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


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

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.


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

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


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Kuwait Moms Guide’s Favorite Parks & Playgrounds

Post by Mark

boulevard3

Since the weather is getting cooler, Kuwait Moms Guide have updated their list of favorite parks and playgrounds. In total they’ve selected 22 parks and playgrounds and they’ve given an explanation for each. To check out their list, click [Here]

Thanks LeScribbler


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

What is Kuwait Good at?

Post by Mark

information

Surprisingly the answer is not food related. This map was on the front page of Reddit yesterday and although Kuwait is not on the map it is listed in the data. According to Information is Beautiful, Kuwait is good at tweeting with the most tweets per capita in the world.

Check out the full world map [Here]


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Richard’s Coffee Now Open

Post by Mark

richard

Richard’s Coffee new popup location officially opens today. Their new location is right next door to the new Elevation Burger branch on the Seef Strip and will be there for the next 90 days. Their opening hours is from 7AM to 9PM starting Tuesday, but 3PM to 9PM for today and tomorrow. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Kuwait Airways Reveal New Logo, Uniforms and Plane Livery

Post by Mark

kuwaitairwaysnewlogo

A few hours ago Kuwait Airways launched a new identity that included a face lifted logo, updated crew uniforms, a brand new aircraft livery, updated website and new flight routes.

kuwaitairwayslivery1

Kuwait Airways were at Boeing in Seattle to collect their first 777-300ER aircraft in which these changes are making their debut on. The event was broadcasted live on their twitter account and you could rewatch the event on Periscope by clicking [Here] The new plane is expected to have it’s first flight on November 7th, 2016.

I’m going to hold back my detailed opinion on the new identity until it is properly launched and I’ve seen all their material, but right now I’ll just say that the new identity feels dated already.

kuwaitairwaysuniforms

kuwaitairwayslivery2

kuwaitairwayslivery3

kuwaitairwayslivery4

kuwaitairwayswebsite


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

MyFatoorah Payment System

Post by Mark

fatoorah0

The guys from MyFatoorah got in touch with me back in August, they were interested in advertising on the blog and they also wanted me to try out their product so I could review it. Like I tell all my advertisers, I can’t promise you I’ll write about your product, but if I try it and like it then I probably will. After trying their service not only do I like it, but its now become one of the primary ways my clients are paying me. Just to be clear, this isn’t a sponsored post. Not that I need to explain myself but it’s one of the rare occasions I’m writing about a product which is currently being advertised on my blog with a banner, so I just need to point this out for transparency reasons.

MyFatoorah is an online payment solution and I’ve been using them to collect payments from my blog advertisers and from my clients whom I do freelance branding work for. Previously, the methods of payments I had available were bank transfer, cash or cheque but now I also offer knet or credit card payments because of MyFatoorah.

fatoorah1

To begin using their service, the first thing I had to do was download the MyFatoorah app, sign up and add my bank information and that was it. No need to wait for approval, no need to send a copy of my civil id or anything of the sort, you can start invoicing people and collecting payments right away. Within the first 3 days I had invoiced and collected payments from 5 different people and the amounts got deposited straight into my bank account in less than 24 hours.

To invoice people its a fairly simple process, you open the app, click on “Quick Invoice” then you enter the name of the person you’re invoicing and the amount. You then click “Send Invoice” and you could either whatsapp or SMS the person the payment link. That’s it. All that person needs to do then is click the link you sent them and settle the invoice either by Knet or a credit card.

fatoorah2

The service isn’t free, MyFatoorah make their money by charging a transaction fee. Their standard charges are 2% for Knet payments and 3.5% for credit cards, this means if you bill a client KD100, MyFatoorah will take KD2 if the client pays using Knet. The charges are negotiable though, for example I’m getting a ridiculously good rate cuz wasta, but depending on how much business you’re expecting to perform, you could contact them and try to work out a better rate. The way I also have it set up is, if a client pays me with Knet, I accept the charges, but if the client wants to pay using a credit card, they’ll have to pay the 2.5% charge. I like being able to decide that from within the app.

Now another surprising way I’ve started using MyFatoorah is collecting money from friends or family. So for example I bought some event tickets a few weeks back and sent out knet links to my friends to pay me for their tickets. My brother needed to transfer me some money and instead of setting me up as a new beneficiary on his online banking account, I just sent him an invoice for the amount and I got the money that way. It kind of reminded me of the app Venmo. When I was in the States last summer, everyone was using Venmo to pay each other. If a person bought movie tickets for everyone, then the group would pay that person via Venmo and I’ve been using MyFatoorah like that as well.

