Kuwait in National Geographic Traveler

Post by Mark

A reader emailed me to tell me that Kuwait was featured in the most recent issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine (Oct 2010). A cool thing of course if it wasn’t for the fact that the article was very superficial and spoke mostly about shopping at The Avenues. I’m serious.

Outside The Avenues, the 125°(F) desert air is rising in waves from a sea of luxury cars in the mall parking lot—Land Rovers, Mercedes-Benzes, and Hummers, with a Ferrari or two thrown in. Inside, I’m swept along the marbled concourse by a tide of men in dark sunglasses and ankle-length white robes. Nearby are wives, sisters, and daughters, some in headscarves and designer jeans, others cloaked head-to-toe in flowing black garments, or abayas, and some walled behind face masks . Housemaids and nannies trail behind—domestic servants imported from the Philippines, China, and elsewhere—lugging the day’s boxes and bags.

Understanding the Kuwaiti passion for retail requires a brief civics lesson. Kuwaiti citizens—who make up only one-third of the country’s expat-heavy population of three million—benefit from a lavish package of petro benefits, including plush government jobs. “People get paid for doing relatively little, or nothing at all, and they get paid extremely well,” says Mary Ann Tetreault, a professor and specialist in Gulf affairs. “Shopping is really the only way to distinguish oneself from one’s peers.”

You can check out the full article on the readers blog located at [read-my-blog.com]

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My favorite bookshops in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Before I started 248AM I had another blog called Miskan. Before Miskan I had a photo blog (that sadly doesn’t exist anymore) called Moblogging in Kuwait. Before Moblogging in Kuwait I started off blogging at qHate.com back when the only bloggers around were just me, Nibaq and Zaydoun from Kuwait Unplugged. Thing is I’ve posted about so much stuff in the past 7 years that I’ve completely lost track of what I’ve posted about and what I haven’t. For example it recently came into my attention that I haven’t posted about Q8Books or the original Kuwait Bookshop although I could swear I’ve posted about them before. Turns out I discovered both those places back during my Moblogging from Kuwait project in 2004 but only mentioned it briefly on Miskan and with a picture on Moblogging from Kuwait (actually called Nat my girl friend in that post back then!) yet I thought I had done a proper post about it here on 248AM. Anyway since I haven’t I figured I would do so now.

Q8 Books
Q8 Books is the only used books shop I am aware of in Kuwait. There actually aren’t that many places that sell used anything here in Kuwait which makes Q8 Books even more special. The place is filled to the brim with a ton of used books ranging from novels, kids books to cooking books and more. The owner of the place is a great guy who opened the place and runs it out of passion. They even have a website that contains all the books they have in the shop, how cool is that? The store is located on the mezzanine floor of the shopping center behind Johnny Rockets Salhiya. For store opening hours and to check out their collection of books you can visit their website www.q8books.com

The Kuwait Bookshop
Everyone knows the large Kuwait Bookshop located in the basement of Muthana Complex in Kuwait City but very few people know about their first and original store located a few hundred meters away. The original Kuwait Bookshop location was the first English bookshop to open up in Kuwait (so I was told) and the location is still open and active. Although the Muthana branch is pretty cozy the original branch is even cozier. The store is two stories with the top floor being my favorite since it feels like it contains hidden treasures. I’ve been there a few times and never seen anyone in the shop but the employees tell me they do get a lot of customers. The original Kuwait Bookshop is located near Restaurant 99 on the Sheraton Roundabout.

Note: Off topic but I think Moblogging from Kuwait was my best blog so far. Sadly it was hosted on textamerica.com which shutdown and took my blog with it. Luckily most of it is still archived on web.archive.org although 99% of the pictures aren’t. It’s still fun to flip through and read my old posts there. I used to post from my Sony Clie UX-40. To read my old posts, follow [this link] click on the first image and then keep clicking next.

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Kuwait in really really really old magazines

Post by Mark

Yesterday BuYousef emailed a link to an article in LIFE about Kuwait dating back to 1959 which contained a good amount of pictures and information. He had found that article by using the search feature in Google Books and it made me realize I might be able to find other hidden treasure and I did. Since his email I’ve been reading old articles none stop and I’m still not 0.0001% through them all.

