Walkthrough of the New Kuwait Airport

Posted by Mark

Since the airport contract has finally been awarded, I figured now would be a good time to repost this video by Fosters + Partners on the new Kuwait Airport. Around a minute into the video they take you on a virtual tour of the departure area followed by the arrival area. It’s the airport we’ve always wanted. [YouTube]

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Sneak Peek: Boulevard

Posted by Mark

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I was checking Reddit earlier this morning and a redditor posted about how he passed by Boulevard Mall and was impressed. At first I thought damn I’m so out of touch, a huge ass project like Boulevard which is pretty close to where I live opens up and I end up finding out about it from Reddit. So I asked the user if Boulevard was open and he told me it wasn’t to the public but I could go there and tell them I’m inspecting the location for leasing. Smart idea so I left the house and headed to check the place out.

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Boulevard is located in Salmiya opposite Souk Salmiya and it’s a huge project which I’ve posted about a number of times before. The project is composed of a number of elements including a mall, a dinning boulevard, a gigantic park, artificial lakes, an amphitheater, basketball courts, football courts and much more.

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I was lucky that as I was driving into the park there was a car in front of me who stopped at the gate first and spoke to the security guard to have him open it. Once he opened the gate I drove in right after pretending I was with the car in front of me. Once I was in I was basically able to go and explore the grounds without anyone hassling me.

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The first area I explored was the main mall. The mall is the largest building in the project and consists of two floors with a very large centre court in the middle. None of the shops had started construction yet but the mall looked pretty much complete and they were just working on the escalators when I was there.

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Once I was done with the mall I decided to explore the park outside. I headed to what looked like the dining boulevard which was an area where single story units surrounded a large artificial lake.

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From there I headed further inwards into the park and found a large green field with a few rows of stadium seating on one side. I didn’t understand what this field was going to be used for since it was round but after checking the satellite view of the field on Google Maps I now realize it’s going to be a cricket field.

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From there I continued walking inwards and spotted the amphitheater followed by the basketball and football fields.

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I was getting hot with all the walking and it was starting to drizzle some mud so I decided to head back to the car before the weather got worse. There was still quite a bit of park to explore and a few buildings but I figured I already had a general idea of how the project was turning out. I didn’t have high hopes before especially considering how long it’s been since the project started but now I’m actually excited about it. I have no idea when it’s going to finish or what the hold up is. They have electricity and it looks like the shop owners could come in any day now and start working on their stores so I don’t really know what the delay is. Hopefully it’s going to end up opening really soon.


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Sneak Peek: Al Shaheed Park

Posted by Mark

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Last week I posted a link to an article on Al Shaheed Park which contained beautiful photos as well as a bit of information on the park. Well on Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited for a walk-around tour of the park which still hasn’t opened to the public and I have to say, it’s as impressive as the pictures made it out to be.

In this post I’m going to try and share some information that I think hasn’t been shared yet anywhere as well as answering some questions some readers asked under my previous post. First here is a photo from the park map listing all the different spaces:

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The primary areas of the park are the two museums, the Habitat Museum and the Remembrance Museum. The Habitat Museum will house information on Kuwait’s environment, animals, birds, vegetation and weather, while the Remembrance Museum will house an interactive exhibit on the historical battles of Kuwait and the Gulf War. There are a bunch of other sections as well which are also important.

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The Aviary for example is a large open enclosure for the birds, mostly migratory ones. There is a very modern and beautiful mosque located in the park. There is a 3KM cushioned jogging track that goes all around the park. There is a large lake that is used to irrigate the whole park. There is a flag pole which will replace the one that used to be in Kuwait City near the Sheraton roundabout. There is a community garden and a bunch of restaurants and cafes all around the park. There is also a two storey underground parking which will be used by the park visitors and Al Tijaria Tower across the street.

