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.
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]
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]
As I mentioned in my previous post on my stay in Marrakesh, my main reason going there was for a ski holiday. Not many people consider Marrakesh as a ski destination and even I didn’t even know they had slopes until a friend pitched the idea. Preparing for the trip was a bit of a pain since there was very very little information online on skiing in Marrakesh. I couldn’t even find a website that told me if it had snowed in the mountains or if the slopes were even open. All I knew is that the ski slopes were around an hour and a half drive from the main city and located in an area called Oukaimeden. Originally I wanted to take my own snowboard and boots with me since I wasn’t sure I could rent gear over there but, since I didn’t even know if the slopes were open, I decided not to go through the hassle and instead just took my snowboarding clothes with me.
Once my friends and me were in Marrakesh we asked around if there was snow in Oukaimeden and to our relief turns out there was. We rented a car with a driver and headed out to the slopes the following day. We ended up leaving the medina at around 9:30AM and arrived to the slopes before noon. The road to the top of the mountain was small and not very eventful except for this one incident involving a camel. Some people have camels on the side of the road for tourists to sit on and take photos and one went wild and ran into the middle of the road just as my driver was speeding to overtake another car on the road. Luckily we missed the camel which continued running down the run barely missing other cars.
Once we arrived to the slopes things got a bit intense. Two of my friends had never snowboarded before and needed an instructor. We spotted some guys hanging around on the side of the road and when they noticed we were tourists they all attacked our car. Turns out they were all instructors / guides and started arguing amongst each other on who saw us first and who should get us. Too dramatic but understandable since it’s a very poor country and everyone is trying to make a living. After having our driver translate for us we found out that they charge 100dhms an hour to take care of us either by instructing or just helping us get around. 100dhms is just KD3 so we each took a guide and headed towards the best equipment rental store to get our gear.
Their best equipment rental store was ghetto, like if your local bakala decided to rent out 90s ski gear (including neon colored one piece ski suits). But, compared to the alternative (people renting boots and equipment on the side of the road) this place seemed like a great find. Renting boots and a snowboard cost us 250dhms (KD7.7) each for the day, which I think was expensive compared to everything else. I think we could have gotten them even cheaper if we had asked for the gear for half a day or at least haggled. Once we got our stuff we headed to the first slope. A day ski pass to access the slopes is just 50dhms (KD1.5) which is the cheapest I’ve paid anywhere… ever. The bottom of the slopes was pretty packed but once you get the lift and head to the top its empty. That’s because many people just play with the snow at the bottom of the slopes or ride sleds. There aren’t many people who ski and there weren’t any other tourists from what I could tell.
One thing I found interesting is there were people walking around the slopes selling coffee and traditional Moroccan sweets. There was even a stand where you could pick up a bowl of steaming hot snails (a delicacy over there) if you wanted to. It’s actually pretty smart especially if you’re looking for a bit of an energy boost.
After spending sometime at the first slope we then decided to tackle their largest and steepest slope but that was a bit of a distance away. Our guides gave us three options of getting there:
1) Drive there by car 2) Walk 3) Take a donkey ride
Obviously we opted for the donkey ride which was a ton of fun and something again I hadn’t experienced in any other ski slope in the world.
Their highest slope was insanely cool and according to my guide 3000m high. The ride to the top was fairly long, maybe around 20 minutes and the closer we got to the summit the worst the visibility got. It was extremely foggy with a visibility of around 10m or so. Once we got off the lift at the top I couldn’t tell where the slope started and just figured I’d accidently end up flying off a cliff on my way down. But my guide knew the route by heart, which was great since we were going to snowboard down the slope blindly. It had snowed all night and there was a blizzard while we were at the top so the snow was fantastically deep and powdery.
Getting a guide was the smartest thing I did since I really couldn’t see shit the first half of the route down. I kept yelling at him that I couldn’t see and he just kept yelling back that if I see rocks to start turning the other way. Simple obvious advice but it worked.
Anyway I got to the bottom of the slope in one piece even though I did face plant on more than one occasion. Would I recommend skiing in Marrakesh? Hell yes I would, it’s a wonderful experience and they have enough strange characteristics to make the experience unique to them. It’s also a very affordable ski experience, one of the cheapest I’m aware of. Since it’s difficult to find information online what I would recommend to do if you’re interested in skiing in Marrakesh is to call a hotel there and ask them if the slopes are open. I would also do a search for #oukaimeden on instagram since I found a few photos of people on the slopes that way. If anyone has any questions let me know.
