Kuwait Law: Alcohol in Kuwait

Post by Fajer Ahmed

woodford

Hello everyone, its holiday season and since I know a lot of people are going to be consuming alcoholic beverages over the holidays, I thought I would just post a reminder about alcohol in Kuwait.

Alcohol in Kuwait can be very confusing to foreigners as there are alcohol related restrictions and crimes, yet the act of drinking in itself is not illegal. The middle east as a region in general has many alcohol restrictions compared to other regions around the world. Even a place like Dubai which is known to have a big party and drinking scene has restrictions on alcohol consumption and international lawyers have written about UAE laws claiming them to be “strict”.

In Kuwait drinking alcohol privately is not illegal, but buying and/or selling, bringing alcohol to a public place, or being intoxicated in public areas are all crimes. What happens when you are caught in public with alcohol? If you are a first time offender then most likely you will be kept at the police station until you sober up. I am assuming you weren’t driving and you did not hurt anyone. If you aren’t a first time offender and other people have been hurt then you could face a fine or jail time.

Please be very careful this holiday season and do not do anything illegal. I’ve seen many expats that have been accused of alcohol related crimes because they weren’t aware of the specifics of the local laws and instead were comparing the law in Kuwait to their countries law. One person that was pulled out of a taxi by police because he was intoxicated was really confused, his claim was that “I was not driving”. Although in developed countries being intoxicated is a crime while driving only, in Kuwait being intoxicated is a crime in public or even in private if you could be seen by someone in public. So being intoxicated in a car is a crime even if they weren’t driving. For more details on the different laws related to alcohol in Kuwait, check out my previous post.

Stay safe everyone and respect other cultures and religions, I wish you and your family a great holiday.

For any legal inquiries, please email me on ask@fajerthelawyer.com and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Wasta

Post by Fajer Ahmed

gotwasta

I was having dinner last week with my Khaleeji friend Ghanim, and as usual we like to compare traditions and customs. It is nice to understand the differences, but one thing he said struck me. “Fajer, I heard that everything in Kuwait is done by wasta, you want to find a job? Wasta. You want a contractor to build a house? Wasta. You want to buy that bag? Wasta. I know wasta is an issue that people avoid in all of the Middle East and not just Kuwait, but it seems the situation is out of control in Kuwait”.

Now it is no surprise that we have wasta in Kuwait, reference to it is all over the place (does anyone remember the Got Wasta t-shirts?!). But somehow over the past few years, wasta turned from an unethical tool used for serious matters to a normal way of life to get anything done. Lets take a step back.

What is wasta? According to Wikipedia, it is an Arabic word referring to using one’s connections and/or influence to get things done. And how bad is wasta? It sounds negative in Western media when referring to Arabic culture, but is that really the case?

I usually refrain from sharing opinions and stick to facts, but I really think that the word wasta is too broad and can refer to acts with positive and/or negative consequences.

Wasta that has a negative impact on society can be a very serious issue, it can prevent people from receiving their rights, because those rights are passed on to someone with a stronger connection, a stronger wasta. How does the Kuwait law resolve this? First of all it is very hard to prove wasta in a small society like Kuwait, but if it is proven that the favorable act was done by a public employee causing damage to another person, then the public employee could be punished. For example, your uncle works in the government entity and he makes you “Assistant Star Gazer” even though there was someone else who was more qualified for that position. Your uncle could face up to three years jail time for that. This law only applies to public sector employees since wasta is not considered a crime in the private sector. But, employees in the private sector could get punished by their employer.

As for me, I believe that it is great to collaborate and network, be nice to others and do favors, but never do I do anything that might effect another person’s life negatively. What are your thoughts? Let me know.

For any legal inquiries, please email me on ask@fajerthelawyer.com and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Online Harassment

Post by Fajer Ahmed

It’s no secret that Mark (and I) have an online presence and therefore we are a target of online harassment. It so easy for some people to sit behind a computer and put out their issues in negative comments. Mark (and I) believe in freedom of speech, and always let people say what they want on the blog or via email, just like Mark (and I) are enjoying our freedom of speech with our posts, we want the same for our readers. Unfortunately though Mark (and I) have both received unnecessary threats from a person or two.

What can you do if you face the same situation? What can you do if someone comments on your twitter “I want to beat the **** out of you”. People think that because they are behind a computer no one can find out who they are! It is as if they didn’t know that Kuwait has a Cyber Crime department under the Ministry of Interior, that is highly capable of finding out where the person is located, what device they are using and other information. (They once found a criminal on behalf of my client in Morocco).