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As of this post they hadn’t finalized how the park will function. By that I mean they’re not sure if it should be an open to everyone no entrance fee public park like a park should be or a park with some sort of entrance fee, or maybe a park with no entrance fee but a very controlled environment. If the choice was left up to me I’d probably go with the no entrance option but with a VERY VERY controlled environment with lots of security cameras and security guards everywhere. Why? Here’s why…

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Al Shaheed Park is beautiful in person as it is in those wonderful photos that were posted on ArchDaily. It’s also a very fragile park with glass railings everywhere, glass windows all over the place and there are even very thin and pretty lights that look like flowers all around the park. Basically it’s a place that can easily be vandalized. Now there will be guides at the park who will take people around to see the various spaces and museums, they’ve also recently decided to triple the amount of security at the park and there will also be supervisors stationed there. But will that be enough? I’m not sure and neither are they. For now they’re going to be opening the park to the public with no entrance fee and little control so they could see what will happen. If everything remains civil then they’ll keep it that way, if all hell breaks loose then they’ll consider alternative options.

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One area of the park which I think could be a big hit are the restaurants and cafes. Right now they don’t have any operators and there is a tender taking place but if the right brands take over these restaurants and cafes then I think the park could be even a bigger hit. Some the restaurant spaces looked a bit casual, others a bit more formal but all looked fantastic.

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I asked about the maintenance of the park since the majority of the government projects when completed end up falling apart years later. They assured me that they’ve signed a maintenance contract and if anything breaks or if a light goes out it will get replaced right away.

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Although the exterior of the buildings look great I thought the interiors looked even better, or at least if you’re like me and think retro is cool. I fell in love with some of the furniture and if the security doesn’t end up being so tight I might end up leaving the park with two chairs, a table and a lamp. So take note park people, tighten up the security detail.

When is the park opening? Very soon. They didn’t want to give me an exact date since they’re currently doing some minor fixes to the park but what I understood is that its probably going to open sometime next month but don’t take my word for it.

Anyway this is the information I thought was interesting to share but if you have any questions let me know below and I’ll try to answer it myself or have someone connected to the park answer it. Also I like to point out again that if you haven’t checked the ArchDaily post already then do so for much nicer photos.

Finally if you’re Kuwaiti, bilingual and are aged between 18 and 30 then you can apply to be a tour guide at the park [Here]


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Sneak Peek: eFashion

Posted by Mark

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Last month I posted about a new multibrand store that’s opening in Hawalli called eFashion. What grabbed my attention was their teaser image on Facebook which had multiple brands that weren’t officially available in Kuwait yet like A&F, Hollister and Under Armor. I didn’t really understand how they were getting all these brands but I assumed it was just old stock. That comment irked the team behind the project which is why they invited me to pass by the store and get a sneak peek.

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eFashion is a new project by Eureka electronics and it’s going to be located in their new eMall building located in Hawalli opposite Sultan Center. eMall is what Eureka are calling the building which houses Eureka electronics, eToy family amusement center, eFashion which I am going to talk about now and a bunch of restaurants including Zaatar w Zeit, Cafe Supreme, Nestle Cafe, Mrs Fields, Chiquita Fruit Bar and opening soon the popular Turkish bakery Simit Sarayi and the Lebanese restaurant Villa Fayrouz. There’s also an eSocial Cafe that is opening in a couple of months where all the tables will consist of Microsoft Surface multimedia tables.

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eFashion is located on the second mezzanine floor of eMall. Once you step out of the elevator you will walk out into the cosmetics department which separates the sports wear on the left hand side and casual wear on the right. We walked into the sportswear section first where I was met with the familiar Nike section followed by other sections like Puma, Adidas, Umbro, Speedo and more.

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What I wanted to pass by was the Under Armor section since it’s a brand everyone wants but nobody had carried until now. I asked them how they were able to get the brand to Kuwait and turns out that Under Armor will officially be coming to Kuwait in around 10 months time but until they do, eFashion will be stocking up on their gear.

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Once we were done with the sportswear section we headed into the casual wear section which was divided into three parts, men, women and kids. I walked around the whole area which was still being put together and noticed many brands including A&F, Hollister, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren RLX‎, Lacoste and more. Thats when I brought up the question on how they were able to bring these brands to Kuwait when some of the brands don’t exist at all or even when some of them already do. Specifically I wanted to know how they were able to get A&F and Hollister. According to the person I spoke, the A&F and Hollister clothing is brought in from the US with some strict restrictions by the company which I am guessing is a very limited range of products. You won’t find everything on the A&F website in their store for example and the section is fairly small consisting of one corner and a few tables in front of it. But they’re official A&F products which is all some people will care about. Other brands like Lacoste for example, the line they’re importing is different from what you will find at the Lacoste store in Kuwait.

