Fashion Weekly Roundup

Posted by Mark

Weekly roundup from 248AM Fashion:

For the love of… Grace Kelly
Glamorous Grannies
A Teaser
Al-Ostoura Events
Online Shopping
Toogood Showroom Visit, Paris
Fatma Al Safi on the Cover
Yohji Yamamoto Paris Fashion Week & Marais Showroom
Etro? Yes, please!
Choose the Perfect Choo’s


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FIA Middle East Rally Championship – Kuwait

Posted by Mark

rallykuwait

I just found out about this and will be adding it to the list of things to do this weekend. Following the opening round held in Qatar, the FIA Middle East Rally Championship continues this weekend in the Kuwaiti desert. 33 competitors will be fighting for victory in the second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. If you’re interested in checking them out they’ll be starting off today from the SIRBB Circuit. Entry is free but there are limited seats.

Leg 1, Super Special Stage:
Date: Thursday, 20 March 2014
Time: 6PM
Location: SIRBB Circuit [Map]

For the rest of the schedule click [Here]


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Need a piano moved or tuned?

Posted by Mark

piano1

Early on in the week I asked if anyone knew who I could contact to get a piano moved and tuned. I ended up getting three or four different contacts but in the end decided to contact aDawaliah. aDawaliah are actually the dealers of Yamaha Music and since the piano I wanted to tune was a Yamaha, I figured they’d would be the best people to get for the job.

I originally called up the store and the employee didn’t seem to know if it’s a service they offered or not so he took my number and said someone would call me back. I didn’t hear back from them until the next day when I got a phone call from them requesting details. They wanted to know what kind of piano I had, how far I wanted to move it and which day I was free for them to pass by. The piano was an upright one and I wanted it moved from my neighbors apartment next door over into mine. At the end of the conversation they quoted me KD35 for the tuning and KD5 for moving which I thought was a fair deal.

A few days later they came over to my place at the agreed time, there were four employees in uniform with white gloves on, the piano tuner and the sales manager. They were extremely professional, like they surprised and impressed me kind of professional. First thing they did was wrap the piano in bubble wrap and then the four guys proceeded to carry the piano over to my place with short rest breaks along the way. They had to move some of my furniture a bit but when they were done they returned everything back to the way it was and disappeared leaving just the sales manager and the tuner over at my place. The sales manager stayed over for awhile to make sure the tuner didn’t run into any issues before leaving. Finally when the tuner was done two hours later he left as well.

The quality of service was beyond anything I expected. It’s difficult to put into words because they were mostly little actions, for example they needed to go back into the second apartment and pick up their tools and the piano chair but the door was closed and even when I opened it and walked in, they waited until I told them to come in. Then when I picked up the piano chair because it’s really light and I could carry it myself, they insisted they take it from me and move it themselves. Or the fact how they were all dressed in uniform and had the white gloves on not to dirty anything or leave finger prints on the shiny piano. Or how the sales manager who was very friendly and was there to overlook the whole process. It felt like I was getting special treatment because of my blog, but I wasn’t since I never told them about my blog or gave them my full name or anything of the sort. But that’s how good they were, they made me feel like I was getting special treatment. I felt like I was getting more than what I paid for.

So if you’re ever looking to tune or move a piano, you can contact the sales manager on 24720631 ext 219 or call him on his mobile on 96688301, his name is Ammar.


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Things to do in Kuwait this weekend

Posted by Mark

horseriding

Remal Sand Sculpting Festival
Teddy Bear Hospital
Visual Art Exhibition
KRC International Show Jumping Championship 2014
Shakshooka Nomadic Farmers Market
Cinemagic: Man Push Cart
Al Nibras Bazaar
Dance Gala: Diamond Decades
AIS Senior Bazaar ’14
Kids Storytelling at Q8Books
Cinemagic: Dry Summer
FIA Middle East Rally Championship – Kuwait

Make sure you don’t miss the show jumping championship, the venue is great and you won’t believe you’re in Kuwait.

