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26 06, 2019

Sunshine School 1980 – 1989

2019-06-26T11:14:27+03:00Jun 26, 2019|6 Comments

I recently found out that it’s the British School of Kuwait’s 40 year anniversary. What not everyone knows is the little fun fact the school used to be called Sunshine School when it first opened in the late 70s up until 1990. I was in Sunshine School from 1980 to 1990 and I was part of the last class to graduate from it before the Iraqi invasion, after that, things got a bit messy and I ended up bouncing a lot from school to school and country to country until I finally graduated high school.

Because of the 40th anniversary, the school is publishing a small book and asked me if I had any photos to contribute since I’ve previously shared photos on the blog. I did of course and so had my sister mail me all the Sunshine School photos we had stored in our family home in Lebanon so I could scan them.

What’s cool is I posted some of my karate club photos taken in the early 80s and one of my followers recognized the karate instructor and sent me a link to his Facebook account. Turns out up until recently, he was still teaching karate in Kuwait.

There are 58 pictures and you can check them out after the link below. If you want the hi-res scan they’re also available to download on Flickr.

If you recognize yourself in any of the photos let me know!

(more…)

25 06, 2019

The Jump to 4K

2019-06-25T09:20:40+03:00Jun 25, 2019|42 Comments

Recently I decided to upgrade my TV life to 4K. It wasn’t something I planned for, I was at Xcite picking up something and decided to take a walk in the TV aisle and got amazed at how sharp the footage was on their 4K TV’s. Since Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube now support 4K, I decided I might as well get a new 4K capable TV. I ended up with the Samsung NU8000, it cost me around KD260 for the 55″ which is pretty reasonable compared to some other TVs.

So what I didn’t know about upgrading to 4K was that I’d need to upgrade a whole bunch of other things as well to get 4K working. At first, I thought I could just upgrade my Apple TV to the new 4K version and that would be it, but then I found out my sound system receiver which I plug everything into wasn’t 4K compatible. So I had to go out and buy a new AV receiver that was also 4K compatible. Then I found out that my HDMI cables also weren’t 4K compatible (surprisingly 4K HDMI cables aren’t a marketing gimmick!). So I had to go back out and buy new 4K capable HDMI cables. In the end, to get 4K working at home I had to buy a new TV, new Apple TV, a new AV receiver, two new HDMI cables and then on top of that, upgrade my Netflix membership to the more expensive 4K package ($15.99). So was it worth it?

After fiddling a ton with a bunch of settings on my TV and AppleTV (mostly the HDR settings), I finally got everything working the way I wanted it to. Not everything is shot in 4K (or HDR) but most of the new shows and movies are. I think the most impressive things visually I’ve watched in 4K were David Attenborough’s new Netflix documentary “Our Planet“, the documentary series “One Strange Rock” that’s directed by Darren Aronofsky and hosted by Will Smith, and finally the Netflix Sci-Fi film “I Am Mother“. All three were 4K and had HDR so the footage was super crisp and impressive, especially some of the darker scenes in “I Am Mother” where HDR I think made a lot of difference. HDR is a technique used to get a more dynamic range of luminosity in the footage and most TV’s nowadays I believe have it. You can clearly see HDR at work in some scenes, but it’s difficult for me to put in words (but I’ll try). If you’re watching TV in the dark and there is a dark scene and suddenly a beam of sunlight shines through a crack in a wall and hits the camera, the sunlight looks super bright to the point you squint because HDR helps keep the dark areas of the screen really dark. Not sure if that made sense but basically you can get a lot more range of darkness and lightness in the same scene at the same time.

