Running Up a KD3,000+ Phone Bill by Mistake

Post by Mark

zainbill

I spotted a post on the reddit front page two nights ago about a guy from Kuwait who ran up a KD3,000 phone bill accidentally and I was going to post about it yesterday but the redditor ended up deleting his post. But last night he posted it again so here I am writing about it.

You can read his full story [Here] but I’ll summarize it for this post. A guy borrows his friends sim card since his friend had a Zain plan that included 10GB of roaming internet. He takes the sim card goes to Azerbaijan where he uses the internet all day long since 10GB is a lot of bandwidth and he wasn’t worried about consuming it all. What the guy and his friend didn’t realize was that Azerbaijan wasn’t part of the countries where he could take advantage of the 10GB of roaming internet so when he checked his phone bill he noticed it was over KD2,500. He freaked out and posted about it on reddit and then a followup saying when he last checked it had gone up even further to over KD3,000.

The guy is pretty screwed because he didn’t read the fine print and the worst part is, its not even his sim card it’s his friends.

Now the odd thing I find here is how his mobile operator in this case Zain allow him to rack up such a high bill. I have a Zain line I never use but I keep since I’ve had that number since 1996 and when I don’t pay my bill for a couple of months I get a phone call from accounting telling me I need to pay KD15 or they’ll disconnect my line. And thats just over KD15. If someones phone bill every month is say KD20 a month on average and suddenly in a week it hits KD1,000, wouldn’t that arouse suspicion? Shouldn’t some kind of alarm go off at Zain (or any other operator) when something like this happens? They would then freeze the account until they could contact the owner of the number to confirm they’re aware of what they’re doing or make sure their phone didn’t get stolen etc..

I had an incident once with Burgan Bank when they blocked my ATM card for security reasons because it was used in two different countries within 24 hours. I had used it once in the Kuwait Airport to exchange money and then again in London to buy a train ticket. I thought that was a bit extreme but the point is companies usually have security measures they take to make sure the customer is protected. I thought telecom operators would have similar security measures but I guess they don’t? Would be great if anyone can shed some light on this.


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VOL.1 at Mayar

Post by Mark

vol1-1

Over the weekend I passed by the new VOL.1 thats opening up in Mayar Complex to get a sneak peek. I was curious to see how the place was turning out so I asked the owner if I could drop by and check it out. The new location is going to be located in Shuwaikh and is around 3 to 4 times the size of their current location in the city. The new space has a much larger circular bar and the same bench style seating surrounding the walls. The new location also has an second floor which will contain their offices as well as a small space where they’ll be holding classes or coffee cupping sessions. They’re expecting to open sometime next month but no specific date has been set yet.

mayar1

The Mayar Complex where VOL.1 is located is surprisingly a pretty good looking space. I didn’t think it was going to turn out the way it did and I love the way they’ve used marble everywhere. I took a walk around it and a bunch of shops have already opened with a bunch of others opening soon. There is going to a gym there, two spinning studios, a bunch of fashion and accessories stores and a few restaurants. The only issue I have with the complex is there isn’t enough parking, but thats to be expected I guess. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Deraya Exploratory Campaign

Post by Mark

sensors

I’m sure many of you have noticed strange looking devices similar to the ones above lying all over Kuwait. These devices are part of KOC’s exploratory campaign called Deraya to explore Kuwait’s geological layers. Over 50,000 of these devices have been placed all around Kuwait so that specialized vehicles like the one pictured below can perform seismic surveys.

seismicvibrator

When I first started seeing these trucks rolling up and down the Gulf Road I though they were electric generators but turns out they’re actually seismic vibrators. These trucks drive around Kuwait and stop at various locations to perform seismic vibrations which are then picked up by the sensors.

The aim of this campaign is to study and record data about Kuwait’s different underground layers to form a basis for future studies. KOC have a video explaining the whole process which you can watch above. It’s in Arabic but it’s an animation so you can still figure out whats going on.