If you are facing any type of online harassment you need to go to the said department located in Salmiya across from the new Boulevard Mall. You will fill out a paper, and you will need to show them the comment. They will gather all the information from you and start an investigation, within 10 days if the person that commented is in Kuwait he/she will be called in for an investigation.

What charges is the person going to face? There is a few different crimes that I could write in my brief to the court but the easiest would be in reference to Article 6 of Law 63 of 2015 famously dubbed as the “Cyber Crime Law” (it has a more complicated name) and I don’t want to complicate things as the law refers to another law, but the person could easily face a KD 3,000 to KD 10,000 fine.

Of course once the criminal court passes the final judgment, Mark could file a civil case and ask for compensation as well. Good thing though the law forgives those who apologize or notify authority before any serious damage is done. Be careful with what you say guys and remember to be nice to each other. We all have difficult situations in our life and sometimes its so easy to let out our frustration on someone else. But we really need to respect each other more. If you have gone through a similar situation email me, I would love to hear from you. Stay legal guys.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Termination Indemnity/End of Service Benefits

Post by Fajer Ahmed

terminated

I am writing this in the simplest terms possible (and not in legal jargon) because I want to make the law simple and understandable by all.

Here is a simple guide to calculating your termination indemnity (for private sector employees):

Payment Method

Who terminated the contract

Years Worked

Days Paid

monthly

you were terminated

Less than 5 years

15 days per year

monthly

you were terminated

more than 5 years

one month per year

monthly

you terminated the contract

3 to 5 years

1/2 of 15 days per year

monthly

you terminated the contract

5 to 10 years

2/3 of one month per year

monthly

you terminated the contract

more than 10 years

one month per year

daily or weekly

you were terminated

Less than 5 years

10 days per year

daily or weekly

you were terminated

more than 5 years

15 days per year

daily or weekly

you terminated the contract

3 to 5 years

1/2 of 10 days per year

daily or weekly

you terminated the contract

5 to 10 years

2/3 of 15 days per year

daily or weekly

you terminated the contract

more than 10 years

15 days per year

Please note the following:

– You are being paid by days. Your end of service is an x amount of working days. So it is important how to calculate how much your day is worth. For those paid on a monthly basis you divide your salary by 26 even if you only work 20 days a month (unless your policies and regulations at work are different, giving you less working days a month)

– If you are Kuwaiti, you still deserve end of service benefits, but your social security amounts accured towards your company will be deducted.

– You have one year since the day you leave work to ask for your end of service benefits.

– If you are ending the contract then I am assuming you have an indefinite contract

If you are having any issues with your employer, please email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com. I have made a promise to myself to personally get back to everyone within 24 hours (unless it is the weekend)!

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Termination Questions

Post by Fajer Ahmed

contract

I know it has been a while since I posted my answers publicly, but I am still reading your questions and responding to your emails. I really do enjoy interacting with you and I feel so grateful that I am able to help people by making law simple and more accessible. So thank you.

I recently had a question by a reader which and I thought I would answer here. I rewrote the question to make it easier for everyone to understand but the gist of it is the same.

Question: So I had an argument with my manager, and now he is saying that business isn’t that great so I am going to be fired. So I ask him for a 3 month notice period as its my right and he refuses, says he will discuss it with his lawyer.

1) Do I get my 3 month salary for the notice period on a monthly basis or all in one payment after transferring my residency to another company?

Usually when you are terminated because of “restructuring” then they either ask you to stay three months and work, and if so you get paid each month separately. Or they pay you three months in bulk although the law didn’t specify when you should be paid, there are things to be careful about.

First be very careful about signing any documents, although illegal, it is common practice in Kuwait for companies to refuse to transfer your papers unless you sign a document stating that you no longer have any monetary rights with their employer i.e. they have received all the money owed to them. This prevents employees from filing lawsuits in the future asking for their notice period, termination indemnity, etc

Second if your boss asks you not to come in to work for the next three months but will continue to pay you, ASK FOR IT IN WRITING. Some employers will verbally ask their employees not to come in and then file an absconding case against them.

Always ask your employer to hand you a resignation letter in writing which includes the reason of termination.

2) If I leave after 3 months I’d have completed 21 months in the company, do I get my indemnity or leave balance?

Yes you are entitled to termination indemnity. If the employer terminated the employee or the contract ended, the employee is entitled to his full termination indemnity which is calculated as 15 days per year (adducing you are in the private sector and you receive a monthly payment). How do you calculate the 15 days?

