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Personal

Live Love Beirut

With everything going on in the world, nothing has really given me anxiety as much as the shit that’s been going on in Lebanon over the past year. I tend to tune in and tune out of Lebanon related news because I can only take so much. But what happened yesterday has honestly left me speechless. I don’t even want to be writing this post right now so I won’t. It’s all really sad and I can’t help but feel useless right now.

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Personal

And I’m Back!

I just got back from my Tbilisi trip yesterday. I wasn’t expecting to disappear like this, I figured I’d lazy post while I was on vacation but I really needed to disconnect from work and my blog for at least a week and it felt great to do so. I continued to post on my instagram story since it gave me a reason to try and take some nice photos on my trip but other than that I really wanted to disappear.

I’m so glad to be back in Kuwait though. The whole Corona thing blew up while I was out and after the whole Iran outbreak thing I got freaked out. Not because I was afraid of getting the virus but afraid of being locked out of Kuwait. I read an article that said that they were stopping all flights from Iran and that Kuwaitis would be evacuated and quarantined on arrival while expats would be refused entry. So the whole trip I was worried Georgia would suddenly develop a mass Corona outbreak and I wouldn’t be allowed back into Kuwait and then where would I go?

For those of you out of Kuwait or for those of you wondering what the entry process at the airport is like right now, it’s pretty much similar to how it was a few weeks ago. As in there is a doctor with a thermal camera that scans every arriving visitor. Children and babies would have their temperature measured individually, I’m guessing because the thermal camera doesn’t work well on them? Whats really changed though is the mood of everyone. You can clearly tell everyone is now afraid of getting the virus from passengers to the passport control employees. A lot of people were wearing masks and my passport control lady even wore disposable gloves (which is probably more useful than masks).

When I got up to the passport control desk I was asked to place my finger on the fingerprint scanner and that’s probably the only time on my whole trip I got freaked out about getting the virus. I looked at the officer and was like do I really need to put my finger there? She said yeah so I put my finger on it and got it scanned. Thankfully once I was done she got her bottle of hand sanitizer and squirted it in my hands so I could disinfect it.

Anyway, I’m back now and catching up on stuff so I could start posting normally again starting Sunday. I noticed a lot of events have gotten postponed which is a smart thing to do for now. Some of the events that have gotten postponed include COMFEST, Redbull Car Park Drift and all the Kuwait Motor Town activities. I’m assuming things are gonna be pretty slow for the next two weeks or so…

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Blog Info Personal

17 Years Blogging Anniversary

The picture above is my original computer setup when I started blogging back in 2003. I’m trying to remember why I had both a Mac and a PC setup but I can’t seem to figure it out.

I’ve got a pretty organized digital photo archive that dates back to the 90s when I first started scanning pictures, and so it’s fairly easy for me to pull up an old photo from a specific time period. I love digging up old photos since it’s always fascinating to see what kind of tech I had back then since I was fairly geeky. The photo above was my portable set up back then, my 12inch Apple iBook, a Sony Ericsson T68i phone and a Palm Tungsten T personal digital assistant (PDA).

I also found the photo above from the same time period but featured my Sony CLIÉ PDA, my original Apple iPod with a Firewire port, my iOGEAR Bluetooth to USB adapter and my T68i phone again. The Bluetooth adapter allowed me to connect my laptop to my phone to get online, something unheard of back then but ordinary today. The photo below is when I first sucessfuly got online from my laptop using my phone’s internet. I remember I took this shot parked near the Kuwait Towers, the date of the photo is February 18th, 2003 which is 12 days after my first blog post ever.

Good times!

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Personal Travel

My First Trip to Saudi

Last week I went to Saudi for the first time ever and I spent a couple of days in Riyadh. I’ve got mixed feelings about the city, well not really mixed feelings but more like I don’t understand it. On one hand, you had MDL Beast, the largest electronic music festival in the region take place there, but on the other hand, from what I saw it still looks and feels like such a conservative city. It’s like both extremes are living side by side together and it’s very hard to process.

Getting a visa for Saudi is super simple right now. I actually totally forgot to apply for a visa and only remembered the evening before my flight but they now have an evisa website and even though I applied at 8PM, I got an approval less than an hour later for a 1-year multi-entry visa. I was relieved but also shocked since last year when I wanted to get a visa I had to get an invitation from someone in Saudi, and then was told I had to visit the embassy in Kuwait to apply for it and even then there was no guarantee I’d get a visa due to some political drama that was happening between Saudi and Canada.