Update: Just added the Rally Championship to the list


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Paragliding Festival

Posted by Mark

paragliding

If you’ve ever wanted to try powered paragliding this might be the easiest way to do it. Starting from April 24th and lasting for 10 days you will be able to experience paragliding over the Gulf Road accompanied by the most skilled pilots. A 15 minute journey will cost KD40 and you will fly at an altitude of around 200 meters. If you’re interested you need to book your seat by calling 22621766 or 94004335.

The previous time I paraglided in Kuwait (picture on top) it cost me KD30 for a 30 minute flight but it took place down in Khieran.


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Atlantis, The Palm

Posted by Mark

atlantis1

Last week while in Dubai I ended up staying at the Atlantis hotel. Since it’s launch I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about the place and I now understand why, it’s not meant for everyone, me included.

atlantis-room

When I first arrived at the hotel which is located on the artificial island The Palm, I thought I was walking into a shopping mall. There were a lot of people outside the entrance of the hotel and even more people inside the gigantic lobby. It was super busy like no other hotel I’ve ever walked into. It felt like a mall but then I realized it also felt like a Disney resort. My room was their standard room and it looked really generic but had a beautiful view and was pretty large in size. What makes Atlantis so special is the activities they have ranging from swimming with the dolphins to their large Aquaventure Waterpark.

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They even have a huge aquarium right inside the hotel thats a lot bigger and nicer than the one we have at the Scientific Center. The hotel also has 21 restaurants, bars and lounges including the very popular Nobu, they have a ton of stores to shop at and they also have a very impressive gym. I actually thought the gym was the trendiest looking place in the whole hotel, it’s very nicely designed, one of the best looking gyms I’ve ever seen.

atlantisgym

While at the hotel we were given a tour of the most expensive hotel room in the Middle East, the Royal Bridge Suite. It costs around KD10,000 a night and it’s huge. You check check out the pictures below. And yes I said KD10,000 a night, that’s not an extra zero there by accident.

Personally I didn’t like the hotel. Not that where was anything wrong with it on the contrary, I actually found the hotel really fascinating. I remember watching a documentary once on Harrods and it was mostly a behind the scenes documentary on how the store handles all the traffic and what it takes to keep the place running, I would be very very interested to watch a similar documentary on Atlantis. The hotel is ginormous with over 1,500 rooms and so much foot traffic but yet they still manage to provide great service. In the three days I was there I never felt like I was just another guest. But still, the hotel just wasn’t for me, I prefer my rooms to be trendier looking, I also like my hotels to be a lot smaller and more importantly on this trip I wasn’t interested in any of their activities and thats really what Atlantis is about. On the other hand this is definitely a great place to stay at with children for the weekend. You would never have to leave the hotel and the children would never get bored with all the things to do. Check out their website [Here]


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How the Persian Gulf Is Quietly Building a Railroad Empire

Posted by Mark

railsystem

Gizmodo has an interesting article on how most of the GCC countries are building railway systems. The article focuses mostly on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE but Kuwait also makes a small appearance alongside Oman. Kuwait will most likely be the last on the list to get the rail system built if it ever actually gets built. Check out the article [Here]


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The Porsche Cayman S

Posted by Mark

porsche4

I’ve had my eye on the new Porsche Cayman S ever since it got released last year. Along with the Jaguar F-Type Coupe it’s one of the two cars I’ve recently been considering for myself. I’ve actually been building my own Cayman on the Porsche website for the past few months, choosing all the different extra options I wanted, deciding on the exterior color and wheels, a very fun process. They even have the KD265,000 918 Spyder available to customize online. I finally decided I’d take the car for a test drive, that way I could have content for my blog as well as decide if the Cayman S is the car for me.

