Best Movie Theater in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

cinemagics

nima

This is going to be a long one.
Winner: LITERALLY NO ONE WINS. LITERALLY.

I watched Van Helsing a few years ago. It’s a shitty movie with Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. Early in the movie, Van Helsing goes to Kate Beckinsale’s village, only to be attacked by 3 sexy flying vampire women. Because the flying sexy vampires are sexy, anytime there was a closeup of one of them, the frames were cut. The Flying Sexies would just die off one at a time. I remember this because at one point, the last remaining Sexie was outside flying around and screaming then suddenly CUTCUTCUT she’s inside already turned to ash around a crossbow bolt to her now visible chest. The editing was so jarring that I literally felt sick, like being in strobe lights for too long. I got up and walked out of the Cinema in Kuwait for the last time.

So why do we censor such things but not violence? Think about this, if a movie showed a woman getting her arm taken off, not a problem. Shirt taken off, problem. A horde of zombies grab someone and bite their goddamn face off, no problem. Someone kisses their wife for good luck before embarking on some death-defying last-ditch effort against all odds. That’s a fucking problem. “Tsk. Why are you kissing? Ha? Who told you to kiss? Tsk. Shino hatha? There’s a camera here and we can all see you. Tsk. Respect yourselves.”

They also censor blasphemy. When the bad guy says, “I will be a god” or something like that, I know it’s wrong. He’s an asshole. What do you expect? That’s why we’re all paying money. To sit here silently in the dark and watch someone kick his ass. Why do I need that part of his asshole behaviour to be kept from me? Doesn’t context matter?

Whether they censor a brief kiss from the movie or cut a movie into spastic chaos, it doesn’t matter to me. The result is the same; I am ripped away from the movie and put into a movie theatre sitting next to the sonofabitch friend that convinced me to give this shit another chance. (You lied to me Mohi, you lied right to my face.)

So now people are reduced to looking up the running time of the film from the cinema companies here and comparing them with the actual running time of the film to see how much of the movie is cut. Some friends of mine went to watch Rush Hour 2 or 3. It was literally an hour long. Allegedly, films are watched by a panel of men. The men have a button each. They press the button when something is worth censoring. It doesn’t take a consensus, just one to be offended. The process is then repeated through a panel of women. Allegedly. But I believe it just because of how ridiculous it sounds.

Now think about this, and this is what drives me to rage, a group of people, that have never met you, watch something uncut, on your behalf, to mark the things that you would not be able to handle, and remove them from your experience. We are treated as children. Undeveloped enough to be able to comprehend reality from film. The whole thing is institutionally condescending. And honestly, what’s the point of censoring movies when everyone has OSN at home and the internet everywhere else they go? At this point is it little more than a empty gesture of righteousness?

TL;DR
I won’t go to the cinemas here or anywhere films are censored. Even if it’s just a kiss. Even if it’s a kids movie. Because they censored the lion king. The Lion King.

Runner up: Cinemagics
I was the man with the plan behind the Game of Thrones private cinema night that Mark wrote about. I loved that place. What a fun night. And is there anything more enjoyable than watching a movie on a rooftop in Old Salmiya on a cool winter night? Fantastic movies and beautiful viewing areas, I can’t recommend Cinemagics enough. If you’ve never experienced it, do yourselves a favour and check them out.

mark

Winner:Cinemagics
I’ve been posting about the Cinemagics rooftop movies for years now and every year they keep making it better. This year for example they replaced the previously uncomfortable chairs with super comfy air sofas. They also added a live food station and their movie choices are also unmatched. Best part is you can watch their movies for free and thats because Cinemagics is trying to contribute to the development of an internationally competitive Kuwaiti audio-visual production industry, partly by bringing the filmmakers and audiences together and by increasing the public’s interest in – and appreciation for – the art of film-making. And to top it all off, they’re located down the street from where I live. An easy winner here.

