Categories
Art Events Mags & Books People

BTS: The Largest Sand Sculpture Festival Ever

Ten years ago, Kuwait held the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, the Remal International Festival (@remalfest). The festival took place at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds and covered an area equivalent to six football fields. Now a decade later, Damon Langlois, the creative director behind the project is releasing a book called “Stories in Sand” that documents his experience.

Damon was a five-time world champion and Guinness World Record holder for the tallest sand castle before getting hired to come to Kuwait and lead the project that would be based around the Arabian Nights. He spent over seven months researching and designing the scenes before bringing together 72 of the world’s best sand artists to reimagine the stories from 1001 Nights.

The sculpture park was constructed out of only sand and water, it was a major artistic feat, and extremely risky. The artists were all reminded of this when the park was destroyed by a devastating three-day storm halfway through the build. At the time, it was the worst storm to hit Kuwait in over 50 years.

I remember reading that “some” sculptures had been damaged, but now I realized how bad it really was. The destruction caused Damon and his team to feel defeated after all the hard work had been washed away. But, they were able to recover and complete the project, and the park eventually opened in January 2014 before closing 4 months later in April.

Damon’s book “Stories in Sand”, is part art and part storybook. The initial print run is set at only 260 books and contains 276 pages filled with behind the scenes and final creation photos and stories. There are limited copies of the book so if you want one you need to act fast. I’m assuming they will get sold out quickly after this post which is why I already ordered my copy. The book doesn’t ship to Kuwait directly so I had to put my Shop&Ship address instead.

If you want to pre-order a copy, here is the link to the Kickstarter.

For my old posts on the Remal Festival, click here.

Categories
Movies Now Showing Television

Movies & TV Shows to Watch this Weekend

I didn’t watch a lot of shows or movies this week since I’m saving them for my long flight next week. But, I did finally get to watch “The Iron Claw“, not the storyline I was expecting so caught me by surprise, but damn it was such a good movie.

I also started and stopped watching Dark Matter. I think I made it to episode 3 before realizing I didn’t like the storyline and wasn’t interested in continuing it.

I watched the last episode of Under the Bridge yesterday, I thought last week was the last episode but turned out there was one more. It was a forgettable episode and the series didn’t really need it. Wait, I just checked and turns out there is still one more episode next week. wtf?

Let me know in the comments what you recently watched or planning to watch.

Movies at the Cinemas
The movies below are now showing at the local cinemas:

New This Week:
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (8.1)
Prey (3.8)
Sting (5.7)
The Garfield Movie (6.0)

Other Movies Showing:
Abigail (6.8)
Civil War (7.6)
Dead Racer (5.7)
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (6.5)
IF (6.8)
Inception (Classic/2010) (8.8)
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (7.4)
Knox Goes Away (6.9)
Kung Fu Panda 4 (6.4)
The Fall Guy (7.3)
You Can’t Run Forever (N/A)

The numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at the time of publishing.

Categories
Blog Info Personal

Posts are taking longer than before

When I first started this blog I was posting maybe 5 times a day? It was constant content but mostly non-Kuwait related. Then overtime I realized people were more interested with the Kuwait content so my topics because Kuwait focused and I dropped down to around 2-3 posts a day. Then, it dropped down to 1-2 a day. 14,000+ posts later and now I’m barely managing 1 post a day.

A lot has changed obviously in the 20+ years since I started. Back then the only other source for content were physical newspapers and magazines. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok didn’t exist and so my blog was the only source of interesting Kuwait related content that was fast/live. Magazines you had to wait till the end of the month to read about something and newspaper were just not interesting and still aren’t interesting.

But now with soooo many sources for content I’m still finding my way of how to still be relevant and interesting. I think 99% of the content out there is trash, and I still don’t get this yelling salesman style of tiktok videos that people seem to do.

It’s been over a year since I launched my Instagram account and I really don’t think there is anything like it in Kuwait, mostly because of the wide range of content I cover. I at least think it is all interesting. Well based on the engagement people are also finding it interesting. But I really haven’t changed my content style much, it’s always been random. Scrolling through my Instagram account now makes me more aware how my brain is all over the place.

But, content is also taking a lot longer to put together. I use the app Simplenote for my blog, basically anytime I have a topic idea I create a new note. Then as I collect information on that topic I fill in that note. As of right now I have 203 potential future topics to post about, with some of those topic ideas even broken down further. For example, I have a “Design Highlights” note but under that I have 9 future posts. And these are solid topics, not random restaurants I’m invited to try, which I have zero interest in going to.

