Mondays with Matthew: Hello Kuwait

Posted by Matthew Lodge


Spend a few minutes at Kuwait airport and you are reminded that people are coming and going every day. Families returning from holiday, business travellers heading off, air crew stopping over. Amongst all these you may occasionally spot the new arrivals, and I don’t mean those visiting for a few days, but those who have arrived to make Kuwait their home. Maybe for a year or two, maybe for longer. At the end of August, amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport, my family and I arrived in Kuwait. For my wife and kids this was the first time they’ve been here, but Kuwait is now home, and will be for the next 4 years.

I want to start a conversation with you so let me start by telling you what my own reactions have been.

Kuwaitis are welcoming, open and friendly. Irrespective of any conservative traditions and social customs, Kuwait feels modern, vibrant and dynamic. As you drive into town from the airport, you also get an immediate sense of Kuwait being quite westernised. Fast food outlets light up the roadsides. Cars are big, the roads are wide. This is a land of comfort, consumerism and confidence. Kuwait is not shy. Kuwait has money, and more importantly Kuwait has oil.

But that initial, essentially superficial, impression is just that – superficial. As British Ambassador, moving into a house that claims to be the oldest continually-occupied residential building in Kuwait, I am reminded every day about the history. Kuwait’s history. Our shared history.

Firstly, the house itself – the notes left for me explain how the British architect was brought from Bushehr and the funding approved by the Government in India. Then there’s this sepia photograph on the wall showing the Residence of the “Political Agent”, constructed in 1935-6, taken in 1951 when the gates opened onto the beach and there was no Gulf Road. More recently, I am also reminded of the wonderful 50/20 celebrations that took place in 2001 – half a century since independence from Great Britain, two decades since the liberation – followed in 2012 by the State Visit of His Highness The Amir.

But it’s about more than official commemorations or grand occasions. For many Kuwaitis London and the UK is their home away from home, many more have studied there, and Kuwait sends more visitors to the UK each year than any other GCC country. So when it comes to my plans and hopes as the new British Ambassador, I remember that there is a huge amount already there between our two countries. Kuwait and Britain are, and will always be, connected – in every sense.

Before coming here, we had heard a lot about the country and the people, and during the last eight weeks we’ve learned a little more. One thing, which I perhaps knew already, is that as an Ambassador you enjoy a very privileged existence. Everyone is always very polite and courteous, but if you really want to understand how people feel (rather than just hear what they think you want to hear) then you have to work hard to get out, meet people and listen.

My goal is to do precisely that. I want to listen to you. I’d like you to tell me what you think I need to hear. So tell me, is the Kuwait I am seeing the same as the one you recognise?
In any case, thank you Kuwait for welcoming me. It’s good to be here

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

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The Secret Garden Project

Posted by Mark


The Secret Garden is a new project by Mimi, the same person behind the popular Shakshooka nomadic farmers market. She originally started the project last year but shifted it to full gear around a month ago and I passed by yesterday to check the place out and left extremely impressed.


The Secret Garden simply put is an urban community garden. Mimi got permission from the municipality to occupy part of a public garden in Salmiya and setup planting stations so that people and children could come and grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruits. Majority of the garden was built using recycled material and they even have their own compost pit which they’ve started filling up in hopes of it being ready for next year.


Every Saturday the community is encouraged to come by the garden from 9AM till sundown to either plant, paint, build or just socialize. Mimi has some great plans for the future including possibly turning the garden into the permanent spot for the weekly Shakshooka farmers market, having gardening workshops and even hold film screenings in the garden.


I’ll be posting about The Secret Garden every weekend with the rest of the weekend events to keep everyone posted on whats taking place there so stay tuned. For now you can check out more pictures of the garden by following @mimikuwait on instagram or the hashtag #thesecretgardenproject

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The New AAB World

Posted by Mark


I passed by Bang & Olufsen in Symphony Mall the other the night to see when they were getting the new BeoPlay A2 when I spotted a new AAB World store on the lower level. It turns out the store has been open for two months now and it’s their largest store yet. AAB World are a photography store and I’ve dealt with them on a number of occasions either for product reviews on the blog or for personal purchases.


The branch I used to frequent often was in the basement of Shamiya Coop and that location is really tiny so having this large store in my neighborhood makes things a lot more convenient. This location is so big they practically have each one of their products on display for you to check out including all their studio lights and camera stabilizers (for the movie buffs).