Runner up: Cinescape 360 Mall
I have to agree with Nima regarding the censorship issue, I stopped watching movies for a long time in Kuwait because I got pissed off after going to watch The Simpsons and realizing it was censored. But I’ve recently started going back to the movies again but now I make sure whatever I watch isn’t censored, or at least minor censorship, like I wouldn’t mind one kissing scene being chopped. That said, the movie theater I frequent the most, or should I say the only theater I actually go to now is the Cinescape one at 360 Mall. Its aesthetically pleasing and their IMAX 3D theater is the best one in Kuwait from what I’m aware of (let me know if there is a better one cuz I’d love to check it out). Note to Cinescape, just buy cinescape.com already, it’s what I always type before realizing I need to go to kncc.com instead.


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Best Gym in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

circuitplus

circuitplus

nima

I have a cousin I see once every few years. Every time I see him, he mentions cross-fit (Ali, I know you’re reading this, please stop). When I first heard about it, it sounded good. Then you meet the people. Not necessary the people themselves, but their social media character. Jumping onto boxes, or over, or whatever it is. And I thought, “this…isn’t for me.”

I suppose the point is to inspire you, or themselves or someone. And I hope sincerely, that the mundane video of your friend jumping onto or over a box, inspires someone. Because if it does, that person was probably in a very dark place. Occasionally people will tell me “they” (the facist a person pays to yell inspirational instagram messages at them while the person repeatedly picks up and puts down otherwise useless pieces of metal) will work them until they puke. Isn’t that great? The smell of sweat and vomit! Just what you want around you while you’re breathing heavy.

For these reasons and many more, I cannot condone gyms. They’re far too moist and inherently narcissistic and I can’t for the life of me understand what anyone else to be narcissistic about.

I don’t believe in gyms. I believe in genetics. I, for one, am a delightfully svelte size 30 waist. Forever more and always. I love you, me.

TIP: Google “box jump fails” for more inspiration.

mark

Winner: Circuit+
The amount of gyms we have in Kuwait and the amount that are popping up is going to soon start exceeding the amount of burger joints we have, and thats a good thing. Every other person in Kuwait is now doing CrossFit and the gym that probably started this craze in Kuwait is Circuit+. CrossFit was already available in Kuwait but Circuit+ took it mainstream and made it much more accessible to everyone. Right now they’ve got a couple of locations in Kuwait but their Shuwaikh one is just massive, it’s crazy huge. But, their gym aside, what I love about Circuit+ the most is their annual Battle of The East CrossFit competition. It’s a world class event bringing in competitors from around the world and creating a fantastic show for everyone in Kuwait to take part in and to watch. They’ve created a huge community and are giving back to Kuwait and for that reason I’ve chosen them as this years best gym in Kuwait.

Runner up:Inspire Pure Fitness
Inspire is the best mixed (as in guys and girls) gym you could sign up to and their new location at the Sahara Country Club is also the nicest looking gym in Kuwait. But, you’ll also have to sell your kidney to be able to afford their membership which can reach KD1,950 a year with their mandatory weekly PT sessions.


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Best Online Store in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

talabat

nima

Winner: talabat.com
Man, do you ever wonder whether you’ve become a misanthrope because of the internet or the internet just feeds your misanthropy? Do you ever wonder what ‘misanthrope’ means? (if so, you’re the reason misanthropes exist).

These days I’m so lazy or unwilling to physically see other humans that not only will I not go to a restaurant to eat, I won’t even pick it up to take home. Not only am I unwilling to pick it up, but I’m also unwilling to get out of my car. Not only am I unwilling to get out of my car, but now, I’m also unwilling to speak to another human on the phone. I exaggerate of course, but not much.

And that’s why, the greatest website/app in the entire middle east is Talabat. Oh heavens, what a convenient little bastard you are. Somehow, some tenacious person convinced various restaurants to outsource online ordering to their website. And I’m sure some had reservations about doing it too. Among my circle of friends, we talk about new restaurants on Talabat as though we had actually been there without having to actually be there. So successful was this enterprise that it had been sold for what we in the FU industry call FU-money. Nary a week goes by without some restaurant relenting and joining this Khaleeji monolith. In my eyes, there is no competitor.

