Categories
In Focus Shopping

Flora for Fresh Flowers

Flora is a fresh flower wholesaler and supplier located in the basement of a building in Salmiya. I live within walking distance from it and didn’t know they existed until a couple of years ago so doubt a lot of people know about it unless they’re really into flowers.

There is no sign outside, no display, it’s just a door that takes you down into a basement of a building. Once you’re done it’s pretty cool because it’s not something you’d expect to find. The space is divided into two main parts, the unrefrigerated area which usually contains plants, dry flowers, and various florist tools, and the refrigerated area which contains all their fresh flowers.

There are two large walk-in refrigerators in the back of the store that house the flowers. The refrigerators have glass sliding doors and there is a switch outside you need to press to open them to get in. So if it’s your first time there you can either have them open the door for you or look for the switch. Once you open the door you can just walk into the fridge and check the flowers they have and pick what you want.

I’m not a flowers person so don’t know much about the varieties they carry so thankfully they do have a website which you can check out that lists all their available flowers with their prices thefloraonline.com

The prices are going to be cheaper than elsewhere since they’re suppliers. They also do make bouquets and arrangements for you, so you can pick what you want and they’ll put it all together. If you want to check the place out, their Instagram is @thefloraonlinekw and here is their location on Google Maps. Once you get to the location you’ll see a flower shop on the ground floor, that’s a different shop, the entrance to Flora is to the right of it.

Categories
In Focus Information Shopping

The Ultimate Hardware Stores Guide for Kuwait

A few weeks ago I decided to finally upgrade my toolbox with a proper set of tools. Over the years I’ve been buying tools as I needed them and that has resulted in a bag full of random brands, missing pieces, and duplicate items. Since I use my tools a lot because of my cars, I decided to reboot my toolbox and put together a nice set of some great brands and great tools.

There are two very popular hardware stores in Kuwait, Ace Hardware and Bin Nisf, but there are a ton of other smaller or more specialized stores in Kuwait which is mainly why I wanted to put this list together. There isn’t one store that carries everything so if you want to build a kit with the best of different brands you’re going to have to visit different locations. Below is a list of my favorite places that carry some great brands, most of them are only available in the stores they’re listed under. I’ll only be listing the brands I think are worth mentioning, for example, Bin Nisf carries a lot of brands but not many quality ones. Also, some brands like Bosch, Dewalt, Stanley, Makita, etc are sold in all hardware stores so I haven’t mentioned those as well. Check out the places below:

Categories
In Focus Information

In Focus: Rakan Book Store

I’m a huge fan of Mogahwi but sometimes they’re a bit limited with options with their stationery items. Jarir has a good selection but there is another cool place that might have more stuff than both of them, Rakan Book Store.

Rakan is both a book store and stationery store located in Hawalli. They also have a small selection of toys and various other items but their stationaries section is hard to beat. When I wanted to get a new pair of scissors from Mogahwi I was limited with just a handful of options, while at Rakan they had a full section just for scissors. And that’s just one example I experienced last week.

What I also like about Rakan is on their top floor they have a section filled with tacky looking Arabic posters, stuff you’d find on the walls of your Arabic classrooms back when you were a kid. They’re fun to rummage through.

If you’re concerned about parking because it’s Hawalli you shouldn’t be. The place is located right off the 40th so getting in and out is pretty easy. There is also a large paid parking right next door so parking is super easy. If you want to check them out their Instagram is @rakan_book_store and here is their location on Google Maps.

Categories
50s to 90s In Focus Music

Cleopatra Recorders – Since 1969

Firstly, I think the place should actually be called Cleopatra’s Records based on the Arabic but their Instagram account name is Cleopatra Recorders so we’re just gonna stick to that. Cleopatra is a music shop in Hawalli that’s been around since back in 1969. I only found out about it last week from a friend and was pretty disappointed in myself that I didn’t know the place.

The store isn’t even hidden in some back alley of Hawalli, it’s actually on the main road opposite Promenade Mall. The store doesn’t look like much from the outside, nor the inside frankly. It’s a long skinny store with shelves filled with cassettes as well as some CDs and 8-track tapes. According to the employee, the original store owner had passed away and the son had taken it over.

I ended up buying a bunch of cassettes of old Kuwaiti music at an average price of KD1.5 each. What’s great is you can listen to the music before you buy it so I was randomly picking up albums off the shelves based on haircuts and outfits, and then I’d listen to them and if I liked it I got it. If you’re looking for old Arabic cassettes this is your place. Their Instagram account is @cleopatra_recorders and here is their location on Google Maps.

