Kuwait on VICE: Fast Food of Arabia

Post by Mark

As Americans become increasingly health-conscious and junk food sales plateau in the States, fast food companies are spreading to new global markets, expanding their revenue — and the waistlines of their customers.

VICE correspondent Gianna Toboni travels to Kuwait, now one of the most obese countries on the planet, to witness the health effects on a country deep in the throes of an unlikely obsession with U.S. fast food. “Fast Food of Arabia” airs on HBO Friday, April 21 at 11pm.

I just watched this episode a few moments ago and although it doesn’t bring to light anything we (as in people living in Kuwait) didn’t already know, it did make me realize two things:

1) Some of the most prime seaside real estate is occupied by fast food chains
2) There needs to more education by the government on healthier living

I don’t have any numbers to back this up but I personally don’t think Kuwait is as obese as it used to be 10 years ago when I first brought to light the obesity issue. Back then we didn’t have close to as many gyms as we have today, people were a lot less active (even I used to be an overweight couch potato) and we definitely didn’t have as many healthy food options as we do today. But there still are a vast majority of people who don’t know how to eat healthy. We tend to assume everyone knows what is good or bad for them but thats not the case which is why I think there needs to be more education on this subject. Maybe nutrition classes should be mandatory in schools or something along those lines.

Here are also some interesting dates I got from this episode of VICE:

First KFC in Kuwait – 1973
First Hardees in Kuwait – 1980
First Pizza Hut in Kuwait – 1982
First Mcdonalds in Kuwait – 1994
First Burger King in Kuwait – 1997

I also found out that the Hardees in Kuwait was their first Hardees outside of the U.. So now I’m interested to know the story on how that came to be.

This episode of VICE is 30 minutes long but only the first half focuses on Kuwait so it won’t take too much of your time. Based on Gianna Toboni’s instagram account, she filmed this in Kuwait last August. If you have HBO NOW, you can watch this episode [Here]

Update: If anyone wants the lyrics to the Domino’s Pizza cult song, here they are:

Who are we?
Domino’s Pizza!
What are we?
Number 1!
What’s our job?
Make more pizza! Have more fun!
Make more pizza! Have more fun!
Make more pizza! Have more fun!

Domino’s asking all the right life related questions…

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Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

A good amount of events are taking place this weekend, check them all out below:

Exhibition: Third Identity
Exhibition: Byproducts of Development
Concert: Al Hassan Brothers
Concert: Yanni
The Community Table Presents: Việt Nam
Dual Bowls Launch Party

Exhibition: Dual Bowls
Hatha Yoga in the Park
Good Game: Magic – The Gathering
Concert: Yanni
Art & Burgers with Elevation
Salwa’ Walk and Socialize Meetup
The Community Table Presents: Việt Nam

Exhibition: Dual Bowls
Yoga with the 3
Guided Tour: Arab Organization Headquarters
Caravan Market
Shakshooka Market: End of Season
Q8 Readers Book Club: Kafka on the Shore
The Community Table Presents: Việt Nam
The Divan’s JamJam: Bringing Back The 90s
Movie Night at Masaha 13: Dianosour

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]
For a full list of upcoming events click [Here]

Sometimes events get canceled or have details changed so always double check with the organizers.

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Movies Now Showing in Kuwait

Post by Mark

The movies below are now showing at either Cinescape, Grand Cinemas or Sky Cinemas:

New This Week:
Colossal (6.8)
Ghost in the Shell (6.8) ♦
Mine (6.1)
The Boss Baby (6.5)
Unforgettable (6.3) ♦

Other Movies Showing:
Fast & Furious 8 (7.5)
Max Steel (4.6)
Smurfs: The Lost Village (5.8)

The movies below are now showing at the Scientific Center IMAX theater:

A Beautiful Planet 3D (7.9)
Flying Monsters 3D with David Attenborough (7.6)
Humpback Whales 3D (7.2)
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D (N/A)
Journey to Space 3D (6.5)
Kenya 3D: Animal Kingdom (6.0)
Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D (7.5)

Numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at time of publishing.
★ is for movies I’m interested in. ♦ implies movie might contain censorship.