The other day I shared an article from KUNA stating the Kuwait Towers were opening on February 25th. According to a couple of readers who visited the towers, that article was incorrect and the towers are still closed. But, according to a security guard at the towers, they will be opening on March 10th.
The Cube is a new complex that has opened up near Sultan Center on Salem Mubarek Street in Salmiya. The complex is mostly made up of restaurants but there are also a few other non food related shops that have or are opening up soon. I passed by the complex yesterday and a few places like Xcite and Paul are open but the majority are still under construction Here is the list of places that are currently at the complex, the asterisk (*) indicates the place is currently open:
Tallu Hbabna Lebanese Restaurant* Frost Gelato Xcite* Nutrishop Sports Direct Viva Zain Ooreedoo Juan Valdez cafe Haleeb Heil* Köşebaşı* Paul* Leila Fat Burger Ciccolat Italiani BGR Zaatar w Zeit Caffe Vergnano 1882 Before chocolate
A reader has sent me 3D renderings of the new Avenues phase 4 which is set to be completed by the end of 2017. I previously posted about Avenues Phase 4 back in October and I’m guessing these renderings are of the new “Electra District” which is modeled after Times Square in New York and the Orchid District which is an area with boutiques and hanging gardens with restaurants at the center. The Electra District looks pretty trippy from the outside. I like.
Last week I ended up going to Bahrain for the GulfRun event but also because I was taking refresher riding lessons with Harley Davidson. Harley have a few of riding events every year that take place in different countries where they invite the press on road trips to check out their bikes. I’ve had to pass on the last two rides since I hadn’t ridden a bike in years (Vespa not included). So they decided to give me refresher lessons and since they have a training center in Bahrain I decided to do it there during GulfRun weekend. I ended up being put up at The Domain Hotel and since I was fairly impressed with the hotel I figured I’d write about.
The hotel is located around 12 minutes from the airport and in a skyscraper, one of the tallest in the area. The hotel reception area is located on the 16th floor and honestly didn’t look so great. The ceiling was low, the furniture a bit tacky and overall it just didn’t look impressive. Once I checked in though I headed up to my floor which was the 30th and thats when things started looking a lot better.
Since the hotel wasn’t very busy I got upgraded to “The Corporate” room which was a corner suite. The room was spacious with a living area, a guest bathroom and an insane view. The main bathroom was also humongous with it’s own large window near the shower which is pretty convenient for exhibitionist.
My favorite part about the room was the fact I could control various aspects of it using a tablet including the lights, the air conditioning and the curtains. I liked waking up in the morning and clicking a button on the tablet to have all the curtains in the room open up automatically.
During my previous trips to Bahrain I stayed at the Ritz Carlton which I loved. Although I prefer the room at The Domain (the Ritz rooms feel outdated), the rest of the hotel can’t really compete in anything else… except the price. While rooms at the Ritz start at around KD120 a night, at The Domain the prices start at around KD40 which is a big difference. So if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay while in Bahrain The Domain might be a good option. [Link]
I passed by InfoConnect earlier today to check out the internet prices and I’m not sure why but the prices have started increasing instead of decreasing. For example two years ago 10Mbps would have cost you KD140 while this year it’s going to cost you KD165. Check out the prices for the annual subscriptions below. Most of the providers were offering some sort of gift be it scratch and win cards or free speed upgrades etc..
InfoConnect is taking place at the Kuwait International Fairground until February 1st. For more information on the event click [Here]
OXadventure is a local non-profit organization which was started by three young Kuwaitis who had a passion for travel, charity work and adventure. During their carefully planned trips, the OXadventure team completes charity and humanitarian work in the countries they travel to while safely exploring them on a budget. They get to see things the way the locals do as opposed to tourists. The trips have also developed into an accredited internship program in a couple of universities in Kuwait.
OXadventure have a trip coming up in February and are looking for volunteers. They will be traveling to Nepal for a spiritual five-day yoga hike and refurbishing a school in rural Kathmandu. The trip is from February 19th to March 1st so if you’re interested in being part of this send an email to email@example.com or give them a call on 90998807.