Foto Star Studio

Posted by Mark


A few days ago a friend of mine on instagram posted pictures of a photo studio in Kuwait city where she was getting her picture photoshopped onto different backdrops. The very cheesy kind of backdrops with the worst photoshopping job ever. I had seen those kind of photos countless of times before but had no idea where to get them done so I asked her for directions and headed there myself.


I have no clue how she found the place but my guess is she must have just been exploring because I know that area pretty well but had never run across the studios. To find them follow these directions: If you’re walking from Salhiya, keep Caribou Coffee on your right hand side and walk straight to the area behind it. There will be a large parking garage on your left with shops underneath. Keep that building on your left and keep walking straight until you see a shawerma place on your right called Tarboush. Right after the shawerma place is corridor that takes you inside the building which is filled with shops. Walk around 20 meters until you find stairs on your left that take you down to the basement. Thats where you will find a number of these photography studios.


I opted for Foto Star Studio since they were willing to take my photo, retouch it onto a backdrop and print it for me all while I wait. The shop next door wanted an hour for example which I didn’t want to wait. Choosing a backdrop was the most difficult thing to do since they had so many options. I decided to get my photo taken first so the guy can start working on it while I look for a suitable backdrop. Next time I go back though I will do it the other way around since I realized depending on the backdrop you choose you might want to pose a certain way. I ended up going with a backdrop of a park with the popular Indian actor Chiranjeevi super imposed onto it while I’m standing next to him. It will now be my new Facebook profile pic.

The cost is fairly reasonable, originally he wanted KD1.5 but I managed to bring him down to KD1 because I wanted two photos. I actually wanted to get more photos done but he didn’t accept Knet and I only had KD2 on me so I’m definitely going back again most likely with a group of friends. Also if you’re thinking of doing this you might also want to consider taking some props with you.

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Arirang Korean Restaurant

Posted by Mark


Last week I passed by the Arirang Korean restaurant for lunch and it turned out to be a pretty disappointing experience to be honest. It was such an unexciting experience I’m actually forcing myself to write this review.

Arirang has been open for nearly three years and they’re located inside the Swiss-Belhotel Plaza (inside Muthana Complex). The location at one point was an Indian restaurant, a Kuwaiti restaurant and possibly a Chinese restaurant before finally becoming a Korean restaurant. So far the Korean restaurant has lasted the longest but not really sure why.

The interior is fairly decent looking I guess, it’s very spacious and the booths look cozy although awkwardly large for just a couple to just sit in alone.

We were three people and so we ended up ordering the following:
Beef Dumplings x 2 KD2.500 each
Shrimp Teppanyaki KD5.500
Bulgogi KD7.000
Galbi Pot KD7.000

Now here is where things started going downhill. Firstly there was only one waiter for the restaurant which is fine considering we were the only occupied table. But, because of the way the restaurant is laid out, the waiter was always at the main entrance while we were all the way inside. That meant whenever we needed anything we would have to get up and walk down a corridor to call him. It then took 50 minutes for them to serve us our starters (the dumplings) which was absurd considering we were the only customers there. Finally when the main courses arrived, the only dish that was any good was the Shrimp Teppanyaki… a non Korean dish. I had the Bulgogi which was dry and bland while Galbi Pot although looked great presentation wise, the dish was just too fatty. Once piece of rib for example had fat the size of a golf ball on it.

Maybe I visited the place on a bad day I’m not sure but I do know I didn’t enjoy the experience. They also have pretty strong competition since the popular Koryokwan Korean Restaurant is located across the street from them. But then again, if they’ve bene open for three years it must mean they have a loyal fan base, I just don’t know why.

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Breakfast with the British Ambassador

Posted by Mark


Around two weeks back a friend of mine at the British Embassy called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in having the new British Ambassador Matthew Lodge guest post on my blog. At first I was a bit hesitant but the more I thought about it the more interested I was in the idea. Part of the reason I like inviting people to write on the blog is so that I have interesting content to read and I was curious to know what kind of posts the British Ambassador would write about. The way I looked at it, if there was a reality show based around a British Ambassador living in Kuwait I’d want to watch it which is why I called my friend back and said lets do this.

So last Monday I was invited to have breakfast with the British Ambassador at his residence inside the British Embassy grounds. We sat and spoke casually for nearly two hours discussing various topics but mostly about Kuwait (he just moved here around two months ago). Just before I left we decided to start off with two posts for now and see how they go. Starting today and if everything goes according to plan, the British Ambassador will be guest posting every Monday under posts called “Mondays with Matthew”. His first post is already up and you can check it out below.

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Mondays with Matthew: Hello Kuwait

Posted by Matthew Lodge


Spend a few minutes at Kuwait airport and you are reminded that people are coming and going every day. Families returning from holiday, business travellers heading off, air crew stopping over. Amongst all these you may occasionally spot the new arrivals, and I don’t mean those visiting for a few days, but those who have arrived to make Kuwait their home. Maybe for a year or two, maybe for longer. At the end of August, amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport, my family and I arrived in Kuwait. For my wife and kids this was the first time they’ve been here, but Kuwait is now home, and will be for the next 4 years.

I want to start a conversation with you so let me start by telling you what my own reactions have been.

Kuwaitis are welcoming, open and friendly. Irrespective of any conservative traditions and social customs, Kuwait feels modern, vibrant and dynamic. As you drive into town from the airport, you also get an immediate sense of Kuwait being quite westernised. Fast food outlets light up the roadsides. Cars are big, the roads are wide. This is a land of comfort, consumerism and confidence. Kuwait is not shy. Kuwait has money, and more importantly Kuwait has oil.