Thanks Abdullah

Categories
Animals & Wildlife In Focus

Aquamarine Exotic Farm – Your Aquatic One Stop Shop

I don’t get impressed easily but you should have seen the look on my face when I walked into Aquamarine Exotic Farm. I had seen pictures of the place on Instagram which is why I was curious to check it out but Instagram doesn’t really do justice to how big and cool looking this place is.

Aquamarine Exotic Farm is a one-stop-shop for everything related to aquarium fish, their supplies and equipment. Think Pet Zone but just for fish. The place is huge and really well organized and laid out. Even if you aren’t planning to buy any aquariums you’ll want to pass by and check the space out because it’s that cool. The store has two main areas, one for saltwater fish and another for freshwater fish. In the middle of the store is where you have all their supplies and equipment.

They have a huge variety of fish on display and even a very large coral area. They also have two marine biologists as part of the team which you could ask technical questions to and who can help you keep your aquarium healthy. I really wasn’t looking to get any fish but just walking around the store made it very tempting especially since they had some really beautiful ones on display. They also offer the service of building a custom aquarium for you if that’s what you’re looking for.

If you’re thinking of getting an aquarium or have one and need some supplies or maybe more fish then this is the place to go. Even if you aren’t looking to get an aquarium I’d still recommend you pass by and check the place out because it’s that impressive. They’re located near Avenues and they have their location and opening hours listed on their Instagram account @aquamarineexotic

Categories
In Focus People

The Blade Maker

Over the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with the TV series Forged in Fire in which bladesmiths compete on the series to win $10,000 and earn the title of Forged in Fire champion. So when I found out there was a local bladesmith I decided to get in touch with him to find out his story.

Fahad Alsayer goes by the handle @theblademaker on instagram and has been making knives for just over a year. He started making knives for fun before realizing there were people who would be interested in buying his creations. He actually hadn’t thought of selling them until one day while low on cash, he got a phone bill message on his phone. He hadn’t started working at that time and was trying to figure out how to pay his bill when he decided he’d try and sell one of his knives. After managing to sell it, he paid his phone bill and reinvested the remaining amount back into his hobby. Eventually, it became a source of income with local chefs and knife collectors getting in touch with him for one-off creations. He’s even shipped his knives to customers abroad.

I passed by Fahad’s workshop last week, a room in his family home which he converted into his workspace. It’s a pretty cool setup with a knife kiln on one side of the room for heat-treating the metals, and sanders and a sharpening station on the other. Fahad doesn’t forge his metals but instead purchases them in sheets online which he then either shapes manually with a sander, or cuts out using a laser cutter. Due to the cost of the materials as well as the time and skill it takes to create a knife, Fahad’s knives cost KD90 and up, depending on the size of the knife, amount of work it took and kind of metal used. Some of his customers include @chefkb and @foodninja whom he created custom knives for. Fahad isn’t the only knifemaker in Kuwait, according to him there are others albeit a small group but they tend to meet once a week to talk knives and help each other out.

If you’re interested in purchasing a knife or checking out Fahad’s work then make sure you check out his instagram @theblademaker

Categories
In Focus Information Shopping

The New Jawad AlSaffar Hardware Store

The goto hardware store for most people is either Ace or Bin Nisf in Shuwaikh but Jawad AlSaffar (JAS) recently opened a new location and I think it will give them both a run for their money.

The new JAS store has been open for a few months now but I only found out about this new and huge location last week. The new store is located across from the original True Value in Shuwaikh and is composed of two floors. The ground floor has garden stuff, shelves, paint and a large section containing generators, large air compressors and some heavy equipment like mixers, water pumps, ground compactors, and a bunch of other stuff I have no idea what they’re used for.

Once you move down to the basement things get more impressive. Firstly the basement is gigantic but it’s also really well organized. You have the usual areas like the power tools section, hardware tools, paint tools, protective gear, etc.. but in between all these main sections you have very specific areas like the caster wheels section, a section for nails and bolts, a welding area, a ropes section, a car garage equipment section, etc.. just very specific stuff.

The place is much larger than Bin Nisf and also larger than Ace, but I did notice that they didn’t carry any premium brand of hardware tools and some sections like their work lights area seemed lacking compared to Bin Nisf and even Ace Hardware.

