Help Out the British Airways Media Team

Posted by Mark

The European production company behind the 4 part documentary on Kuwait that is being aired on British Airways will be in Kuwait next week and they need your help. The 4 part series is being spread out over a one year period, the first part was released last week while the second will be released before the end of the year.


The second part of the documentary will be focusing on tourism so they’re looking for places or activities to film that are off the beaten track. Meaning, they know about Souk Mubarkia and the Scientific Center, what they’re looking for is less popular but still very interesting things to do. I’m not sure how long the team will be in Kuwait for but here are my suggestions:

Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City (aka Khiran)
Paddle Boarding
House of Mirrors
Fish Market Auctions
Powered Paragliding
Friday Market
Weekly Al-Farsi Kite Show (not sure if they’re active in the summer)
Cinemagics Rooftop Movies (currently not active because it’s summer)
Qout Market (currently not active because it’s summer)
Shakshooka Market (currently not active because it’s summer)

This is all I could think of for now but if you have any other suggestions leave it in the comments below.

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Go by OSN – A Netflix for the Middle East

Posted by Mark


A few months ago OSN launched a video streaming service similar to Netflix called ‘Go’. For just $10 a month you get access to a large library of movies and TV shows which are all available to watch at any time from your desktop or your mobile devices.

I found out about the service today and after playing around with it for a few hours I liked it, even though I don’t have a use for it.

The service isn’t anywhere near perfect but it’s a good start nonetheless. I have two main issues with ‘Go’, the first is the limited library. In the TV shows category they only have 15 shows, all old seasons which most of us have watched before. I compliment them on the fact they have one of my favorite shows ‘Boss‘ available but that show got canceled like 2 years back. The movies category is a lot better just don’t expect any of the latest blockbusters. Their movie section actually reminded me of Blockbuster back when I used to rent videotapes from them in Canada. Once I would be done watching everything in the top 20 I would wander randomly around the store looking for old classics I might have missed out on. Groundhog Day, Good Morning Vietnam, Top Gun, Medicine Man.. all classics available to watch along with other more recent hits. If only they would allow us to sort through the movies by release date, it would make things a lot more practical.


The second issue I had with ‘Go’ was the quality of the video stream. I’m on a 10Mbps connection and I had difficulty getting a decent quality stream going. They don’t even let you control the quality of the video, they do it automatically for you based on your current speed so if your connection is fluctuating so will the quality of the video. One minute I’m watching a clear 1.3Mbps stream a few seconds later it drops down to 300Kbps, then back up to 800, then back down to 500. It’s really irritating and I wish they had an option similar to YouTube where I could choose the quality, hit pause and let it buffer up a bit and then hit play. On my iPhone things were slight better just because the screen is smaller so compression artifacts didn’t show as much.

On the plus side $10 a month is pretty cheap and I loved the fact I could play anything I wanted instantly. Even skipping randomly into different sections of the movie was fast. On the iPhone you could also leave the app while watching something and when you come back to it, the app will remember your last position and continue playing from where you stopped.

As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s not a bad start for a service that just recently launched. You don’t need to be an OSN subscriber to sign up to ‘Go’ and they also have a 7-day free trial so you could give it a spin before deciding if you want it or not. Here is a link to their [Website]

Thanks Sara

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Vintage KDD

Posted by Mark


KDD needs to seriously bring back their old packaging. The picture above was posted awhile ago on instagram by @moath9, it was taken back in 1984 while filming a commercial for KDD.

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How Safe is Kuwait’s Tap Water to Drink?

Posted by Mark


A few days ago I posted a question asking if anybody drinks the tap water unfiltered and it got a lot of responses with the general consensus being that the water is fairly safe only if you use a filter. Well today I got invited to pass by the Water Resources Development Center in Shuwaikh to get a better idea on the subject and I left impressed.