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We started talking about prices and I mentioned Sears which I had also mentioned in my previous post on eFashion. According to them, unlike Sears all their products are current to the season and they also have full size runs of all the items they’re stocking. Price-wise they will also be similar to US prices, so if you find something on the A&F website for example that’s $40, it should cost you around $40 at the store as well.

eMall is currently open but the eFashion floor will be opening in ten days time on August 15th. If you don’t know where eMall is located, here it is on [Google Maps]


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Sneak Peek: Kuwait Cultural Centre

Posted by Mark

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Last month when I posted my photographic journey of Salam Palace I mentioned that right next door to the palace a huge project is currently under construction. I was shown renderings of the buildings and they looked out of this world but due to the secretive nature of this project (they want it to be a surprise to everyone) I wasn’t allowed to take any photos to share on the blog. Luckily with a little help from a friend of mine (thanks Khaled!), I was able to source out the images of the project online.

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The site of the huge project is the old flag square opposite the church in Kuwait City [Map] and when completed will house four structures, an opera house, a music center, a theatre and a library. The official name for this cultural centre I believe will be “Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre”. The buildings will be made out of titanium shells and will have no pillars at all on the inside. When I met with Al-Diwan Al-Amiri they told me the project was expected to be completed in 18 months and I truely believe that will be possible due to the amount of resources they’ve assigned for this project. The project is already two months ahead of schedule.

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As you can see from the images this project looks really stunning and like nothing else we have ever done in Kuwait. Its also located on the coastal road so it’s in clear sight for everyone to see. This is the quality of design all government projects should have but sadly don’t and I personally can’t wait until the project is completed.

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Enjoy the renderings, I found them [Here]


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Sneak Peek: Kuwait Airways new First and Business Class

Posted by Mark

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A few hours ago Kuwait Airways posted photos on their instagram account of how their new business and first class cabins will look like and frankly, it’s a bit disappointing. Although it’s a MAJOR improvement over their current planes, the first class seats (pictured above) look more like business class seats on other airlines, while their business class (pictured below) is more like premium economy.

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They haven’t posted any photos of the economy class seats but anything really is better than what they have now. The first new plane arrives this coming December. Here is a link to their [Instagram]


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Katsuya by Starck

Posted by Mark

I had lunch earlier today at Katsuya, the new Japanese fusion restaurant that was brought to Kuwait from Los Angeles by Alshaya. The restaurant isn’t open yet but I was lucky enough to get invited for a sneak peek so I headed there with a few friends of mine to try it out.

What originally got me interested in Katsuya is the partnership with product and interior designer Philippe Starck. I’m a huge fan of his work and was actually hoping he would be coming to Kuwait for the opening but that’s sadly not happening. Katsuya is currently only open in California and Florida and their first international branch is opening up here in Kuwait followed shortly by Dubai. According to the Vice President of Katsuya who I had the pleasure of meeting, Philippe Starck had to reinvent the interior design for the Middle East. Their US locations use feminine beauty in the design, mostly the eyes and lips so for the Middle East they wanted something more appropriate and fitting with the local culture so Philippe Starck went back to the drawing board and reworked the brand with the future in mind. The result is a fusion of Japanese samurais and art resulting in a design full of colors and movement.

We sat down and ordered their cocktails first. I originally ordered the Strawberry Fields but after trying my friends drink called Burning Mandarin I decided to swap mine for that. It’s a bit spicy but worked really well with the starters. For our dishes we let the waitress make most of the choices for us while me and my friends chose a few dishes we were interested in trying. The result? We ended up with a ton of food, so much that I actually made them email me the list since I wasn’t able to track everything. This is what we had:

– Sautéed Shishito Peppers
– Edamame Humus
– Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño
– Spicy Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Onion
– Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna
– Stuffed Eggplant
– Creamy Rock Shrimp
– Wagyu Filet with Foie Gras
– Miso-Marinated Black Cod
– Japanese Mushroom BOP
– Sashimi Sampler
– Special Katsuya Roll
– Kiwi Scallops
– Double Chocolate Lava Cake
– Mochi
– Espresso Brownie Bar

