Habitat Museum will house information on Kuwait’s environment, animals, birds, vegetation and weather, while the Remembrance Museum will house an interactive exhibit on the historical battles of Kuwait and the Gulf War. There are a bunch of other sections as well which are also important.

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The Aviary for example is a large open enclosure for the birds, mostly migratory ones. There is a very modern and beautiful mosque located in the park. There is a 3KM cushioned jogging track that goes all around the park. There is a large lake that is used to irrigate the whole park. There is a flag pole which will replace the one that used to be in Kuwait City near the Sheraton roundabout. There is a community garden and a bunch of restaurants and cafes all around the park. There is also a two storey underground parking which will be used by the park visitors and Al Tijaria Tower across the street.

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As of this post they hadn’t finalized how the park will function. By that I mean they’re not sure if it should be an open to everyone no entrance fee public park like a park should be or a park with some sort of entrance fee, or maybe a park with no entrance fee but a very controlled environment. If the choice was left up to me I’d probably go with the no entrance option but with a VERY VERY controlled environment with lots of security cameras and security guards everywhere. Why? Here’s why…

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Al Shaheed Park is beautiful in person as it is in those wonderful photos that were posted on ArchDaily. It’s also a very fragile park with glass railings everywhere, glass windows all over the place and there are even very thin and pretty lights that look like flowers all around the park. Basically it’s a place that can easily be vandalized. Now there will be guides at the park who will take people around to see the various spaces and museums, they’ve also recently decided to triple the amount of security at the park and there will also be supervisors stationed there. But will that be enough? I’m not sure and neither are they. For now they’re going to be opening the park to the public with no entrance fee and little control so they could see what will happen. If everything remains civil then they’ll keep it that way, if all hell breaks loose then they’ll consider alternative options.

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One area of the park which I think could be a big hit are the restaurants and cafes. Right now they don’t have any operators and there is a tender taking place but if the right brands take over these restaurants and cafes then I think the park could be even a bigger hit. Some the restaurant spaces looked a bit casual, others a bit more formal but all looked fantastic.

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I asked about the maintenance of the park since the majority of the government projects when completed end up falling apart years later. They assured me that they’ve signed a maintenance contract and if anything breaks or if a light goes out it will get replaced right away.

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Although the exterior of the buildings look great I thought the interiors looked even better, or at least if you’re like me and think retro is cool. I fell in love with some of the furniture and if the security doesn’t end up being so tight I might end up leaving the park with two chairs, a table and a lamp. So take note park people, tighten up the security detail.

When is the park opening? Very soon. They didn’t want to give me an exact date since they’re currently doing some minor fixes to the park but what I understood is that its probably going to open sometime next month but don’t take my word for it.

Anyway this is the information I thought was interesting to share but if you have any questions let me know below and I’ll try to answer it myself or have someone connected to the park answer it. Also I like to point out again that if you haven’t checked the ArchDaily post already then do so for much nicer photos.

Finally if you’re Kuwaiti, bilingual and are aged between 18 and 30 then you can apply to be a tour guide at the park [Here]


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Kuwaiti Doctor Assists in World’s First Penile Transplant

Posted by Mark

Some of you might have read about the world’s first penile transplant that took place a few days ago. What you might not know is that one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery was a Kuwaiti (Dr Tallal AlQaoud). At first I was going to post about this myself but then realized it would make a lot more sense to have one of my friends who is an extremely talented surgeon himself and who has worked with Dr Tallal write the post instead. This is what he had to say about the surgery:

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Kuwaiti Doctor Assists in World’s First Penile Transplant
As you may have read on reddit and pretty much everywhere else, surgeons in South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town have performed the first successful penile transplant recorded in history. It was performed by Professor André Van der Merwe and a team of urological surgeons.

This may not seem very significant unless you live in country where 500 men die every year from ritual circumcisions gone wrong but this is in fact a major breakthrough.