Should you upgrade to 4K? If you’re looking to get a new TV then yes it’s a no brainer. If you don’t have an external sound system or a device like Apple TV and are instead, just planning to use the streaming apps that you can install directly on the TV, it’s not gonna be too expensive to get 4K working. But on the other hand, if you do have a full setup like mine and one that you purchased a while back, expect to spend quite a bit to get 4K up and running properly. If you play videogames you’ll also have the added expense of having to upgrade to the 4K capable PS4 or Xbox as well on top of all the other expenses I mentioned earlier. But, I do think the combination of having 4K and HDR is worth it since it has elevated my TV viewing experience a lot more than when I had upgraded my TV from 720P to 1080P. So do it.

25 06, 2019

Curated – Car Storage Facility

2019-06-25T08:13:22+03:00Jun 25, 2019|6 Comments

Not sure what’s with the latest car storage trend in Kuwait but right now I’m aware of four of them and three just popped up recently. A car storage facility is basically a managed parking lot for people who don’t have a place to park their nice cars but don’t want to park them in random public parking lots. Different facilities offer different services like trickle charging for your battery, air conditioning, 24h security and more.

Last year I posted about a car storage facility called The Vault which was aimed towards the high-end market, but recently a more affordable place opened up called Curated. Curated is located in Kuwait City behind Al-Awqaaf Center, in the multistory lot next to Centerpoint. The lowest basement level is closed off from the rest of the parking and only members are allowed to use it. Their prices are as follows:

Monthly = KD65
6 Months = KD360
1 Year = KD660

Currently its the most affordable managed car storage facility I’m aware of but there are two more I need to visit, SERV which I think is priced similarly, and Cartel which is described as a luxury car hotel so most definitely more expensive.

If you’re interested in Curated, they’re on instagram @curatedkwt

24 06, 2019

Zain Beam Follow-up Review

2019-06-24T10:12:08+03:00Jun 24, 2019|24 Comments

Back in February Zain hooked me up with Zain Beam to test out. Previously I had been using B Wirless (WiMD) but my direct line of sight with their tower had been blocked and so my connection was no longer stable. A regular LTE connection in my area was also unstable with speeds varying between 2Mbps to 4Mbps, maybe a bit more sometimes. After trying out Zain Beam in February for a couple of weeks, I loved it so much I decided to commit for 2 years and subscribe to it. This is now my follow-up review around 4 months later.

If you want to read my previous post on Zain Beam including details on the installation process, click here.

Since I installed Zain Beam the internet connection has been pretty flawless. I subscribed to their 20Mbps service but I rarely get speeds less than 27Mbps, in fact, it’s usually always around 30Mbps. For those of you with LTE connections in fancier less congested areas, you’re probably not impressed with my internet speed, and that’s understandable. I find it frustrating that my phone’s speed can reach 120Mbps in some areas, but yet my Zain Beam connection at home gets me only 30Mbps. It’s even more frustrating now to see my friends get upwards of 600Mbps with 5G as well. But, 30Mbps is the fastest connection I’ve ever been able to get in my apartment.

That’s the thing you need to be aware of when comparing Zain Beam to other internet services in Kuwait. Not everyone has fiber optics or fast LTE in their areas. Zain Beam is meant for people like me living in heavily congested areas with no fiber, no decent 4G connection, and no 5G either. So 30Mbps is super fast for me, it’s three times faster than my previous 10Mbps connection I had with B Wireless, and the only other connection that I can get which is faster than mine… is the 40Mbps Zain Beam package.

Another thing I want to point out is that Zain also limits the amount of Beam users in an area, I guess to keep the experience consistent. A friend of mine wanted to get Beam in my area but Zain told him all the slots had already been filled.

