How to Take Part in an Open Track Day

Post by Mark

Until our local race track opens up end of 2018, our next best option for racing our cars is to take them to an open track day at the Bahrain International Circuit. You don’t need previous experience or a special car to race during open track days, anyone can take part, but the better the car and the better the driver you are, the more enjoyable the experience will be. Hopefully with the information below you’ll find the Bahrain International Circuit a lot more accessible.

What is an open track day?
Around twice a month, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) allows people to come in and race on their Formula 1 track. The day is split between motorbikes and cars, 30 minutes for the cars, then 30 minutes for the bikes and repeat until the day is over. You don’t actually race against other cars during open track day, in fact you’re not even allowed to over take other cars except in designated areas (the long straights) for safety reasons. What most people do is race against the clock. For example using the app Harry’s GPS Laptimer, I was able to monitor my lap and sector timings so I know if I’m doing better or worse after every lap. You can then compare lap times with friends or against other peoples lap times online.

Can you go alone?
Yes you can, but it would obviously be more fun with a friend, even if that friend isn’t racing, they could still ride passenger with you and during the 30 minute breaks you’ll have someone to chill with. I guess if you’re alone you could read a book but you could also be social and meet other people. On this trip for example in my group we were four guys, when we got to the track we found six other guys also from Kuwait who we knew so we all hung out in the pits together during the breaks. So you could find and interact with other drivers from Kuwait or mingle with drivers from other places like Saudi and Bahrain.

If you’re a female reader and are interested in racing your car, I want to point out that there are usually plenty of other girls during track day either racing or just hanging out with friends. So you can interact and hang out with other women if you want to.

Do you need to have a sports car?
Technically you don’t, as long as your car runs properly they’ll let you race it on the track. There was a Grand Cherokee and an old Caprice during the last open track day, but both of them didn’t stay on the track for long. Also keep in mind there is a reason why there are track versions of sports cars. The Porsche Cayman GT4 is not the same as a regular Cayman, one is made for normal street use the other was created with track racing in mind. Track focused cars will usually have better and stiffer suspension, larger brakes, better tires, better cooling, more power and a bunch of other things.

Do you need previous track experience?
No you don’t. Before you go onto the track it is mandatory you take part in a safety briefing where they will take you through all the rules involved. You can also request to have a professional driver get in your car with you to show you the braking points on the track as well as give you tips on when to turn and other track advice.

Since you live in Kuwait, the first thing you need to do is get your car to Bahrain. There are a number of ways of doing that, here are three:

Cheapest Way: You drive your car all the way from Kuwait to Bahrain. The journey would take around 4 to 5 hours depending on how busy the borders are.

Second Cheapest Way: This second option is a popular one, you drive your car to the Saudi border, once you cross the border and you’ll find car trailers waiting on the other side. You put your car on a trailer and have them drive to the Bahrain border. Once the trailer arrives at the Bahraini border, you dismount your car and drive into Bahrain. This way you avoid driving on the Saudi road. The trailer cost is KD40 per direction so going and coming would cost you KD80.

Expensive but Easiest Way: You have a trailer come pick up your car from Kuwait, and then drop it off for you in Bahrain. You get to Bahrain by plane. This is what I did and it’s kinda fine if you do it every now and then, but very expensive to do for every open track day since it costs KD120 per direction (so KD240 in total). There are ways to make this a bit more economical like for example instead of staying at a hotel, I ended up staying at my friends place in Bahrain. The money I saved on the hotel offsets the cost of the shipping by half at least. When the weather gets better in the fall, I might end up shipping my car to Bahrain for a track day, and then leave my car parked at my friends place until the next track day. That way I could do two track days but ship my car once. To transport my car I used a Bahraini company called “Phantom Transportation in the GCC”. The guy to get in touch with is called Saleh and his phone number is +973-66622216. He doesn’t speak English. All you need to ship your car to Bahrain is a power of attorney (tawkeel) and nothing else.

Other Costs

Bahrain International Circuit: The cost of a full open track day at the circuit is KD70. A full track day is from 4PM to 11PM with an hour and half break in between. For more details click [Here]

Helmet: You need one or else they won’t let you race. If you don’t have one thats fine, you can rent one from the track.

Fuel: I filled up like 4 times during the open track day. BIC have a gas station but only provide 95 octane fuel for some reason. If you want 98 octane fuel there is a gas station down the street from BIC after Starbucks that sell it. [Map]

Tires and Brake Pads: Depending on the condition and durability of the tires and how hard you drive, you might need a new set after a track day. I definitely did as you can see in the picture above. Same with the brake pads, they’re a consumable and you’ll be consuming a lot if you’re hard on the brakes.

