Expats vs Locals Across the Gulf

Posted by Mark

watertowers

Arabian Business published some figures comparing the percentage of expats to locals across the Gulf. I’ve taken the liberty to list them below with the country with the highest percentage of locals on top and the lowest on the bottom. No surprises really except for Bahrain which I assumed had a larger expat population.

KSA: Total population 29,595,084. 68 percent locals and 32 percent expatriates.
Oman: Total population 3,770,473. 56 percent locals and 44 percent expatriates.
Bahrain: Total population 1,217,701. 49 percent locals and 51 percent expatriates.
Kuwait: Total population 3,823,728. 30 percent locals and 70 percent expatriates.
Qatar: Total population 1,836,676. 14 percent locals and 86 percent expatriates.
UAE: Total population 9,036,488. 13 percent locals and 87 percent expatriates.


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The State of the P2BK Village Today

Posted by Mark

p2bkentrance

Yesterday a reader sent me photos he took a couple of days ago of the Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti village in Mishref. It seems after the event was over it turned into an abandoned village with no one willing to clean it up. The images of the garbage covered village had already been circulating around social media so I decided to pass by myself this morning and check it out myself.

middlearea

When I first arrived to the P2BK main gate I quickly recognized the scene from one of the photos I had been sent. Outside the village wall, the area between the P2BK village and the Remal Sand Park area looked like it had been hit by a tornado. There was trash everywhere, overturned stands, painted sculptures lying all over the place and lots of broken gypsum boards. It was a disaster.

Then I proceeded through the main gates into the P2BK village and the scene wasn’t as bad inside. The place is abandoned and it’s outdoor so obviously it’s not going to be in pristine condition.

village

There was trash lying around mostly in corners or up against the walls but the majority of the space in the village was just empty. It was windy this morning so while walking around there was lots of banging of doors that hadn’t been closed. Lots of doors had fallen off their hinges even but the majority were just flapping with the wind.

Once I was done wandering around the village I decided to head across to the Remal Sand Park area. The Remal Sand Park was the largest sand sculpture park when open and even though the space is abandoned and the park long closed, majority of the sand sculptures are still up and in excellent condition. They definitely didn’t just use sand and water to build these things.

sandpark

The majority of this space like the village was empty and clean of trash except for one side, where I spotted a bunch of overturned stands and broken gypsum boards strewn across the floor. I have no idea why there is so much broken gypsum boards everywhere, I think that made up the majority of the litter at the park and village.

Generally, both areas weren’t that bad with the biggest issue being the space between the Remal Sand Park and the P2BK village. As I was about to leave in my car I noticed the wind was blowing garbage into this area from one direction. I looked in that direction and noticed two large garbage bins, one was overflowing with garbage, the other empty but there was garbage on the floor all around.

garbage

You can also see a trail of garbage from these two bins towards the area between the P2BK and Sand Park. I realized what was happening, whenever there was strong wind, garbage was flying from these bins towards the village where they gathered outside the village walls. I continued driving past those two bins and spotted another large pile of trash in the area behind the sand park.

So is the situation bad? Yes, but just as bad as it is anywhere else in Kuwait. I think what makes this situation different is the name of the event, Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti and here you have the event over and the place looking like a junk yard. Most of it is not their fault, at least garbage wise which seems to fly towards their space from the large dumpsters nearby. But the broken gypsum boards everywhere and overturned stands and decorations, those are their fault. It shouldn’t be difficult to clean up but the question is then what? Well I think I have a solution.

P2BK Village Idea
I think this area should be turned into a paint ball park. It literally looks like a small village which ads realism and it also means lots of hiding places. A round of MILSIM there would be amazing.

bikepark

Remal Sand Park Idea
Unlike the village, the ground here is just sand so I came up with an idea which I think would work and it’s something we don’t have in Kuwait, a mountain bike park. Mountain bikes are meant for off-road trails which we really don’t have any in Kuwait (maybe just the Mutla Ridges). In the US and in Europe you can find mountain bike parks which are man-made trails with various obstacles to recreate riding your bike on a mountain trail. The picture above is an example of one. There are already some elevations and tunnels in the current sand park, all you would need to do is compound the sand in some areas, add floodlights to make it usable during the evenings, add maybe a few ramps, maybe some wooden boards here and there and you’ll end up with a great looking mountain bike park surrounded by beautiful large sand sculptures.

So thats what I’d like to see happen to the village and sand park. If you have any better ideas just leave them in the comments.

fluffy

On my way out of the fair grounds I kept spotting white fluffy stuff all over the sidewalks everywhere. At first I thought they were some kind of tacky decorations but on closer inspection I realized they were tissues, papers and white nylon bags that were caught in the weeds that had grown from the sidewalks. If anything I thought that was a bigger issue since its in everyones face on their way in and out of the fair grounds. Depressing.


