Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6

Post by Mark

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Whenever I get a new iPhone I also tend to get a new waterproof case for it. My go to brand for waterproof cases for the past two or three generations of iPhones has always been LifeProof. Their cases are compact, look good and are waterproof down to a depth of 3M. But, all my LifeProof cases ended up developing a leak sooner or later. I kept going back to LifeProof because there were no similar alternatives, the only other case I used was the Hitcase Pro but it’s a lot more bulkier and it doesn’t allow you to access the charging port which is important for me since I my phone is always connected to my BeoLit 12 speaker at the beach.

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Since beach season has already started it was time again to get a new waterproof case and this time for my iPhone 6. While doing my usual rounds of research I found out about a case called Catalyst which all the reviewers were raving about. The Catalyst is very similar to the LifeProof case in features except its waterproof down to a depth of 5M instead of 3M and more importantly the Catalyst comes with a wrist lanyard. The wrist lanyard is a feature I always wished the LifeProof case had because its makes a huge difference during activities. For example when I went paragliding, I had my phone with me to take pictures but I was worried the whole time I would accidentally drop my phone. Now even if the phone slips out of my hand it will still hang on to my wrist. In addition to these two features the Catalyst is a bit cheaper and I personally think it also looks better than the LifeProof case.

I still have to wait and see how the Catalyst performs over the summer, but right now based on my brief experience with the case I’m loving it. If you’re interested you can purchase the case from the Catalyst website, they’re selling it for $70 without shipping. Or, you can do what I did an buy it off a seller on eBay. I offered one seller $60 with shipping and he accepted which was a great deal. For some reason the case isn’t available on Amazon yet. [Link]


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It’s Wakeboarding Season Again

Post by Mark

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I just got back from a morning of wakeboarding and figured it’s that time of the year when I post about this activity. The weather today was perfect, it was around 30ºC, the sky was clear and the water wasn’t chilly at all. Like I do every year, I went wakeboarding with the Q8 Balance guys. They’re a great bunch of people who love what they do and it really shows with the amount of work and time they’ve put into making the sport popular in Kuwait.

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For those of you who don’t know, Q8 Balance charge by the hour and provide you with all the gear you need to wakeboard. They use one of the best wakeboarding boats available and this year they even got a brand new one since their previous one started to breakdown last year. All the wakeboarding is done in the lagoons in Khiran City and they charge KD35 per hour. I usually go with a friend or two and split the cost since it’s too exhausting anyway to wakeboard the full hour alone.

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They also have surfing which I got to try for the first time today. The instructor (pictured above) made it look so easy but it really isn’t. The way it works is they setup the boat in a way that it creates a large wave behind it which you surf on (rope free) with a special board. I’ll probably try it again next week when I go back again.

I usually book via whatsapp a week ahead of time and for the middle of the week since they’re usually super booked on the weekends. Actually they’re usually booked in the middle of the week as well which is why I book a week in advance. So if you’re interested in wakeboarding or surfing, here is the link to the Q8 Balance instagram page @q8balance and their number is 99679705.


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BMXing around Mubarakiya

Post by Mark

World Champion BMX Flatland Master Viki Gomez visited Kuwait to put on several shows and while he was here TJCfilms managed to shoot a video of him performing stunts all around Souk Mubarakiya. Check it out on top. [YouTube

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Skiing in Marrakesh

Post by Mark

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As I mentioned in my previous post on my stay in Marrakesh, my main reason going there was for a ski holiday. Not many people consider Marrakesh as a ski destination and even I didn’t even know they had slopes until a friend pitched the idea. Preparing for the trip was a bit of a pain since there was very very little information online on skiing in Marrakesh. I couldn’t even find a website that told me if it had snowed in the mountains or if the slopes were even open. All I knew is that the ski slopes were around an hour and a half drive from the main city and located in an area called Oukaimeden. Originally I wanted to take my own snowboard and boots with me since I wasn’t sure I could rent gear over there but, since I didn’t even know if the slopes were open, I decided not to go through the hassle and instead just took my snowboarding clothes with me.

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Once my friends and me were in Marrakesh we asked around if there was snow in Oukaimeden and to our relief turns out there was. We rented a car with a driver and headed out to the slopes the following day. We ended up leaving the medina at around 9:30AM and arrived to the slopes before noon. The road to the top of the mountain was small and not very eventful except for this one incident involving a camel. Some people have camels on the side of the road for tourists to sit on and take photos and one went wild and ran into the middle of the road just as my driver was speeding to overtake another car on the road. Luckily we missed the camel which continued running down the run barely missing other cars.