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Dual Bowls – Hand Crafted Pieces Made in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Yesterday I finally backed my first Kickstarter campaign, the Dual Bowls project by Kuwaiti artist Kawther Al Saffar. Dual Bowls are one of a kind, hand crafted pieces made in Kuwait by pouring two different metals together in a mold to form a rough bowl. I fell in love with the bowls when I first got a sneak peek at them early on in the month. Then yesterday, when the Kickstarter page finally went live, I grabbed the super early bird deal on one.

I’ve actually been a fan of Kawther’s work for some time now. I originally fell in love with her stools, then her chairs and now her bowls. I think she’s extremely talented and theres always a strong concept behind her work. When she first told me about her Dual Bowls project I had a lot of questions, so we ended up having a pretty thorough discussion about her idea. I wanted to share two paragraphs from one of her emails that resonated with me the most:

The intention with creating them in larger quantities, is to make them affordable art pieces. My aim is to build a high end, multinational brand that fosters collaboration and craft in Kuwait. One that can compete within the spectrum of businesses such as Tom Dixon, Ned Debs, and Tiipoi. I’d like to show that Kuwaiti craft and production can have international and commercial value, but I think the way to show value is by marketing it abroad. I’m aiming for high end because after studying the production scene in Kuwait for the past 3 years, I feel thats what our production is capable of catering too. This might seem counter intuitive, but I feel this is the case because a lot of the work is done by hand, and our low cost products such as merchandising can’t compete with quality abroad. My tag line is: Personal.Local.Universal. 

I think there exists a distorted view of product cultural value in the world, where countries somewhat fulfill a stereotype of their worth. For example Kuwaitis are willing to spend a large amount of money on furniture branded as Italian. While some Italian design is great, that doesn’t mean they are investing in design thats well made, or that the products they buy are truly Italian. They are investing in the stereotype. The way this generalization applies to Kuwait is through a false distinction of luxury and Orientalism. That means the way we apply Islamic geometries and patterns with no context or translation of their purpose. My aim is to create a dialogue around these issues and facilitate a better translation of our identity thats more honest and experience based. I want to create products that are Kuwaiti through their origin and story. 

I loved that.

If her Dual Bowls project wasn’t interesting enough, there is a second part to this project that I also found fascinating, her partnership with Kickstarter on this. When Kickstarter heard about the Dual Bowls project, they reached out to Kawther and asked her to launch her campaign on their platform. Most of the big and popular Kickstarter projects are electronics related, but Kickstarter is more than just electronics and gadgets, they actually care about creativity and supporting artists. So recently Kickstarter has been trying to promote a more diverse offering, and they saw a great opportunity to work with Kawther on the Dual Bowls. Her project has a very strong narrative and so requires a platform like Kickstarter to be able to tell her story. There is actually a great article on FastCompany that was published yesterday that discusses this further and even mentions and highlights Kawther and her project. You can check that article [Here]

Kawther (pictured above on the left) is aiming big, she’s hoping to sell a 1,000 bowls by the end of her campaign. I already pledged for mine yesterday, a medium sized bowl. If you’re interested in finding out more about her bowls, she has a great video on her Kickstarter page that explains the whole project as well as photos of the different kind of bowls she’ll be making and a much more thorough explanation on the project. So make sure you check her out on Kickstarter [Here]

There is also a Dual Bowls launch party taking place tomorrow, details on that [Here]

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Are We Getting a 7-Eleven?

Post by Mark

No idea if this is a legit 7-Eleven or not, but its popping up in Salmiya on Salem Mubarek Street. I’m guessing its the real deal since the logo doesn’t look altered, usually copy shops alter the logo because they think they could escape copyright infringement that way. There is even an instagram account as well called @7eleven_q8 that says coming soon, although there is no way to tell if they’re connected.