So if you’re interested in checking it out, they’re open from 9AM to 1PM and then again from 4PM to 10PM.

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Things to do in Kuwait this weekend

Posted by Mark


Exhibition: Ghadah Alkandari – Secretary
STOMP Theatrical Show

STOMP Theatrical Show
Spraybox Opening
Book Club Meeting

STOMP Theatrical Show
The Flying Start Triathlon
Yoga Fest

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]

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Wizr, Kuwait’s Greatest Driver

Posted by Mark


Back in the 70s there was a British journalist living in Kuwait by the name of Keith Wells. He used to work for the Arab Times and in his spare time he also used to write books about Kuwait, including a witty series on a character named Wizr who was Kuwait’s greatest driver. Between 1979 and 1984, Keith released three Wizr books but sadly there really isn’t a lot of information on them nor Keith online. In fact, there is a blog dedicated to keeping Keith and his Wizr series alive but even the blog doesn’t have much info nor content. The books document life in Kuwait during that period with humor and nicely drawn illustrations.


Since The Kuwait Bookshops is closing this might be your only chance to own one of his Wizr books. In 1984 he released “The Last Wizr Book” and The Kuwait Bookshops in Muthana still has copies of it remaining and they’re selling them cheap for KD1.5 (the bookshop is selling everything for 50% off). The book was his last one on the Wizr since the illustrator he had teamed up with for the previous two books had passed away. I tried to find the other two books online and I managed to snag his second book (pictured above) on eBay for KD7.5 and his first book on the series (pictured below) for KD16. It was more than what I wanted to pay, but I somehow felt compelled to save this part of Kuwait’s history. So try to grab his last book from Muthana if you can.


If anyone has any interesting information related to Keith or his books let me know.

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Celebrate Oktoberfest in Kuwait

Posted by Mark


My friend sent me the screen capture above, at first I thought it was a joke but I called Hilton up and it’s actually taking place tomorrow.

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Posted by Mark


2aorganic is a local website which claims to have the largest collection of organic products for sale in Kuwait. I didn’t count their products so I can’t really confirm that claim although by quickly flipping through the website I could tell they do have quite a large selection. So if you’re interested in organic products here is a link to their [Website]

On a side note not sure why they chose such an awkward name. How do you even pronounce 2aorganic?

Thanks Khaled

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Drama in the local blogosphere

Posted by Mark


A bit of drama has erupted over the past few days between a few local American female bloggers. From what I’ve been able to grasp so far it turns out Expat and the City is not who she says she is, personal information on Crazy in Kuwait was released and supposedly American Girl’s World started all of this.

Personally I find all this drama entertaining to read but I’m also completely against outing someone who wants to remain anonymous. Even Single in the Shires recently posted that people have figured out her identity as well. There are plenty of good reasons to post anonymously in Kuwait so its very understandable why these girls would want their real lives to remain private. Plus, I don’t think it really matters if the blog stories or characters are fictional, a blog can be whatever it wants to be.

In any case this is turning into an episode of The Only Way is Essex, so if you’re bored and want to catch up on whats been going on, here are some links in chronological order:

Expat and the City 1
American Girl’s World
Crazy in Kuwait
Expat and the City 2

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There is no Ebola in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

According to KUNA, the Ministry of Health quashed reports on social media that Ebola cases were discovered in Kuwait, terming them as “baseless”. The Rumaithiya police station had requested the Health Ministry come and examine some Asian and Ethiopian expat women held there who turned out to only have an upper respiratory tract infection.

On the other hand Al Rai newspaper has reported that the detainees in question will be deported so problem solved.

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Sign up your dog to Bark in the Park

Posted by Mark


K’s PATH are organizing their fourth Bark in the Park event which includes the popular dog show competition and which will be held the beautiful Ahmadi South Public Park.

Date: Saturday 8th November 2014
Location: KOC Ahmadi, South Public Park
Time: 11:00AM to 3:00PM

1. Best Child Handler
2. Best Dressed
3. Best Look Alike
4. Agility Course
5. Best Mixed Breed
6. Best Rescue Story
7. Temptation Alley
8. Most Adorable

Advanced Registration Required:
Adults KD5, Children under 16 KD3, Children under 3 years – free entry
Participating dogs KD6, Non-participating dogs KD3

– Registration closes Thursday, November 6th

Register by clicking [Here]
The online form also guides you to calculate entry fees, which can be paid at the door on the day of the event.

For more information on the event and the original flyer click [Here]

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If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
[Email Me]