The process of entering Saudi was also super easy. Once I landed in Riyadh and got out of the plane I followed a floor sticker towards a visa on arrival desk right outside the gate. There I handed my passport over to a lady behind the desk who finished up my visa process and stamped my passport. I then headed to passport control and I guess this whole process is super new because they were trying to re-enter me into the system again not knowing I was already in the system. They kept getting an error and then they noticed my passport was already stamped and were surprised since they didn’t know that they were stamping passports at the visa desks next to the gates. After multiple apologies for the delay (they were super friendly and apologizing the whole time throughout the process) I was let through.

Visually Riyadh isn’t a very beautiful city, well, most of it at least. The city is very beige and looks pretty old from what I saw. I can’t remember seeing any greenery in the city unless it was in the park and the only area the looked modern with beautiful skyscrapers was the King Abdullah Financial District that’s still under construction (pictured above). But, you still had some really beautiful buildings or projects in between all this which created a stark contrast. The way I was describing Riyadh to my friends was it either looked like Mahboula, or it looked like Dubai. Their roads are also in a worse state than ours but that’s mostly because the whole city is one large construction site right now because of the metro expansion and all the various large projects.

Because it’s Riyadh Season right now, they have some incredible things going on in the city. I went for dinner in Al Murabba (square) which is a huge historical area with old buildings and a large park that is temporarily occupied by some of the world’s finest restaurants like New York’s Dirty French and Carbone, and London’s Dinings SW3. All pop-ups but built to look like permanent structures. Once you pull up to the main gate of Al Murabba you are greeted by an army of Saudi hosts and hostesses standing on both sides of a long walkway into the park. Super fancy, incredible service and everyone is just extremely friendly. It felt like I was attending a fancy one-night affair but this is how it is every night. Actually everywhere I went the service was really great, customer service is something they take very seriously over there.

So yeah, right now Saudi is a very odd place with a mixture of two extreme lifestyles. While there I didn’t hear anybody complain about what’s going on even though I heard mumblings about alcohol being legalized soon. I think the conservatives might be fine with it all of it for now as long as it doesn’t affect them. Or maybe because things are happening so fast they haven’t had time to react. Whatever the case, it’s all gotten me very curious and interested in Saudi and now that I have a multi-entry visa, I’m going to be heading there more often, maybe even do a road trip. A friend who lives in Dubai messaged me last night telling me to meet him in Saudi this coming weekend for the Jamiroquai concert. Saudi in less than a year has become a regional destination.

Categories
Automotive Personal Travel

Jebel Jais Drive in a Ferrari Portofino

I’m currently in Dubai courtesy of Ferrari. They’ve put me up in the gorgeous and very lavish Bvlgari Resort, and they’ve given me access to two cars to drive, their new Ferrari Portofino and the Ferrari 812 SuperFast. I actually have a lot of work back in Kuwait and shouldn’t really be here, but how could I say no to this right? When they first got in touch with me about this trip I was excited obviously but in my head I was also thinking, ok so I’ve already test driven these two cars, and I’ve already posted them on the blog, so how can I post about them again? Then it hit me, I could do Jebel Jais!

Jebel Jais is a mountain in the UAE with an elevation of nearly 2,000m. I found out about it from the popular car show Top Gear, (or maybe it was The Grand Tour?) and ever since I’ve wanted to drive it. The mountain has an incredible 3-lane winding road that takes you to the very top and is usually featured in “Top Roads You Need to Drive on Before You Die” style of lists. There isn’t anything on top, the bottom or along the way to the top, it’s just an empty beautiful road to nowhere.

I’ve contemplated shipping my Lotus to Dubai before so I could do the Jebel Jais drive but it was just too costly. I even considered maybe including it as part of a Oman drive where I’d ship my car to Dubai, do the Jebel Jais drive and then drive to Oman and do a drive there before sending my car back to Kuwait. It never materialized so when Ferrari told me I’d have access to the Portofino for a day I thought to myself, that would be a great car to drive up the mountain. So I accepted their invitation and here I am in Dubai.

Ferrari dropped off the Portofino yesterday morning to my hotel at around 10AM. I had two conditions, the first is I needed to have the car back by 5:30PM, the second is I could only do a maximum mileage of 350KM. Both weren’t going to be an issue. Before coming to Dubai I had already figured everything out, the drive from my hotel to the top of Jebel Jais was 160KM and it would take just over 2 hours. So, 160+160 is 320KM and say a 5 hour total journey time, that would still leave me with time to spare. The calculations worked, I was able to take the car to Jebel Jais, come back to the city, grab and lunch and have the car back at my hotel before 5:30 with around 15KM mileage to spare. It was close, but good enough.