Turns out Kuwait’s tap water is actually very safe to drink straight out the tap, so safe it’s currently close to getting an ISO certification. The Water Resources Development Center which is located behind KPC in Shuwaikh has two laboratories, a chemistry lab and a bacteriology lab. On a daily basis samples are collected from various institutions around Kuwait (schools, hospitals, mosques etc..) and delivered to the laboratories where tests are conducted. If the water is contaminated, the source of that water is closed down right away and only reopened once the problem has been fixed.

If the water you receive at home isn’t clean it’s because there might be a problem with your buildings pipes, boilers, storage tanks etc.. which is why it’s recommended to use a filter in that situation.

So there you have it, Kuwait’s tap water is absolutely safe to drink unless there is an issue with your building.

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The Kuwait Urbanization – Preface

Posted by Mark


I just went ahead and typed out the 1,994 word preface of “The Kuwait Urbanization” book so you guys could read it. That’s four pages of size 12 font I just typed out manually so please READ IT. It’s pretty fascinating and shows the amount of passion and love the author had for the work he was doing for Kuwait. If there are any mistakes just ignore them, I haven’t typed this much or so fast since my touch typing class back in university.


The Kuwait Urbanization

This book has been in-the-making since I assumed my planning post with the erstwhile Public Works Department, now the Kuwait Ministry of Public works, on June 15, 1960. As the thorny planning path was traversed, it became clearer by the day that the planning of Kuwait, certainly not a routine or every-day occurrence on the Arab urban scene, should be documented not only for its intrinsic value and parables but, also, for the extrinsic value such as study-documentation harbored for future Arab desert planning, for the Arab World at large and for planning-architectural circles in general.

The field was virgin, never having been plowed before. I started to prepare the maps, photographs, sketches, facts and reports that, in my opinion, highlighted and characterized the phenomenal urbanization of Kuwait This work is therefore the result of documenting the buildup of Kuwait, with special reference to my four years as the planning consultant of Kuwait together with my reflections about the pre-1960 era of buildup and relating all this, weever possible, to the general climate of planning in the Arab World as well as to universal planning concepts and contemporary planning developments.

An important reason that induced me to undertake this study is the provision of a record – a documentation – of the many plans, photographs, aerials and schemes which often, no sooner are they realized (or cancelled), would cease to have a trace. Considering the liberal amounts of money Kuwait expended for the preparation of all types of studies and projects, I felt it was a loss not to have a partial record of it and, therefore, strong justification for such a compilation existed, especially as a reference to the Kuwaiti students attending universities abroad and who should, on returning to Kuwait, be able to find background material about their fast-evolved city. In mind, also, were the many new officials assuming responsible posts in Kuwait, as well as those to be appointed in the future, who will need reference material in their work. My difficult experience collecting and preparing the illustrative material in this book, even though I had knowledge of and access to nearly all official, semi-official and private sources, is proof that such a documentation, belated and rather piecemeal is, nevertheless, essential.


The first time I discussed the planning of Kuwait was in a monograph entitled “Probings, Problems, Planning” dated March, 1961. The 149-page monograph contained fifty articles I had published in English and/or Arabic in various newspapers and magazines in Lebanon treating the subject of Arab city planning and architecture in general. Of the fifty articles, fifteen dealt with Kuwait. Over one thousand copies of the monograph were distributed and those circulated in Kuwait created enough general interest to encourage me to prepare another monograph which consisted of all the Kuwait articles I had written until then. The 102-page monograph, containing thirty articles and entitled “Kuwait the Unique: Abstractions and Blueprints” was, and its explanatory sub-title stated, “A compilation of articles written at random, inspired from scenes and unseens in Kuwait, reproduced here to form a unity and perform a service to comprehensive city and regional planning in Kuwait.”

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The Kuwait Urbanization – First Print Hardcover

Posted by Mark


Someone is selling the first edition print of the very rare book “The Kuwait Urbanization” by Saba George Shiber. I’ve seen paperback versions of the book but never see this copy before. The guys asking $1,866 for the book and my birthday is coming up in around 10 days time so if anybody is looking for the perfect gift this would be it! [Link]

If you want to download a PDF version of the book here is the link [PDF 166MB]

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The Demise of Local Blogs

Posted by Mark


Around a month ago I got a phone call from a reporter at Al Qabas newspaper. He was doing a story on the state of the local blogging scene and had some questions he wanted to ask me. On Saturday the article was finally released with a large dramatic headline that roughly translates to “Blogs have Declined by 97% while Instagram Grows and Grows”.