Of course, it’s not without its faults. Namely there are some crap restaurants with crap names and crap descriptions of their food (sandwish anyone?). But these are outweighed by the review section, which I frequently read not for actual reviews from people whose opinions are valuable, but rather for the hilarity of their review.

For example, “The food tastes disgusting and is not what the meal is supposed to taste like. Delivery took too long. Small portions. It just was terrible. 3 stars”. THREE STARS!!! AND THE FOOD WAS DISGUSTING BAHAHAHAHAH.

Or my personal favourite (translated), “the delivery was late. The burgers were cold. Totally unpleasant. 5 stars.” Hilarious.

Runner up: Blink.co.kw
The other day, I wanted to buy Batman Arkham Knight, conveniently checked the price online and conveniently bought it from PSN. THREE DAYS LATER the download finished. Very inconvenient. I could have just gone online and bought it from Blink. And replaced my toaster and bought some cups and wax for the car. But I didn’t, instead I had three days of disappointment, untoasted bread and an unwaxed car.

Shoutout to nespresso.com for having a website so slow, you’d think the server is on the bloody moon.

mark

Winner: talabat.com
Once you get beyond the first page, I think the website looks ugly and outdated. But, there is no denying that Talabat is the most successful online business in Kuwait and they’ve got KD50,000,000 to prove it.

Runner up: Blink.co.kw
The runner up really should be Xcite.com since their website looks a ton better than Blinks and they have much more products. But, I just find Xcite more intimidating to use and I’ve run into the oddest issues with them. Did you know up until a few weeks ago you couldn’t even browse their website from your phone. If you tried to you would get a message forcing you to download their app. They weren’t recommending you to use their app which is a common practice but instead they completely lock you out from their website if you were browsing from your mobile phone. So stupid. Thankfully after I complained about how ridiculous that was, they now allow you to browse their site from your phone. If you’re wondering why I don’t use their app instead, well I used to but then one day when I wanted to buy something I had to create an account which is fine but they started asking me what my nationality was and if I was married or not. I couldn’t tell if those questions were mandatory or not to answer so I just ended up filling all the fields with dummy information and created a fake account to try it out. Turns out the personal questions were not mandatory to answer, but then I ran into another problem. Once you create an account with their app you can’t log out and create another one. So now I permanently get greeted by the app as “Hello Jdjdjd Jdjdjd”. I should probably delete it and reinstall it but I’m just too lazy to do so.

Blink on the other hand, although the website is ugly as shit is actually easier to use and find stuff plus their prices are mostly cheaper in my experience. I think it’s probably easier to use because when you land at the website they ask you which section you want to browse. So if you click on video games you end up in their video game section with all the product highlights and side bar sections being gaming related. On Xcite you have to dig deep for whatever you want. I generally use Blink for two things mainly, buying iTunes cards or buying video games. They seem to have ridiculously good deals every now and then and even when they don’t their prices generally reflect Hawalli prices (ie cheapest market prices) without having to go to Hawalli myself and get it. Convenient.


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Best Bank in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

bestbank

nima

I bank with two banks in Kuwait personally. I use another 3 or 4 for work. I bitch about them all. People will often tell me, “hey why don’t switch to this bank or that bank?”, not knowing that I probably already use that bank. And that bank sucks. The best thing about banks in Kuwait is that they all smell nice, universally across the board. We have the best smelling banks in the world. But being asked to choose the best bank is like being asked to select a favourite fart. Eye-watering and offensive.

Sometimes people will tell me, and even I’ll find myself thinking, “man banks in London or the US or in Canada blah blah blah…” No no no. Those banks are garbage. Banks everywhere in the world are garbage. American and Canadian banks barely understand there are other countries. And once you explain that there is a place called ‘the rest of the world’ then you have to start explaining to them why their useless 1-800 number is useless.