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Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre Events are Now Online

Post by Mark

events

The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre website just got a facelift along with an updated events page that now lists all the upcoming events that will be taking place there as well as the option to purchase tickets. Check out [Here]

Thanks Fatima


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Elsewhere, the Experimental Space

Post by Mark

elsewhere

Elsewhere is a a new ingenious concept that opened up next to Elevation Burger on the Seif strip. The concept is actually owned by TABCo, the company that owns Elevation (who are one of my advertisers). It’s an experimental space created for local entrepreneurs who have ideas and concepts they want to try out for limited time periods. Currently the space is occupied by Richard’s Coffee for the next 76 days whom I wrote about a couple of weeks back.

The space doesn’t have to be occupied by a coffee shop or a food related concept, they’re open to different ideas like fashion, retail or even some sort of activity. Even the amount of time you could rent the spot for is flexible, it can be as little as you want it to be as long as its an idea that will help bring traffic to the area. The rent is very reasonable as well for the space/location. I’m not sure I can share it on the blog because I’m assuming it’s not a one price for all, but I can say that they’re definitely not profiting from the rent. The rent is low to attract the interesting concepts who in return will bring traffic to the area and indirectly promote and bring traffic to Elevation Burger next door. It’s a smart marketing idea.

Currently nobody is lined up to take the spot after Richard’s, so if you’re interested in renting the spot you could contact them on elsewhere@tabcofood.com.


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List of Specialty Coffee Shops in Kuwait

Post by Mark

arabicacoffee

When I first started putting this list together it was because I was planning to visit them all and maybe review them. But I didn’t think there were this many already and so I don’t think that plan is possible anymore. Below is a list of all the speciality coffee shops I’m aware of, let me know if I missed any:

Speciality Coffee Shops
Amo Cafe
Arabica
ASPRO + PRO Coffee Bar
Awake Coffee
BLAKK Coffee
Bon Coffee
Boost Cafe
BRW
But First Coffee
CAF
Caffeine
Caveman Coffee
Cova Specialty Coffee
Cropped Coffee
CRL Bar
Days*Cafe
Dose Cafe
Etsi Kafe Lab
Force Bar
Grace
His Majesty
Jumo
Keys Coffee Shop
Kôfē – Espresso Bar
Let’s Coffee
Majnoon Qahwa
Mood Coffee Bar
Muse Coffeesphere
Muse Espresso Bar
New Brew Coffee
Not Just Coffee
Pause Coffee
Perhaps Some Coffee
Pirate Cafe
Richard’s Coffee
Savage Coffees
Seven Grams Coffee Lab
Shots
Shuwaikh Coffee
SIP
Street Cafe
The Breeze Cafe
Three and Barista
Toby’s Estate
Vibes Coffee
Vol 1
Wish Cafe

Speciality Roasters
48 East
Earth’s Roastery
Coffee Villains
The Lab Roastery

On a side note, anyone know where I can find the Rattleware coffee shot glass in Kuwait? Got it!

Update: I’ve updated the list


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Truefitt & Hill Barbershop Now Open

Post by Mark

truefitt

Truefitt & Hill is the oldest barbershop in the world established back in 1805 in London, and they recently opened their first location in the Middle East at Symphony Mall. Their prices surprisingly are fairly reasonable, similar to other local barbershops with a haircut costing KD10 and a shave KD5. For some reason I was expecting them to charge a lot more since in London a shave costs around KD12 and a haircut around KD20. Thats double the price of Kuwait.

Their phone number is 25770770 and they’re on instagram @truefittandhillkuwait


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Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre Opens

Post by Mark

culturalcenter

Earlier this morning, Andrea Bocelli performed at the opening of the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre. If this is the first you hear about it you’re not alone since the opening was only officially announced yesterday (I announced it two months ago). Now that the centre is open I figured I’d share a list of upcoming events that will be taking place there, but the only problem is, a list doesn’t exist yet.

kc1

The whole project has been shrouded in secrecy since the start. When I broke information on the Cultural Centre back in 2014, barely anyone knew about the project other than those involved in it. Now two years later the project is completed but everything is still a big secret and I can’t understand why.

Usually I wouldn’t care but this is such a great and beautiful project that it’s a shame it didn’t get so much more publicity. Hopefully things will be less secretive moving forward but for now, here are links to the cultural centre website and social media accounts.

Website: jacc-kw.com
Instagram: @jacc_kw
Twitter: @jacc_kw

cs1

I’ll also take this opportunity to thank all my sources who for the past two years have been feeding me as much information as they could on this project so I could share it with you guys. It’s because of them I’ve been able to write and share so much on the cultural centre and allowing me visit the site and take photos.