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A Walk Around Gate Mall

Posted by Mark

gatemall1

Gate Mall is a new mall that recently opened in Egaila near Al Bairaq Mall. I wasn’t really interested in the mall until I saw a photo of the building from the outside in one of my whatsapp groups and thought the mall façade looked pretty cool. So I passed by earlier today to check it out.

gatemall2

First problem, there is no parking. For some reason the mall decided they didn’t need parking so the only parking I saw available was a large parking lot outside that is shared by two other surrounding malls. It was before noon on a weekday and I had trouble finding parking so I can imagine it would be near impossible to find parking on a weekend. The only alternative is to park at Al Bairaq mall and then walk through Al Bairaq towards Gate Mall.

Once you walk into the mall though things do get better. The mall is six floors and most of your favorite brands are there including the likes of Zara, Nike, Al Ostoura, Debenhams, H&M, Victoria Secret and Sephora. Food wise there was a Starbucks and Pinkberry open with a number of other places opening soon like Shake Shack, Tim Horten’s, Coldstone, Just Falafel, Cafe Baza and Margherita.

gatemall3

There were no movie theaters from what I saw. Other than the major parking issue the mall should prove to be useful for the people living in the area but by no means a replacement to Avenues or 360 Mall. If you want to know how to get to it, here is the location on [Google Maps]


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@mn7asha No More

Posted by Mark

runaway

Looks like the runaway maids account @mn7asha which I posted about last week got closed down. Yesterday Aljazeera posted about the account and when I tried to access it today on Instagram I got a user not found error. I am not sure yet if instagram shut down the account or if the owner did but whatever happened the account is gone for now.


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The Kuwait National Library

Posted by Mark

library1

Yesterday I had a meeting at the Kuwait National Library and to kill time before the meeting I wandered off into the small English books section and started checking out the books. I was pretty surprised that the majority of the English books were really old but then I found the advertising section and I knew I hit jackpot.

Right away I noticed, these weren’t just any ordinary advertising books, these were vintage advertising books from the 40s and the 50s! These are the books Don Draper would have on his bookshelf on the TV show Mad Men. I found an empty shelf and started collecting the books I liked and lining them up next to each other. In the end these were my favorite books that I found:

library2

How to Build Modern Furniture (1957)
Five Hundred Years of Printing (1959)
The Watch Repairer’s Manual (1949)
Advertising – a guide for business man and student (1947)
Advertising and Psychology (1954)
The Technique of Advertising (1940)
Successful Television and Radio Advertising (1959)
Advertising (1953)
International Handbook of Advertising (1964)
Colour in Advertising (1956)

I thought they were all very fascinating so once my meeting was done I headed to the main office to sign up for a library card so I could check them out. Thats where I got an even bigger surprise, turns out the library isn’t open yet and is actually opening in two weeks and even once it’s open they won’t allow anyone to check out the books, you can only read them in the library.

I left the library in love with it but at the same time a bit confused.

If they’re not open yet, why are all the English books so old?
Where did they even get these books from?
and WTF?

library3

But then it hit me, this is the perfect library. Other than the fact that old books are fascinating, by having all these old books, its as if the library has been around for 50 years instead of just opening now. You’re also not going to find these books on the Kindle so thats another reason to visit the library. Smart move. Once the library is open in two weeks I would definitely recommend you pass by. The library is pretty big and I’m not sure if there was another larger English section but even if there wasn’t, the small section is interesting enough to check out.

The library is located right next to the National Museum on the Gulf Road and here it is on [Google Maps]

PS: If anyone from the library is reading this, please PLEASE remove the horrible window sticker on your building and install a proper sign instead.]


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Deera App – Does it work?

Posted by Mark

deera

Back in April I posted about Deera, an iPhone app which allows you to report issues with public services. The way it worked was fairly simple, you snapped a photo of the problem, specify what the issue was along with the location and then submit it. But does it work? Yes it does!

Last night I decided to use the app to report a garbage issue I spotted on my way home and just a few moments ago I got tagged on Instagram with the issue sorted. That’s a turnaround of under 12 hours. By flipping through the reported incidents in the app and then checking the Deera app Instagram account you’ll see that the majority if not all the incidents are getting fixed right away.

I have to say I am pretty surprised and impressed. Not just at the app but at the fact that the people behind the app are able to coordinate and get action from the different municipalities so quickly. Theres actually a huge pile of leftover construction material right in front of my building that has been there for months which I can’t wait to report now. If there was an award for best local app of the year this would have to be it.

If you want try this app you can download it for free from the Apple Store either by searching for Deera or by clicking [Here]


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Kuwait vs Worldwide Obesity Levels

Posted by Mark

scale

According to a new study that was published in the the Lancet medical journal, the world is getting fatter. Since the study first started back in 1980 the largest increase in the rate of obesity were in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Honduras, and Bahrain for women, and in New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the USA for men. I downloaded the PDF of the study and I’ve put together a top 10 list of the highest obesity rates in the world:

Obese Girls < 20 Years
1- Kiribati 36%
2- Federated States of Micronesia 32.4%
3- Samoa 29.6%
4- Kuwait 23.3%
5- Libya 22.1%
6- The Bahamas 20.2%
7- Uruguay 18.1%
8- Soloman Islands 18.0%
9- Qatar 15.5%
10- Syria 15.4%