One final way I’m going to start using MyFatoorah is with a donate button on the blog. I’ve always kinda wanted to do that ever since I started blogging since it was a fairly common thing in the early days of blogging. But since I lived in Kuwait, there wasn’t a way to do that previously. Now I finally can although I’m like a decade late. Basically MyFatoorah allows me to setup a generic payment link which anybody can click on and pay me whatever amount they’d like. So if you want to donate money for my lattes for life fund, here is the [Link]

payment

There are a couple of features I’d like to see in MyFatoorah that are currently missing. One feature is the ability to copy paste the payment link from within the app to an email. Right now the only two options I have to send an invoice is SMS or Whatsapp. To send a link to a client by email, I need to choose Whatsapp as an option, then when the link opens up in Whatsapp, I copy paste it back into an email. There will supposedly be an option to copy paste the link in the next app update, but as of now this is what I am doing. Another feature I’d like to see is the ability to setup an automated reminder email or message. Right now if someone doesn’t pay me, I need to awkwardly message them and be like “hey, how are you? Hope everything is well. I just wanted to remind you regarding the pending payment…”. I hate doing that so I’d like the app to send an automated reminder on my behalf say once every week to remind the person they have a pending payment. Like an annoying accountant.

So yeah I like the app as you can see. It’s great for freelancers and small businesses like me. The software has other features like the ability to integrate into your ecommerce store like Shopify or Magento, but I’ve personally been using it just to collect money from people. So if you’re interested in signing up, you can do so from their website or just download the app on your iPhone or Android device.


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

The Secret Garden Was Destroyed

Post by Mark

secretgarden1

The urban community garden know as The Secret Garden was completely destroyed a few days ago (before picture above, after pictures below). I heard about the news yesterday and was pretty upset by it. The Secret Garden was a perfect example of how an abandoned unknown park could be turned into something so beautiful with the help of a dedicated and passionate community. During the cooler months of the year people were encouraged to come by the Secret Garden every Saturday to either plant, paint, build or just socialize. Lots of parents brought their children who planted seeds and then watched them grow over the winter months. Every now and then you also had the Saturday brunches which brought even more people to the garden. It was such a great project and I was really looking forward to it again this year, but now I am not sure if it will be ready for this season.

secretgarden1

You’re probably thinking the garden was vandalized by a bunch of hooligans which is what I had thought at first, but thats not that case. According to Mimi the mastermind behind the Secret Garden project, the garden was destroyed by the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs & Fish Resources (PAAFR). They’re the same organization who a few years ago were laying out poison all over the parks and free trade zone to poison stray dogs (while at the same time accidentally poisoning peoples pets).

secretgarden2

PAAFR reasoning behind the destruction was that the garden was dirty. Even though the Secret Garden wasn’t being used because it was the summer and there are municipality workers that are meant to clean the garden (the Secret Garden community clean the garden themselves during the cooler months), PAAFR decided it would be better to destroy the garden then try and reason with the community. The result? A catastrophic mess leaving the garden in shambles and disarray. They even had the garbage bins Secret Garden had placed removed and now the garden doesn’t even have trash bins for people to put their trash in. PAAFR also destroyed all the planting stations and just left them lying in the park with nails dangerously sticking out.

The Secret Garden community have been back at the park the past few days cleaning up the mess so they can start rebuilding the garden. I hope they’ll get it done in time for this winter season because it was one of the few activities I always looked forward to. If you want to stay posted on the progress then I would recommend you follow @mimikuwait


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Establish A New Company With One Visit

Post by Mark

kbc1

I’ve been wanting to post about the Kuwait Business Center ever since I got involved in the project back in April, but I couldn’t since the project was still under wraps and when it soft launched in May, there were still a few kinks that were being worked out. But, a couple of weeks ago the Ministry of Commerce and Industry officially launched the Kuwait Business Center which is why I decided now would be the best time to write about it.

kbc2

Anyone who has tried to start a business in Kuwait knows how much running around is needed. Literally. I have a friend who was opening a business and according to his iPhone, he covered the distance of 5KM just running around getting paperwork signed and stamped from one person to the next. KBC is solving all of this by shifting everything online and automating the process while also setting up a one stop shop located in Ishbilia. Now all you need to do is visit their website, apply for your company online and then once everything is approved, you head over to the KBC office in Ishbilia and get everything finalized there. Just 1 visit and just 4 days to issue a license compared to over a month and lots of running around with the old fashioned way.

There are a bunch of other benefits which I’m not sure if they’ve implemented yet or not since the information on the website is all in Arabic. But one new feature I was told about back in April was that small businesses no longer needed to rent an office space so they could get a license, instead they could now use a PO Box which would help keep their overheads low.

So if you’re planning on starting a new business, check out the Kuwait Business Center website [Here]


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Page 7 of 188First3456789101112Last



Contribute

If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
[Email Me]