As far as banks go, the best you can hope for is bukhur at the door and that they don’t block your card when you travel. After that, it doesn’t really matter. Be happy they’re not American banks. Or Greek banks (too soon?).

mark

I use both NBK and Burgan Bank, and I have issues with both. The reason I have two in the first place is so that one covers the other when I travel. I’ve had so many strange issues when traveling I now need to have three different sources of debit and credit cards, the third one being American Express. How badly do my banks suck?

With NBK I’m a Thahabi customer which means I should get “better” service. A few weeks back I get called into my branch and into my personal banking officers room. He starts basically interrogating me, supposedly I transferred a large sum of money abroad to a company called Pershing LLC and it raised a flag with them. He passed me a form to fill which included a ton of personal questions, I told him I wasn’t going to fill it because they already have all my information. My banker told me this was not related to the money transfer and they’re just updating all their customers data. I told him thats bullshit and this was directly related to the money transfer. So he told me to go tell the manager I wasn’t going to fill it, so I did. I went to the manager and told him you guys are interrogating me over a transfer I made and now you want me to fill out this form with all this personal information which you should have already since I’ve been banking with you guys for 15 years. So the manager starts flipping through my files and asks me if I transferred an X amount of money a couple of months back. I right away recognized what that transfer was. I looked at him dumbfounded. Yes I did, I used my NBK brokerage account to transfer more money into it. I told him I don’t know who Pershing LLC is but my guess its a company you guys deal with (I later found out with a quick google it’s their clearing firm). I told him the transfer you’ve been interrogating me about was a transfer to you guys, NBK. I transferred my money to YOU. The manager was like give me five me minutes just to make a few calls and confirm. I told him I’ve already been here for 30 minutes and I’m not going to sit here any longer and they need to get their shit together because this was embarrassing and I walked out.

Burgan Bank on the other hand I had the weirdest issue last month. I launched the Burgan Bank app on my phone and forgot what my password was. Why? Because when they force you to change your password it has to be different than the last 6 passwords I’ve used with them. WTF. That actually makes it less secure not more secure because if I started using my level A password, the second time I’m going to use my level B, then C etc.. until I turn into a complete idiot and start using my name as my password. So I have to keep creating new difficult level A passwords which I’ve never used anywhere else in my life just for Burgan Bank. It’s hard enough to remember the all the passwords I already have so its natural I’m going to forget the special one I had to create just for Burgan Bank. So I clicked on the forget password link and it asked me my secret question and I put in my answer. It was wrong, so I put in another answer. Suddenly the app tells me I’ve put my answer wrong too many times and my account is now blocked and I need to go to their website, printout a form and then take it to a local branch. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I answered my secret question wrong twice (not three times)(and it’s my secret question not even password) and I could no longer access my account from the app, nor can I access it from the website (even though I know my password there) or anywhere else. And then to make it worse, I had to print out a form, fill it up and take it to their branch. I tried to unlock it over the phone by calling the call center which is what I can do with NBK but I was told I needed to print that form and take it to the branch physically. I was surprised they didn’t want me to fax anything or mail them a postcard.

So yeah, these are just two of the most recent problems, I’ve had A LOT more. I hate banks so there will be no winner nor even a runner up for this award.


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Best Shopping Mall in Kuwait 2015

Posted by Mark

bestshoppingmall

grandavenues

nima

Winner: The Avenues (anytime before you and your friends show up)
I often amuse myself by thinking of Kuwait in different ages. For example, the technique boys and girls would use to secretly flirt in recent history (BB, bluetooth, throwing your number at another human being, high-risk chase with the intention of shouting at your future wife from your car into her car); but more often, I like to split it up into the Ages of Malls. There was The Age of Fanar, followed by The Age of Sharq, followed by The Age of Marina. The age before Fanar was only darkness but today we’re in The Age of Avenues. And sure, 360 is trying, but meh, who cares? The interesting thing about Avenues is that because of it’s massive size, it kept opening new phases years after the first phase and overcame this…mall-ecular stagnation.

