Scooting in the City

A couple of months ago E-Fly, the scooter-sharing service started placing some scooters near my office in the city. Having scooters you can rent and take around the city is actually really practical and now is very common in cities around the world.

When I needed to pass by the Xcite office in Al Hamra Tower to pick up the iPhone 15 Pro for review back in October, I took the scooter instead of driving. Trying to find parking in Hamra during working ours is impossible so instead, I took the scooter that was parked under my office building and rode it down the street and around the corner to Al Hamra Tower. I ended up parking on the curb across the street from Hamra, went in, picked up the iPhone and then was back again on the scooter heading back to the office. Super fast, super convenient and much cheaper than a taxi (around 300fils from Arabica Downtown to Hamra Tower).

This would be something I’d do a lot more of and I’m sure other people as well, if it wasn’t for the fact we don’t have sidewalks. Riding the scooter on the side of the road is pretty freaky. I don’t trust drivers, everyone seems to be in a hurry, and busses are extremely aggressive and the worst.

Although I was hoping to use the scooters a lot more frequently zipping up and down the city anytime I needed to go anywhere, I’ve only really used it two or three times and that sucks. Scooters are fun, they’re affordable and are so convenient. I know there is no hope of us ever getting sidewalks, but I still wanted to vent about it.


Are you getting spammed by Alshaya brands??

Is it me or is everyone else also constantly getting spammed by Alshaya brands? I don’t generally give out my phone number to businesses so I don’t get that much SMS spam, but I had to give my number to West Elm because they had to deliver my furniture and since then I haven’t been able to stop them from spamming me. I’ve tried calling them and asking to be removed, I’ve sent them messages on Instagram and I’ve even tried blocking them on my phone but nothing seems to work. I used to get a message every now and then but recently they’ve started bombarding me a lot more frequently and its become extremely annoying.

Dear Zain and other telecoms, if you offer a service where for a certain monthly fee I could block all spam messages from my phone I’d be willing to pay and so would others!


The Worst Courier I’ve Ever Dealt With!

It’s been a while since I last complained about a business, but this experience was too much not to share. A few weeks ago I ordered a new MacBook Air from I sent the MacBook to MyUS forwarding mailbox and then selected the cheapest shipping option to Kuwait because I wasn’t in a rush to get it and I’m cheap like that. MyUS ended up shipping it with a courier I hadn’t heard of before, SMSA Express. I was like fine, whatever, I wasn’t in a rush anyway.

The package took around 10 days to arrive in Kuwait, similar to how long Aramex would take so it wasn’t too bad. But that’s when I ran into a problem. The package went out for delivery last Saturday, I didn’t get a call, and there was no attempted delivery. If you check the tracking via their website, it shows that it’s out for delivery, if you use their WhatsApp service to check the tracking, it says that the receiver requested a new delivery date. So I started calling customer support:

Sunday: I called customer support who told me they’d have someone call me back regarding delivery. Nobody did.

Monday: I call customer support again and they tell me their tracking system hadn’t been updated since September 25 and that my package was showing still in Bahrain. I tried to have them explain to me how my tracking data was more current than theirs and they couldn’t.

Tuesday: I called customer support again, they don’t have a local office so I have to keep calling their Saudi number btw (thank you Skype). They tell me my package will be delivered today or tomorrow.

Wednesday: I called customer support, and they told me my package will be delivered today.

Thursday: This time when I called customer support I made a big fuss about how my package has been out for delivery for one week and they keep promising me delivery every day and how no one ever calls me. I get transferred to a manager who promises he will make sure my package will get delivered today before 3 PM.

Less than an hour later while on my way to Shuwaikh, I get a message from their driver asking me for a location. I call him up and ask him if he prefers to deliver in Kuwait City which is the original address listed, or Shuwaikh since I’ll be there. He tells me he’s delivering to Wafra 🤦🏼‍♂️. My office is in a building called Wafra Downtown Tower, so the dispatcher had read te first word, ignoring the rest of the address and decided that my package should be delivered to the area Wafra. I explain to the driver that the name of the building was Wafra, but the address was Kuwait City, he told me the office told him to deliver to Wafra and that’s where his deliveries are. So I ask him if I could come to him, he said I could and that he was in Farwaniya, so I got his location and headed there.

