The Kuwait Heritage Museum

Post by Mark

I could swear I’ve written about the Heritage Museum before but I can’t seem to find the old post for some reason. The Heritage Museum is located inside the Kuwait National Museum and I passed by yesterday since I wanted to check and see if the Planetarium at the museum was still open. The Kuwait National Museum is currently being refurbished (I’m so glad they decided not to demolish it) so I wasn’t sure if visitors could still access it or not. Turns out, for the most part, its inaccessible including the Planetarium, but the Archaeology Exhibit and the Heritage Museum can still be accessed.

Archaeology Exhibit
I didn’t find this exhibit to be that interesting and it’s pretty small. It’s located right as you walk into the museum and it will take you just a few minutes to skim through the stuff on your way to the main Heritage Museum.

Heritage Museum
This part of the museum is a lot more interesting to check out and is fairly big which makes the trip worthwhile. The Heritage Museum is divided into three areas, the first is a wax museum where different aspects of Kuwait’s traditional past are on display. The wax models aren’t very realistic but there are a lot of different displays and the whole thing is meant to resemble an old Kuwaiti street so it’s at least visually interesting.

The second part of the Heritage Museum is where different items from Kuwait’s past are on display. These aren’t wax objects but actual real objects that were collected and put on display. An example of a display would be for example a collection of old radios that were used in Kuwait back in the old days.

The final part of the Heritage Museum is a small photography exhibit where old photos of Kuwait are on display. This is a fairly small cooridor which you’ll be walking through on your way out of the exhibition and is fairly dark so it’s hard to see the photos properly.

If you’ve never been to the Heritage Museum you should check it out mostly because of how odd it is. I mean the eerie dark mood of the museum is alone worth the trip and with the construction taking place, it just adds to the whole creepy mood. If you want to pass by, the museum is open from 8AM to 2PM and then again from 4PM to 8PM. There is no entrance fee. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Not only do we have an addiction treatment center in Kuwait, but its actually so good that addicts from other GCC countries come to Kuwait to get treated here. Recently through a friend, I managed to find out a lot about our treatment facility, and I was so impressed I decided I’d share what I learned.

If you have a drug problem, the first thing you need to do is admit yourself into the KFH Addiction Treatment Center in Shuwaikh [Map]. You go to the reception and you ask to see the doctor (they don’t admit on Fridays). The doctor will ask you a few questions including what substances you use and you will also be administered a drug test. After this first step is completed, you’ll be admitted.

As part of the admittance process you will be given a full body search to make sure you don’t have any drugs on you. You can check-in your belongings before admittance and you can also put money on your account in case during your stay you need to purchase something from the baqala like cigarettes since money isn’t allowed inside the center. Once you admit yourself into the center, you can’t leave for 21-28 days.

The treatment facility is for everyone including expats. Until recently, it was also free for everyone but with the new health fees, expats now have to pay a fee per day.

During your stay at the treatment center, doctors will check up on you often. There are also different workshops and lectures that take place there for example, there are lectures on recovery, lectures on how to deal with negative thoughts and lectures on judgment errors and what they are. In addition to the lectures, there are also group therapy sessions that take place. All the lectures are given by therapists with a few exceptions where doctors give the lectures themselves. Every Tuesday there are also sessions for family members called “Tawasal”. These sessions allow the parents to understand and cope with family members who are in there for treatment.

It is important to state here that your medical file with the treatment center is not shared with any other party and remains with the center. So your admittance won’t pop up when applying for a job or anything of the sort.

After around 21 to 28 days you’ll be able to check out of the center. They then highly recommend you stay in a halfway house which is a temporary living arrangement for people suffering addiction. The halfway houses are run by recovering addicts who are helping other addicts stay clean. Unlike the addiction center, there are no nurses or doctors here and you’re allowed to leave at any time you want. But, if you decide to become a resident at a halfway house, there are rules to abide by. There are rules like having to wake up early, having to clean your room, do some house chores and also signing in and out throughout the day. The rules meant to provide structure for the addicts who at this point don’t have any.