Thanks Hussain

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I Need a Mandoub in My Life

Post by Mark

Is there a company that offers a mandoub service in Kuwait? Like say I need paperwork at the Ministry done, I could pay this company a fee to do the paperwork for me.

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Invisible Speed Bumps

Post by Mark

I think speed bumps serve a great purpose considering how people speed on inside streets, but I hate how in Kuwait majority of the speed bumps have no visible markings and just blend in with the streets at night.

With my FJ I don’t really care much because if I miss one it’s no big deal, I can just fly over the bump and its a bit of discomfort for a second. But with my Lotus its a completely different story. I can’t just fly over the speed bumps accidentally, I actually missed a speed bump last week and it was the scariest thing ever with my front spoiler lip digging into the tarmac and throwing up little pebbles in the air. I thought for sure I broke something but luckily nothing happened.

Can we get clear white stripes on the speed bumps? I know majority of speed bumps start life off with white stripes, but once they start fading they should be remarked again. It’s not that complicated a problem to solve…

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busKW – Making Sense of Public Transportation

Post by Mark

Four guys have taken it upon themselves to try and make sense of the local public transportation system by mapping the bus network in Kuwait. Wilfred Waters, Jake Massoth, David Uzoni and Wael El-Ahmady are aiming to get complete stop positions, schedules and 360 imagery of the entire bus network in Kuwait and they’re pretty much on track.

According to Wil, the schedule data is the most frustrating aspect of the project due to lack of driver discipline. Drivers stop between formal stops so a proper schedule can’t be kept but they’re trying their best to get at least a rough estimate. In regards to imagery they’re halfway done (similar to google street view but for the bus routes) but they’re trying to prioritize the schedule data for now since thats the information people are after the most.

The overall problem they’re trying to solve with this project is unnecessary car trips, privately or in taxis. By collecting all this data, they’re hoping to eventually create a Bus Routing App that would provide people with easy to access and understand bus routes and scheduling information. And I think they’re onto something here.

Looking through their map data (embedded above) I was able to spot a number of bus stops near my apartment building as well as see the whole route the bus would take. Turns out the bus stop next to my apartment could take me all the way to my office in the city, and even though I wouldn’t take the bus (I love driving), I did consider it for a second. I’m sure a lot more people would use the bus if they had route and schedule information on their phones.

Back in the early 90s when I was in Canada, I used to call the bus stop near my apartment building and an automated service would let me know how many minutes till the next bus arrived. That way I didn’t have to wait out in -30°C weather freezing my ass off. Kuwait needs to upgrade the whole bus network and make it more usable, if you could track busses in Canada back in the early 90s, I’m sure Kuwait can manage the same today. Kuwait is hoping the metro project will help solve traffic issues but it might be easier right now to get the bus system sorted out right. How difficult would it be to tell drivers to let people on and off only at formal stops? Or to make sure bus stops are shaded, and to create an app that would help people plot their trips and get accurate scheduling information. I don’t think it would be that hard, easier than building a metro system from the ground up thats for sure.

For more information on the busKW project, check out their website [Here]

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e-Visa Spelling Issues Fixed!

Post by Mark

That was pretty quick, the spelling mistakes on the Kuwait e-Visa website got fixed today, two days after I posted about them. Thank you to whomever fixed them, just one more minor thing cuz I’m a bit OCD, could you make the letter “b” capital for the word “Building”. Pretty please? Thank you!

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Qirtasiya – A Stationary Subscription Box

Post by Mark

If you like stationary then you’re going to love this concept. Qirtasiya is a uniquely crafted bimonthly stationery subscription box thats based in Kuwait. You pay the subscription price ahead of time and every two months you’ll get a surprise package delivered to you filled with different stationaries. Only 15 memberships are available every month, their last box was sent out in March and their next one is going to get sent out next month. The cost of the box is KD27 but drops down slightly if you subscribe to multiple boxes.

So if you’re interested in signing up to this subscription service, you can check out their website qirtasiya.net or visit them on instagram @qirtasiya for more information.

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