Business Therapy: Why do we have key money?

Post by Loaay


A small shop in Souq Al-Manakh, the marketplace for stock and real estate trading back in the day, would’ve easily sold for KD20 million in the late 70’s and early 80’s. That’s around KD2 million per square meter. Why? Because you could only trade if you had a spot there. Excessive but when small traders were making millions a month, you can see why the amount sounds like a catch. Today, you can easily find shops in major malls being offered for anywhere from KD50,000 – KD500,000 just for key money alone. So when everyone is technically renting the space, why do we have key money in the first place?

The first clue is in the name. I’ll hand over the key of my shop to you for a certain amount. So it’s not about you buying the place as much as it’s for me leaving it, and to you specifically, of course. You could say it started as a form of incentive and a nice way out. But as new and hot places are always in demand, people started to jump on them as a way of making money. For example, it’s quite common to find a shop in a new mall opening only to shut down in nine or twelve months to be sold to someone else for a good hefty profit simply because all spaces are occupied and other businesses want to be in that mall. While that first business may look like a failure to consumers, in reality, the whole thing was just a pop-up shop waiting for the next buyer.

Sometimes, because the buyer is emotionally attached to that location they offer a lot of key money to put their hands on a place believing that when they are ready to leave, they will get their money back and more, which beats putting it in the bank these days. Of course, there’s always the risk of not being able to sell it when you need to, but as with any business there’s always a risk. Sometimes, it’s a personal vendetta. If I don’t want someone from a specific family to have that shop I’ll pay whatever it takes not to give them a chance. Let’s not forget, we are in a tribal society. There are many other reasons why companies and entrepreneurs lean towards paying key money. There are also many policies put in place by some developers to encourage and others to discourage the exchange of key money.

So what should you do if you can’t afford to pay KD300,000 key money for your small café business? Well, you could always focus on a different set of customers that exist somewhere else more affordable. For example, having your café somewhere dead but behind some office buildings and sell to them directly through delivery. Maybe you could encourage complimentary businesses to join you in a new place where you can start a new trend in that area. Alternatively, you could start another business you’re passionate about that’s more cost effective to start. In this case, key money was your ‘barrier to entry’ in marketing terms. Tip: Taking a loan to secure key money is not something I would recommend as you’ll needlessly give yourself sleepless nights and probably a stomach ulcer thinking about all the ‘what ifs.’

Post by Loaay Ahmed, a strategic business therapist since 1995. He currently lives and works in London, UK, while earning his master’s in Service Design and Innovation, and managing knightscapital in Kuwait. For Loaay’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.

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White Tower Arcades (Burj Al Abyad)

Post by Mark


Back in the 90s, White Tower in Salmiya used to be similar to Rihab Complex, the whole top floor was full of video game stores but there were also a bunch of arcade shops. It was the place to go to if you wanted to play fighting games against other people but also if you wanted to play now classic games like Metal Slug. Oh the amount of money I spent on Metal Slug…

Anyway, I passed by White Tower a couple of days ago to see if anything was still open and to my surprise there was still one arcade shop still standing. It wasn’t in the best of state but they did have recent games. Some of the games they had were the following:

Street Fighter V
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
King of Fighters (all of them)
Marvel vs Capcom

And if I understood correctly they had a bunch of NeoGeo games as well. Best part is it still costs exactly the same as it did back in the 90s to play a round, just 100fils. If you win you keep playing for free of course. If you don’t know where White Towers is, here it is on [Google Maps]

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The Line to Order at Vol.1

Post by Mark


This was the insane line at the Vol.1 coffee shop on Thursday night. For those of you who’ve never been there I’ve highlighted with an arrow where the entrance to the place is. Keep in mind it was also 40+ degrees that night. Thats just crazy.

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Kuwait in the World News Again

Post by Mark


Yesterday the Daily Mail published an article on the dogs that were killed in Kuwait by the American security company and since then it’s been gaining a lot of traction online. Awhile ago it even hit the top of the World News subreddit on Reddit. If you haven’t seen the Daily Mail article yet you can check it out by clicking [Here]

Update: It made it to the New York Post!

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Kuwikipedia is now Kuwestions

Post by Mark


Last month I launched Kuwikipedia since a lot of people email me asking me questions all the time. I figured I might as well setup a website where people could ask questions related to Kuwait, and them me and other people could answer it for them. Well the site proved to my more useful than I expected it to be so I decided to integrate it into the blog as a section. A twitter follower even helped me come up with a better more descriptive name for the section which is “Kuwestions”.

I’m still fine tuning it a bit but for now it’s up an running so check it out [Here]

Update: Looks like there is a technical issue when trying to answer the questions. Working on fixing that now.