The halfway houses also provide group therapy sessions and are where the addicts are introduced to the 12 Steps of NA, the Narcotics Anonymous program. The program is essential to recovery once they leave, it becomes part of their lives and they keep at it after they leave the halfway house to stay clean. Even though you’re allowed to leave the halfway house anytime you want, the recommendation is that you work through the NA program. Part of the program is choosing a sponsor and attending external NA meetings. I attended a meeting with my friend as support and was completely taken away by it. I attended an English NA meeting and there were around 30 guys and girls from different age groups and backgrounds. It’s difficult to put into words what I felt, but it was very emotional. Once a week they meet up with other people who are going through the same things they are going through, even though most of them don’t know each other, they all still connect on a very personal level and I found that to be so beautiful.

Once you work your way through the NA steps and reach step 5, and you’ve got your external affairs in order, that is when it is recommended that you graduate from the halfway house. There is no specific timeframe to reach this step, some people have been able to do it in 3-4 months, others have taken 1 to 2 years. The average is around 1 year.

So that is basically it. I was so surprised at the quality of support addicts have here in Kuwait I really wanted to write about it. I think what surprised me the most is the understanding and sophistication involved from the government on this subject. I assumed because this is Kuwait, addicts would be treated like criminals and arrested, but instead, the government understands that addiction is a complex disease that can be treated. It’s instances like this that make me really appreciate Kuwait sometimes.


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What Earthquake?

Post by Mark

Am I the only one in Kuwait who didn’t feel the earthquake. A short while ago my phone and twitter blew up asking me if I had felt the earthquake. I didn’t! I was shopping with a friend at Wholesome Foods when the earthquake hit and neither me nor my friend felt anything. So weird, I feel like I’ve totally missed out!


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City Guide: Zahed Sultan Presents Kuwait City

Post by Mark

Stamp the Wax, a popular music blog in London asked local musician Zahed Sultan to do a city guide of Kuwait along with a 1hr mix of music from traditional/emerging local artists. It’s a series they do and you can check out the Kuwait music mix along with the city guide on their website [Here]


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Hijab Discrimination at a School in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Yesterday I was tagged on instagram under an image where a British teacher wanting to work in Kuwait was complaining about a school she applied to that wanted her to take her hijab off. The recruiter told the teacher that parents wanted their kids taught by teachers that didn’t wear hijab, and so if she was interested in joining, she would have to remove her hijab. I thought it was pretty bizarre that a school in Kuwait would discriminate against the hijab so I contacted the original poster who forwarded me all the emails and turns out its true. Below are the conversations between the teacher and the recruiter which I copy pasted from the emails. I’ve removed the name of the school and also replaced the names of the teacher and recruiter with fake ones. I’ve also forwarded the emails to Fajer the lawyer to get her opinion on the legality of this situation as well as contacted the school for their statement.

I’m curious if this is a widespread problem in Kuwait or just an isolated incident. How many teachers at this specific school ended up removing their hijab so they could get the job?

———-

Good morning Carla,
I emailed you about keeping me in mind for any other positions that may be available in the future but have not received any reply from you. Please will you destroy my passport documents if you are completely not interested anymore. In all honesty I feel gutted as I feel like I was not given a chance to show you that I would be ideal for the job. Surely I am entitled to an interview and then you can make decisions upon that.

Regardless of the situation, I am still interested and it would be very much appreciated if you could get back to me. Have a wonderful day.

Kind regards,
Faiza.

———-

Good Morning Faiza

Thank you for your emails.

I am so sorry I didn’t reply as I have been out of the office. I am happy to interview you as we may well need teachers for January 2018.

I do need to ask you if it would be possible to remove your hijab whilst teaching in the XXXX XXXXX Nursery school as our Kuwaiti parents like British Teachers but not wearing hijab. I know this is a delicate area and hope you do not feel offended in any way.

Please have a think about it and let me know if you would like to proceed to interview.

I look forward to hearing back.
Kind Regards

Carla
Recruitment
HR Department

———-

Afternoon Carla,
I have read your email and just wanted some clarification. I am extremely interested in this role but just wanted to know if it is necessary for me to remove my hijab in order to be successful for the job. Also Is it imperative for me to remove the hijab in order for me to go head with the interview process? Please could you let me know as soon as possible.

Kind regards
Faiza

———-

Hi Faiza
Thanks for your email.
It wouldn’t be necessary for you to remove your hijab to have a first interview with me but probably for second interview and we would need to have a photo of you without your hijab for Management purposes if you were successful, as your passport photo is of you covered.