A search for Kuwait in Google Books will get you tens of thousands of results but I managed to narrow down the search a bit and found the ones below:

1952 Venus is a crook in Kuwait
1955 Proved in the Blazing Heat of Kuwait!
1958 Fresh Water from the Sea
1959 Kuwait: the fabulous sheikdom
1961 A dusty vigil
1965 Everything’s up to date in Kuwait
1975 What happens when the oil is gone?
1979 Bite that tiger
1980 Solar power station for oil-rich Kuwait

Some of the interesting stuff I read weren’t just articles about Kuwait but articles that mentioned Kuwait. I didn’t post them above because there were too many but I did read some interesting stories like I was reading an article from 1961 about a Nazi war criminal that was hiding in Kuwait and then I read another small snippet from someone in Kuwait who had sent a letter to Boys Life. It’s just random bits like that which I found really entertaining to read. Google Books is just amazing.

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Magazines on the iPad

Post by Mark

I’ve already posted about the Zinio magazine app on the iPad before (pictured above) and about how great it is and if there was only one app I could have on the iPad that would be it. Sadly though, not all my favorite magazines are available to subscribe to on Zinio… or at least not available yet. So what’s the solution?

You’re going to have to download magazines illegally.

Magazine subscriptions are cheap with the majority costing around $10 a year and I’ve already subscribed to over a dozen but the ones that aren’t available in Zinio I just download pirated copies of the magazines for free.

To do that you need two things, a PDF reader on the iPad and links to sites that post those magazines for you to download.

PDF Reader
I use GoodReader (pictured above) on the iPad to read my PDF magazines. The reason I went with GoodReader over other PDF readers is because it’s cheap, it handles large files extremely well and also because it has a ton of features. Some of the cool features are the ability to upload files into GoodReader directly from your web browser on the computer over wifi, the ability to drag and drop files into GoodReader from iTunes and the ability to download files from the Internet directly into GoodReader via an internal browser. Not only that but you could take a bunch of files, zip them up, upload them into GoodReader and then unzip them within the app. The only downside to GoodReader is the extremely ugly app icon.

Magazine Sites
There a ton of sites but the ones I use the most are the following: World Mags, Get Magazine and Magazines Download. Now just an FYI before you click the links, those sites also have PDF’s of certain magazines that are banned in Kuwait so close your eyes when you see them.

That’s all there is to it. Most of the magazines available in Zinio are also available at those sites as well but, since subscription fees are very cheap on Zinio I would highly recommend you subscribe to them instead.

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Zinio, my favorite iPad app

Post by Mark

If I was forced to keep just one app on my iPad it would have to be Zinio. Zinio has made me owning an iPad logical. I’ve already posted previously about the fact that I didn’t know what exactly I would use the iPad for but with Zinio its become very clear… magazines. I love magazines and I hate books (short stories are fine). Maybe if I was stuck on an Island with just a library I would take up reading but with my already hectic life I need to make the best of my time and books just take too much of it. It’s the same reason I don’t watch many movies, for the same amount of time it takes me to watch 1 movie I could watch 4 episodes from my favorite TV show. The problem we have in Kuwait is magazines are expensive costing KD3 and up per issue every month. In the US you could subscribe to a full year for the same price we pay for just a single issue here. I’ve tried subscribing to US magazines and having them shipped with Aramex but magazines can be heavy and in the end I was paying 10$ a year to subscribe to 12 issues of a magazine and then paying KD3 or KD5.500 to ship a single issue to Kuwait.

