Kuwait to test tourists’ DNA before letting them in

Post by Mark

Kuwait is taking homeland security to new heights — or, as some see it — new lows.

Later this year, the Persian Gulf nation will require its citizens, temporary residents and tourists to submit DNA samples to a $400 million security database.

Kuwait’s National Assembly passed the law in July, a month after an ISIS suicide bomber killed 27 people and injured 227 in the country’s capital.
“We are prepared to approve anything needed to boost security measures in the country,” Jamal al-Omar, a parliament member, told Agence France-Presse.

The government will collect saliva and blood samples from anyone living there. Tourists will have to submit their own samples before entering the country.

Disobeying the law will cost you. Those who refuse to provide samples can face up to a year in jail and a $33,000 fine; falsifying DNA samples will result in seven years behind bars.

While the Kuwait’s department of criminal evidence insists that the database won’t affect personal freedoms, the law has sparked outrage. Some travelers tweeted that they won’t be returning to the country anytime soon. [Source]

This is going to be great for the local tourism industry.

Update: Newsweek has also posted about this [Here]

Visitors to Kuwait will also have to provide DNA samples to the government. When arriving by plane, visitors will stop at a center at Kuwait International Airport to have their DNA sample taken. Bruce Schneier, a prominent American privacy and cybersecurity specialist, says that the collection will likely be a standard cheek swab.

For citizens, the Kuwaiti government will have mobile centers to collect samples. Anyone faking the DNA samples faces up to a maximum seven years in prison.


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No More Minimum Order Amount for Delivery

Post by Mark

minimumorder

A new policy was introduced this month by the Ministry of Commerce stipulating that restaurants can no longer have a minimum order amount for delivery. They’ve also added that delivery charges can also not exceed 250fils if the delivery location is within the restaurants area and 500fils if outside it.

I know from a friend of mine who has a business that they’re not too happy about the change but from a consumer point of view this seems like good news. Talabat has already started contacting all the restaurants letting them know of this change but a lot still have a “Minimum Order Amount” in place. According to Talabat “it will take a considerable amount of time for the remaining restaurants to adhere to this new regulation.”

I rarely order delivery so not sure how bad the charges are or the minimum order amounts but I’m assuming they must have been ridiculous for them to create this new policy. I tried to find an English (or Arabic) source for this news but I couldn’t so if you find one let me know so I can link to it.


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Ooredoo Buying Fasttelco

Post by Mark

ooredoofasttelco

I just received an internal Fasstelco memo (which I can’t share) announcing that Ooredoo will be purchasing 100% of their shares. The memo doesn’t go into much detail on what will become of Fasttelco, if they will continue to be run as a separate entity and keep their brand or if they’ll be merged under Ooredoo which is what I think will most likely happen.

Ooredoo customers are probably going to benefit the most out of this since to my understanding all the telecom operators get their internet from the internet providers. By becoming an internet provider themselves, they can reduce their costs or offer more speed and bandwidth for the same price. Ooredoo just became a lot more interesting.


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Sawaber to be Demolished Soon

Post by Mark

sawabar

I just found out via Kuwait Times that the Sawaber complexes are being prepared for demolition soon. I think I’m more sad about Sawaber getting demolished than I am about Bayt Lothan. Why demolish the buildings instead of restoring them? They’re beautiful buildings, with huge apartments (295 square meters), lots of outdoor space and most importantly, they’re located right in the heart of the city. I’d love to live there and I’m sure many others would as well.

You can check out the article on Kuwait Times [Here], but if you’re looking for an interesting historical read on Sawaber, check out this research paper called “The Destruction of Modernist Heritage: The Myth of Al-Sawaber” by Asseel Al-Ragam [PDF]


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Mail to be Privatized

Post by Mark

Ministry of Communications (MOC) prepares to undergo the largest privatization process in its history after a proposal has been already made to privatize the mail sector, long distance calls and landlines and their infrastructure, Undersecretary Hameed Al-Qattan said. Qattan added that the once established, the Telecom and Information Technology Authority would be responsible for offering those services for privatization.

Once those projects see the light, the MOC would only be responsible for marine transportations, he said. [Source]

I hope this means we’ll finally have a proper mail service.


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Talabat Cofounders Acquire Q8flowers.com for KD1,000,000

Post by Mark

q8flowers

As very early adopters of consuming flowers online and in looking for something already in existence they came across Q8flowers.com. “If you look at the region, the [online flower] community is fragmented, and if you zoom in on Kuwait it’s even more so,” AlOtaibi said.

The undisclosed investors, are, according to AlOtaibi’s office, a pool of angel investors who now can add Q8flowers.com as the seventh addition to their portfolio. “Like the PayPal mafia, we’re the Talabat Mafia,” one of the investors told Wamda.

According to a spokesman for AlOtaibi the user growth of the site has been growing at 100 percent year on year, “and this was with minimal traditional [marketing] efforts,” they said.

Going forward the new owners have a 12 month plan that involves, revamping the IP infrastructures of the site, expanding into other geographies and expanding into similar services within the same vertical of online and flowers. [Source]

Great for Q8flowers.com but I have to say I’m pretty surprised, I didn’t think they were doing that well.

via Sala6a and Frankom


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No More Monopolies in Kuwait?

Post by Mark

The National Assembly yesterday passed in the second reading the commercial agencies law, but after introducing a crucial amendment that allows more than one agent or dealer for commodities in the country, officially breaking the monopoly of agents over imports. [Source]

Does this mean what I think it means? Does this mean there can now be more than one BMW dealer or more than one Nikon dealer in Kuwait?


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Drones Now Banned?

Post by Mark

The recent seizure of a remote-control drone hovering above the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) headquarters call for immediate and strict measures to prevent the threats such drones pose to national security, said security sources. The sources explained that MoI has contacted the civil aviation department, the ministry of commerce and industry and the customs demanding a ban on importing such aircraft without prior permission from MoI. The interior ministry also decided confiscating any drones that had been already imported without permission and referring importers to relevant authorities for evading taxes and importing banned items without permission.

The sources highlighted that a decision was made banning all companies and individuals from importing Phantom drones without MoI’s written approval. [Source]

It’s from the Kuwait Times so I’m not sure how accurate this is, but if you own a drone I’d keep it indoors for the next couple of weeks until this dies down.

Thanks Ray


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Kuwaiti Couple Selfie Goes Viral

Post by Mark

In case you missed it, a selfie taken by a Kuwaiti couple in Dubai with The Address Hotel in the background up in flames went viral this weekend and not for good reason. Loads of people thought the photo was in bad taste and started commenting about it on social media. Personally I didn’t think it was funny, but I also didn’t find it offensive or anything of the sort. If anything I thought the Burj Khalifa fireworks show next door while The Address was still on fire was more inappropriate but I guess to each his own. The Daily Mail posted an article on the photo earlier today and you can read that [Here]


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Kuwait Airways scraps London-New York flight

Post by Mark

Did Kuwait Airways just scrap an entire flight service to avoid carrying Israeli passengers?

The airline has this week pulled its connection between New York’s JFK airport and London Heathrow after U.S. authorities threatened legal action over alleged discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in September warned the Kuwaiti carrier that it had “unlawfully discriminated” against a passenger using an Israeli passport by refusing to sell him a ticket.

It sent a letter giving the airline 15 days to outline how it would in the future comply with anti-discrimination laws.

Kuwait Airways response, according to the DOT, appears to have been to drop its London-New York route. [Source]

I guess that’s a quick easy fix.


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