Kuwait didn’t look like Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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While flipping through the photos I brought back home from KOC I found these three which I loved because of the fact they look nothing like Kuwait. The first one on top I’m guessing is from the Anglo American School, the second photo is of a house in Ahmadi while the last photo from the Gazelle Club.

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Photos courtesy of the KOC Information Team.


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One fight and you’re out

Posted by Mark

In a statement on Tuesday, the ministry’s director of public relations and moral guidance Brigadier Adel Al Hashash said expats involved in public fights or who incite “chaos” would be deported, because such behaviour was against the Kuwaiti law, despite not allowing a trial first. [Source]

That’s not a very practical solution. What if you’re just defending yourself? And whats the punishment for Kuwaitis?


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The KOC Photography Archive

Posted by Mark

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Earlier today I visited the Kuwait Oil Company offices in Ahmadi since a friend of mine helped me get permission to access their full photography archive. So, I headed there with my portable hard drive expecting to find a few interesting images that I’d copy and then leave. That didn’t exactly happen and I’m not sure I have the words to explain what I saw.

They have two rooms, the main archive room and a smaller negatives room. The negatives room is covered with drawers that are filled with film negatives of every event thats ever occurred in Ahmadi from the late 30s up till now. By every event I literally mean every event, every party, every play, every school activity, every PR activity… EVERYTHING. They’ve literally been documenting Ahmadi since Ahmadi started. Not only that but they’ve also been documenting Kuwait so there are a tons of old photos from all around Kuwait like the old market, Entertainment City, Muthana Complex, etc… you name it and they most likely will have it (except for photos of Kids R’ Us which I looked for and didn’t find). The room is extremely organized with different drawers containing different kind of activities so for example the negatives for the Social Activities are all located in two columns of drawers (around 8 drawers high). The highest drawer contains the oldest photos while the lowest drawer the newest. Each envelope is dated and has a description of what’s inside and there are over 300,000 negatives of which only around 50,000 have been digitized so far. The reason they didn’t lose majority of the archive during the 1990 invasion is because employees took boxes filled with negatives and hid them in their homes until the war was over.

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I spent a bit of time flipping through the drawers but the majority of the time I was sitting in the main room where a computer is connected to their server containing all the digitized copies of the images. Finding photos involves searching for something specific, so for example you search for the word “market” and the database will pull out a list of names of all the envelopes that have the word market in them. You then read the descriptions and if you find one that is related to what you’re looking for, you need to copy the number and then go to a certain folder on the hard drive and search for that number to pull up the images. It’s not a very quick task at all.

So anyway, this is whats going to happen. Right now I have a hard drive filled with images from today which I am going to start posting next week probably under the heading “The KOC Archive” or something like that. I also told them I would visit them at least once a month so I could continue to dig through their archive. If there is anything specific you guys want me to find let me know and I’ll write it down and look for it on my next visit.


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Things to do in Kuwait this weekend

Posted by Mark

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A bunch of things happening this weekend. I already passed by the Outdoor Sport and Safari Expo and I found it interesting, but it’s for people who are into off-road vehicles or hunting. Friday there is the Waki Day event in Khiran which should be fun since it will include a wake boarding competition, lots of stalls selling food and other items as well as a DJ. Check out all the events taking place this weekend below:

Thursday
Exhibition: Layers
Outdoor Sport and Safari Expo
Mad Musicals 10

Friday
Outdoor Sport and Safari Expo
Mad Musicals 10
Waki Day Beach Event

Saturday
Outdoor Sport and Safari Expo
Dhow Sunset Dinner Cruise

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

Update: Due to bad weather, Waki Day has been postponed.


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Meet People, Make Friends

Posted by Mark

meetpeople

A lot of people complain about how difficult it is to meet people in Kuwait and they’re generally right. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible and there are a number of ways you can go about making new friends and one way is with meetup.com. Although it sounds like a dating site, Meetup is actually a way for groups of people who share similar interests to get together and socialize. Just by visiting the main Meetup home page you will see there are quite a few different meetups taking place in Kuwait ranging from a Toastmasters club to an expats club. So if you’re looking to socialize more check out [Meetup]


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iPhone 6 Followup Review

Posted by Mark

Late last month I picked up my iPhone 6 from Geant and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s been just over two weeks now and the phone still hasn’t grown on me. The biggest issue I had with the iPhone 6 was the size, it’s just too big to use with one hand and two weeks later this remains my biggest issue with the phone. But, if that wasn’t enough, two more annoying issues have popped up as well.