For urological surgeons restoring erectile function, urinary function and blood flow after a patient has had a penile amputation (due to trauma or cancer) is not difficult, it’s pretty much a pipe dream. To illustrate the point, the team based their methods on lessons learned from facial transplants and with the same level of complexity.

What you may not know is the story of the guy on the right bottom corner of the photo. That young surgeon is Dr Tallal AlQaoud; a Kuwaiti resident at McGill University.

While many people in our field first fall in love it for the competition, prestige or financial prospects, it’s a rare thing to see someone who is actually willing to train himself in surgery like an athlete would for the olympics.

Dr AlQaoud jumped into medicine after graduating from NES (Yes, the New English School). He went on to do his undergraduate degree in the UK and eventually returned to do his internship in Kuwait. After finishing his internship in Kuwait he felt the need to learn how to do research and build a solid knowledge of his field so he did a masters in the UK sacrificing a whole year of operating. He then went on to do a surgical residency at Mcgill and took time off to join Professor Van der Merwe’s team in South Africa.

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It’s very rare that you get to meet a person like Tallal, when he could be learning the basics of his specialty he chose to concentrate on the academic aspect of his field and published industry leading journals, when he could have specialized in Kuwait or in England. Instead he chose to go further afield and train in North America where he was exposed everything from surgical robotics to transplantation. When he could have been enjoying ski season in Quebec, he chose to operate voluntarily in Cape Town. Then there was that time he had a Friday night off and decided to join me in an emergency surgery taking out a guys colon at midnight; but that’s a story for another day.

He is truly a person who has chosen a road less travelled and one of the rare occasions where Kuwait has made it’s mark on the history of medicine.

As much as I’d like to have interviewed him for this story or tried to promote him on it, he never had an instagram account, a blog and I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten his Facebook password. His response to me on whatsapp are in this post. I am indeed honoured to say I scrubbed in with a Kuwaiti who made it to the history books.

– Post by Saud, a Kuwaiti doctor living and working/training in Montreal. Twitter: @saudnz


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Al Shaheed Park by Ricardo Camacho

Posted by Mark

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Portuguese architect Ricardo Camacho and the popular architecture website ArchDaily have put together an intellectual expose on how the new Al Shaheed Park was conceptualized. Ricardo is the architect behind Al Shaheed Park and although I have yet to see it in person, based on the photos on ArchDaily I am already head over heels in love.

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This has to be the most beautiful place in Kuwait at the moment, it just looks so stunning. In the article Ricardo takes us on a tour of the park explaining all the elements and buildings but even if you don’t want to read you can still enjoy flipping through all the photos.

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Also someone needs to tell the people at Al Tijaria Tower across the street that the huge advert on the side of their building has turned their building into an eyesore. Someone should also put Ricardo in charge of all of Kuwait City including the new Kuwait Airways building. Anyway check out the article and photos on Al Shaheed Park [Here]


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The State of LTE in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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The website Open Signal has posted interesting numbers regarding the state of LTE around the world. Kuwait for example turns out has the third highest time spent on LTE networks but also has the second slowest LTE internet connection compared to everybody else. Check out the full report [Here]

Thanks Haneyl


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The most powerful Kuwaiti women – 2015

Posted by Mark

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Once a year Arabian Business releases a list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women” and every year I go through the list and find all the Kuwaiti women and list them on the blog. This year the list seems to the be the smallest since I started posting them with only 5 Kuwaiti women making the list and all at lower slots than the previous year. Shaikha Al Bahar whom back in 2012 was in #8 dropped to #21 last year and is currently at #31. This years leader in my most powerful Kuwaiti women list is Maali Alasousi, a newcomer. I hadn’t heard of her before but according to an article on Knowledge@Wharton, “Maali Alasousi gave up a comfortable life in Kuwait to live in Yemen, dedicating herself to developing social programs in a country that is among the most impoverished in the world”.

