What will you die of?

Post by Mark


There is a website that allows you to generate infographics for causes and risks within a country and also compare it to other countries or the rest of the world using data from 1993 to 2013. The grid above shows the greatest causes of death in Kuwait, the larger the box the higher the risk. Based on the infographic, heart disease (IHD) is the lead cause of death followed by risk of a stroke and then road injuries. Check out all the data in detail by clicking [Here] (Make sure you choose Kuwait as the location)

Thanks Saud

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Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace could become another local World Heritage Site

Post by Mark


After Failaka (2013) and Kuwait Towers (2014), another local site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list this year, Khaza’al Palace, now renamed to Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace.

This site was built in the early Twentieth Century by Sheikh Khazaal Bin Mirdaw, Ruler of Muhammarah (1897 – 1925 ) on a piece of land which he received as a gift from Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ruler (1896-1915). After Sheikh Khazaal’s death, it was bought by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Al- Sabah who took it as a family residence, thereafter converted it to the first national museum in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf region, after which it remained as the property of his heirs until it was taken over by the State and rated as a high preservation building.

When it was built and for many decades thereafter, the Palace was reported to be the most magnificent structure in Kuwait. Patterned on regional antecedents, it was large, elaborate two storey structure in coral stone and mud brick in a stark contrast to Kuwait’s primarily single storey, austere architecture.


The palace is currently in a very poor state and so UNESCO is proposing the following:

In order to save the property from further deterioration, urgent steps are required to be taken, especially with regard to the original crumbling site of the Palace. This measure should be undertaken in coordination with the operational guidelines of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. This may be followed by considering the addition of a modest Education and Culture Museum building in the surrounding area which may be devoted to fully express the site’s value to present and future generations. Further, the grounds need to be rehabilitated and the ancillary buildings are required to be activated.

For more information check out this link on UNESCO [Link]

Thanks Khaled

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Kuwait 4G LTE Report

Post by Mark


Last week the website Open Signal published an article on the state of LTE around the world. With the article they shared some date including LTE coverage around the world and LTE speeds around the world. When it came to coverage Kuwait was right on top of the list tied in 3rd place with Hong Kong. The only other countries ahead were South Korea and Japan. On the other hand when it came to LTE speeds, Kuwait’s speed landed at the other end of the list with an average download speed of 7Mbps placing it in 63rd place out of 68 countries. The only countries that performed worst were Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Costa Rica and Iran.

Now the more interesting information is the breakdown of the local operators by Open Signal. The operator with the most local coverage was Zain with 87%, Viva with 85% and Ooredoo with 84%. When it came to download speeds, Ooredoo averaged the fastest with 8Mbps, Zain with 7Mbps and Viva with 6Mbps.

Check out the full world wide results by clicking [Here]

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Kuwait Lacking Innovation

Post by Mark


The Global Innovation Index (GII) for 2015 was released last week and Kuwait surprisingly (at least to me) ranked last compared to neighboring GCC states. The GII ranked the innovative performance of 141 countries and economies around the world, based on 79 indicators and Kuwait ended up coming in 77th place in the rankings.

43 – Saudi Arabia
47 – United Arab Emirates
50 – Qatar
59 – Bahrain
69 – Oman
77 – Kuwait

I downloaded the full report to better understand why Kuwait came last in the GCC and so low worldwide and found a few positives and negatives which I’ve highlighted below.

Electricity output, kWh/cap (Rank 1)
Pupil-teacher ratio, secondary (Rank 8)
Ease of paying taxes (Rank 11)

Business sophistication (Rank 132)
Knowledge absorption (Rank 130)
Cost of redundancy dismissal, salary week (Rank 124)
Ease of starting a business (Rank 120)

Check out the full report on the GII website [Here]

Thanks Musaed

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Old Currency No Longer Accepted

Post by Mark


Spotted the notice above at my local Sultan Center. Kinda seems a bit too soon to start not accepting old currency since it’s barely been a year since the new ones were introduced.

Update: According to the Central Bank of Kuwait website, the old currency (5th issue) will no longer be accepted anywhere starting October 1st. After that date you’ll have until April 2025 to exchange your old currency for the new one by visiting the CBK Banking Hall. [Link]

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A Visit to the GCCJPPI

Post by Mark


Last week after posting about how the new Iftah Ya Simsim was now being filmed in Abu Dhabi instead of Kuwait, two readers commented that even though Iftah Ya Simsim was being shot in Abu Dhabi, some of the editing was still being done in Kuwait. One of the readers even invited me to pass by the GCCJPI facilities to check it out which I did.

GCCJPPI stands for Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Program Production Institution. A super long name but if you grew up in Kuwait during the 80s, all it takes is one look at their logo to recognize who they are. GCCJPPI are behind some of the most memorable shows on television back in the 80s. They were behind most of the popular Arabized cartoons and they also created shows like Salamatak (سلامتك), Quff (قف) and of course the Middle East version of Sesame Street, Iftah Ya Simsim.


The GCCJPPI facilities are located in Salmiya across the street from Souq Salmiya. It’s a building I’ve driven by on numerous occasions but never really paid any attention to. The ground floor of the building has one of the largest theaters in Kuwait containing 850 seats while the rest of the floors are offices, recording and editing studios and my favorite, the GCCJPPI archives.


I had assumed all their archive was lost during the 1990 invasion but turns out they still have copies of everything, their archive is stacked old tapes. According to Nawaf Alshallal, the technical advisor who was showing me around, the Kuwait GCCJPPI office is currently digitizing their whole archive which I got to take a peek at. Not only are they digitizing all their videos but they’re also scanning all their old photos as well. Since I recently watched the documentary “I Am Big Bird” I was curious to see if they had behind the scene photos taken on set of Iftah Ya Simsim. Turns out they did and I flipped through them and there’s some really great never before seen stuff. I’ve already submitted a request to get a copy of these photos so I could share them on the blog. Hopefully I get the approval.