I started blogging back in 2003 when me and a friend started Qhate, which at that time was the first and only blog in Kuwait until Zaydoun launched Kuwait Unplugged soon after. I’m going to sound like a grand parent reminiscing about the past but I’ve seen hundreds of blogs come and go during this time and the whole local blogging community evolve. It wasn’t just us geeks and dorks anymore sitting on a computer and writing into the wee hours of the morning while snacking on Nutella sandwiches. Everyone suddenly wanted to become a blogger and one by one people started setting up their own blogs and posting. Many and by many I mean 97% of them were rubbish either just copying pasting articles from other international blogs or just became a tool for local advertising and media agencies to hawk products and services to readers who were naive enough to fall for the posts.

The fact that blogs in Kuwait have declined by 97% is a good thing.

A lot of people ask me all the time why I haven’t shifted to Instagram. Simple, Instagram isn’t a replacement for blogs.

What I found ironic about the Al Qabas article was how they made it seem like blogging as a medium itself was dying when ironically it’s the newspapers who are the ones suffering because of blogs and other online news sources. I mean the article itself uses a screen capture of my blog from back in 2012 and what I am guessing is a screen capture of The Blogs Lounge from around the same time. Where the hell did they even manage to find a capture of my blog from 2012 and why couldn’t they get a recent one? Newspapers are large companies while blogs are like mom-and-pop stores, we actually care about our posts and readers.

I don’t think of myself as a great writer and I never pretend to be one either. But I can tell you one thing and that is the fact that I dedicate every waking hour to this blog trying to find something to write about so everyone else can read it. It’s in my head all the time, everything I do everywhere I go I’m always looking for something to write about. It’s taken over my life and my thinking process. It’s become my life actually. It’s so difficult for me to focus on something because I’m always distracted, I’m always reading, I’m always trying to absorb as much information as I can hoping one thing or another will trigger an idea for a new post. It’s a challenge every single day because this is Kuwait and not a lot of things happen here. It’s exhausting and sometimes I just wish I didn’t have this blog just so that I could shift my focus onto other projects.

But I love it, I love what I do and I love how I somehow manage to find stuff to write about on a daily basis and I’ve been doing this for over ten years now. It’s something I’m really good at and as long as I can keep coming up with interesting content for my readers this is something I am going to keep doing.

So yes most of the blogs in Kuwait are dead but mine isn’t and I’m not going anywhere.

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From Jahra to London

Posted by Mark


This has to be the coolest thing I’ve seen in such a long time (or at least since the last time I said that), it’s like the khaleeji version of Gumball 3000. If this was a reality show I’d be sitting in front of my TV watching it all day long. Did they all drive to London? I’m guessing they drove since it would explain the previous video of two of the cars doing donuts in what looks like the Alps. How long would that even take? I have so many questions!


Check out the rest of the videos below.

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Lillywhites is Opening in Kuwait

Posted by Mark


Lillywhites, UK’s oldest and the world’s largest sports store is going to be opening soon in Kuwait. They will be replacing all the current Go Sport locations in Kuwait including the huge Avenues location which is currently undergoing a major facelift in preparation for the opening sometime next month. If the brand sounds familiar it could be because you’ve seen their store in London which has been at Piccadilly Circus since 1863.

Full disclosure: I’m currently involved in this project but was only able to post about it now

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Do you drink the tap water?

Posted by Mark


I was having a debate with someone in the blogs Community regarding the safety of drinking Kuwait’s tap water. I personally don’t think it’s safe to drink and I can say that with full confidence based on the color of the filter that’s attached to my washing machine.

Is there anybody here who drinks water straight out of the tap without running it through some soft of filtering process?

Update: More information on this subject [Here]

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