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Once we arrived to the slopes things got a bit intense. Two of my friends had never snowboarded before and needed an instructor. We spotted some guys hanging around on the side of the road and when they noticed we were tourists they all attacked our car. Turns out they were all instructors / guides and started arguing amongst each other on who saw us first and who should get us. Too dramatic but understandable since it’s a very poor country and everyone is trying to make a living. After having our driver translate for us we found out that they charge 100dhms an hour to take care of us either by instructing or just helping us get around. 100dhms is just KD3 so we each took a guide and headed towards the best equipment rental store to get our gear.

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Their best equipment rental store was ghetto, like if your local bakala decided to rent out 90s ski gear (including neon colored one piece ski suits). But, compared to the alternative (people renting boots and equipment on the side of the road) this place seemed like a great find. Renting boots and a snowboard cost us 250dhms (KD7.7) each for the day, which I think was expensive compared to everything else. I think we could have gotten them even cheaper if we had asked for the gear for half a day or at least haggled. Once we got our stuff we headed to the first slope. A day ski pass to access the slopes is just 50dhms (KD1.5) which is the cheapest I’ve paid anywhere… ever. The bottom of the slopes was pretty packed but once you get the lift and head to the top its empty. That’s because many people just play with the snow at the bottom of the slopes or ride sleds. There aren’t many people who ski and there weren’t any other tourists from what I could tell.

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One thing I found interesting is there were people walking around the slopes selling coffee and traditional Moroccan sweets. There was even a stand where you could pick up a bowl of steaming hot snails (a delicacy over there) if you wanted to. It’s actually pretty smart especially if you’re looking for a bit of an energy boost.

After spending sometime at the first slope we then decided to tackle their largest and steepest slope but that was a bit of a distance away. Our guides gave us three options of getting there:

1) Drive there by car
2) Walk
3) Take a donkey ride

Obviously we opted for the donkey ride which was a ton of fun and something again I hadn’t experienced in any other ski slope in the world.

Their highest slope was insanely cool and according to my guide 3000m high. The ride to the top was fairly long, maybe around 20 minutes and the closer we got to the summit the worst the visibility got. It was extremely foggy with a visibility of around 10m or so. Once we got off the lift at the top I couldn’t tell where the slope started and just figured I’d accidently end up flying off a cliff on my way down. But my guide knew the route by heart, which was great since we were going to snowboard down the slope blindly. It had snowed all night and there was a blizzard while we were at the top so the snow was fantastically deep and powdery.

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Getting a guide was the smartest thing I did since I really couldn’t see shit the first half of the route down. I kept yelling at him that I couldn’t see and he just kept yelling back that if I see rocks to start turning the other way. Simple obvious advice but it worked.

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Anyway I got to the bottom of the slope in one piece even though I did face plant on more than one occasion. Would I recommend skiing in Marrakesh? Hell yes I would, it’s a wonderful experience and they have enough strange characteristics to make the experience unique to them. It’s also a very affordable ski experience, one of the cheapest I’m aware of. Since it’s difficult to find information online what I would recommend to do if you’re interested in skiing in Marrakesh is to call a hotel there and ask them if the slopes are open. I would also do a search for #oukaimeden on instagram since I found a few photos of people on the slopes that way. If anyone has any questions let me know.


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Kuwait refuse to play against UAE in Asian Cup warm-up

Post by Mark

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The Kuwait national football team had to be escorted out of the Robina Stadium in Australia’s Gold Coast by police on Saturday after refusing to play a friendly against the UAE. According to sources, Kuwait took exception to the fact the Asian Cup warm-up game couldn’t be filmed by their technical staff and so abandoned the friendly match in protest. They stayed on the field for an impromptu training session instead. [Source]

Did I read that correctly? Because the game wasn’t going to be filmed the Kuwaiti team decided they didn’t want to play anymore? Kinda reminds me of a story my friend told me about this guy who goes to his gym. The guy always comes in, starts lifting some weight while taking selfies and then once he is done taking selfies he leaves the gym.


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Footballer sticks finger up opponent’s bum

Post by Mark

A video posted by جرايمq8 (@jraymq8) on

A truly below-the-belt incident has taken place in Kuwait after one player was spotted jabbing his finger up an opponent’s bum mid-game.

