Haitham Al-Ghareeb, a Kuwaiti violin maker

Posted by Mark

Last night I passed by and met Haitham Al-Ghareeb, a local violin maker. We met at his small cozy workshop in Rawda located right outside his home. When you walk into his dimly lit workshop you’ll see a small diwaniya on the left with around a dozen violins hanging on the wall, while on the right hand side is his workstation where he crafts all his violins. He filled a kettle with water and put it on a small electric stove next to him and we started talking.

Back in 2000, Haitham was a oud player but was interested in getting into violins. He started looking for a good violin to buy in Kuwait but he couldn’t find any. Most of the violins available in the market back then were of poor quality from low end brands. That’s why Haitham decided to make his own violin using documents and instructions he found online.

Haitham hadn’t crafted any musical instruments before, he had dabbled with some minor oud repair but nothing major. This got me even more curious, how can a 25 year old with no previous woodworking skills be able to craft such a delicate instrument as a violin? Well the answer I believe might be in his genes. Haitham’s father, grand father and great grand father were all dhow builders. Woodworking had existed in his family for generations and it was just natural for him to be good at it.

Haitham’s first violin wasn’t flawless, it had mistakes and was made using locally sourced wood but yet the sound it produced to his ears was beautiful. This encouraged him to build a second better violin with imported tonewood (wood cut specifically for musical instruments). He started frequenting forums and participating in online communities where other violin craftsmen from around the world would share their tips and techniques. His violins kept improving with every build and soon he had his own tips and tricks to share with the community. He loved crafting violins so much that he quickly forgot about wanting to play them. He became obsessed in building and perfecting his own creations.

When Haitham first started making violins he was spending 4 hours a day working on them and each violin would take around 2 months to complete. Nowadays he’s too busy with work and family so it takes him around 9 months to complete a single violin. But he’s fine with that. He never started making violins with the intention to turning it into a profitable business. Even his prices have remained the same over the years even though his violins kept getting better and demand for them kept increasing. He just loves making violins and isn’t interested in expanding. It’s a hobby he’s just really good at. He also does a lot of repair work on violins which to many musicians is a lifesaver. Musicians bond with their instruments and having a local violin maker means that a damaged violin no longer needs to be discarded but instead can be repaired. Only two of the violins hanging on the wall were his, the rest were either in for repair or were being sold by other musicians.

Once we were done with the interview, Haitham served us some tea. Throughout the whole interview which lasted around 40 minutes I had watched him make us the tea using two kettles, a can filled with what I assume is tea leaves and a box filled with I don’t know what. He then skillfully poured the tea from the large kettle into three glasses that were sitting amongst a dozen on the table in front of us. The tea was delicious and to me summarized the kind of person that Haitham is, a perfectionist.

If you’d like to contact Haitham for any reason you can do so by emailing him on hghareeb.koc@gmail.com


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Kuwait Law: The Labor Law Post

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

The majority of the emails I get are regarding employment rights or should I say the lack of. I completely understand why I am getting all these questions. I am personally tired of how every time I walk into a store and ask an employee how long their shift is I get ridiculous answers like 8AM to midnight!

I realize how tough it is to go and speak out to your employer about a violation since I’ve been in that situation before. I also realize how bad Kuwait’s reputation has been over the years because of the way employees are being treated.

Recently I was hired by a company to help with some employee issues. The owner of the company stated that he didn’t know how he was supposed to treat his employees so I made an easy to read table with all the obligations of an employer as well as the rights of the employees. The full version of the law is hard-to-read and long so I rewrote it into a more direct and easy to understand language and placed them in a table for you below.

The law articles are mentioned in brackets for easy reference and the full version of the law is available [Here]. Click on the link below to view the rest of the post that includes the easy-to-read the table.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Kuwait Law: How does a non-Kuwaiti become a Kuwaiti?

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

According to the Kuwaiti government, in 2008 Kuwait’s population consisted of 3.3 million people, 2.3 million of which are foreigners. That’s double the number of Kuwaitis so I can understand why the Kuwaiti government would want to protect the Kuwaiti citizenship, and therefore making the procedures/requirements for getting a Kuwaiti citizenship tougher than other countries. But how tough are they?