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There are two versions of the Cayman, the regular Cayman and the Cayman S. The biggest difference between the two is the regular Cayman has 275HP while the S has 325HP. I picked up the car on Thursday once I got back from Dubai but was really too tired that day to do much driving. Instead I went to sleep early and woke up Friday morning and headed out to the middle of nowhere. Around 5 or 6 years ago while looking for the “Tank Graveyard” I remembered driving on a two lane paved road in the middle of the desert. I figured it would be a great place to take photos and the drive was far enough to allow me to get a chance to properly drive the car. So I headed out from Salmiya north towards the desert and around 50 minutes later ended up at the road I had been on years ago only now it no longer was a two lane road but a six lane highway. I was disappointed since I had driven all the way with a shot visualized in my head and now I wouldn’t be able to do it. I decided to keep on driving in hopes of finding a new location which I did. After another 15 minutes on that road I found an exit which wasn’t marked on the cars navigation nor on Google Maps and I decided to take it and drive and drive. The weather was great, the sky was beautiful and I finally found a spot that I liked and took all the photos I needed.

The car was a lot of fun to drive and I ended up covering more than 200KM that morning. It made me feel a bit guilty since when I had picked up the car from the dealer it only had around 200KM mileage and here in just one morning I doubled it for them. The engine is mid mounted meaning it’s located behind the drivers seat and in front of the rear wheels. It’s basically the best place to put an engine in the car if you want terrific handling. Because the weight is right behind you its as if the weight is where your body is and so you kinda become one with the car if that makes sense. I think that’s the best way of describing it. The car is pretty compact, there are no rear seats just the driver and passenger seat so driving the car feels like driving a go kart which is why it’s so fun. It’s not intimidating at all and right from the get-go you’ll feel very confident in the drivers seat making it a fairly easy car to drive. The car felt a bit stiff and the steering a bit heavy during normal city driving but once I was out in the open and I was able to step on it, the car felt right at home.

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Whenever I used to customize my Cayman S on the Porsche website I’d make sure I would add all the cool sounding sports features like active suspension management (PASM) and torque vectoring (PTV) or say the sports exhaust system. What I realized after driving the test drive model which didn’t have any of those features is that I don’t really need them. The stock exhaust for example sounds pretty quiet when driving around normally but as soon as you give it a kick down it starts screaming. It sounds beautiful the way it is so I don’t think I want to pay an extra KD590 for the sport exhaust system. The car I drove had a horrible red interior, I mean I don’t mind red leather seats if say the rest of the interior is all black to calm it down but the model I drove had red leather everything, seats, doors dashboard, steering just red leather everywhere. Which brings me to another expensive add-on you don’t need, a full blown leather interior, just stick to the leather seats. One feature I would highly recommend is an upgraded sound system. The model I drove had the stock sound system but for most of my music it just sounded too boomy. Luckily Porsche offer two different sound system upgrades, for an extra KD160 you get a slightly better BOSE sound system or do what I would do and splurge and get the Burmester high end system for an extra KD910. Expensive yes but it’s not like you can get a better sound system down the line if you’re not happy with what it originally came with.

porsche1

I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like about the car. Other than the ugly interior color and the sound system, both of which are easily fixed when building your own car, I think the only other issue I had with the car was storage space. I couldn’t find a place where I could put my phone and have easy access to it. There’s space in the door but then you can’t charge it or you can charge it in the arm rest compartment but then if you get a call or you need your phone you have to open the compartment awkwardly and take out the phone. The car also doesn’t have enough space for a single piece of luggage, the front trunk is too small to fit a full sized bag and so is the rear trunk. The only kind of bag you could fit into the car is a carry on and that’s it.