Here is a roundup of all my previous posts on the project:

List of Restaurants Opening at the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre
Latest on the Cultural Centre
Cultural Centre Opening October 31st
My Visit to the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre
Interior Shots of the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre
Drone View of the New Cultural Center
Current Status of the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre
Tour of the Kuwait Cultural Centre Construction Site
Inside the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre
Sneak Peek: Kuwait Cultural Centre
A Photographic Journey Inside Qasr Al Salam


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Kuwait Blogs List 2016

Post by Mark

kuwaitblogs

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a list of active local blogs so figured it was about time I do so. Below is a list of all the active blogs I”m aware of:

18 Seven (Arabic)
AboFlan (Arabic)
According to Mimi
Adventures of a Jersey Girl
British Girl Lost in Kuwait
Confashions from Kuwait
Danderma
Desert Girl
Diario de un Sidecar (Spanish)
Frankom
Jleeb (Arabic)
Kuwait Birding
Kuwait Chronicles
Kuwait Moms Guide
Kuwaitiful
Kuweight 64
Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait
Lady B
Life in Kuwait
LuLu Loves Makeup
LSF: Kuwait City Styl
New Q8 Bride
Pink Girl Q8
Q8 Path
The Hybrids
The Urban Analyst
Wainmaaro7

I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch so if there is a local blog that is active and should be on this list, let me know about it.


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Listen to This: The fruit of the Desert

Post by Amin Fari

What do you get when you put the guys from Radiohead in a gahwa, in Salmiya, watching the old Star Wars movies, drinking guava nectar instead of tea? This could take a while, but for the sake of this post, I’ll give you the answer; Galaxy Juice. That’s exactly the feeling I get when I listen to their new release single “Allokation” off of their new album Timenesia which will be released Nov 1st .

Back to my opening question, can you see it? I mean, how does one make Galaxy Juice? Aren’t you just a little bit curious? I was. So I paid them a little visit.

timenesia

Before Timenasia, there was Crystal Dunes. The story of the making of Crystal Dunes is one that plays right into last week’s post, where I talked about the difficulties artists face in trying to “make it” in the music industry in Kuwait. When Crystal Dunes was made, naturally, these guys wanted to print copies – to sell, to give out, to use as coasters or whatever else – you get the idea. But when they approached record companies here, they were told they could only print a minimum of 1000 copies. At the time, the band didn’t feel like they had the kind of demand that would require that quantity and tried to negotiate them down to about half that, but even then, the prices they were getting were obnoxious. So, the next logical step; print it outside of Kuwait – to the U.S. they went. There, they found a printing company that kept their overheads nice and low, where they were able to print 100 copies. Perfect.

Back in Kuwait, when their order arrived, and as Mohammad Al Owaisi, (Drums & Synthesizers), tells it; he’d receive online notifications that his “package has arrived” but is being… you guessed it, “held at customs”. This “hold” starts feeling more like a “keep”, and so, he heads to the Customs Department at the airport. Now, before they could get into the details of “what’s the hold up?” they first had to locate this package. And so the search begins for this box, in a room full of other boxes, in a back office in the back of this office – they never find it. They hand him a note that basically states; because of the contents of the shipment, the package has been sent for inspection, please follow up with the Office of the Ministry of Information. Still on airport premises, he makes his way to the temporary “chinko” structure that is the Office of the Ministry of Information, far out into the horizon, off the path. As he stood in a room full of more boxes waiting to talk to someone, his eye catches his box. Finally! And, as though the universe and the stars were finally aligning, a man appeared from the back. They spend a couple of minutes talking about the box, the contents of the box, the quantity of the contents of the box, the motives behind the contents of the box, all the while Mohammad trying to explain that these CD’s are for distribution purposes only, and not intended for sale. Nevertheless, it’s a no go. With one copy of Crystal Dunes in hand, he’s redirected to the Ministry of Information HQ in Shuwaikh.