Yet I can barely scrape together 1 post a day for some reason. I’m trying to understand why and I think that’s mostly because it’s taking me longer than before to collect the information for posts. I’m now turning 46, I was 25 when I started blogging. I have a lot less free time, I have more responsibilities now and I don’t think I can do slapstick posts, basically random posts without substance. I understand that because of my Instagram account where I’ve set a personal benchmark where every post needs to be a blockbuster hit, but I should be able to post random shit here. My Instagram posts take a lot longer to put together than my blog because I spend so much time on the photo, and so much time getting the headline interesting without having to clickbait, and then I need to manage my writing since I’m limited to just 2,100 characters on Instagram. But, I do a lot of random posts on twitter than I do here.

As I just wrote that last sentence, I think I answered my own question. It’s a lot easier to post on twitter than it is on my blog where I need to sit down in front of a computer and do it. I no longer get on my computer in the evenings, I don’t have a laptop open in front of me while watching TV. Maybe that’s what I need to change, either start getting on my laptop again in the evenings, or just get comfortable posting on the blog through my phone.

I tried posting from my phone maybe 10 years ago and it would mess up the look of the post. But the WordPress app has changed a lot since then and so has my blog theme so maybe it’s not an issue anymore. I’ll try to post from my phone again and if it works it should hopefully improve things moving forward.

Categories
50s to 90s Information Interesting

1958 Al-Othman Mosque Restoration Project

We have the habit of demolishing old structures instead of restoring them in Kuwait, so when I found out the old Al-Othman Mosque in Hawalli was being restored, I reached out to the team working on it asking if I could write about it.

The mosque restoration is being spearheaded by Eng. Adnan Al-Othman and sponsored by the Abdullah Abdulatif Al-Othman Charitable Trust. Adnan’s father is the one who built the mosque so he’s very familiar with it.

Al-Othman Mosque was established in 1958 and later opened for public use in 1961. It was one of the first grand mosques to be built in Kuwait, and also the first to have a dome, making it an important landmark.

Since its opening over 60 years ago, many changes were made to the mosque, some permanent, but most were thankfully superficial. The mosque originally had a colorful design that was unique for the time, but over the years it got repainted a monotone beige and white blending it into it’s Hawally surroundings. The interior which was covered with intricate decorations and script were also all covered with white paint erasing a lot of what made the mosque so unique and special.

The restoration team dug up as many photos and videos of the original mosque as they could find, so that they could better understand all the changes that were made over time. They also started the process of removing structures that weren’t there originally, like metal shading over the courtyard and an extension to the mezzanine floor. Additionally, they began stripping the paint from both the interior and exterior of the building, revealing some of the old decorative art and colors (samples above).

The restoration team’s plan is to restore the mosque as close as possible to its original state. They’re deep into the restoration process now, but they don’t have a clear timeline for completion since the work must be slow and careful. Once this project is finished, I hope more people will realize and appreciate the importance of preserving old Kuwait.

Categories
Food Promoted

My Absolute Favorite Cheesesteak in Kuwait

I’ve been ordering from Bite Club ever since they opened back in December. As a cheesesteak fan, I tried Bite Club on a friend’s recommendation and was instantly hooked. Since then, I’ve become a regular customer.

When the Bite Club team briefed me for this post, they mentioned they believed they had one of the best cheesesteaks in Kuwait. Interestingly, (they don’t know this) but before they reached out to me I had been working on a list of the top cheesesteaks in Kuwait, and Bite Club was #1 on my list. I don’t think it’s just one of the best; I think it IS the best cheesesteak in Kuwait.

Bite Club was created by a group of friends who are very passionate about food. One of the reasons I love their Philly Cheesesteak, besides the incredible flavor, is the high-quality meat they use. This commitment to quality ingredients extends across their entire menu, they even make their sauces in-house from scratch so they can control every ingredient.

They have three different cheesesteaks on their menu, but the only one I’ve tried and usually order is their regular “Rib-Eye Cheesesteak”. In addition to the cheesesteaks they also have smashed burgers and fried chicken burgers on their menu, as well as a variety of sides that includes both normal and sweet potato fries, and “chickies”.