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Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

Not a big list this weekend but there are some interesting things taking place. Over the course of this weekend the Human Rights Film Festival is taking place at Al Shaheed Park. The festival if three days and features different short films as well as different speakers for panel discussions every day. The other interesting event taking place is the JU.MO interactive experience where film photographers and illustrators will be curating an interactive experience while celebrating the launch of a new coffee concept called Jumo. Check out the full list of events for this weekend below:

Eighty Percent Women’s Football Tournament
Red Bull Art of Can
Ramadan Bootcamp by Diet Care
Human Rights Film Festival

Eighty Percent Women’s Football Tournament
Red Bull Art of Can
Human Rights Film Festival
Yoga Flow with Rosy
JU.MO – An Interactive Experience

Red Bull Art of Can
Ramadan Bootcamp by Diet Care
Human Rights Film Festival
Yoga at the Park (Hatha Yoga)

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 double check info with organizers.

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Internet Latency in Kuwait

Post by Mark

There is an interesting discussion in the 248AM Community regarding internet latency in Kuwait. Internet latency is how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one point to another so for example, from your computer to the website you’re trying to access. When browsing the web though, latency isn’t that important, but when playing video games, latency can make a world of a the difference in gameplay. A FASTtelco employee left some information regarding local internet latency in the discussion which I thought would be interesting to share, so I’ve copied and pasted it below with some minor changes:


In order the get the best latency, first we have to understand the dependencies and the major elements which might effect your latency:

First, the ISP’s are contracted with international providers either by dry routes (land) or through the wet routes (sea). Sometimes it’s a direct IPLC to Europe, and sometime through other destinations. The major difference might result in higher latency, but at the present time, most of the international routes are optimized to provide the best routes, resulting in closer latency ms. So let’s put this factor on the side.

Unfortunately, the mobile is a non guaranteed service. It always depends on the load within the closest cell tower and this changes with your geographic location. You will always be getting different ms (ping) depending on how many people are using the same cell tower and the time of day.

Fiber GPON:
This is the most guaranteed service in Kuwait. Usually the latency between the ONT box located in the house to the main point of the ISP is 10-15ms and that’s consider to be the least across all the other internet services. Another factor, we have CAT6 cables connecting between the ONT box and the main router which isn’t the situation in DSL areas (with few exceptions to DSL clients having upgraded their copper cables to CAT6 cabling from the MOC external point to inside the house). The GPON provides stability and FASTtelco does offer the gaming package on the GPON due to the reduction of error factors.

The various ISP’s differ in local ms (ping) latency depending on the equipments they use, the different routes and the types of services they have with the MOC. The best way to compare is to test the local ms (between you and your ISP). This will indicate the exact latency which will assist you when conducting the comparison between the different local ISP’s.

When an ISP conducts a test on the clients house, they check the external point, and that’s what’s guaranteed. Meanwhile, the local building cable (copper) is out of the scope. Therefore, a proper cable needs to be in place. Today most of the DSL areas are over 30 years old and so we heavily recommend to replace those old copper cables with CAT6 cables in order to have a much more stable service.

The router also plays a major part with the service and is the last factor that can effect your internet latency.

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List of Real Estate Websites in Kuwait

Post by Mark


A friend who’s currently looking for a new home suggested this post. It’s a list of all the real estate websites where you can find an apartment or a house to rent in Kuwait. If you have any which I haven’t listed below then let me know in the comments. Also if you have any experience with any of them, share it in the comments as well since it might help other people.

Real Estate Websites
Al Tijaria
Aqar Real Estate
Asas International Real Estate Co.
Hilite Homes
Horizon Q8
Kuwait 4 Rent
My Q8 Home
Q8 Realtor
Kuwait Real Estate Directory
The House Box

248AM Classifieds
Just Landed

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Video of Aramex Unloading Packages

Post by Mark

If you’ve ever wondered why some of your packages look like my brothers box below, now you know why. [YouTube]


Update: Aramex have responded to the video, you can read their response [Here]

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Swar Shuaib

Post by Mark

I don’t watch a lot of Arabic shows but I can’t get enough of the show Swar Shuaib. Shuaib has to be the funniest Arab talk show host anywhere, he’s so good I actually subscribed to his YouTube channel so I don’t miss an episode. His last few episodes had me glued to the screen thinking no way, no way he just asked them that question. Although Shuaib plays the role of a Conan or a Jimmy Fallon, unlike them he does ask all the right questions, ones that most of the time viewers are thinking about. I’m actually surprised any guests actually end up on the show since he does put them in some tough spots.


The first episode I ever watched was when he interviewed the flamboyant Mohammed Diego from the YouTube channel Fashion House of Diego. Shuaib didn’t play around, he asked him about his wardrobe choices, the way he poses and basically questioning his sexual orientation. In Shuaib’s latest episode he interviews the popular instagram fashionista Fatima Almomen (video on top, starts at the 9:50 mark). The first thing he does during the interview is pull out a scale from under his desk and asks her to weigh herself. If that wasn’t awkward enough he then later starts asking her if she had any plastic surgery done. When she denies she has he pulls out old photos of her to compare. When she continues denying she had anything done, he then invited a plastic surgeon to come on stage and examine her. I was dying, it was such a good episode. Surprisingly, even though there were a ton of awkward moments and questions, both Diego and Fatima handle themselves really well which I thought was pretty cool of them.

Swar Shuaib is in Arabic only and if you’re interested in watching more episodes then check out the YouTube channel [Here]

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