Both players fall to the floor after contesting an aerial ball, and one doesn’t take too kindly to the challenge as he commits what might just already be the weirdest foul of the season.

There also appears to be a hint of a bite in there as well, and the victim unsurprisingly reacts pretty angrily to the whole incident.

Bizarre. [Source]

Hahahahahahaha WTF.

Thanks Ammar

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Kuwait Rugby Kicked Ass in Dubai

Post by Mark

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Over the weekend two local rugby teams competed in the Gulf Men’s Open that was held in Dubai, the Kuwait Lions RFC (pictured below) and the Kuwait Scorpions (pictured above). Not only did both teams perform really well but the Kuwait Scorpions went all the way and won the Gulf Men’s Open tournament!

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The Kuwait Scorpions team was established in Kuwait back in the 1940s and it’s great that they’re not only still around, but they’re also kicking ass. Here is a link to the Kuwait Scorpions Facebook page and here is the link to the Kuwait Lions RFC page.


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Beach Flag Football Finals – Kuwait vs Thailand

Post by Mark


[YouTube]

Kuwait reached the finals in the Beach Flag Football tournament at the 4th Asian Beach Games before losing out to the hosts Thailand. The Beach Games were held last month and Kuwait ended up winning a whole bunch of medals including a gold for the Men’s Shot Put. You can check out the full results [Here]

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Am I the only one who’s surprised that Kuwait has a Beach Flag Football team and that they’re really good as well? The Kuwaiti crowd at the event were pretty energized as well. Did anyone in Kuwait even know this was taking place?


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Mondays with Matthew (on Tuesday): Sport – let the games begin

Post by Matthew Lodge

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The United Kingdom has a new champion! Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton was crowned world champion at the end of yesterday’s end of season Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. British newspapers are full of images of a jubilant Hamilton and headlines such as the “Start of something special” and “Best day of my life”. Perhaps the fact that he beat his team-mate and long-term rival, German driver Nico Rosberg, makes the victory seem even sweeter. For the UK, our rivalry with our European friends always adds an extra twist to the competition.

So what if journalists play down the fact that Hamilton and Rosberg both drive for a German team? Painful memories of England’s exit from this summer’s FIFA World Cup, and Germany’s victory, are long forgotten. Glory is in the moment and the victor enjoys the adulation. Who cares if Germany won the World Cup, we have Lewis!

Well, lots of people care, and not just 80 million justifiably proud Germans (congratulations mein Freund), but that was last summer.

Today, I feel Kuwait’s pain. Losing 0-5 to Oman last week appears to have caused a national shock. As a Briton, I’m not unused to sporting disappointment. Don’t misunderstand me, I am no football expert. I enjoy a kick-around with the kids, but that’s it for soccer. However, I learned a few years ago that it’s very difficult for a British Ambassador not to take an interest in sport, and football in particular. This initially posed a problem for me. Apart from my rather limited ball-skills, I had grown up playing rugby, hockey, and athletics. I have always enjoyed watching the World Cup and European Championships, but not much more. Suddenly I needed a “team”. Naturally, I chose Liverpool. I was born there. I also remember Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Kenny Dalglish. So I have become a Liverpool supporter. At least I’ll never walk alone.

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Except, here in Kuwait, I keep meeting Arsenal or Chelsea fans. Why is that? Where are all the Liverpool supporters? I did meet a Tottenham supporter the other day. And of course, I know about Kuwaiti links with Nottingham Forest and Ebbsfleet United. I’ve even met some enthusiastic Kuwaitis who fly to the UK to watch the occasional match before heading home again the following day. That’s more dedicated than I’d ever be, but it’s great to know that football is so popular here. It has also been good to learn about other Kuwaiti sporting interests – and successes: the shooting team and other medallists at the Asian Games in South Korea this autumn; the early morning cycling clubs out on the Gulf road every Friday; the numerous youth football clubs playing across the city; and the Triathlon that took place last month. People taking part in these activities may have been disappointed too by last week’s score. But they keep training, enjoy the competition, and play for the fun and thrill of the game.

People always rediscover their love of sport. Anyone and everyone can have a go. It brings people together. What do you think of sport in Kuwait today? Can more be done to help people enjoy the benefits it brings, and the joy it can give?

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge


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Red Bull Failaka Showdown

Post by Mark

This is a new promotional video for Red Bull Kuwait in which they’ve pit a free-runner against a drifter and shot the whole thing on Failaka Island. It’s a well made made video that will make you want to go exploring around Failaka. [YouTube]

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