If you want to try my favorite cheesesteak in Kuwait, they’re available on Talabat, Deliveroo and Jahez. They also offer V-Thru pick up from their location in Hawally. Check them out @eatatbiteclub

Categories
50s to 90s

The Construction of Salhiya Complex – 1979

I was looking for something when I came across a journal by ARUP, the British engineering and architect firm. The journal was from 1979 and discusses in great technical detail their involvement in the construction of Salhiya Complex. If you’re into this kind of thing, here is a link to the PDF.

For everyone else, here is a video of Salhiya Complex taken in 1984. (starts at minute 4:40)

Categories
Music Shopping Technology

Review: LAICOMEIN 2-in-1 Bluetooth Adapter

This is just a quick review of this really great tiny and cheap Bluetooth transmitter/receiver. I’m posting about it for anyone googling a solution for their Bang & Olufsen A9 like I did.

Back in 2013 (so over 10 years ago which is crazy), I bought a Bang & Olufsen A9. Not sure what had gotten into me, probably related to some trauma from my divorce back then, but I somehow thought it was ok then to pay 890KD for it. The speaker actually ended up costing me more than that because after setting it up at home and realizing it didn’t look as good in my apartment as it did in the shop, I ended up redecorating my whole apartment around it (true story)!

Fast forward to today, I got married again and so redid my apartment and the A9 is back in the spotlight again. It looks even better now with my new aesthetic, but because technology has come a long way since I bought the A9, I was having issues streaming music to it. The AirPlay would work on and off, sometimes I needed to reboot the speaker to get it working right and it was just annoying to use, and so it was there for looks only. I was then googling to see if the unit had Bluetooth and confirmed it didn’t, but then I came across some people asking if there was a way to get bluetooth installed and someone mentioned getting a Bluetooth receiver. So I started researching and realized that, if I found a bluetooth unit tiny enough and ran off USB power, I could potentially strap it onto the back of the A9 with velcro or something, and just like that I’d have Bluetooth on my A9.

After doing some research on Amazon, I eventually decided on the LAICOMEIN 2-in-1 Bluetooth Adapter. It was both a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter, it was tiny, could be powered with USB, and it cost just $30. Now that I have it I can’t believe how perfect this little thing is.

My B&O A9 has a small compartment on the back with a cover. Inside the compartment is where you connect the power cable, ethernet, and RCA inputs. But, there is also a USB port which was used to connect to the iPhone during the first time setup. The LAICOMEIN came with everything I needed to connect to the A9 and the set up was SUPER easy. I just had to put the switch on the bluetooth unit to receiver mode, I then connected the USB cable and line-in cable to it, and then plugged the other end of the USB cable to the back of my A9 and the line out into the RCA inputs. As soon as I plugged it into the USB port a red light came on to let me know it had power, I then pressed and held the power button down to turn it on and switch to pairing mode. That was it! The A9 automatically detected there was a device connected to the RCA input so switched to that, and then my bluetooth turntable saw the A9 and connected to it. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes to set up.

The LAICOMEIN is also so small that I didn’t need to figure out a way to strap it to the back, it just fit inside the tiny compartment at the back of the A9, and then I just closed the cover and you can’t even tell there is anything there. It’s perfect!

Speaking of my bluetooth turntable. I recently found a great deal on a Pro-ject T1 BT turntable on eBay. It was a brand new open box unit and I managed to snatch it up for $284 with tax and shipping (add another 30KD to ship to Kuwait). In comparison it costs $499 on Amazon without tax so I basically got it for half the price. But, the T1 BT has the WORST implementation of bluetooth I’ve seen on any device ever. The bluetooth module is a separate unit at the bottom of the player with a separate on and off switch. The plan originally was to pair it with my KEF LSX speakers, but I couldn’t get the pairing to work. There are no lights on the T1 letting me know if bluetooth is on, if it’s connected to anything, or if it’s pairing and I just couldn’t figure it out. Eventually I gave up on it, but as soon as I installed the bluetooth receiver into the A9, I turned on the bluetooth switch on the side of the T1 just out of curiosity to see if anything happens, and right away it connected! So now my record player is connected to my A9 and I think I like this setup now.

So yeah, at just $30, LAICOMEIN 2-in-1 Bluetooth Adapter is a great purchase and I’m now thinking of getting one for my B&O Beolit 12 which I also purchased 11 years ago and also only has AirPlay. If you want to get Bluetooth on an old device, I totally recommend this, here is the link to it on Amazon.