Before I get into that, I have to explain the unique situation of the citizenship law that states how a non-Kuwaiti may become a Kuwaiti:

1) It was one of the first laws in Kuwait, even before the constitution and before Kuwait was officially recognized as a country. The citizenship law was promulgated (published) in 1959, via an Amiri decree. (Kuwait didn’t have a parliament then)

2) The law has been edited and re-edited, written and rewritten, promulgated and un-promuglated over and over throughout the years; 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2000…

3) Under article 1(e) of the Administrative Court Legislation, the courts do not have jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the issuance of a citizenship. Basically what it means is the court can’t deal, handle or look into any issues that has to do with the citizenship.

How can a non-kuwaiti can be considered for the Kuwaiti citizenship?

First of all you need to have fulfilled the three requirements below:

Then you need one of the below:

So let’s say you have all the requirements, let’s say for example Mark (he is Arab and has a decent job) becomes Muslim for 5 years or his family has been in Kuwait since 1965 or the government really thinks that 248am.com is making significant contributions to the country. So what does mark have to do to get the Kuwaiti nationality? First thing Mark has to do is apply to citizenship department (All paper requirements found here) then:

I have deliberately missed out some points regarding the issuance of citizenship’s because I did not want to complicate things. If you require any further clarifications please let me know, also if you have any stories you want to share feel free to do so.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at ask@fajerthelawyer.com

The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

Picture on top by zDistrict


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Kuwait’s booming Instagram business

Posted by Mark

Popular blogger Kottke as well as The Atlantic Wire both recently featured articles on Kuwait’s booming Instagram business model. The way Instagram businesses have exploded in Kuwait kinda reminds me of the US e-commerce boom back in the 90s. For example I met a person last week who has 3 physical stores for his brand as well as an Instagram account. He’s now closing down two of his stores because his Instagram account is bringing in more business. Check out the two articles on the following links [Kottke] [The Atlantic Wire]


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Help find a girls birth father

Posted by Mark

I got an email a few days ago from an adopted American girl who recently found out her birth father was a Kuwaiti. She asked me if I could help her try and find him but she doesn’t have much information other than the below:

My birth mother was American and my birth father was Kuwaiti. My birth mother was in Kuwait for about 7 months in 1979, and she had a relationship with a Kuwaiti man and became pregnant. She came back to the US, gave birth and gave me up for adoption.

I have just recently learned that he was from Kuwait. I had met my birth mother about 13 years ago, but she lied to me about the father, so I never knew the truth until now.

I’m looking for some advice on how to locate or figure out who he was.

My mum is now deceased, so I have no way to find out more info from her. And I know nothing about him. All I know is she stayed at the Sheraton Kuwait, had an affair with a man, and came home pregnant.

I’ve learned that if an American got pregnant by a Kuwaiti man, they would have to marry if he wasn’t married. But I think he was married already. In that case, wouldn’t it be true that if anyone found out they’d both be jailed? The story is that she came back from Kuwait abruptly. I’m assuming its because she found out she was pregnant. I don’t even know if the man knew. One story is that he did know, but she told him it wasn’t his. I’ve also been told that he was here at some point. One person said that he is the one who brought her back. She also told the attorney that handled the adoption that the man was in the hotel business.

I don’t think there is much to go by, but I figured I would see if anyone here might have an idea of where to start.


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Best Airports in the Middle East

Posted by Mark

1 – Abu Dhabi International Airport
2 – Dubai International Airport
3 – Bahrain International Airport
4 – Doha International Airport
5 – Muscat International Airport
6 – Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport
7 – Kuwait International Airport
8 – Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
9 – Riyadh King Khalid International Airport
10 – Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport

I love Qatar Airways but their Doha airport is just depressingly cramped and crowded all the time. I’d even go as far as saying I prefer Kuwaits Airport. For the list of best airports around the world click [Here]

Note: Image above is of the Kuwait Airport when first constructed. More pictures can be seen [Here] For pictures of the new Kuwait Airport that will hopefully be built one day click [Here]


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Kuwait 3rd largest consumer of gasoline in the world

Posted by Mark

According to Al-Qabbas newspaper Kuwait is the third largest consumer of gasoline in the world per capita after Canada and the United States. The average per capita consumption in Kuwait is 0.9 gallons while in Canada it’s 0.93 and the United States 1.22. Keep in mind both Canada and the US are advanced industrial nations so the fact we came third is just insane. [Link]


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Kuwait the 9th most emerging retail market

Posted by Mark

Kuwait: Continuing its slow climb. Kuwait (9th) rises three spots as its economy grows steadily and outlook remains favorable amid increasing consumer spending and a greater presence of international retailers.