Plane Ticket and Hotel: Gulf Air and Kuwait Airways fly direct to Bahrain, expect to pay around KD70. Hotel prices vary greatly obviously.

I think thats all there is to it. If you’re into cars and love going fast then I highly recommend you try this at least once in your life. In case you have any questions which I didn’t answer above, let me know in the comments.

Update: When I first published this post I stated that expats can’t get a transit visa from Saudi based on what I was told by the visa office I contacted. But, I was just made aware by a friend that they were able to get transit visa multiple times for Saudi. So I’ve edited the post and I will now be contacting this other visa office for more details on how to get a Saudi transit visa.

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Double Jump: Nintendo Switch, Two Months Later

Post by Patrick

It’s been almost two months since the release of the Nintendo Switch and in this latest podcast we discuss our overall impressions of the console, why we’re loving it, what issues we’ve had with it and how its changed our gaming habits.

Play in Browser | iTunes | Android | Download | RSS

Post by Patrick

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My Q8 Grand Limo Experience

Post by Mark

A few days ago I posted about the app Q8 Grand Limo which I promoted as an alternative for Uber and Careem. That same night they sent out an SMS with a 248AM coupon code which would offer people 20% off on their trips. It kinda pissed me off since they sent it without contacting me first, nor did they even ask me if it was OK to use my brand. Nobody from Q8 Grand Limo had spoken to me at all so when I got the SMS myself, I was surprised and pissed. So I decided I wasn’t going to write about them ever again.

Then this morning I decided to try them out and had such a great experience I decided that even though I’m pissed off at them, they were so good that it would be a shame not to write about my experience.

I had to pass by the Lotus garage and pick up my car today so I pre-booked a ride for 9:30AM. I ended up waking up earlier than expected so canceled my pre-booking and reordered a cab to come right away. The time estimate given was 15 minutes and I could track the cab on his way over to my house via the app. Once the cab arrived, like with Uber, I got a notification letting me know he was here and I headed down to find a sparkling clean black Chrysler with dark tinted windows and a tan leather interior. The driver even came out to open the door for me and he was dressed in black pants, a white shirt, a black vest and a tie. First impression, it felt very fancy.

The driver had my location already plugged into Google Maps and we headed towards Rai using Google’s recommended fastest route. Once we got to my destination, he asked me how I wanted to pay and I said Knet, so he pulled out the Knet machine and I paid. The trip should have cost KD3 which is a steal for the experience, but I ended up using the coupon code “248AM” which they had spammed people with and I ended up paying just KD2.4. Thats from Salmiya to Al Rai. Very cool. It’s actually kinda of a relief that we finally have a decent cab offering. Next week I have to drop my car off again to ProTech to get window tinting and I’ll definitely be using them again.

So all is forgiven and I’m not that pissed off at them anymore. If you want to take advantage of the promo code, you need to enter 248AM in the promo code space while booking the cab. The expiry date for the code is end of the year but they’ve limited the number of times the code can be used to 1,000. So until the code is used a thousand times (by everyone not just you), then we will be able to get 20% off our rides. Thats a really good deal.

Update: OK, Q8 Grand Limo called me up now to explain the confusion. The promo code is just meant for me, it will only work with my phone number so you guys won’t be able to use it. I told them they should have called me an explained what it was before sending me the SMS without and that I already posted about it on the blog. So the person I spoke to said they’ll work on an updated promo code for my readers and send it to me when it’s ready to share.

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The Lotus Exige S – One Month Later

Post by Mark

It’s been a month since I bought the Lotus, and in this month I managed to drive just over 3000KM and even shipped it to Bahrain to race it on their GP circuit. When I first got the car I was in love with it but after this weekends trip to Bahrain, I’m now even more in love with it if thats somehow even possible.

So far modification wise, I’ve done two things to the car, the first was to swap out the shitty stock radio with a much better one that has bluetooth at least. The second thing I did was to get front paint protection from ProTech. So the whole front of the car till the windshield is now protected with an invisible film. I wouldn’t usually do this but because its such a low car and I’m driving it daily, I figured it would be worth getting the protection for the long run. I also ordered some better speakers and I should be installing those myself sometime this week. I don’t think I’ll be doing any other modifications after I get the sound system up to spec, I’ll possibly get window tinting but thats about it.

I’ve been driving the car daily since I got it, it’s now my main daily drive while the FJ has become my going to Shuwaikh or going to chalet car. Although the Lotus suspension is pretty stiff, its not uncomfortable at all and I don’t even have issues with the front and bottom of the car scraping on speed bumps even though the car is super low. I did nearly have an issue after shopping at Allsaints, their bag was too big to fit in my trunk. But, after a bit of origami work, I managed to shrink the bag enough to close the trunk lid. So yeah I definitely won’t be picking up people from the airport in the Lotus, not unless they’re traveling with just their wallet and phone.