Categories
Movies Television

Movies & TV Shows to Watch this Weekend

This week I finished watching Under the Bridge which turned out to be pretty good. I also started watching The Veil which isn’t that great but I’m curious to see where it goes. I’m traveling in 10 days time so kinda watching b-rated shows for now and saving the rest for the plane. Currently have the following I’m saving for my trip:

Hacks (Latest season)
Clarksons Farm (Latest season)
Loot (Latest season)
Mr & Mrs Smith (Halfway through)
The Iron Claw (Movie)
Dream Scenario (Movie)
A Man in Full
Ripley
Unfrosted (Movie)
Obliterated
The New Look
The Sympathizer

Let me know in the comments what you’ve been watching or planning to watch this weekend.

Movies at the Cinemas
The movies below are now showing at the local cinemas:

New This Week:
Abigail (6.8)
Dead Racer (5.7)
IF (6.8)
Knox Goes Away (6.9)
Memory (6.6)
You Can’t Run Forever (N/A)

Other Movies Showing:
Bloodline Killer (7.5)
Civil War (7.6)
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (6.5)
Inception (Classic/2010) (8.8)
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (7.4)
Kung Fu Panda 4 (6.4)
The Fall Guy (7.3)
The Little Mermaid (4.6)

The numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at the time of publishing.

Categories
50s to 90s Design Interesting People

Saving the Futuristic Bubble House from Amghara

Last week a video popped up on my feed that I thought was fascinating. A guy called Hamad AlMuzaini (@hamad.muzaini) had spotted a little piece of architecture history at a scrap yard in Amghara, the Maison Bulle (Bubble House) by French modernist architect, Jean-Benjamin Maneval.

The Bubble House which was conceived in 1963 is considered to be one of the most successful designs for “futuristic plastic houses“. Only 300 of these prefab homes were ever built and so it’s pretty incredible that not only did one end up in Kuwait, but the fact that it survived and is in fairly decent condition is a miracle.

Hamad is an architect and designer who lived and worked in the US for roughly 13 years. Most of his work experience revolved around modular and prefabricated construction, which is why when he spotted the Bubble House roughly two years ago, he immediately recognized that it was a novel system and had immense value. But, Hamad only realized recently what he had spotted when an account he follows posted a similar Bubble House. So Hamad went back to Amghara and called the number of the scrapyard asking if it was for sale. From there he purchased the house and started planning its relocation.

Most of the images online consistently depicted the Bubble House set against nature, making a really beautiful composition of something quite futuristic. So he decided to move the Bubble House out of the scrap yard and onto his family’s farm.

Currently Hamad is focusing his efforts on restoring the structure without permanent and damaging procedures. He wants to restore it as close to the original as possible but without an interior layout, leaving it as an open floor plan. He hopes to one day host events with some community engagement surrounding the Maison Bulle, but for now his focus is to restore it.

How the Bubble House ended up in Kuwait in the first place is still a mystery, but at least it’s in good hands right now.

Categories
Food

Phet Phet – My favorite Thai food restaurant in Kuwait

There are a lot of great Thai restaurants in Kuwait but my favorite by far has to be Phet Phet. I think they have the best Pad Thai and Panang Curry in Kuwait, but I also really love their Spicy Potato Noodles. They have been delivery only since they launched a few years ago, but today they’re opening their first dine-in location.

Phet Phet was started by two female friends who used to go to Thailand a lot. When covid hit, they missed Thailand and the food they used to have there, and since delivery wasn’t available at one point, they decided to make their own recipes and cook their own food. Eventually, they decided to open up a restaurant and called it Phet Phet.

Their new location is located in Salmiya, on the same street as %Arabica and Joe and the Juice. It’s a very cute space and so close to where I live which is great for me. They’re open from 3PM to 11PM daily except for Sundays when they close. Here is the location on Google Maps, and their instagram account is @phetphetkw

Categories
50s to 90s Information Music Shopping

Where to find vinyl records in Kuwait (2024 Edition)

Since a lot of record stores pop up and close down often, I tend to update this list every few years.

All the small online stores that sold new records have closed down, including @vinyldestinationkw, and so if you want a new release, your best bet is ordering from Amazon.

But, if you’re looking for old used records, you actually have multiple options in Kuwait.