In the 4 months I’ve had Beam I did run into one issue. Around a week or two after signing up I woke up one morning and found my internet down. No biggie, I called up Zain to talk to support and this is where I ran into a problem. With B Wireless, if I had a problem I’d call support and someone would pick up right away. The support guy would then try and solve my problem over the phone and if the problem was more complicated, he’d either tell me he’d call me back or that a technician would be sent over. Fairly simple and the whole process of solving my issue would take less than 5 minutes. With Zain, on the other hand, you don’t talk to a support persona, instead, you have to call up the regular Zain call center and leave a complaint and then someone gets back to you. Wouldn’t be that big of a deal but the process to leave a complaint takes forever! It took the call center guy over 10 minutes (not exaggerating) just to file my complaint. Their process for taking complaints is excruciatingly long, that’s over 10 minutes just to tell them my internet is down and for them to tell me someone will call me back. Other than that I didn’t really have any issues and that day it turned out my connection was down because they were doing maintenance.

With the launch of 5G last week the only thing that I’m bothered with right now is the price vs speed ratio compared to 5G. Viva, for example, offers 5G at KD25 a month (although with a 250GB limit) which is how much I’m paying, so I now feel like my connection is starting to feel overpriced. If 5G in my area can get me speeds over 100Mbps I’d be super upset that I’m committed to two years of Zain Beam and just getting 30Mbps. What I’m hoping is that Zain will eventually upgrade the speed of their two Beam packages in the coming months from the current 20Mbps and 40Mbps options right now, to maybe 40Mbps and 80Mbps instead. That would make things more palatable when compared to 5G.

If you have any specific questions on Zain Beam you can ask me in the comments below. If you’re interested in signing up to Zain Beam, here is a link to their product page.

24 06, 2019

You Can Now Buy Permanent Residency in Saudi Arabia

2019-06-24T08:15:48+03:00Jun 24, 2019|27 Comments

Last month I posted that Saudi Arabia is going to start offering permanent residency to some expats like doctors, engineers, innovators, investors and residents who contribute to the country. But now they’ve expanded the programme even further where you can also buy a permanent residency:

Saudi Arabia has opened applications for a permanent residency programme designed to attract foreign investment to the kingdom, but it will cost a hefty 800,000 riyals ($213,000).

The so-called premium residencies will allow foreigners to buy property and do business without a Saudi sponsor, switch jobs and exit the kingdom easily and sponsor visas for family members, according to the website for registrations. Source

That’s one pretty expensive visa. At first, I thought you needed to invest at least $213,000 for example by buying an apartment, which is reasonable, but turns out it’s actually the fee you need to pay for the residency. At least it’s a start and expats in Saudi have an option.

23 06, 2019

Update Your Civil ID Name Online

2019-06-23T12:19:21+03:00Jun 23, 2019|22 Comments

Back in February, the Ministry of Interior decided to cancel the use of residency stickers inside passports. Instead, you need to have a valid Civil ID card when traveling as a means of verifying your residency.

The name on the Civil ID card has to match your name in your passport or you’ll risk being denied travel in or out of Kuwait. But, having your name misspelled on the Civil ID is a pretty common issue and my previous post on how to fix your name constantly gets comments from people with similar issues.

But now the Ministry has issued a statement that they will no longer correct spellings at PACI but instead, all requests must now be made online. They even have a dedicated section now for misspellings.

So if you need to fix the spelling of your name on your Civil ID, click here.

23 06, 2019

Eataly Opening Next Month

2019-06-23T08:36:08+03:00Jun 23, 2019|10 Comments

The popular Italian restaurant and marketplace Eataly is targetting to open up in Avenues on July 21st. Eataly is already open the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and although I haven’t tried it myself I’ve heard the food is great. The Avenues location is in Phase 4 near the Mercedes dealership and they’re on Instagram @eatalyarabia

20 06, 2019

Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

2019-06-20T10:33:44+03:00Jun 20, 2019|0 Comments

Not many events taking place this weekend but still more than what’s been going on the past few weekends. If I missed anything let me know.

Thursday
Al3ab Village

Friday
Al3ab Village
Fête De La Musique

Saturday
Al3ab Village
Book Club: Lolita Novel by Vladimir Nabokov
Global Wellness Day

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]
For a full list of upcoming events click [Here]

Sometimes events get canceled or have details changed so always double-check with the organizers.