From what I felt during my visit, the GCCJPPI are finally coming back to life. I was even told they’re planning on bringing back Salamatak and Quff which is something I think we really need. I just hope whatever they create ends up on YouTube because theres no way I’d go back to watching KTV again.

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Instagram Ads Launching in the Region Soon

Post by Mark


As some of you might have heard, Instagram advertising soft launched awhile back in the States, but what you might not be aware of is that it will also be soft launching in our region very soon. Advertisers will soon be able to place ads within your photo stream which will most likely have a big impact on Instagrammers who currently charge for posts.

Not only will advertisers no longer need to pay Instagrammers, but by placing ads directly with Instagram they can accurately target their customer base. Right now there is no way for example to tell where the followers of a certain Instagrammer are residing, that will all change with Instagram advertising since advertisers would be able to specify who they want their ads to be seen by.

The official word from Instagram MENA is that they will be beta launching the program shortly with a limited group of advertisers. They wouldn’t give me a specific launch date since it still hasn’t been finalized, but from what I’ve been hearing in the grapevine, its expected to launch within the next couple of months. The partners for this launch have already been set and I know one of them but I sadly can’t share who they are because I was told off the record.

Instagram advertisers will have two buying mechanisms once this program launches:

Self-serve: This will work similar to how Facebook Ads work and, similarly, will be priced by an auction.

Insertion Order: Managed clients will also be able to book these which are sold on a fixed price, but rates aren’t yet established for the region.

The targeting aspect of these ads will function similarly to how Facebook targeting currently works.

As I mentioned, Instagram will be soft launching soon with a limited group of advertising partners. This means for now Instagrammers will not be losing a lot of income. But once this program launches officially and to everyone, they’ll most likely feel the pinch.

Update: I just opened Instagram and noticed the ad below so I’m guessing the soft launch might take place this month.


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The Mubarakiya School

Post by Mark


I tried passing by the Mubarakiya School last year but when I did they were closed and then I just forgot about it and never went back. Then last week I got an email from a reader that reminded me about it so I ended up passing by yesterday to check it out. The Mubarakiya School is a museum celebrating 100 years of education in Kuwait and after visiting it I’m not sure what to think of it.


I got there around 12:30 which according to the sign outside was after closing time but the door was open so I just walked in. There was a security guard at the desk who didn’t seem to mind I had come in so I just proceeded to walk into the museum. For a museum on education I thought the interior was… whats the word, futuristic? scifi-ish? Lots of geometric shaped walls with very dim lighting giving the illusion I was onboard a spaceship. I mean I liked it, a lot, but the interior seemed to overshadow the actual museum pieces which sadly there wasn’t enough of. There were just a handful of displays showcasing historical artifacts and documents in the main corridor and then there were 3 or 4 film viewing rooms. The viewing rooms had TVs that displayed historical footage (or photos) with a voice narrating, actually I’m not sure what the TV screens were displaying because they were off with just the voice narration playing. According to the security guard sometimes the AC effects the TVs, I didn’t understand how but thats why the TVs weren’t working according to him.


On my way out I picked up the museum brochure which actually contained interesting information and a bunch of old photos. Personally would have liked to have seen those old photos enlarged and on display at the museum along with the corresponding info. I’m guessing they might be part of the films in the viewing rooms which I couldn’t see but even if they were, when it comes to old photos I generally like viewing them as printed old photos. The Mubarakiya School is located in Souq Mubarakiya [Map] and is worth passing by if you happen to be in the area since its free and looks great for a museum in Souq Mubarakiya. Their opening hours are too complicated to list so instead here is a picture of their opening hours sign [Link]

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Kuwait Worst Destination for Expats

Post by Mark


Kuwait occupies the 64th and last place of the overall ranking, particularly due to its low score in the Ease of Settling In Index. In fact, 53% of respondents are unhappy with the general friendliness of local residents. The opportunities to find new friends also leave a lot to be desired for one-third of respondents.

Unfortunately, the situation is similarly grim when it comes to the overall quality of life. Many expats are not satisfied with the available leisure options, while others see their personal happiness suffering. Only for the Job Security and Language subcategories does the country receive some decent results, making it to 26th and 25th place, respectively.

InterNations, the networking group for expats yesterday released the results of its latest annual survey. The organization asked expats in a bunch of countries a wide range of questions about their life and impressions of their adopted country and the results were charted. Kuwait came last which we could sit here and debate all day but what was surprising was the fact that Saudi Arabia was ranked as a better destination. How the hell is that even possible?? [Link]

Thanks James

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Kuwait is fairly ‘liveable’

Post by Mark


The 2015 Global Liveability Ranking list came out a few days ago and Kuwait came 3rd amongst the most liveable GCC cities right after Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The liveability ranking is based on 30 different factors related to things like safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure and environment. Kuwait scored high in most of the categories but fell through when it came to the Culture & Environment one. Below is Kuwait’s rankings compared to other GCC countries:

75 – Dubai, UAE
79 – Abu Dhabi, UAE
83 – Kuwait City, Kuwait
85 – Doha, Qatar
89 – Muscat, Oman
92 – Bahrain, Bahrain
107 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
111 – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

To find out more about these rankings you can check out The Economist article [Here] or download the full ranking which includes a breakdown of the score [Here]

Thanks Salue

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