The Antique Basement
This basement in Salmiya has various stores selling vintage and antique items, three of them also have a small collection of old records. They’re not organized but instead are either just pilled up on top of one another, or randomly stacked in boxes. Finding stuff is a bit of an adventure, but on the bright side, they’re mostly English records. Here are the instagram accounts of those stores:

@tathkron
@fahad___bokhaled
@alnasser_antiques_kuwait

Nawader
This guy has the most insane collection of old music since he acquired all the remaining stock of the old record label “Bou Zaid Phone“, one of the most important Kuwaiti record labels. Nawader has a huge collection of new-old-stock records, cassettes and even 8-track tapes. Nearly all of the records he has are in Arabic, and he also has many very hard to come by ones. I got my 4-volume vinyl set of the “Kuwaiti Television Artistic Group” from him, and although he wouldn’t sell me his copy of the Iftah Ya Simsim record, he did hook me up with someone else who sold me theirs. He has a location thats by appointment only, but you can also purchase or request items through any one of his three instagram accounts:

@nawaderq8
@q8nawader
@istuwanat

Moqtanayaty
If you’re looking for a vintage record player, boombox, 8-track or even reel-to-reel players to buy, the best store in Kuwait is Moqtanayaty, or “My Belongings” when translated to English. I bought my vintage record player from there and they can even repair vintage music players, VCRs, or really old TVs. You can check them out on instagram @vintage_radio_

If you know of another place that sells records, let me know in the comments.

Categories
Interesting

A Secret Weekend Getaway in Wafra

Similar to the ‘A-Frame‘ Farm which I posted about a couple of years ago, the ‘Countryside Farmhouse’ is another picturesque farm in Wafra that is also available to rent.

The 3,000m2 farmhouse features 4 master bedrooms, a cozy living room, both an indoor and outdoor kitchen, and various outdoor seating areas including a rooftop with a beautiful view. The farm which can host up to 10 guests also has a swimming pool, gardens all around, and a dedicated kid’s play area, so plenty of room for you and your friends.

What initially caught my attention was the beautiful Mediterranean look of the farmhouse which is what I think makes this place feel like a secret getaway. The price to rent the farm is 165 KD per night during the weekdays, and 485 KD if you want to book it for the whole weekend. Not too bad if you split the cost with friends. If you want to check out more photos or to book, head over to their instagram account @countrysidekw

Categories
50s to 90s Photography

Photo of the Kuwait Shoreline Taken in 1903

I don’t recall coming across a photo of Kuwait’s shoreline that was older than this. I was doing some research for an upcoming post when I went down a rabbit hole and ended up coming across a report from 1903 that contained photos, maps and some interesting information on Kuwait. One of the photos was the image above of Kuwait’s shore which I hadn’t seen before, but there were also some other ones inside I also hadn’t seen which I’ve shared below.

The report is made up of 2 volumes and the original copy is part of the British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers . The report was compiled by Captain H. H. Dowding after his visit to Kuwait during the winter of 1901-02 while the photographs were supplied by Baron Curzon of Kedleston.

You can actually download the whole report as a PDF from the Qatar Digital Library. If you want to check it out, click here.

Categories
Movies Now Showing Television

Movies & TV Shows to Watch this Weekend

This past week I finally binge watched The Gentlemen, the Guy Ritchie series on Netflix. It was pretty good, lots of fun and rarely ever a slow or dull moment. I love the character he gave Vinnie Jones, and now I feel like rewatching some of Guy Ritchie’s original films all over again.

I also finally started Baby Reindeer and I’m half way through that show and so far and it’s ok. I can understand the appeal, but not my kind of show.

As soon as I’m done with Baby Reindeer I’m going to start Sugar. It popped up on my feed a few times this past week because the last episode had some sort of crazy twist, so I feel like I’m missing out.

Let us know in the comments what you’ve been watching or planning to watch this weekend.

Movies at the Cinemas
The movies below are now showing at the local cinemas:

New This Week:
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (7.4)
The Little Mermaid (4.6)

Other Movies Showing:
Bloodline Killer (7.5)
Civil War (7.6)
Dune: Part Two (8.8)
The Fall Guy (7.3)
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (6.5)
Inception (Classic/2010) (8.8)
Kung Fu Panda 4 (6.4)
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (7.1)
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 (5.4)

The numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at the time of publishing.

Categories
Interesting Mags & Books

The Story of Takween Bookshop

I just read a nice little article by Bothayna Al-Essa on her story of how she opened Tawkeen Bookshop. It was a pretty entertaining read and she basically explains how things first started, and some of the struggles she had.

If you’re looking for something to read, check it out.