Sorry about the terrible angle, will fix it next time

When I took the car to track day in Bahrain, thats where I fell in love with the car even more. Racing on the track in the Lotus was a ridiculous amount of fun. It’s extremely well balanced on turns, has minimal body roll, lots of power and as expected, incredible handling. The steering wheel isn’t powered so on the track it was providing me with so much feedback that there is no way I would now want to go back to a car with powered steering for track use. I did the full track day at the Bahrain International Circuit which was from 4PM to 11PM at night and the car handled it like a champ. The sessions were divided between cars and motorbikes, 30 minutes cars, 30 minutes bikes. Over the course of the 30 minute session I never faced any issues like overheating or brakes starting to fade. If it wasn’t for the 30 minute session limit, I could keep going on and on and on.

Photo courtesy of Bahrain International Circuit

The only thing that actually would prevent me from going on and on is the size of the fuel tank, it’s tiny (43l). After every two sessions I had to drive to the gas station down the street from the race track and fill up my tank full again. I filled up like 4 times that afternoon. Other than that I didn’t really have any main issues. I need a new set of tires and thats gonna set me back like KD450 which sucks. I actually need to work out some kind of deal with Pirelli since I’m going to be visiting them quite often.

I also had two issues with the car which I’m guessing are related to my hard driving on the track. The first issue was that my car wouldn’t lock by remote because it kept thinking my rear hood was open even though it wasn’t. The second issue was with my AC blower knob, when I’d switch it to blower speed 3, the AC would shut off but would work fine on speed 1 and 2. So after the car came back from Bahrain yesterday, I dropped it off at the dealer and they just messaged me awhile ago telling me they fixed both issues and to go in and pick up the car.

I’m loving their service so far and they’re not giving me extra special treatment because I’m Mark. A friend of mine also bought a Lotus a couple of weeks ago and the first thing he told me was how much he loved their service. They really are great, I whatsapp the brand manager for example all the time with the most mundane things, and he hasn’t blocked me yet! (Thank you Waleed)

So would I recommend the Lotus? YES, for sure. Before I bought the car I was torn between it, the BMW M2 and the Porsche Cayman GT4 but now after spending a month with that car I know I made the right choice. A friend of mine just bought a Lotus as well and I have another friend who’s considering the Exige 380 Cup in the beautiful baby blue color (like in the video above). You need to get in and drive a Lotus to understand what all the fuss is about. I already told the Lotus dealer they should hook me up with free brake pads and tires for every referral I send their way but I think they think I’m kidding. I’m not. Like with all brands I love, I tend to promote them like I own them and it’s no different with Lotus, I’ve been promoting the hell out of them.

For those of you who’re interested in tracking your car in Bahrain, stay tuned for a separate post on how you could do that as well.

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The Best Zaatar Fatayer EVER

Post by Mark

Yesterday while leaving Sultan Center Shaab I ran into my friends mum outside. While talking to her she offered me some gluten free zaatar fatayer which she had just purchased. Even though I had just had lunch and wasn’t hungry, I took one and headed to my car. While driving off I started eating the zaatar and right away there was something different about it, it had a slight sweet taste to it and I loved it. So I sent her a message on whatsapp asking her where she got it from, I figured I could pick some up on my way home.

I was nearly home and she still hadn’t responded so I decided to call her up instead. Turns out she bought them from inside Sultan Center Shaab at JS & Buttercup which recently opened there. So even though I had just had lunch and even though I had left Sultan already and I was nearly home, I turned around and headed back again to buy some fatayer, thats how good they were.

The place is located on the left side when you first walk into Sultan Center Shaab. Turns out they only sell the zaatar in boxes of 30 pieces for KD12 but they were willing to sell me a box of 15 for KD6. I didn’t want 15 but in the end I decided to buy them and head over to my dads place and share them with him. They’re the most expensive zaatar fatayer I’ve had but they’re also the most delicious ones I’ve had. They’re also gluten free for those of you who care (I don’t). If you’re interested, here is a link to their instagram account @js.buttercup

PS: Turns out they naturally sweeten the fatayer with dates.

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Vote for Al Sawaber Complex

Post by Mark

The World Monuments Fund has launched a new campaign on social media to bring attention to meaningful modern buildings around the world, why they matter, and the threats they face. One of the buildings they’ve selected is Al Sawaber Complex in Kuwait City.