You divide your salary by 26 days, and then times the number by 15 days for the first year. Then times that number by 1.75 because you worked 3 quarters of a year for the additional 9 months that you worked. I know calculating termination indemnity can be difficult so I will write a separate post for that next week.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Ramadan Hours

Post by Fajer Ahmed

Hello everybody and Ramadan Mubarak to you and your families. Since a part of Ramadan is being grateful to the things around you, I thought I would write to let you all know (and Mark) that I am very grateful for the chance I get to connect with you all through 248am and share my legal knowledge.

A lot of my readers are concerned about working hours in Ramadan, yet the law is very clear about the maximum hours. They are 36 hours a week, that averages to 6 hours a day because it is a 6 day working week (usually with Saturdays off as a paid leave).

I know that a lot of businesses have divided their shifts into two, one before and one after iftar, and a lot of you are asking, is this legal? Yes it is as long as you don’t work for more than 36 hours a week (anything more you should be paid overtime with cash and not extra days off, unless that’s what YOU want).

I hope that helped, and I hope you all have a lovely Ramadan.

Feel free to email me on ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Just 10 days for traveling on a forged passport?

Post by Fajer Ahmed

fashion

I have no idea who the “fashionista” is, actually while we are at it, I have no idea what a fashionista is. But, I was inspired by Mark’s post and a few of the comments to write about this.

Hang on, just 10 days for traveling on a forged passport? Am I missing something here?

Yeah you’re missing quite a bit, you’re missing the legal system!! Let’s get a few things straight:

– She didn’t forge a passport she used another persons passport, forging a passport is her printing or changing a name on a passport

– 10 days is not her sentence. She is being held for 10 days “detained” and at this stage, it’s likely there is a investigation by the public prosecution. In other words she is just being held so they can investigate.

The next step would be for the prosecution to start at court where a judge will look into the facts presented by the public prosecutor. We don’t have a jury system in Kuwait, instead we have a “public prosecutor”. If you have been in a car accident in Kuwait, and you were taken to the nearest police station for an investigation, remember the guy you had to talk to (and I am going to stereotype)? The guy sitting inside an office, with the real nice dishdasha, stale cigarettes, Arabic coffee and an attitude, yep it is that guy. So in conclusion, those accused of crimes are usually held for an investigation and then taken to court until they are proven guilty.

As for the reader that commented:

Another Kuwaiti who thinks they are above the rules for the rest of us. problem is, Kuwait itself teaches that lesson

I will have to openly disagree with you… Take a stroll down the court rooms and see how many Kuwaitis are being prosecuted. The law is there, the foundations of the law in Kuwait are there, we have a competent and fair judicial system, a democratic parliament and our systems are better than anywhere else in the Middle East!

What went wrong? I know there’s a lot of idiots in Kuwait that think they are above the law, but trust me and I say this from experience, they aren’t just Kuwaitis, they come from all walks of life (except Israel) and the authorities are doing all they can to prevent this. But what really went wrong? I will tell you. What went wrong is that we allow people to say comments such as “Kuwait teaches you not to follow the law” when it doesn’t! Don’t believe everything you read in the media. If anything I should be saying that, I receive 20-30 emails a day from readers about legal issues. But I don’t say that! Cause I believe in the system. I just believe that we need to change our attitudes. Change the way we perceive things and we shouldn’t allow people to say such comments.

P.S. She’s looking at a fine or/and up to 7 years jail, as mentioned in the Kuwait Penal Law!

Feel free to email me on ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: Domestic Workers Wages

Post by Fajer Ahmed

domesticworkers

I’m glad that the Ministry has been putting a lot more effort in the past few months with regulations to sort out issues regarding foreign laborers. Unfortunately though, news outlets in the country have been reporting that the ministry has proposed new minimum wages for domestic workers and I was shocked to see the memo.

Apparently the proposed memo regarding domestic workers states the following:
Filipino: Starting salary range between KD110-120 monthly
Indian: Starting salary range between KD70-85 monthly
Sri Lankan: Starting salary KD70 monthly
Ethiopian, Nepalese, Eritrean, Ghanaian and Madagascan: Starting salary range between KD70-80 monthly

I don’t understand how this would be legal in any country yet alone Kuwait where the constitution clearly states (Article 29) that we are all equal, regardless of gender, race, color and so on. Now I know that we are unfortunately still dealing with the “white man syndrome” where certain nationalities get paid more for the same amount of work compared to other nationalities, but how is that right? And especially when it’s coming from the government itself.

Many people will argue that it’s still a lot of money compared to what they might make back in their country and since they come from different countries they should be paid according to their countries economy. But going by that logic, how would a Kuwaiti feel if they worked in London but got paid based on the the average salary for Kuwait?