Just for your your reference, in the XXXX XXXXX Schools, there are only female staff.
I look forward to hearing back.
Kind Regards.

———-

Hi Carla,
I partly understand what you are saying but still have a few questions. If I was to be successful would I have to teach with no hijab on or even meet parents with no hijab. Am I able to wear my hijab in my own time or is this an issue as well. As you can imagine I am a little bit confused as I felt the hijab would be preferred and encouraged in Kuwait more than anything as it is a predominately Muslim country- one of the main factors that reeled me into the job. I can understand for security and management purposes a non hijab picture may be necessary but I am finding it difficult to understand that Kuwaiti Muslim parents may be against the Muslim head wear. Please clarify when and where I will be able to observe the hijab or not. Thankyou for your time.

Kind regards Faiza

———-

Dear Faiza

The customer (the parents) do not want their children taught by covered teachers. It is an English School. You can wear the hijab whilst not on the school premises but not in the school.
If this isn’t acceptable to you I wish you every success.
This is non negotiable.
Kind Regards


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Friendship Ended with Salmiya, Now Netflix is My Best Friend

Post by Mark

A few days ago I posted about how Salem Al Mubarak Street is finally turning into a pedestrian only street. One of the negatives I highlighted was the fact they had chopped down some of the old trees that have been there for nearly 50 years. I was upset about it, but when I asked the engineer behind the project if they were removing the old trees, he responded saying “only some”. So I assumed they had chopped down the trees that they didn’t need and all the ones left were the ones they were keeping. Well last night I noticed they had removed nearly all the remaining trees. Using Google Maps I counted 28 trees that were originally planted on that street and there are now only 3 left. That means 25 trees in total were removed! One of the remaining trees currently has a chainsaw parked under it so it might not even be there anymore by the time this post gets published. I’ve marked all the removed trees with x’s in the above picture and the ones remaining with circles.

How is 3 trees out of 28 considered “only some”? Why are they removing the trees anyway? If they were building an airport runway I could understand but they’re not so why? Some of the trees were fairly large and it would have been pretty cute to have small cafes underneath with seating areas around them. The trees were large enough to provide shade, they didn’t need any watering because they were well rooted and the trees were also homes to a lot of birds.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore.

Last night I got so upset about the whole situation I emotionally booked two trips for the next two weekends. Why am I getting so worked up about all of this? It’s not my country, I don’t own the street nor were the trees mine. Why am I even surprised about all of this? Based on the renderings the engineer shared I should have known no good was going to come out of this. When you demolish historical buildings in your renderings and replace them with fancy shiny malls, it says a lot about the thinking process. Chopping historical trees isn’t only a Kuwait thing either, it happens everywhere. In Lebanon for example a politician cut down part of an ancient cedar forrest so he could setup an outdoor venue for his son’s wedding. I mean like wtf? If shit is gonna happen its gonna happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

So starting today I’m hopefully emotionally disconnecting myself from Salmiya. I no longer want to be mayor. If anyone wants to take over the responsibility of giving a fuck, they’ve only started construction work on half of old Salmiya. They haven’t started on the other half yet (pictured above) and based on Google Maps there are approximately 38 trees there. Good luck trying to save them.


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Salem Al Mubarak Street is Turning Pedestrian Only

Post by Mark

I can’t believe this is actually happening, they’re finally turning Salem Al Mubarak Street into a pedestrian only street. When I posted about this proposal back in February, I was very adamant that it would never happen and looks like I was wrong, kinda (more on that in a bit). So far they’ve closed down and dug up half of the old Salmiya street. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with this area and the street, Salem Al Mubarak Street starts off at the end of the 4th Ring Road and goes all the way down past Al Fanar Complex and down past AUK and Symphony Mall. “Old Salmiya” which is turning into pedestrian only starts at the end of the 4th Ring Road and ends at Al Salam Mall where LuLu Supermarket is. I’m very passionate about this street because I’ve lived on it (literally) all my life. So I’ve experienced it during its heydays in the 80s, I experienced it during the invasion and after in the 90s, and I’m still experiencing it now on a daily basis since I live on top of one of the shopping complexes on that street. I care about this area a lot so lets start with the good things about all this, and then I’ll mention some negative stuff which are as important.