And my goodness, what a goddamn mall it is. It has literally everything you could ever need/want. When people visit Kuwait from the west, I always end up taking them to Avenues. We’ve reduced all of western consumerism and fitted it into this outdoor shopaholic theme park with a roof over it. That’s craziness.

But I’ll be honest with you, I’m a guy who goes to the mall with shit to do. All business. I do it and leave. I don’t do the zombie shuffle like a lethargic dancer in Thriller. In fact, when I’m swiftly moving from one end of the goddamn mall to the other goddamn side, and you and your possé are all dressed thematically the same, standing shoulder to shoulder forming some sort of slow moving linear amoeba, I imagine kicking each one of you off a cliff. You’d probably fall slow just to annoy the bitch out of me.

Which is why I cannot strongly advocate more, going to the mall on a morning. Before people show up. Minimum stabbing risk. Plenty of parking, plenty of room to quickly get errands done and restock of the plenty of supplies I need to keep myself from the public, plenty plenty plenty and what better good do you expect from a mall than plenty of plenty.

Avenues Tip:
Less this (Link)
More this (Link)

Runner up: 360 Mall
How could anyone not like 360 mall? It’s never got traffic on the way there and if you can survive parking somewhere, it has probably the most worthwhile unique places in kuwait (not original unique, but single-location unique). It has some good shops. It has some great restaurants I like eating at. It has a great Nespresso store I drink at for free by acting like i’m going to buy a sleeve or two before feeling guilty and buying a sleeve or two. And it’s close to my friend Aziz Humaidhi’s house. Aziz you scumbag, call me man.

mark

Winner: The Avenues
The winner for this category was an easy one and not because the other malls suck (obviously many do) but because Avenues is so way ahead of everything else. It’s a place I also take tourists even though I personally hate going to malls when I travel. I hate malls everywhere actually, except in Kuwait. What I think really makes Avenues special though is the beautiful Grand Avenues. Like Nima I tend to go to the malls when I need something but I actually enjoy going to Grand Avenues to just walk around and window shop. Occasionally I’ll also sit at Veranda and have tea with a friend while watching the same people go up and down over and over. I don’t like Phase I or II on the other hand, they look like any other mall and I tend to refer to them as the ghetto cuz really thats what they are compared to Grand Avenues. Prestige I don’t even think anyone ever goes there and the old souk area is usually filled by people you never see in the other phases. But thats also what makes Avenues so great, it’s so big and the sections are so different, there is something for everyone. It’s a modern day landmark for Kuwait.

Runner up: Marina Crescent (on a Friday morning when the weather is great)
I love Marina Crescent on Friday mornings, it gets packed with people all outdoor enjoying the beautiful weather and having breakfast. It doesn’t feel like you’re in Kuwait and mostly because we spend all year round avoiding the outdoor weather. The rest of the mall isn’t special, it used to be when they used to open the roofs but now its just bleh.


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The Desert Wants Kuwait Back

Posted by Mark

whatroad

The recent dust storm covered some highways out in the desert with sand so deep that cars were getting stuck in it.

whatroad2


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Vetrina App

Posted by Mark

vetrina

Vetrina is a new app that was launched just over a week ago and it’s basically a Kuwait instagram shop directory. Since there are a ton of instagram accounts selling products in Kuwait, it makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for especially since there is no proper search feature built into instagram (People shouldn’t really be selling stuff on instagram anyway, they should have an online store but that’s another subject for another day). What Vetrina does is take all these instagram shops and organizes them in categories making it easy to find what you want. It’s pretty cool but one annoying aspect is that none of the products I looked at had their prices listed, instead it just said “Ask For Price”. That automatically kills the impulse buy factor for me.

The app just launched so I’m sure the price issue will probably be resolved further down the line. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices and you can check out their website for more details [Link]


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Best Local Store 2015

Posted by Mark

goodgame

nima

Winner: Good Game
I’ve been seeing a lot of party games at gatherings in recent years. There was Monopoly Deal for a while and then the more entertaining Kuwaiti knockoff. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Cards Against Humanity, the fart joke of the party game market. Garbage. I seriously can’t stand that game. It’s like watching a compilation of “thats what she said” jokes.

