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

barkinthepark

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

Competitions:
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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Ebola in Kuwait?

Posted by Mark

ebolainkuwait

According to alrayalaam.com, three men of African origin that were being held at the Rumaythia Police station exhibited symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus. The three men are currently being quarantined until the test results come out. Some sources like @aldostor_news have stated the three men actually are infected with Ebola but not sure how reliable those sources are so I wouldn’t panic until the results come out.


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Save The Kuwait Bookshops

Posted by Mark

kuwaitbookshop1

As a kid growing up in Kuwait in the 80s I used to pass by Muthana Complex in Kuwait City all the time with my family. Back then Muthana Complex was what Avenues is to Kuwait today, it was a beautiful mall and it used to get pretty packed on weekends. We had friends who lived in the apartments in Muthana so we were there pretty often, probably once a week. Whenever we used to be done visiting our friends we would head into the mall and the first shop we would see was The Kuwait Bookshops. We’d always walk in and either me or my sister would always end up leaving with a book or a magazine. But the Kuwait Bookshops was around way before the 80s and way before I was born. Last night I sat down with the owner of the bookshop Bashir Alkhatib and this is the story of The Kuwait Bookshops.

kuwaitbookshop4

The History

Bashir moved to Kuwait in 1959 after studying in the US. He started working at the Ministry of Information and grew frustrated really quickly that he couldn’t buy any books in Kuwait. He used to love to read and there wasn’t any place that sold books so he thought to himself, this town needs a bookshop. In 1961 he opened The Kuwait Bookshops in the Thunayan AlGhanim building on Soor Street. It was one of the most advanced buildings in Kuwait at the time and one of the first to have an elevator. According to Bashir, the bedouins used to come in from the desert and stand in line to watch “the horse” that can go up and down. Back then the Thunayan AlGhanim building also housed the KOC offices as well as the British Consulate and they were his best customers. Bashir continued to work at the Ministry while also running the bookshop, he actually had to work at the Ministry overtime so he could afford to pay the expenses of the bookshop.

alghanimbuilding

One of the bookshops customers was a British guy who used to come in regularly to pick up the English paper The Times. One day he came in to pick up the paper but he couldn’t find any so he asked Bashir, why don’t you have The Times? Bashir replied telling him he hadn’t paid the bill so they stopped sending his bookshop the papers. He asked him how come you didn’t pay the bill? Bashir told him that he didn’t have the money so he couldn’t. Turns out the customer was a manager at Gulf Bank and told him to pass by him at the bank. So Bashir went to Gulf Bank and sat with the manager who asked him, whats your dream? Bashir told him his dream was to have a bookshop similar to the ones in England and the US. After around an hour of chatting the manager told him he would give him an overdraft of KD10,000 guaranteed by the manger himself. Bashir took the money and got on the plane and headed to London where he met with various publishers. He managed to strike deals on credit where he would be able to buy books and newspapers and pay them back 90 days later which helped him a lot financially. The Kuwait Bookshops became one of the first to import books and newspapers to the Gulf.

In 1964 he opened his second location in Ahmadi due to popular request since his KOC customers kept asking for a location closer to them. Bashir used to originally get his magazines and papers from England but there was a distribution company that used to get magazines and newspapers from the US so in 1970 he decided to purchase that distribution company. Due to the amount of books, magazines and newspapers they were getting they had to get a warehouse to store all the items since there wasn’t enough space in the Soor and Ahmadi locations to display everything. Then in the mid 80s Muthana Complex started being built down the street from their Soor location so he purchased a shop there. In 1986 Muthana opened and The Kuwait Bookshops was one of the first shops to open there.

bookshop1990

In 1990 the invasion happened and the shop got ransacked by the Iraqi soldiers. After the invasion Bashir went to his publishers one by one and asked them how much he had owed them but the publishers all told him that any debt he owed before the invasion would be wiped clean and they would start fresh from again. In 1992 The Kuwait Bookshops reopened and it’s been there ever since.

kuwaitbookshop2

The Present

Due to irreconcilable differences between the partners, The Kuwait Bookshops is currently at risk of getting liquidating. The only way to save the bookshop is to buy out the other partner. If by December 5th the bookshop isn’t saved, then the bookstore along with it’s history will vanish. It’s depressing because The bookshop is a part of Kuwait’s heritage and once it’s gone its gone. There is currently a hashtag being used #savekuwaitbookshops on Instagram and Twitter so if you do pass by the store please hashtag your photos. Maybe with enough awareness someone will come in and help save the shop. If anyone by any chance is interested in possibly buying out the other partner, please [Email Me]

Note: First photo on top taken by Fabio Sabatini. Second photo taken by Nadia Nader.


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Life with the Vespa – Part 1

Posted by Mark

vespa

Every now and then I’m going to post a series of posts on life with my Vespa. It’s something I thought about doing when I decided to get the bike and I think it would make for some interesting posts. It’s been a month since I got my Vespa and I’ve basically been riding it every day. I’m actually trying to ride it as much as I can because whenever I’m on it I feel like I’m on a vacation. It’s such an odd feeling but it makes sense since the only times I ever ridden a scooter before were on vacations. It also probably doesn’t help that I’m usually in my shorts and a tank top while riding the Vespa (and helmet of course).

I’ve been using the Vespa mostly for trips in and around Salmiya, for example I live in the beginning of Salmiya while my two best friends live on the other end of Salmiya. Previously I used to drive my FJ Cruiser over to their place and get stuck in traffic but now I take the Vespa and it cuts down on so much time and stress. There are no traffic problems when I’m riding my Vespa since I just zip between cars all the way to the front of the pack. I’ve actually practically stopped using my FJ for any Salmiya trip because riding the Vespa around isn’t only much more fun but so much more convenient. Even picking up groceries from Sultan is really doable with the Vespa since there’s a large compartment under the seat which holds all my grocery bags.

I’m also really glad I went with the yellow color, it really looks great on the road even though I end up getting much more attention than I want. I keep getting stopped by people asking me about the bike which is nice but sometimes all you really want to do is just get from point A to point B without socializing so it kinda feels like a waiter opening a conversation with you while you’re trying to enjoy your meal. On more than one occasion I would be at a red light waiting and the person in the car next to me would start making conversation over the bike or after parking the bike somewhere, someone would come up to me and ask me where I’ve gotten it from and how much it costs.

Other than strangers though my friends also ask me about the bike but mostly on the fact if I’ve gotten into any dangerous situations. So far not really, I thought I would have issues with taxi drivers and bus drivers whom I usually detest the most when in my FJ, but turns out they’re actually the friendliest drivers to me when I’m on my Vespa. The only close call I’ve actually had wasn’t related to the Vespa. I was riding down Baghdad Street in Salmiya and the road was empty since I had taken off at the previous traffic light first and all the cars were behind me when I suddenly see an SUV driving towards me. Turns out an old man took the wrong turn at a traffic light up ahead and ended up driving down the wrong way of the street. I slammed my brakes and pulled over to the side quickly (thank you ABS!) while he continued to drive past me only to realize there was a fleet of cars right behind me. That’s when he realized what he had done wrong and stopped his car. Luckily all the cars stopped their cars as well and allowed him to climb over the median strip over to the correct side of the road. So bizarre.


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Kuwait didn’t look like Kuwait

Posted by Mark

koc1

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.

koc2

koc3

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

koc2

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.

koc1

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

wakiday

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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