The Good
– Back in February when I mentioned this project I called it a joke. Mostly because if they were to follow the renderings that were shared with the public (like the one above), it would have meant demolishing the whole street with all the buildings and starting from scratch. So when I spoke to the engineer behind the project yesterday, I asked him about all these modern buildings in the renderings and turns out they were just placed there as inspiration to the current building owners. Phew! That means neither my building nor all the classic two-story buildings (pictured below) on the street will be demolished. For now at least…

– Work is going to be completed pretty soon, they’re aiming to have the street ready by Q1 of next year

– My building is going to be located on a pedestrian only commercial street, how cool is that? I mean its not Carnaby Street or Liverpool ONE, but it’s still cool. Might finally have a reason to buy a Boosted Board.

The Bad
– The street has currently been dug up but no consideration has been made for pedestrians and shop owners. Yesterday I walked down the street to LuLu and in a number of spots I was forced to walk in deep sand which is very difficult to walk in. There are a whole line of shops who just have sand right outside their door because the sidewalks were dug up and no temporary path were put in its place. From what I was told by my buildings landlord, foot traffic has decreased considerably and shop owners in my building have started to feel the effect. Temporary paths should be created to keep the area and shops alive. I’m meeting with the engineer behind the project next week and I’m going to bring this important point up.

– The parking situation in old Salmiya is a mess as it is and now by shutting down the main street which included a lot of parking spots, parking is even a bigger mess. The municipality has already placed signs pointing people to parking locations in the area, but as a resident of the area myself, I found these signs hard to understand, hard to see and they don’t seem to point anywhere. I’m curious to see what parking solutions they’ve come up with to go along with this project.

– Finally, they’ve killed a lot of trees. This is probably the saddest thing about the project. They’ve so far uprooted and killed I would say around 10 large trees, maybe more. These are trees that have been there from the very start of the street (pictured above) and have survived and endured so much. The first question I asked the engineer when he contacted me on Twitter yesterday was if they were removing the trees. He responded saying “Only some .. coz i try hard to keep it but it’s need a lot of work but I kept some coz in my idea that is the land mark of this street”. In my opinion ALL the trees should have stayed and it’s sad to see them being chopped up and bulldozed away. No idea if I can convince him to stop chopping down trees but will see when I pass by their offices next week.

Overall I’m excited my area is finally getting the attention it deserves. But now I’m just hoping the project is done right. Once I pass by the project’s office next and get more details, I’ll post and update.


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On a Kuwaiti Island, Relics of the Gulf War

Post by Mark

Failaka Island was recently featured in the New York Times “The Daily 360”. Th video is composed of a bunch of short 360 degrees videos stitched together which you can move around in. Check it out above or in full screen on the NYT website [Here]


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Whats going on with Shaab?

Post by Mark

I’m heading back to Kuwait in a couple of days and it looks like I missed out on a bit of drama while I was away. Shaab Park, Sultan Center Shaab, the football fields and everything else in that block have been closed down and cordoned off by a fence. Whats going on? Sultan Center Shaab was my goto supermarket so I can’t imagine not having it there anymore.

Photo by @7ammoud


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The Kuwait Invasion Anniversary

Post by Mark

invasion

Every year on the anniversary of the 1990 Kuwait Invasion, I like to share some links related to the war. This year I added a couple of new ones, check them all out below:

Free Kuwait
This is a website that focuses on the campaign that was led by Kuwaitis in exile and is loaded with photos and information.

Kuwait Invasion – The Evidence
This is a website that contains over 1,200 pictures taken right after the 1990 invasion as photographic evidence to all the destruction caused by Iraq.

Short movie: Hearts of Palm
Hearts of Palm is a short movie set in August 2nd 1990 and deals with Kuwaiti students living in Miami Florida during the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait.

The Class of 1990
This is a short documentary about reuniting class mates years after the 1990 Iraqi invasion.

Homemade video from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
Video clips taken by a Kuwaiti family during the Iraqi invasion

Desert Storm Photos
Photos taken by soldiers during Desert Storm.

Short Animation: Sandarah
A captivating story based on true events that took place during the 1990 Iraqi invasion.

First Account of Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait
Interviews with various Kuwaitis that were in Kuwait during the 1990 invasion.

Iraqi Invasion Pictures
Photos of the Gulf War aftermath.

Photo on top by Adel Al-Yousifi


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