If they’re insisting on fixed wages wouldn’t it make more sense the wage changes based on experience or qualifications? For example something like:

Base Salary: KD80
Speakes English: +KD10
Speaks English and Arabic: +KD25
Can Cook: +KD10
Over 5 Years Experience: +KD20
Over 10 Years Experience: +KD50

In any case I hope this all turns out to be a rumor.

Feel free to email me on ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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Kuwait Law: No More Segregation and Animals Now Have Rights

Post by Fajer Ahmed

uni

As I’ve previously mentioned, Kuwait is currently going through change, for the good and bad although I strongly believe that the changes are mostly for the good. This week Kuwait went through some very important changes.

Around a year ago, the “segregation law” was taken to the constitutional court by Kuwait University students who thought the law was unfair since they weren’t able to register for classes that were available for females only. This was the first time in Kuwait’s history where people were allowed to take a law to the constitutional court, previously only the government or parliament were allowed to do so.

I originally started writing this article last week because I wanted to share what was happening but then I decided to wait until the constitutional court ruling came out which it did yesterday. Lawyers, politicians, professors, non-profit organizations, were all waiting patiently to see what the Constitutional Court would rule, was segregating the sexes legal or not?

Back in 2000, the Kuwaiti Parliament voted by democratic ways a law that seemed to many as being undemocratic. In English media outlets it was referred to as “the segregation law”, and in Arabic media as “منع الاختلاط” which translates to “preventing integration”. But, the actual name of the law was “The Establishment of Private Universities” and was inspired by “The Higher Education Law” that was voted for in 1996. The law is very simple and short, with not a lot of details to its articles, for example ‘Article 2’ states “Student attire, behavior and activities shall be according to Islamic values”. Somewhere along the line though the Ministry enforced segregation on all higher private universities by referring to the law mentioned above.

Yesterdays court’s verdict came to everyone as a surprise. Although the court did not claim that the “segregation” law was unconstitutional, it instead stated there has been a mistake applying the law, as segregation was never mentioned in the original law.

animalmarket

On another brighter note, Kuwait’s Parliament yesterday finally passed an Animal Rights law making animal abuse in Kuwait illegal, as well as banning people from having certain pets like lions, cheetahs, etc. The law also enforces pet owners to take good care of their animals. The law shall be implemented within 6 months.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.

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Kuwait Law: How a Law Becomes a Law

Post by Fajer Ahmed

kuwaitlaw

There have been a lot of “legal” changes in Kuwait in the past year, and mostly for the positive. But, the law in Kuwait is not always accessible in English to the large number of foreigners in the country. Therefore there are many topics which I believe would be beneficial to my readers, but I never know where to start, which is why I have decided to start right from the beginning, to the inception of law.

I will try to explain how law is born, in a simple understandable form to all humans, because that is how the law is supposed to be (so the lawyers reading this, I apologize for not using your exclusive lingo!!)

Kuwait is unique in the region being one if the first countries to have a democratic legal system. The system has not changed since it came into place in 1962, and therefore because of democracy, decision making needs to go through a process of steps before it can become “law”, unlike other countries. (An example of this that makes me very proud is that Kuwait is the first country in the GCC that has a law for the rights of domestic workers, it’s brand new too!)

The steps for a law to become a law are as follows:
1) a drat law is suggested by a parliament member or by the government
2) draft law goes to a committee in the parliament (there’s different committees responsible for different things like “education” “health” and so on)
3) committee drafts the law and approves
4) the law is discussed in a session (those for and those against get to speak with equal love)
5) the parliament vote for the law
6) the Amir approves and ratifies the law
7) if the Amir doesn’t approve a law, the parliament can reintroduce the law for voting
8) printed in the daily newspaper (http://kuwaitalyawm.media.gov.kw/)
9) wait a period of time before the law becomes a Law

So when you hear absurd things in the news like a parliament member has suggested “no more yoga in Kuwait, cause people are bending in front of each other” or “men can’t wear the color pink” or “Kuwaitis get 3 day weekends, while expats work 25 hours a day”, please understand it is not law and just a suggestion by a parliament member that a lot of people voted for. Also please understand that the Kuwaiti constitution gives the people living in Kuwait a lot of rights (and obligations) and no parliament or ministry can take away those rights. They are the guidelines for any new law.

With that said, it is very important to know who you are voting for during elections, and a good way to do that is through the non-biased www.raqib50.com, a website that allows you to track different parliament members in Kuwait, current and previous, track their attendance, see what they have proposed and their work in their committees. I hope that was helpful, the media isn’t always positive and can really influence the way we perceive the country even though a lot of positive changes are right in front of us.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
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.


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