I get to the driver less than 15 minutes later and find out that SMSA Express use a local courier called OCS Express for their Kuwait deliveries. I finally get my package from the driver but he then asks for a payment of KD23.900 for customs. I was like it’s a laptop, there is no customs on laptops in Kuwait. So I ask the driver for an invoice and he says he doesn’t have one. Told him there was no way I was going to pay without at least an invoice. So he calls up his office and I talk to a lady and explain to her the situation. She says she will send me an invoice later, I told her I needed it first before paying, it’s a normal request. She told me it would take around 5-10mins, I was like fine I’ll wait and hung up. A few minutes later driver comes up to my window and hands me the phone. It’s the lady again, supposedly the accountant isn’t there and the driver needs to go make his rounds. I told her I’d been chasing this package for a week and I even drove all the way to Farwaniya to pick it up, I’m not leaving without the package. I hand the phone back to the driver and he goes back to his car. A few minutes later he comes to me and shows me a WhatsApp he got of a photo of the invoice. It said 23.900KD so I ask him to send me the photo and I hand him the amount cash to get my package.

After he left, I look at the invoice carefully and they charged me 20.400KD for customs. So I call the company up and talk to the lady I had spoken to earlier and explain to her that laptops don’t have customs charges so how was I being charged customs? She transfers me to another person who I assume is an accountant or manager. The guy tells me the item costs 408KD which is why there is customs on it. I told him the value doesn’t matter since it’s a laptop, and there are no customs on laptops. He says the description says there were notebooks in the box as well. I was like wtf, they’ve written notebook cuz it’s a notebook computer and if he doesn’t, believe me, I still hadn’t opened the box and he can check! I then proceed to tell him it was illegal that they were charging customs on a laptop when the government doesn’t charge customs and that I was going to report them for this. He then told me they would refund me the customs charge of 20.400KD but not the remaining charges. I told him fine and I sent them a payment link and got my refund.

So much drama for such a simple thing as a delivery. The fact that I was being charged customs when I shouldn’t have been is also super dodgy. If you ever use MyUS make sure you don’t select the cheapest delivery so you don’t end up getting your items shipped with SMSA and OCS!


Amazon and Aramex Weird Delays

Has anyone ordered from Amazon directly to Kuwait and had the item shipped with Aramex? The last few items I ordered were shipped with Aramex and I noticed an odd pattern once the package arrived to Kuwait.

Once the package arrives to Kuwait I start getting “errors”. For example, Amazon would first email me the following:

Unfortunately, ARAMEX wasn’t able to complete your delivery and needs additional information to try again. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

and then a day later:

Unfortunately, a problem occurred during shipping and we had to cancel your delivery. The package is being returned, and we will issue a refund within 3 – 5 business days after the return is processed. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience.

The first time that happened to me I freaked out and of course, there is no way to contact Aramex. Their call center number won’t allow you to talk to a real person and so you have to send them an email. When you do email them you’ll get a generic response asking you to resend your complete address so they can deliver your package.

I learned that if you ignore all the errors both Amazon and Aramex spit out, or the email request for your address, Aramex eventually delivers your package a few days later.

I didn’t think of it much until my friend complained to me about the same issue. So, I have a theory to why this is happening.

Amazon probably has expectations from Aramex on delivery time. Because Aramex can’t meet it, they put the blame on the customer by saying the address isn’t complete. That way they no longer are the reason for the delayed delivery, the customer is. It’s bad business practice.

So I’m curious as to how often this happens, it’s happened with my last 3 deliveries, has it happened to you? Just to be clear this isn’t using Shop&Ship, this is Amazon straight to Kuwait via Aramex.

50s to 90s Complaints

Khazal Palace Altered with Concrete

The Khazal Palace (also called Alghanim Palace and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace) located in Dasman near the British Embassy is finally being restored after being left to crumble for decades. But, yesterday a photo surfaced showing that concrete columns were planted inside the palace as part of the reconstruction.

What does this mean?

The palace dates to 1916 and was constructed with clay, it was one of the last Persian-style archaeological building in Kuwait. Since the palace was listed as a heritage site in Kuwait, it was protected and had the highest priority for conservation. With conservation projects it is paramount to restore the building back to it’s original state using as much of the original construction material as possible. The Kuwait antiquities law states that it is prohibited to modify, alter or distort immovable monuments. By pouring concrete into the palace it means it no longer is being restored correctly and thus loses its heritage status.