I tend to leave my phone on silent most of the time because the vibration is usually strong enough to be felt and loud enough to be heard, or at least that was the case with my iPhone 5. With the new iPhone 6 the vibration is so much more weaker and quieter that I started missing a lot calls and now no longer keep my phone on silent.

The second issue I’ve been having with the phone is the grip since the phone constantly slips out of my hand. It probably has to do with the fact the edges are really curved and the phone is pretty wide making it difficult to get a good grip.

On the plus side everything else about the phone is just way better than my iPhone 5. I just wish Apple made the iPhone in three different sizes.


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Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2

Posted by Mark

Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s is a series of posts on simple things from life back then that many people might have forgotten or not even have known about.
If you missed the first part click [Here].

This is
Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2
by John Beresford

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Kuwait Rugby Football Club – the first ‘Oval Ball’
My father, Paul Beresford, is doing the crowning. Photo probably taken 1949-1952. As the club house was a large nissen hut, it was held elsewhere – probably in the guest house as the Hubara Club was not built at this time. The club colours were black and amber hoops with black shorts ( alternate strip was red and white hoops with white shorts, if you had them). Note the set of rugby goal posts framing the crowning.

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Old Diving Board, Fintas, 1953
Fintas was a few huts and really just an area rather than a settlement. It was north of Fahaheel. From google maps it is now completely built up. Later on KOC fenced off a Families Beach just south of the North Pier. There were also beaches at the SBOA – Small Boat Owners’ Association and the CYC – Cumberland Yacht Club, just south of the South Pier and north of the Shaiba complex, that always smelled of sulphur. These were within the perimeter of the Mina Al Ahmadi complex.

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Ahmadi, 1959
Me rolling around some of the Swedish prefabricated houses. The caption on the back says ‘John rolling round the Swedish houses’. I might have been driving it slowly. After all, it is a small roller, it wouldn’t go very fast, and there is nothing round to be hit so I might have been driving it. I don’t remember.

There are no eucalyptus trees in the photo. These were planted along every road with a hollow around the base of the trunk and the earth scooped into a circular wall around it. A lot of houses had tamarisk trees planted along the perimeter to lessen the wind and to give some shade. A lot of the roads around Ahmadi had pavements – hardly anyone walked along them as it was too hot. I remember once where the temperature got to 178 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun – 81.2 degrees c. the swimming pool in the Hubara Club was measured at about 108 degrees f (42 degrees c). I got out at 105 – no-one was swimming, we were all floating around like jellyfish. The water was above blood temperature and just warmed you up and we all became so lethargic. Since then I have wondered why a hot bath does not seem to have the same effect.

Yet I also remember once at the KOC Anglo American School, which only took children up to the age of 13 – there was a very limited choice of schooling in Kuwait at the time and KOC gave parents a grant to send children to boarding school back in the UK – all of us kids were grouped in the playground around a tap that had been dripping, and a large icicle had formed – it was the first we had seen. I caught the bus at 07:10 to go to school and we came home for lunch at 11:30. Dad arrived, and went back to work at about 12:15, and would be back at home at 16:30. At about 12:15 I got the bus back to school and was back at home at 15:30. In the middle of the morning we had break, and there would be a metal container of hot cocoa for us to drink, every day, whether it was summer or winter. It was piping hot and we were given enamel cups to drink from. These got too hot to use so the first children used to take 2 cups and pour the cocoa from one cup to the other in order to cool it down, which meant that half of the children got no cocoa at all. It was so hot – if you drank it immediately it did burn your lips. Of course, whether you really want a cup of hot cocoa in summer in Kuwait is a moot point. It was probably something about being British.

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Paul with old Ford V-8 pick up #899, 1954
The seat looks to be really low relative to the window as Dad was about 5’10”. Looks like it would have made a fun little hot-rod.

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End of part 2


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La Brasa Argentinian Grill

Posted by Mark

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Last night I was invited to a food tasting at a cute little Argentinian restaurant thats opening soon called La Brasa. The restaurant is owned by the popular local photographer Gustavo Ferrari who’s been living in and documenting Kuwait for 38 years now. He was always known for holding amazing barbecues so he finally decided to open up his own place. All the meat is imported straight from Argentina and I got try a whole bunch last night (it was delicious). The restaurant is located in the basement of Dar Al Awadi in Kuwait City and the opening is in around 2 to 4 weeks. I’ll post another update once it’s open.