I found the food style very similar to Zuma and Australasia which is great since there isn’t anything similar to that here in Kuwait. From the items I tried the ones I would highly recommend are:

– Edamame Humus
– Stuffed Eggplant
– Miso-Marinated Black Cod
– Japanese Mushroom BOP

If there is one dish you NEED to try its the Stuffed Eggplant. I know I know it doesn’t sound like much and I honestly HATE eggplant, I can’t stand it but this is so different. The eggplant is stuffed with tuna and almonds covered in a sweet miso glaze. It’s actually not a top seller in the States but my guess is it’s going to be a big hit here.

The dishes aren’t that expensive. We didn’t pay for our meal but I do have a PDF of the menu which you can download at the end of this post and really most of the dishes are priced pretty fairly. The black cod dish is around KD14 but it was also the largest piece of black cod I had ever been served. I actually asked the waitress if this was their regular serving size or a large portion just for us, that’s how big it was. The Edamame Humus (genius idea btw) is KD2.950, the Stuffed Eggplant KD3.950 and the Mushroom BOP which is a fairly large portion is priced at KD5.450.

If you’re interested in trying the place out, Katsuya is officially opening this coming Wednesday from 12 noon at Avenues Phase III near Cheesecake Factory. You can download and check out their menu below and make sure you try the Stuffed Eggplant, that’s the dish that’s going to make me keep going back.

Katsuya Dinner Menu
Katsuya Drinks and Desserts Menu


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Sneak Peek: Gia

Posted by Mark

Gia is a small new cafe that’s opening soon and so far it looks very cute. It’s opening in Al Khalid Complex in Salmiya, a complex which I think has so much potential to be a great trendy spot. Not many places like it anymore..


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Inside Radisson Blu

Posted by Mark

Last week when I passed by the new revamped Peacock restaurant at Radisson Blu I also got a tour of the hotel. I didn’t check out the rooms since they didn’t interest me but I did check out the lobby area and the new Sky Lounge.

The lobby area is a lot brighter than before with a lot more daylight coming in and a brighter color palette. They’ve removed their famous floating 4-ton marble sphere from the entrance and moved it outside. They also expanded the little cafe that used to be there and they kept Peacock in the same location with just the entrance now moved to the main side.

The Sky Lounge is a new addition to the hotel that didn’t exist before. It was still under heavy construction when I passed by but I found the rendering above of how it will eventually look like. The Sky Lounge has a panoramic view of the sea and they want it to be the “it” place to hangout at night. Once the sun sets the whole place dims down and mood lights come on. They’ll have a DJ playing house music and they’ll also have a bar that serves non-alcoholic cocktails. They want the place to be a chill-out lounge and I’m personally curious to see how that works out.


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Magnolia Bakery opening this Wednesday

Posted by Mark

I was invited to pass by Magnolia Bakery today for a sneak peek and while there I met with Bobbie Lloyd, the president and operating partner who filled me in on the brands history as well as what’s in store for the Kuwait location. The Kuwait store will be the 10th Magnolia Bakery in the world with seven branches located in the US, one in Dubai and one that recently opened in Beirut. If you live in Doha you’ll be pleased to know Magnolia will be opening there next month as well.

Those of you who know Magnolia Bakery will notice one big difference with the Kuwait location and that is they’ll be serving savory dishes like pasta and sandwiches alongside their desserts. This will be the first Magnolia Bakery branch that will be serving savories with the second being the Beirut location.

While getting a tour of the location I was asked if I wanted to ice a cupcake. Since I’m a klutz and I didn’t want to embarrass myself I politely said no but they insisted I give it a shot. After a short lesson I was handed a bucket of icing, a cupcake and a spatula. Even though the Magnolia Bakery staff make icing look really easy I knew it wasn’t going to be but I gave it my best and my cupcake actually didn’t turn out THAT bad.

Magnolia Bakery is located on the mezzanine floor of Hamra Tower and will be opening up this coming Wednesday. If you want to find out more about the brand you can visit their website [Here]


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