To try and simplify what this all means, imagine demolishing the palace completely and then rebuilding it again using modern day materials, is it still a heritage site? No because it’s now a new building and not an old building that was saved and restored. This is basically what has happened in this case to some degree. The building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list back in 2015, but because the restoration process is being done incorrectly, it will now no longer qualify to be on the list and so will not have any of the protection that comes with that status. Similar story to what happened with the Kuwait National Assembly Building, because they constructed the curved/wavy office building on the side of the main structure, the Kuwait National Assembly Building was disqualified from ever becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Kuwait Towers on the other hand which is currently going through a restoration process (the blue discs are being restored or replaced) is abiding by the strict restoration rules. The process is also being overlooked by the Getty Foundation “Keeping it Modern” grant which the towers received in 2020 (1 of just 77 grants given worldwide):

All of the orbs possess a remarkable shimmering quality thanks to 41,000 enameled metal discs in shades of blue, green, and gray that stud their surfaces in a carefully variegated spiral pattern.

Due to more than five decades of marine climate exposure, however, some of the decorative metal discs have detached and fallen to the ground. Guided by a recent conservation management plan, the project team will conduct a technical study to identify the underlying problem behind the disc detachments and develop conservation protocols for carrying out repairs and maintenance. Because the conservation of modern architecture in Kuwait is an emerging field, the project team will collaborate with international experts and leverage the opportunity to share their research with local Kuwaiti architects, conservators, and engineers.

School trip to the Kuwait Museum – 1970

A couple of years ago I heard rumblings about the fact they were proposing to restore the building with concrete (easier/cheaper) and that many local architects were against it and wanted the restoration to be done properly. Not sure if anything can be done about it now, but at the moment it looks like Kuwait lost another important part of its landscape.

For more information, check out this post on Instagram.

Update: Just got a bit more information. The basement of the palace is the oldest basement in Kuwait, more than 100 years old. Unfortunately, it was removed completely to make way for the concrete intervention. Source


Scooter Riders are Out of Control

A couple of years back when the MOI banned scooters on the roads I was against the idea because people had no other place to ride their scooters. But, now I think the scooter riders have also gotten a bit too cocky and out of hand. The other day on my way to work I was stuck behind a lady on a scooter riding in the middle of the road. I’m fine with them riding on the side of the road, but it’s not a motorbike, they shouldn’t be occupying a full lane.

Even when they’re not occupying a full lane they’re still driving pretty dangerously. On more than one occasion I’ve come across scooters coming out of a street dangerously the wrong way as I’m about to enter it. I’ve also seen people ride their scooters on the side of the Gulf Road, not on the sidewalk, but on the actual road.

I really can’t understand the thinking process, they must know riding a scooter on the streets of Kuwait is dangerous so why not be extra careful about it, that’s what I’d do.


Shop&Ship Increasing Shipping Rates

If you’re a Shop&Ship customer you probably just got an email about the fact they will be increasing their rates starting August 15th. The odd part is… they don’t mention what the new rates are.

The new rates will be available on the Rate Calculator on our website from the above mentioned effective date.

I think that’s super weird, like you’re sending an email about your prices increasing, why not tell us what the new prices are?


Why is the Sahel App Only in Arabic?

Is the Sahel app really only in Arabic? I keep thinking there must be an English option somewhere and I just can’t find it because it doesn’t make sense that an app as important as Sahel is only in Arabic. I’m terrible at reading Arabic so I struggle to use the app, so how do people who don’t know any Arabic use it?

Update: Sahel will be coming in English.


26th Tree Removed

The other day I was walking in old Salmiya and noticed they had removed another tree, the 26th one on the street. And yes, I’ve been keeping count. Previously, 25 large trees had been removed when they turned the street into a pedestrian-only one and I posted about that here.

It was bound to happen since whoever worked on the project decided it was a good idea to bring the road right next to the tree and I guess the low-hanging branches might have been causing an issue with traffic so they removed the tree. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t have kept all the trees and integrated them into the street like the tree in the picture above?

There is still a line of trees left which I’m expecting to be removed any day now, I should probably take pictures from now so I could post before and after photos once they remove them.


Assima Parking is the Worst

Not sure how many of you have experienced the Assima parking lot but it might be the worst mall parking in Kuwait right now. It doesn’t help that the building is located on a super congested street, but I also think it has to do with how you get in and out of the parking as well. Even when there isn’t traffic, navigating the parking lot is tedious with a lack of proper signage, too many aggressive speed bumps and a layout that’s very confusing. At night the situation is made worse with the higher footfall, last week a friend of mine was stuck for over an hour just trying to get out of the parking lot and that seems to be a normal occurrence.

Supposedly this past weekend the mall was going to try something new to help reduce the parking issues but I’ve already given up attempting to even go there at night. When a friend called me asking for tips on where to park I told them to park across the street in the KIPCO parking lot and walk over, they called me later that evening when after leaving Assima telling me how ingenious that idea was because the Assima parking was so packed and chaotic.