So what better opportunity to tell you about Good Game, a shop in Sanabil Tower specialising in all types of tabletop games. If it has dice, a board, cards, figures or any combination of them, chances are they sell it there. They have an absurd collection of games fillings their walls with varying degrees of difficulty and complexity, they have something for everyone, nerd or non-nerd alike.

The place is great. Everyone who works in the shop has played nearly if not every game and are able to answer questions or recommend a game based what you tell them you like. I love that it became the light to which all nerds in kuwait fluttered. The place is more than a shop, it’s become something more than that. It’s become a community.

Runner up: Orchidaceae
On Mr. Mark’s recommendation, I went to Orchidaceae a few months ago to get flowers for my wife (for my cat to nibble to pieces). It is hidden away in the reinhabited industrial MadMax wasteland that is Shuwaikh. Great design, the staff know their business and they aren’t quick to recommend things they know are impractical. Surprisingly affordable insta-class.

mark

Winner: Good Game
First full disclosure, the owner of Good Game is a really good friend of mine as well as Nima. Actually, the first time I met the owner is when Nima invited me over to play the Game of Thrones board game with him and a couple of other people around two years back (what a complicated board game that was, I still don’t understand it). The owner loves board games, like REALLY loves them which is why he opened up Good Game in the first place. What I love about the shop and the reason I chose it as a winner is the fact that it has become more than just a place where you go and buy stuff. Anyone with money can open a store but what Good Game has done is create a wonderful community. Pass by anytime during the evening and you’ll find a group of guys sitting in the store playing board games, if you pass by on weekends it’s even more packed. The shop has created a space where people into board games can go socialize and pass time. In a place like Kuwait where we’re always looking for something to do, Good Game is a treasure.

Runner up: Pet Zone
If it wasn’t for the community aspect of Good Game I personally would have chosen Pet Zone as the winner. We really are lucky to have a pet shop this huge here in Kuwait especially considering dogs aren’t really loved over here. If you have a pet and you’ve never been to Pet Zone in Shuwaikh then please make sure you do.

Location: Good Game is located in Al-Sanabil Tower in Sharq, on Mezzanine 2. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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New Renderings of Avenues Phase 4 and Map

Posted by Mark

avenues4

I managed to get a hold of some new renderings of Avenues Phase 4 from the marketing department at Avenues as well as a map to help visualize where everything will be located.

map
You can download the hires version of two maps [Here] and [Here]

I’ve already posted some renderings before but they sent me new ones I hadn’t seen before so I’m sharing them all below along with a little snippet of information which they had emailed me. Based on the map it looks Avenues will be around 20% larger than it’s current state once the final phase is completed.

Avenues Phase IV includes expansions of existing districts that have been highly popular with visitors, including Prestige, Grand Avenue and The Souk. New districts with modern and diverse concepts will also be included to build on the shopping and entertainment experience. The new districts include Arcadia, The Grand Plaza, The Forum, Electra and The Cinema, as well as a five star hotel and another four star hotel.


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The 248AM Awards

Posted by Mark

248amawards

Some minor tidbits before I proceed with the awards. Firstly you’ll notice I changed the name of the awards. The reason for that is I realized we don’t actually have a proper awards ceremony in Kuwait so I figured I should take this a bit more seriously since it could be a great opportunity for something bigger. I don’t find the compliment “It doesn’t feel like Kuwait” offensive, I find it real and most importantly humorous which is what I loved about it in the first place.

The second change that is taking place is the fact at the end of every winners post, you will now have a chance to vote for your favorite place. I will gather up all the answers and once all this is done I will share the “people’s choice” winners. At the very least we’ll have an idea of what everyones favorite place is. So without further delay we are going to start off with the Best Coffee Shop award today.


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