Day 2, Ministry of Information HQ. Like a sad song on replay, Mohammad goes through the saga of explaining; we’re a band, we make music, we wanted to share our music, we like CD’s, we wanted to give people CD’s. “So, is it just music, or do you sing?” the lady asks. “We sing”. “Yeah, we’re going to need to see those lyrics. Can you email them to me?” Mohammad goes home and emails her the lyrics.

Day 3, Ministry of Information HQ. He heads right back to the same lady, the only released copy of Crystal Dunes still in its plastic wrapper sits on her desk, unopened. The lyrics pass the censorship requirements. It’s a go! But, not until he is made to sign a memorandum of understanding, (ta3ahud), somewhere between an apology and a promise to never do that again ie. bring in products with the intent to sell or distribute. Approval letter signed and stamped, he heads back to the customs office at the airport, ready to finally take his babies home.

But, back to the ta3ahud for a minute. I’d understand if their only concern were that of a commercial nature, but they seem to also have a problem with just plain distribution. Why is that? Is it because they’re afraid that with enough of a following, a band has the potential to create propaganda? Or, maybe they don’t want to bring outside competition inside Kuwait’s market? I mean, let’s face it, Kuwait loves to play Monopoly. But, wait, this gets tragically better. Turns out, ALL members of Galaxy Juice are Kuwaiti citizens, all working government jobs and in essence, these Kuwaiti artists made a project in Kuwait, and tried to promote it, also in Kuwait, by giving it away, and couldn’t. In their own hometown, they couldn’t. I wondered if maybe their music had been more “Kuwaiti”, if that would’ve cut the number of hoops they would’ve had to jump through; that their music being difficult to categorize made it so it required all that extra screening. And so I investigated.

bandpic

Band Members
Salem Al Salem – Lead Vocals, Guitar (Job-Accountant)
Mohammad Al Owaisi – Drums, synthesizers (Job-Mechanical Engineer)
Abdula Asem: Bass (Job-Marine Biologist)
Bader Al Salem: Drum machines, Sampler

In listening to their work, I found many elements of Kuwaiti music – an alternative rock vibe that seamlessly goes into a rhythm, or a clap, or a scale which would immediately be recognized as Arabic, or even specifically Kuwaiti. In their live show from last spring of this year at Shaheed park, they stopped mid-song to go into a full on traditional Kuwaiti clapping session, Sharbeka. So, clearly, their work is a fusion, but what I’m more interested in is, are they innovating? Are they on the brink of innovation? That begs the question, when does one know when a band is doing Kuwaiti Rock? Or, Arab Rock? When or where are the lines? Do these lines exist? Or is it up to us to create them? Listen to it and tell me what you think. You could be thinking, well, Amin, Rock is Rock. My answer to that is, there was a time when there was American Rock n’ Roll, and British Rock n’ Roll, and although distinct in their sound, they were still considered Rock n’ Roll. It’s not like British Rock had distinct British hymns or maritime stories incorporated in it, it just had a different take on an American Rock n’ Roll. Over time, and with the gaining popularity of the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, British and American Rock n’ Roll meshed into one. But, there was a time when there was a division, and it was a division by geographical location. So, back to Kuwait and the possibility of music innovation, how would we recognize it? How would we recognize the emergence of Kuwaiti Rock? If it’s even possible. I know that in this coming season, many artists will be experimenting with Arabic, even Kuwaiti elements in their music, and the lines are going to start to get even more blurry. Do we call it “Kuwaiti Pop Music”? But it’s not. Do we call it “Kuwaiti Urban Music”? What are the rules? I’m sure an Ethnomusicologist could answer this quite simply, but I think we’re at a time where the lines are already blurry for artists trying to incorporate some of their roots into their work. Here is a specific part of Crystal Dunes where you can see a clear integration.

When I listen to Galaxy Juice it makes me think; are they making music for our time? There album is called Timenesia, and is somehow of the past, the future, of here and of other places. It’s like they’re this Rock group, experimenting with music of somewhere that is not of here, almost like they’re playing for outer space. With a name like Galaxy Juice, it all makes sense.

Follow them on Instagram: @galaxyjuiceband

Peace, Love and Music

Post by Amin FARI
Are you a musician looking to perform? On the flipside, are you a host looking for musicians to book? Or maybe you’ve just got an awesome idea you’d like to share? Get in touch aminfarilive@gmail.com / Instagram: @xxmrfarixx


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