An enormous futuristic-looking apartment complex, Al Sawaber was designed in 1981 by Arthur Erickson with the idea of providing a community for Kuwaiti families of modest means. To accomplish this, the layout provides easy horizontal circulation between the apartment blocks, and the placement of the buildings creates intimate spaces sheltered from the rest of the city. In recent years a lack of maintenance, arson in some of the units, escalating land values in the surrounding area, and gentrification have rendered Al Sawaber vulnerable to demolition.

It isn’t very clear what will happen with the buildings that gets the most votes other than they would move over to the second phase of the campaign which will be announced in the fall of this year.

So check out the list of buildings and vote for Al Sawaber Complex by clicking [Here]

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Should you get a new iPad? Yes!

Post by Mark

Recently I bought a new iPad, the iPad Pro 9.7″ specifically. I wasn’t planning to, but someone had a brand new unopened iPad Pro in my classifieds section listed for KD120, and it was just too good of a deal to pass up. I had a third generation iPad from 2012 which I had been using occasionally and like most people who own iPads, I really didn’t think I needed to get the new one. I just didn’t think there would be that big of a difference but damn I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The difference in experience between my old iPad 3 and the new iPad Pro is ridiculously huge, I’m not sure where to begin even.

Probably the most noticeable difference between my old iPad and the new one is the speed. I used to find my old iPad sluggish especially when browsing and opening new tabs which is what I was using it mostly for, but I didn’t realize how slow and sluggish it was until I started using the new iPad. Launching apps is now instant and the speed which websites load and tabs open up is just as fast. Tabs would actually load in the background now while before they’d only load when in the foreground. It’s a little thing but it makes surfing the web a lot quicker.

Another thing that stuck out for me was the multitasking ability. My iPad 3 didn’t support the new iOS 10 and all the cool features that come with it like AirDrop and multitasking. So once I got the new iPad and started multitasking I realized how much of a big difference it makes especially if you’re like me and like to do a bunch of things at the same time. I can now browse reddit, check twitter and stream Hulu all at the same time with just a few swipes (pictured above). It’s so easy to do as well, if you want to load up another app on the side, you just swipe from the right edge of the screen to the left and that’s it, you’ve now got two apps running side by side. If I wanted to attempt the same on my MacBook Pro it would involve more steps and the end result wouldn’t look as good.

The faster speed and multitasking ability alone would have made getting the new iPad worth it, but there are a few more things I liked as well. Compared to my old iPad the new one is so much thinner and lighter so its so much more enjoyable when using in bed. The ability to use Apple’s smart keyboard is also a huge plus. I picked up a new Apple Smart Keyboard for just $80 on eBay and I love it. Most of the time I use it as a protective cover but whenever I need to type something I just fold out the keyboard and start typing. No need to wait for Bluetooth to connect or to make sure my keyboard is charged, it just works right away all the time. If I could draw for shit, I’d also pick up the Apple Pencil but I can’t so I won’t.

Basically, if you have an old iPad it really is worth upgrading to the newer models especially if you’re still running iOS 9. I’ve started using my iPad a lot more now and I can’t believe it took me this long to get one.

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Seedless Watermelons are Back!

Post by Mark

I’m not sure why seedless watermelons aren’t more readily available in Kuwait, they’re my favorite thing in the world until they invent seedless mangos. Yesterday I spotted seedless Australian watermelons at Sultan, so I picked one up and it was so deliciously sweet that I’m now looking forward to picking up another one today. They’re not cheap at KD1.400 a KG, but they’re totally worth it.

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Kuwait Comic Festival Convention 2017

Post by Mark

If you missed ComFest Con this past weekend, UrbanQ8 has a video recap of it which you can watch above (warning, its SUPER long). According to a friend of mine who goes to all the comic festivals that take place here, this one was the best one yet and will probably end up being THE comfest for Kuwait.

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An Alternative to Uber and Careem

Post by Mark

Since it looks like Uber isn’t coming to Kuwait anytime soon and Careem stopped operating in Kuwait as well, here is an alternative app you could use for now, Q8 Grand Limo. I haven’t used them yet but a friend of mine speaks extremely highly of them. They work similar to Uber as in you load up the app and request a cab to your location, but it also has a similar feature to Careem in which you could pre-book a cab for a specific time. So say you need a cab at 4AM in the morning for a early flight, you can pre-book the cab.

Price wise it seems to be cheaper than Careem but more expensive than regular cabs. The app gave me a fare estimate of 2.250-3.750 from Kuwait City to Salmiya. I’ll be using them soon and when I do I’ll post an update. The app is available for both Apple phones and Android phones. For links to download them as well as more information you can check out their website

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