Below is this years list of most powerful Kuwaiti women with their 2014 ranking in between parentheses:

25- Maali Alasousi (new)
31- Shaikha Al Bahar (21)
46- Rasha Al Roumi (43)
51- Maha Al Ghunaim (27)
94- Sara Akbar (67)

For the full list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women” click [Here]


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Depressed in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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A redditor left the message below and it made me realize that asking my readers to answer his/her question could be beneficial not only to them, but to any other person who might be googling this in the future:

I need help. obviously Kuwait doesn’t have any suicide hot line or anything like that. But I was just wondering, what would be the ideal choice to resolve my depression here. It’s tearing my life apart. [Link]

I personally was lucky not to fall into depression after my divorce but I do understand the affect of mood fluctuations. If you can help or have any advice leave a comment below.


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Bus Drives into New Kuwait Airways Plane

Posted by Mark

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An airport bus accidentally drove into a brand new Kuwait Airways plane earlier today. The plane is one of the new leased planes and had just arrived to Kuwait a couple of days ago. The driver has already been deported (not really… I think).

via @jassimboodai


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Easy Taxi now has Competition, Careem

Posted by Mark

careem

Until Uber comes to Kuwait we have to make due with alternatives and as of recently the only alternative we had available was Easy Taxi. I’ve used them a few times and I have mixed feelings about them. For one thing every time I book a car the driver calls me up and asks me where I am even though he has my GPS location on his map. The other annoying thing is the fact that they try to negotiate a price before they even pick me up which I hate doing. My last issue is the fact that I have to pay cash instead of having the ride charged to my credit card similar to how I do with Uber. This is where Careem comes in.

Careem is an alternative to Easy Taxi that has recently come into the market. I haven’t had the chance to use them just yet but first impressions from their app and website is that they might be a worthy alternative. Why?

– You can add a credit card to your account and use it to pay for your rides
– The rides are metered
– You can pre-book a cab in advance

The only negative I can see at the moment is that their rides will cost you more. The minimum cost for their “Economy Car” is KD3 while their “Business Car” is KD4. If you’re interested in trying them out you can download their app or visit their website [Here]


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Kuwait has the 9th Highest Cost of Living

Posted by Mark

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According to Numbeo, the crowdsourced global database of reported consumer prices, Kuwait has the 9th highest cost of living in the world. Qatar was next Arab country on the list coming in at 27 followed by Lebanon at 35 and UAE in 36. The ranking is based on a multiple factors including consumer prices, rents, restaurant prices and local purchasing power. I don’t think anyone living here will be surprised by this.

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On the other hand if you’re looking for an affordable place to go on vacation, the list above is of the countries with the lowest cost of living. I have a friend who just came back from Nepal and according to him his room was just $7 a night. Check out the full index [Here] and the infographic [Here]

Thanks Ryan


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Why the Global Art Forum is Coming to Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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The Creative Times Report held a Q&A with Sultan Al Qassemi, the co-director of Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum and asked him about the decision to have the Global Art Forum begin in Kuwait. This is a snippet from the conversation:

CTR: Can you talk about the decision to have the Global Art Forum begin in Kuwait this year before it comes to Dubai? Kuwait was at one time a leader of the regional art scene, but attention shifted away from the country in the years after the Gulf War, and now there appears to be a resurgence of interest in Kuwaiti art and culture. What attracted you to bringing the Global Art Forum to Kuwait City before Dubai this year?

SAQ: Kuwait was the launchpad for the globalization of Gulf culture over half a century ago. Kuwait is where some of the earliest radio, cinema, theater and even political and social movements of the Gulf originated several decades ago. Kuwait was also the launchpad for the first Gulf publication in color that was sold not only in the streets and markets of the Gulf but also in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. So for the first time, the Gulf had moved from being a receiver of culture—from the West, India and other parts of the Arab world—to being a broadcaster, a publisher, a producer of popular content. This is our way of tipping our hat to Kuwait and recognizing its pioneering role in the globalization of culture. [Source]

For those interested, the Global Art Forum will be in Kuwait from March 14 to 15. For more information click [Here]


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