With Zinio I no longer have that problem. Zinio originally was a website which allowed you to subscribe to digital versions of magazines so you could view them on your computer. Now they’ve created an iPad app which allows you to view the magazines on your iPad. The magazines on the iPad look like the print version except it has a few advantages. For example I was flipping through an article in Car & Driver about a car and on one of the pages I noticed an icon, when I clicked the icon it opened up a gallery full of pictures of the car.. ones that weren’t available in the print version. Other nifty features is the ability to open the contents page and then click on the headline of the article you want to go to or view all the spreads as thumbnails and then select the spread you want to see. There was a Honda ad in the magazine with a button click here for a test drive, when I clicked the button it played a video commercial of the ad (which was actually a good one). You can also view the magazine as a spread (two pages side by side) or if you hold the iPad vertically you can view the magazine page by page. You can zoom into the page to enlarge the copy by other double tapping a location or by pinching the screen. Another cool feature is the fact that you can view a purely text version of the magazine in case you’re having issues for some reason reading the regular print version. Articles in the text format can also be emailed to friends or to yourself to print out and you can even control the font size.

When you run the app you have three main sections, featured articles, your library and shop. Featured articles is basically samples of articles from some of the popular magazines which you could read for free. Your Library is where all your magazine issues are stored. You can view your magazines either by titles or by date. It’s very organized and easy to navigate. Finally the shop section is where you can flip through the magazines available to subscribe to and order them. Once you download a magazine you don’t need Internet access to view them. Magazine sizes vary from around 20MB to 40MB per issue. The prices for most US magazines like Car & Driver, Maxim, Cosmopolitan etc.. are around $10 to $15 for a yearly subscription (similar to their print counterparts) while some magazines that are European imports cost a lot more. You can use your Kuwaiti credit card without any problems.

The Zinio app is free and available in the App Store (on both the iPhone and iPad). Here is a link to the Zinio website where you can check all the magazines they have available with their prices. [Link]

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The 99 comics on the front page of CNN

Post by Mark

Naif al-Mutawa the creator of The 99 is currently featured on the front page of CNN US edition. Not only that but President Obama “singled him out for special praise for promoting international understanding”. Now that’s pretty cool. Check out the article [Here]

Update: Here is the video in which Obama talks about him


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Alice in Wonderland for the iPad

Post by Mark

Goodbye Kindle, goodbye Nook and goodbye Sony Readers. [YouTube]

It’s available now in the App Store for $8.99 [Link]

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THE 99 Animation Preview

Post by Mark

THE 99 is a locally created comic book featuring a team of superheroes based on Islamic culture and religion. Although it’s been only 2 years since the comic got published it quickly became a bit hit and is now licensed in 8 languages including Chinese. Next year Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other members of The Justice League of America will team up with THE 99 in a global series by DC Comics. In addition to that THE 99 is being turned into an animated series and the video above is the preview. 26 episodes are currently in production written by top names in Hollywood who’ve also worked on Ben 10, Spiderman, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. [YouTube]

Here is a link to THE 99 website [Link]

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The Running Man Revealed

Post by Mark

Back in 2007 I posted about “The Running Man“. He’s the guy most of you have probably seen running on the Gulf Road in the middle of the summer heat or in the middle of winter when it’s raining and freezing cold. I tried to interview him back then but after finally catching up to him I was out of breath and couldn’t communicate with him and he ended up running off again. Well Student Talk managed to interview him and it turns out he has a very interesting story. Since Student Talk don’t have a website I scanned the article and uploaded it online. You can view it [Here]

In case you want to pick up the actual magazine its the November issue, he’s on the cover. Here is a list of locations you can find the magazine [List]

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Kuwait in National Geographic, December 1952

Post by Mark

Desert Girl sent me the most amazing thing today, a PDF of scanned pages from a National Geographic issue from 1952 which talks about Kuwait. The article is 20 pages long and contains 25 pictures of which 11 are in color. It’s incredible I love it. The caption under the picture above says:

A Mobile Medical Clinic, Bought with Oil Wealth, Tours Kuwait Villages
For ailing Arabs who cannot travel to the capital, the Sheikdom provides an American-built trailer unit staffed by a physician, nurse, and technician. Here the doctor examines an elderly man at an outlying village; other patients wait their turn. Treatment costs them nothing. New hospitals, including one for animals, are part of Kuwait’s heavy investment in its own well-being.

Here is the PDF for you to down. It’s around 4MB in size. [PDF Link]

Thanks Desert Girl!

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