Mr Babu is a website that belongs to a friend of mine and I think it’s an interesting idea that should make shopping much easier for a lot of people. It’s an online shop but the way it works is different from other local online shops. Mr Babu is connected to a bunch of international online shopping databases and when you search for an item on their website it will find it for you, convert the price to Kuwaiti Dinars, add a shipping fee to Kuwait and then displays the price. You then place an order and they’ll get it for you. The price you see on their website is the price you pay for the item including shipping to Kuwait. There are no extra hidden shipping costs or anything of the sort.
I ordered the Bug-A-Salt (video above) from their website and since they had some local stock it was delivered to me the next businesses day. Most items though will take a week or more similar to when ordering using Shop & Ship or Borderlinx. The website is still in beta so it’s running a little slow but other than that its working fine. You can check it out [Here]
Update: In case the website isn’t working here is an explanation from Mr Babu:
We are overwhelmed by the traffic generated by your post which caused our site to crash (as you mentioned being in Beta stage we learn a thing everyday). Our team is working on the issue and will resolve it very soon. Thank you for using Mrbabu
If you want to order an iPhone 5 the easiest and most likely the quickest way right now is to get it from the UK Apple store. The UK Apple Store sells the iPhone 5 unlocked and you can ship it to your UK Shop & Ship or a UK Borderlinx mailbox. You don’t require a UK credit card, any local Kuwaiti card would work.
Price wise the 16GB costs around KD240 but then you would also have to add the shipping price to Kuwait and the 5% local tax both Aramex and Borderlinx are charging. It doesn’t come out very cheap in the end but if you’re in a hurry this is the best way to go about it and it’s what I did last year.
This year though I’m not in a rush to get it and instead I’m going to wait either for the US store to start selling the unlocked versions (they sell them cheaper than the UK) or for Viva to get them early like they did last year.
Here is the link to the iPhone 5 on the UK Apple Store. [Link]
If you order stuff from Amazon and ship it to your Aramex Shop & Ship mailbox, you are probably aware that Amazon taxes you. Well as a customer based outside the US you aren’t supposed to pay tax and so Amazon allows you to get a tax refund. All you need to do is prove the package was shipped to a freight forwarder (Aramex in this case) and that the final destination was outside the US. Sounds complicated but it isn’t. This is all you need to do to get a tax refund.
1) Once your package arrives to Kuwait request an airway bill from Aramex 2) Then, email the airway bill (as a PDF) to email@example.com with your Amazon order number 3) That’s it. In under 24 hours Amazon will reply back confirming that they’ve received your documents and that you will get a tax refund to your original payment method within the next 2-3 business days
How cool is that? And how much do you love me right now?
I passed by Marina Mall tonight since I had read they were opening tonight. But when I got there I noticed the shutters were still down but the lights were on inside and I spotted some employees. So I made a few phone calls and managed to get a tour around the store and take some pictures.
First off, the place is HUGE. I was expecting it to be big but not this big. It’s like a giant supermarket filled with sporting goods. The store is located in Marina Mall where Virgin and a bunch of other smaller shops used to be right across from Cinnabon and The Athletes Foot.
Decathlon is a French brand and most of their stores have 18 different sections but the one in Kuwait will be missing two, climbing and hunting. The other 16 sections in the store are the following (taken from their website):
I really loved the place and can’t wait to go back once they open which will hopefully be tomorrow night (Tuesday). They were supposed to open up tonight but due to a technically difficulty they’re now aiming to open by noon tomorrow. If anyone is looking for a watch with a heart rate monitor I spotted an affordable one there for KD12.5.
Avenues Phase I and II combined have around 400 stores in total. When Avenues Phase III is completed before the end of the year it will double the total stores to around 800. So Phase III is going to be another Avenues stuck to the current Avenues which will make it pretty huge.
Borderlinx is a service in which they provide you with a US and UK forwarding mailbox so you could shop online. It’s similar to Aramex’s Shop and Ship except Borderlinx works with DHL. One of the major complaints about Borderlinx was the fact you had to pick up the packages yourself but now that’s no longer the case since they’ve just started delivering. Plus, while Shop and Ship keep increasing the prices, Borderlinx recently announced a price cut and some of their shipments are now %30 cheaper. If you don’t have a Borderlinx account you can sign up for one from [Here]
Hopefully Aramex will react by reducing their prices or improving their shipping speed.
Two weeks ago I posted a letter from Aramex Shop and Ship saying that due to customs regulations they will be charging 5% customs fee on all shipments not including a KD1 handling charge and a KD1 government stamp. From what I understood this was going to apply to all shipping companies but today I received a package via DHL Borderlinx and to my surprise there was no charge. According to the DHL employee they’re not charging 5% customs on shipments. But does that make DHL cheaper? I’m not sure.
The problem (the only problem actually) with DHL’s Borderlinx is they charge based on volumetric weight. What this means is if a small box weighs 1KG and a large box weighs 1KG, the large box is going to be more expensive than the small box even though they’re the same weight. In my case my package weighed around 2KG but the volumetric weight was around 5.35KG. If I had shipped it with Aramex they would have charged me for the 2KG but with DHL I had to pay more than double the actual weight. On the other hand unlike Aramex, with DHL you don’t pay the 8% New York State tax and you also don’t pay the 5% Kuwait customs tax so which comes out a better deal?
Item cost: $187 (KD51) Actual Weight: 2.2KG Volumetric Weight: 5.35KG
Aramex Shop and Ship 8% NY tax: $15 (KD4.1) Shipping cost to Kuwait: KD13.75 Kuwait customs: KD6* Approx time from US to Kuwait: 8 days** Total shipping cost = KD23.85
DHL Borderlinx No NY Tax Shipping cost to Kuwait: $110.60 (KD30.8) No Kuwait Customs Time from US to Kuwait: 4 days Total shipping cost = KD30.8
So even with the new 5% customs fee Aramex is charging and even with the NY State tax they still somehow end up cheaper than DHL. This mostly has to do with the fact that DHL charges on volumetric weight. If they charged on actual weight than they’d be considerably cheaper. On the other hand DHL is practically twice as fast as Aramex so that alone could be worth the extra cost for many people.
My conclusion Large (not necessarily heavy) packages ship to Aramex Small or regular sized packages ship to DHL
So basically I’m still going to be flip flopping between the two companies for now.
*Calculated using their customs calculator **Based on a different shipment just received from Aramex
Lulu are opening a new location in Dajeej Farwaniya right next to Sears. From the outside the location looks pretty huge although I’m not sure if it’s going to end up being their largest branch in Kuwait. What I like about the location though is that it’s closer to Salmiya than their Al Qurain branch which is currently my favorite. This would be their fourth location in Kuwait and according to a worker I spotted on site they should be opening right after Ramadan.
Ama Traveller just posted pictures and information on a new place that opened up in Kuwait called “On Cost”. Judging by the pictures and her comments it looks very similar in style to the very popular large US retailer, Costco. Need to pass by and check it out myself but you can check out her post and pictures [Here]
Whenever I need anything computer related the first place I always visit is Limra Computer Center in Hawalli. It’s a small store (nothing close to being a “center”) located on the ground floor of Walla Complex. I used to be a Professional Computer fan (located one floor above) but somehow I started buying all my stuff from Limra a few years ago and since then I’ve been a regular. The place has character and the main guy (Shankar) is very knowledgable. Depending on when you pass by the place could be packed with people and you’ll have to wait outside the shop until there’s enough room for you to squeeze in. Check them out next time you’re in Hawalli looking for stuff, they’re very trustworthy. Their phone number is 22631043.