If you like hardware stores then you really need to pass by and check out the new Jawad AlSaffar store. They’re open daily from 6:30AM to 10PM except for Fridays when they’re open from 6:30AM till 11:30AM. Here is their location on Google Maps.

Categories
First Impression In Focus Interesting

Calma – Float Therapy

Yesterday night I dropped by Calma, the first float center in Kuwait. Float centers (sometimes called spas) use large pods called isolation tanks that you float inside of in complete darkness to deprive your mind of external senses. The pods are soundproof and filled with extremely salty shallow water that is heated to your body temperature. The saltwater allows you to float effortlessly on the surface while zoning out in complete darkness and silence.

People use flotation tanks for muscle relaxation, to lower anxiety and to help with depression.

When you first walk into Calma it feels like you’ve just walked into a spa. After a small introduction on isolation tanks you’re led into one of their four flotation rooms where you’ll have access to your own pod and private shower. There you’re given some more instructions before you’re left alone to start your float session.

Although I had heard of flotation tanks before, I only got to try it for the first time yesterday. I was curious to know how it would feel floating in the tanks but I was also curious to see if it would feel claustrophobic or not. I did an MRI scan once and it felt extremely uncomfortable and so was worried this would feel the same. It surprisingly didn’t! The pod actually feels spacious once you’re inside, even after you close the lid. Then, once you turn off the lights it no longer feels like you’re inside a pod, it feels like you’re floating in the ocean in complete darkness or even in space.

The flotation sessions last one hour and cost KD30. Compared to prices abroad that’s fairly reasonable considering we’re in Kuwait and that Calma is located in the basement of Symphony Mall and not some shady first-floor building in Salmiya. Right now they’re in their soft launch phase and only accepting bookings through direct message on instagram. So if you’re interested in trying this out you can find them on instagram @calma_kw

Categories
Design In Focus Information Shopping

Mogahwi Stationery – Kuwait City

Since Mogahwi closed down next to my place in Salmiya, I’ve resorted to going to Jarir in Boulevard Mall since that’s currently the closest decent stationary shop to me. But, I might stop doing that after dropping by Mogahwi’s Kuwait City location yesterday.

I used to pass by the Kuwait City branch whenever I needed anything urgently for work since it’s right down the street from me. But the store was old and outdated and I generally didn’t like shopping there.

But recently they gave the Kuwait City store a much-needed facelift. Other than the fact they’ve improved the lighting and given the space a paint job, they’ve also expanded the store and brought in a lot more brands and new items. They’ve now got a much larger variety of arts and crafts supplies as well as a large variety of spray paint brands including popular brands like Montana. They even have their own resident artist.

So if you’re a fan of Mogahwi but hated the Kuwait City store like me, then you should pass by now and check it out. They’re open daily from 9AM to 9PM except for Fridays when they open from 4:30PM. Here is their location on [Google Maps]

PS: If you’re a Copic Markers fan they now carry a very large assortment of their pens. (they still cost an arm and a leg though)

Categories
In Focus Shopping

In Focus: Barakat Store

Barakat is an old school store located in Salmiya that has been open since the early 80s. They sell supplies for knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlework, sewing, weaving, as well as hobby and crafting materials, and magazines relating to all these.

I thought they had closed down their old Salmiya location since they had opened a small shop in Al Bustan Mall, but turns out the original store is still alive and kicking.

I passed by with a friend the other night and it reminded me of when I was a kid and I would accompany my mum. When I was a kid I hated trips to Barakat since I used to get super bored, but now as an adult, I appreciate the place a lot more.

I was tempted to get something, so ended up leaving with a “My First Embroidery” kit of a cute cat. Since I’m always curious to try new things, I figured I could try embroidery for fun and this kit contained everything I needed to learn embroidery.

If you’ve never been to Barakat, you should pass by to check the place out especially if you’re looking for a new hobby to get into. They’re located on the first floor of a building near Beit Dickson Restaurant in Salmiya. Here is the building on [Google Maps]. They’re also on instagram @barakat_kuwait. If you do pass by, make sure you pick up some kunafa from Al Tibawi down the street before you leave the area.

Categories
In Focus Shopping

In Focus: Arts & Crafts Store

I had heard of the store Arts & Craft awhile back but never passed by it until just last week. A friend of mine was looking for a linen canvas roll and after searching all the art shops in Dasman Complex to no avail, we decided to pass by Arts & Craft to see if they had it. They did… along with a ton of other stuff.