In line with an optimistic economic outlook for 2013, the retail sector is expanding and demand for retail space is growing despite expensive real estate. The country’s largest mall, The Avenues, opened its phase-three extension in 2012, and other developments, such as the Gate Mall, are opening their doors in 2013. The country’s mostly urban and suburban population has high levels of disposable income, and Kuwaitis are drawn to luxury products and high-end concepts. The Avenues’ new extension includes a street area of high-end standalone shops to cater to this luxury demand.

Kuwait is typically the second MENA location (after the UAE) for international brands. International retailers Cheesecake Factory, Victoria’s Secret, and COS entered in 2012 with franchise agreements with Kuwaiti retailer M.H. Alshaya Co. Prada opened its second Kuwait store at The Avenues in early 2013.

While the luxury market remains bright, Kuwait is a difficult environment in sectors with slim margins. In grocery, for example, large and well-established retailers (such as Sultan Center, City Centre, and Casino), expensive retail estate, and limited space for expansion pose obstacles for entry by foreign grocery retailers.

It’s all very interesting but I’m more interested to know where this Casino is located please. [Link]


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Kuwaiti Business: Sebs Cheer Apparel

Posted by Mark

A few days ago I found out one of my friends (Abdulwahab Alansari) has the strangest/coolest/wtf/successful/creative local business which I thought would be amazing to share as an example of how local businesses don’t have to be all about cupcakes and burgers.

My friend manufactures cheer leading outfits in Kuwait for the UK market.

I thought he was pulling my leg at first but turns out it’s true. Back when he was in university in Liverpool he used to coach their gymnastics and cheerleading team and he was really good at it helping them go from an average team to a team that would come in first place in two out of the three annual competitions. Cheerleading kits in the UK were very over priced and of low quality so he did some research and decided to manufacture his own kits so he could help out his team. Ironically though, his team only placed an order for kits just 8 months back… after supplying over 5,000 kits over a period of 2 years to other universities and private clubs. In fact his small Kuwait based business now supplies 30-50% of UK universities and well over 30 private clubs. His clients include all the universities in Liverpool as well as the big ivy league unis in the UK like Oxford University.

Sebs Cheer Apparel don’t design outfits although they do help teams with elements of their design. Their main focus is manufacturing the outfits with the fabrics ordered from suppliers in LA, China and sometimes Kuwait. The outfits are all manufactured locally and then shipped to the various teams in the UK.

The name “Seb” was Wahabs alter ego and what most people in the “cheer world” knew him as. It’s that recognition that got him his first 10 clients since coaches and athletes he worked with respected him as an athlete and knew he would do a good job of getting efficient kits out. The business started off small with him supplying people he knew but soon word of mouth spread and more and more universities wanted to do business with him.

So there you have it, an interesting and successful small Kuwaiti business that doesn’t involve cupcakes. If you want to find out more about his business you can check out the following links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram


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On their way to die

Posted by Mark

The Daily Mail has photos and an article about the two executions that were carried out yesterday. Their article also has over 900 comments so far with the majority of the commentators praising the executions. Here are some of the “Best Rated” comments on the article:

Well – THEY won’t be raping and killing again… what a concept!
- John

Nice one Kuwait …… hanging is the ‘green option’…. hardly any carbon footprint.
- Captain Calamity

Rape a child, you need to die. Period.
- farsideoftheworld

People may say that it’s inhuman and barbaric, but crimes like these are very rare in Kuwait due to the death penalty. Sadly in this Country of ours, there are no deterrents for any crime!
- UK was great

Now why can’t we do the same here in Britain.
- david

Check out the photos, article and all the comments [Here]

Thanks Kashif


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