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Paid Influencers: Yay or Nay?

Posted by Mark

A couple of weeks back I posted a list of prices some local instagrammers charge for paid posts. Many readers felt the prices were absurd while finding the whole processes unethical, but how do brands feel about paid influencers?

Ali Ashkanani, the owner of Elevation Burger (whom also advertise on this blog) posted his view about this on LinkedIn and with his permission I’ve gone ahead and posted it below:

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Paid Influencers: Yay or Nay?

Mark Makhoul, the profound blogger 248am.com, blogged about the card rate of number of influencers in the social media. The post has raised some controversial questions that I summarize in two sides;1) the value to money of the practice, and 2) the ethical side of advertising without declaring it. I personally worked with many of the influencers that Mark has mentioned in his blog. And I like to share my experience on the buy-side of this practice in Kuwait.

In 2012 I met for the first time with a sale’s rep of one of the social media management companies, and the service he was offering was new to me. He had a list of tweeps with high number of followers and a price per tweet. I’m not going to hide my first reaction, I really thought the prices are exaggerated and could not find the rationality of value to money in the pricing. At that time I only asked questions, and didn’t sign up for the services.

I thought that I need to look at the practice more thoroughly. At first, why are they called influencers? And why do they get paid for endorsing something they already like! The simple answer is they have a significant number of followers on social media, which translates into high exposure for what they post. The high number of people came from the fact that people find what they share is interesting. And as their pages becomes more popular, just like any other media, the value of what appears there increases. I believe people working at Ghaliah Tech or influencers can better explain these specifics.

The other way I liked to look at the influencers is simply to compare them with athletes, models, actors, or other conventional celebrities. The rate card for advertising by conventional celebrities are substantially higher than influencers, yet we don’t question their value to money. In fact, big brands, like Coke and Nike, invest heavily in conventional celebrities, and the results are clear from their brand awareness and company’s results.

Social media has helped us all evolve our practices, from connecting with friends to doing business and exploiting new markets. Part of the evolution was the emergence of new class of celebrities, those celebrities who don’t have their photos taken by experts and don’t have their videos edited by a whole production staff. The influencers are casual cool people that we like. Most of the time they shoot their own photos and videos by their smart phones, with no extra or unnecessary efforts to deliver their messages.

In the past, we only recognized celebrities by their profession that allowed them to appear in our lives frequently due to the limited media. And for many of us, we don’t really share much of values or interests with those celebrities, we don’t really know who they really are, but we were stuck with them. Today, our celebrities are our influencers, people who we selectively follow based on our personal interests. And just like brands have always gone after celebrities, other businesses utilized the technological advancement and emergence of new class of celebrities.

The new class of celebrities is a natural and healthy evolution, as this new class is filling significant gaps in the branding and advertising. In the past, only big companies could afford to pay celebrities to bring their brands to public. Today, with the influencers, the new class of celebrities is more affordable for all business scales. Branding is no longer limited to companies with deep pockets, celebrities are available for big and small companies.

At Elevation Burger, I have worked with influencers since the beginning of 2013, specifically at our store openings. We invited @Acsia_AKF, @7amadQalam, and others, who I believe have given us a good brand awareness on social media.

So is their value to money of what they do from business perspective? Probably there is, but is their service priced correctly? Maybe this question requires more digging

On other hand of the controversy comes the ethical question. And I think the answer to this question is straight forward, a paid post is not an endorsement and not having it clear eventually means misleading the followers. I asked many influencers about the ethics of the practice from their perspective and it looked a bit different.

For many influencers they presume that their followers know they are posting paid ads, and this assumption is based on how each has defined themselves on their bio. Also many influencers take pride in what they do and they still consider their paid ads as endorsements as they would only do business with brands with certain values that matches theirs. And there is an increasing number of influencers that are clearly mentioning the related business parties and clearly distinguishing between their posts and paid ads.

I like to observe the evolution of the social media and the businesses that it’s creating. Social media is a total new sphere of networking and relationships, a new market place, and I think it’s interesting to see how it solves it’s problem. Today Mark has raised the awareness of this market on his blog, I have put my comments on LinkedIn, and I’m sure there are many others discussing it on Twitter or Instagram. Eventually the market will shape itself and it will define its standards.

Ali Ashkanani
CEO at TABCo Food


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Red Bull Failaka Showdown

Posted 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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