Obese Boys < 20 Years
1- Samoa 23.7%
2- Kiribati 22.9%
3- Qatar 18.8%
4- Kuwait 16.7%
5- The Bahamas 15.9%
5- Lebanon 15.9%
7- Libya 14.5%
8- Federated States of Micronesia 14.5%
9- Syria 13.9%
10- Israel 13.9%

Obese Women ≥ 20 Years
1- Samoa 69.1%
2- Tonga 67.2%
3- Kuwait 58.6%
4- Federated States of Micronesia 57.9%
5- Libya 57.2%
6- Kiribati 55.5%
7- Qatar 54.7%
9- Marshall Islands 49.1%
10- Egypt 48.4%

Obese Men ≥ 20 Years
1- Tonga 52.4%
2- Samoa 45.9%
3- Qatar 44.0%
4- Kuwait 43.4%
5- Kiribati 39.3%
6- Marshall Islands 31.9%
7- USA 31.7%
9- Federated States of Micronesia 31.3%
10- The Bahamas 30.9%

Sadly Kuwait made it into the top 5 of every list. Although no countries had significant decreases in obesity, I would be interested to see if Kuwait’s obesity rate has at least slowed down over the past few years. Everyone is generally more health conscious today than they were a few years ago (me included) and there are a lot more gyms and healthy food options available now as well. You can download the full study from [Here] (signup required)


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Kuwait will be a Huge Travel Destination in the Next 10 Years

Posted by Mark

kuwaithotspot

Based on data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the home swapping site “Love Home Swap” compiled a top 50 up-and-coming countries to watch list and Kuwait came in #15 as a new and upcoming holiday destination. Business Insider has even picked up the story further adding to the credibility of the list. So strange, check out the top 50 destinations [Here]

Thanks Taz


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1st Healthy City in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

yarmouk

Yarmouk became the first healthy city in Kuwait this month by fulfilling the requirements of the World Health Organization (WHO). Some of the requirements they fulfilled included:

– Fighting against obesity
– Having a walk marathon
– Beautification and cleaning of the city
– Setting up a well-equipped walking track
– Planted trees
– Saved power and water
– Washed streets with water and soap
– Organized exhibitions for young entrepreneurs a
– Established an environment-friendly park
– Organized cultural, social, educational and health symposiums and lectures
– Urged people to donate blood
– Combatted smoking
– Fighting swine flu

I think thats really great now if only the same formula could be applied to my area or other areas around Kuwait. Checkout the article on KUNA [Here]

Photo by Samira


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The Emergency Lane Confusion

Posted by Mark

copemergencylane

I have no idea whats going on with the emergency lane situation in Kuwait but there seriously seems to be some major confusion. The other day an article in the Arab Times said the following:

Jail, 3-Mth Vehicle Seizure For Emergency Lane Violators
Director of Public Relations and Moral Guidance Department and Acting Director of Security Media Department, Brigadier Adel Al-Hashash has announced the activation of a traffic law which punishes motorists who use the emergency lanes, reports Al-Shahed daily.

Al-Hashash explained those who drive in the emergency lanes will be detained at police stations for between 24 and 48 hours and the Al-Anba daily added their vehicles will be impounded for three months. He denied motorists were allowed to use the emergency lanes because of traffic congestion. He added, the Interior Ministry’s media department had earlier issued a statement in this regard. He said the law was activated on May 19 and the security authorities will implement this law in its strict sense.[Source]

First of all it seems no one gives a crap about that new law because over the weekend during heavy traffic on the Fahaheel Expressway not only were people using both the left and right emergency lanes, they were using it even when there was a police car in front of them (pictured above). No one was afraid of getting stopped, fined or punished. But then again, I’ve seen people run red lights in front of cops with no reaction from the cops so don’t know why I was surprised by this.

If that wasn’t bad enough, today there is another article in the Arab Times but this one contradicts the statement I highlighted in bold and italics in the article above. I’ve copy pasted this new article below:

Move To Reduce Congestion
Ministry of Interior has permitted the use of safety lanes on certain roads at specific times to reduce congestion.

In a statement, the ministry indicated roads specified for this purpose include King Faisal Expressway from the Sixth Ring Road, King Abdul-Aziz Road from the Sixth Ring Road to First Ring Road, and Al- Maghrib Highway from King Fahad Road to the First Ring Road.

The permitted timings are 6:00am-9:00am and 12:30pm-3:30pm, noting the times specified are the busiest in the country because Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti employees and students leave and return from the schools, institutes and universities during the period.

The statement added the decision was based on directives from the Interior Minister and Acting Minister of Awqaf Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah and the Undersecretary Lieutenant General Suleiman Fahad Al-Fahad.

The road users can only use the safety lanes during the specific period and at specified locations to follow regulations, reiterating the lane is originally for ambulances, fire engines, police cars and civil defense but other vehicles can use it now, as instructed, and the speed limit is 45 km/h. [Source]

So a few days after one person issues a statement saying that no one is allowed to use the emergency lane not even during rush hour, another person releases another statement contradicting the the first person. Talk about lack of communication and confusion on this subject.


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