Arts & Craft is a huge two story shop carrying everything you could think of related to arts and crafts. There are of course a lot of places that sell arts and craft supplies in Kuwait for example, Dasman Complex has a bunch of stores, Jarir has a pretty decent section and then stationary shops like Mogahwi also sell arts and crafts supplies. But, what makes the store Arts & Craft so unique is the sheer amount of variety all in one place.

If you’re looking for any kind of art supplies related to painting, drawing, printmaking, calligraphy, various crafts and more, then they should be your go-to place. Their store is located in Shuwaikh on Canada Dry Street [Google Maps] but, they also have an online store you can check out at artsandcrafts-kw.com

Categories
In Focus Interesting Shopping

Biology, Chemistry and Physics Equipment and Labware

I was in blockat the other night and came across this pretty strange shop. The shop mostly specializes in scales, everything from small Tanita home scales to heavy-duty commercial ones. But, that occupied just half the store, the other half was filled with random things like crucibles to melt gold in, old-fashioned steering wheel locks, kitchen knives, butter churns and a science section.

The shop sold biology, chemistry and physics equipment and labware, and most of it looked pretty old school like they’ve been sitting on the shelves for decades.

So if you’re ever in need of tubes, flasks, chemicals, skeletons or whatever, then you could check this place out. It’s also fun to just walk around in since the store has so much random stuff.

The place is called Ibrahim & Mohd.Soud Al-Farhan Trad. Co. and they’re located in Kuwait City in the blockat area. They’re also on [Google Maps].

Categories
In Focus Interesting Things to do

Must Visit: The Habitat Museum

Last week I posted that the Habitat Museum at Al Shaheed Park was now open but I only managed to pass by it this past weekend. I left so impressed, that here I am posting about the museum again a week later.

The museum showcases the unique beauty of Kuwait’s plants and animal life by taking visitors on a journey through the local ecosystem. When you first enter the premises you need to pick up your audio guide as well as a round disc that contains a plant seed. This disc can then be used in various parts of the museum to activate screens and interact with the exhibits.

The museum isn’t that big but I loved everything about it. My favorite part though had to be watching different families and people just walk around interacting with the displays. Its pretty obvious that people in Kuwait are hungry for museums which is why I can’t wait until the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center opens up end of this year.

Another thing I liked was the fact the museum brings up two important issues, illegal hunting near the wildlife reserves as well as how camping can be very disruptive to the environment. Two very important issues which I’m glad they talk about in their exhibits because it will definitely educate the visitors especially the young ones.

The Habitat Museum is located in the same building as the escalators that take you to the parking lot (the far end one) and right across from the restaurant Table Otto.

The opening hours are:
Monday to Friday: 4PM to 9PM
Saturdays: 12PM to 7PM
Sundays: Closed

Entry is free just make sure you have an ID card so you could pick up the audio guide and plant disc. The museum is really worth checking out so pass by.

For more photos of the interior taken by the photographer Niccolò Guasti, click [Here]

Categories
In Focus

AL MAADAN Home Accessories & Furniture

I found out about AL MAADAN recently when I tagged along with a friend who needed to get some items for his place. It’s a home accessories and furniture shop thats located in Shuwaikh but they also have a tiny store in Avenues.

Although it doesn’t sound the part, AL MAADAN actually have some pretty cool looking and tastefully designed items. When I was there, I found a bunch of things I would have wanted for my place if I actually had the room for them. The main reason they have some very cool looking items is because they carry the Danish brand House Doctor, which to me is kinda like a Danish version of WestElm.

So if you’re looking for furniture or accessories for your place then they’re definitely worth checking out. Here is their location on [Google Maps] and their instagram account is @almaadankw

Categories
In Focus Shopping

My Belongings Vintage Radio Shop

belongings1

“My Belongings” or “Moqtanayaty” (مقتنياتي) in Arabic is a small store in Kuwait City that sells vintage radios, boomboxes, record players and even cameras. Unlike most places that sell vintage items, all the vintage music players in this store are in working condition. They actually repair vintage music players, VCRs, and even old TVs. So say you have an old radio that stopped working, you could take it to them and they’ll try and fix it for you.

belongings2

They have a lot of random items around the store as well from 8mm film and 8-track tapes to old telephones and clocks. The store is open from 9AM to 1PM and 4:30PM to 9PM. Here is their location on [Google Maps] and their instagram account is @vintage_radio_

Update: The place has moved, click here!