I’m personally still undecided if I’d get the car or not, I’d have to test drive the F-Type Coupe once it launches in May to decide. But, in this price range the Cayman S and F-Type are still my two favorite choices. The regular Cayman starts at KD16,200 while the S version starts at KD18,300. With all the options I want the car ends up costing like KD24,000. If you want to try building your own Cayman (or any other Porsche for that matter) click [Here]


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Minecraft as part of class

Posted by Mark

minecraft

Minecraft is an insanely addictive video game and one I stopped playing some time back since whenever I played it I wouldn’t be get any work done. A local school teacher on the other hand has been using Minecraft as an educational tool in his classrooms. Intel recently conducted an interview with Eric Walker, a teacher at the American International School of Kuwait on how he uses Minecraft to teach his students. You can check out the article on the Intel Free Press website [Here]


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Flying Business with FlyDubai

Posted by Mark

flydubai1

Last week I was invited to try out FlyDubai’s business class during a short two night trip to Dubai. I hadn’t flown FlyDubai for quite some time now and I hadn’t flown their business class at all since they introduced it this past November.

flydubai2

Since last September FlyDubai has also been flying out of Kuwait from the Sheikh Saad Terminal (the terminal previously used by the now defunct Wataniya Airways). There are a number of advantages to this terminal over the main Kuwait International Airport. Firstly the airport is a lot more visually tasteful, it’s cleaner and it has more natural daylight coming in. It’s also smaller which means the process of checking in or landing and getting your bags is a lot quicker. For business travelers you also get a whole wing of the airport just for yourselves. The business class section of the airport consists of multiple lounges, a food area and shower rooms. The lounge looks pretty much the same from when Wataniya Airways was running it which is a good thing. If you have Diners Club or American Express you can also use this lounge even if you’re flying economy. The downside to the airport is that you don’t have a proper restaurant to eat at just a Starbucks. Also, the long term parking at Sheikh Saad Terminal is expensive costing KD5 a day while the long term parking at the regular airport is just KD2 a day. But if you don’t mind walking a bit, there is free parking across the street near the military airbase although I could imagine that filling up pretty quickly.

flydubai3

The business class on FlyDubai is a proper business class with large fancy seats and all the business class amenities you’d expect to find. Their business class reminded me a bit of Wataniya Airways, actually because we were flying out of Sheikh Saad Terminal the whole experience felt like flying Wataniya Airways and thats a good thing since I used to love flying with Wataniya Airways. First thing I spotted when I sat down in my seat was the bottle of Evian water. They could have used any other brand like most airlines would do, but I suspect because they really want the customers to feel this is a true business class, they went with a brand easily associated with luxury.

flydubai4

The seats also had power plugs and large touch screens with access to in-flight entertainment. Before take off we were also served complimentary drinks and once we were in the air we were served breakfast. Disappointingly we didn’t have a choice for breakfast and so I was stuck with yogurt and granola. On the bright side, they did have a drinks menu which includes alcohol and I have to say their Sauvignon blanc was surprisingly very good for breakfast.

flydubai5

After arriving to Dubai, we were shuttled to the terminal in a small bus. Once we arrived to the terminal we had our own priority pass line and within minutes we were picking up our luggage. A very smooth and quick process.

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Leaving Dubai is where I thought I would have an issue. The reason I used to dislike flying with FlyDubai is because their airport in Dubai (Terminal 2) used to be the saddest airport ever, like worse than the Kuwait Airport even. But since the last time I flew with Dubai their airport has gone through a major overhaul. The airport looks a lot better now, theres more seating and there’s also more options for food with Paul open there as well as Costa and Subway. Definitely a much more pleasant experience and from what I’m told there is still more work being done.

I started flying with FlyDubai because they usually had the cheapest tickets to Dubai and I would guess it was like that with a lot of other people. This is why FlyDubai has to work twice as hard to build their business class brand and reputation. They want people to realize that although their economy class has no frills, their business class is a completely different experience. It’s why I was invited to fly with them, to help spread the word about this. Their business class ticket prices seem pretty competitive, I just checked tickets to Dubai this weekend and the cheapest business class ticket Emirates had was KD362 while FlyDubai was KD173. Thing is they fly to a ton of other destinations other than Dubai and I would imagine their business class prices would be competitive on all the routes as well. So overall, FlyDubai’s business class is pretty damn good.

Update: I was just informed there is actually a Chili’s Express and other coffee shops on the 2nd floor of the airport before checking in.


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