But that initial, essentially superficial, impression is just that – superficial. As British Ambassador, moving into a house that claims to be the oldest continually-occupied residential building in Kuwait, I am reminded every day about the history. Kuwait’s history. Our shared history.

Firstly, the house itself – the notes left for me explain how the British architect was brought from Bushehr and the funding approved by the Government in India. Then there’s this sepia photograph on the wall showing the Residence of the “Political Agent”, constructed in 1935-6, taken in 1951 when the gates opened onto the beach and there was no Gulf Road. More recently, I am also reminded of the wonderful 50/20 celebrations that took place in 2001 – half a century since independence from Great Britain, two decades since the liberation – followed in 2012 by the State Visit of His Highness The Amir.

But it’s about more than official commemorations or grand occasions. For many Kuwaitis London and the UK is their home away from home, many more have studied there, and Kuwait sends more visitors to the UK each year than any other GCC country. So when it comes to my plans and hopes as the new British Ambassador, I remember that there is a huge amount already there between our two countries. Kuwait and Britain are, and will always be, connected – in every sense.

Before coming here, we had heard a lot about the country and the people, and during the last eight weeks we’ve learned a little more. One thing, which I perhaps knew already, is that as an Ambassador you enjoy a very privileged existence. Everyone is always very polite and courteous, but if you really want to understand how people feel (rather than just hear what they think you want to hear) then you have to work hard to get out, meet people and listen.

My goal is to do precisely that. I want to listen to you. I’d like you to tell me what you think I need to hear. So tell me, is the Kuwait I am seeing the same as the one you recognise?
In any case, thank you Kuwait for welcoming me. It’s good to be here

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge

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The Secret Garden Project

Posted by Mark


The Secret Garden is a new project by Mimi, the same person behind the popular Shakshooka nomadic farmers market. She originally started the project last year but shifted it to full gear around a month ago and I passed by yesterday to check the place out and left extremely impressed.


The Secret Garden simply put is an urban community garden. Mimi got permission from the municipality to occupy part of a public garden in Salmiya and setup planting stations so that people and children could come and grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruits. Majority of the garden was built using recycled material and they even have their own compost pit which they’ve started filling up in hopes of it being ready for next year.


Every Saturday the community is encouraged to come by the garden from 9AM till sundown to either plant, paint, build or just socialize. Mimi has some great plans for the future including possibly turning the garden into the permanent spot for the weekly Shakshooka farmers market, having gardening workshops and even hold film screenings in the garden.


I’ll be posting about The Secret Garden every weekend with the rest of the weekend events to keep everyone posted on whats taking place there so stay tuned. For now you can check out more pictures of the garden by following @mimikuwait on instagram or the hashtag #thesecretgardenproject

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The New AAB World

Posted by Mark


I passed by Bang & Olufsen in Symphony Mall the other the night to see when they were getting the new BeoPlay A2 when I spotted a new AAB World store on the lower level. It turns out the store has been open for two months now and it’s their largest store yet. AAB World are a photography store and I’ve dealt with them on a number of occasions either for product reviews on the blog or for personal purchases.


The branch I used to frequent often was in the basement of Shamiya Coop and that location is really tiny so having this large store in my neighborhood makes things a lot more convenient. This location is so big they practically have each one of their products on display for you to check out including all their studio lights and camera stabilizers (for the movie buffs).


So if you’re interested in checking it out, they’re open from 9AM to 1PM and then again from 4PM to 10PM.

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Things to do in Kuwait this weekend

Posted by Mark


Exhibition: Ghadah Alkandari – Secretary
STOMP Theatrical Show

STOMP Theatrical Show
Spraybox Opening
Book Club Meeting

STOMP Theatrical Show
The Flying Start Triathlon
Yoga Fest

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]

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Wizr, Kuwait’s Greatest Driver

Posted by Mark


Back in the 70s there was a British journalist living in Kuwait by the name of Keith Wells. He used to work for the Arab Times and in his spare time he also used to write books about Kuwait, including a witty series on a character named Wizr who was Kuwait’s greatest driver. Between 1979 and 1984, Keith released three Wizr books but sadly there really isn’t a lot of information on them nor Keith online. In fact, there is a blog dedicated to keeping Keith and his Wizr series alive but even the blog doesn’t have much info nor content. The books document life in Kuwait during that period with humor and nicely drawn illustrations.


Since The Kuwait Bookshops is closing this might be your only chance to own one of his Wizr books. In 1984 he released “The Last Wizr Book” and The Kuwait Bookshops in Muthana still has copies of it remaining and they’re selling them cheap for KD1.5 (the bookshop is selling everything for 50% off). The book was his last one on the Wizr since the illustrator he had teamed up with for the previous two books had passed away. I tried to find the other two books online and I managed to snag his second book (pictured above) on eBay for KD7.5 and his first book on the series (pictured below) for KD16. It was more than what I wanted to pay, but I somehow felt compelled to save this part of Kuwait’s history. So try to grab his last book from Muthana if you can.


If anyone has any interesting information related to Keith or his books let me know.

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Celebrate Oktoberfest in Kuwait

Posted by Mark


My friend sent me the screen capture above, at first I thought it was a joke but I called Hilton up and it’s actually taking place tomorrow.

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Posted by Mark


2aorganic is a local website which claims to have the largest collection of organic products for sale in Kuwait. I didn’t count their products so I can’t really confirm that claim although by quickly flipping through the website I could tell they do have quite a large selection. So if you’re interested in organic products here is a link to their [Website]

On a side note not sure why they chose such an awkward name. How do you even pronounce 2aorganic?

Thanks Khaled

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