The drive to Jebel Jais was pretty uneventful and boring, but I had a bunch of podcast episodes of Business Wars lined up and that made the time pass by quickly. There were also a ton of cameras along the way so I just put the cruise-control on the highway limit of 120KM and just cruised to Jebel Jais. Once I got to the bottom of Jebel Jais, I dropped the top down, put my favorite Spotify music playlist on and just blasted my way up the mountain.

There was no one, just me, the mountain and the incredible 3-lane winding road with no speed cameras all the way to the top. I loved the drive and the Portofino was just insane on that road. It’s such a fast car and it sounded amazing and aggressive all the way to the top. The temperature was around 28 degrees so it was perfect to drive with the roof down and I think I got a bit of tan as well. The drive up the mountain is around 16KM long and it took me around 20 minutes give or take. I stopped a bit on the way up just to check out the view, but I stopped a lot more on the way down to take some photos of the car.

Once I was back down the mountain I really wanted to just U-turn and make my way up again, but I knew if I did that I would end up exceeding the allotted mileage given to me by Ferrari, and I didn’t want to do that. So I put the roof back up and headed back to the city.

I finally got this drive off my bucket list and I couldn’t have asked for a better car to do it in. It was a difficult choice choosing between the Portofino and 812 SuperFast for the Jebel Jais drive, but I made the right choice because it doesn’t get better than flying up the mountain in a fast loud red Ferrari convertible. Ferrari are now dropping off the 812 SuperFast in a few minutes so if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes, sorry but I’m in a rush!

Categories
Blog Info Personal

something something Blog Anniversary something something

Today is my blogs 14th anniversary (maybe 15?) and around a week back it was my 16th anniversary (or was it 17th?) since I first started blogging. 2018 might have been the most stress-free year for me blogging-wise. I decided to kinda take a very chill approach to the blog, and not pressure myself as much where I have to post 2 or 3 times every day. If I have something to post I’ll post, if not I won’t. I know it sucks for you but I really am getting too old for this 😅.

I’ve mentioned this before but it is a lot of pressure having to constantly try and find stuff to write about every day, it’s also really difficult to do when I have a job, a social life and a lot of days where I just want to sit on my couch, watch a TV show and not leave the house.

Last month I started a new job and it’s taking up so much of my time so I don’t know how 2019 is going to turn out. I’m trying to wake up at 7AM every day to get the posting out of the way, and so far it seems like its working. Surprisingly (to me), this is probably the first time in a while where I’m not considering stopping the blog. I realized that the blog helps me stay current and active, so even with my busy work schedule, I’ll keep finding time for it especially now that I’m putting less pressure on myself.

Anyway, that’s all.

Categories
Food Personal

My Favorite Restaurants in Kuwait Right Now

I love eating outside and I rarely eat home cooked meals, in fact, I don’t even remember the last time I ate a home-cooked meal. So, I’ve been wanting to put together a list of my favorite places and I finally got it done. I’ve divided my favorite places into categories, it wasn’t easy in some cases just choosing three, but I forced myself to do so to keep things consistent. Check out my favorites below and let me know what your favorite places are:

Restaurants
1- White Robata
2- Mana
3- Lavan

If I had to choose just one restaurant to eat at forever, it would probably be White Robata. I’m there usually once a week and would go more often if it wasn’t so freaking expensive. So much good food combined with incredible staff make this easily my favorite restaurant in Kuwait at the moment. Mana, on the other hand, is a lot more accessible and great for going to in groups. They’ve got the best guacamole in Kuwait and generally, everything I’ve tried there has been really good although the rosemary chicken is my goto dish. Finally, Lavan is my favorite Indian restaurant. I go there mostly for their tandoori grills since I’m always trying to eat healthy, but I always manage to convince myself to have one of their delicious biryanis as well.

Healthy
1- Super Foods
2- Leila
3- Little Rubys

There are a lot of healthy places nowadays but these three are my goto ones. Super Foods doesn’t need much of an introduction since I think they’re the most popular healthy food place. They’ve got great snacks, cold bowls, delicious sandwiches, and even healthy desserts. They also have a lot of drinks to choose from including my favorite, their Blue Majik. The next place would be the Lebanese restaurant Leila, like most Lebanese restaurants, it’s a great place for healthy options since they have salads and grills. But, what sets Leila apart is their light menu which contains food options with even lighter dressings and more healthier sides. I know Little Rubys might seem out of place on this list since they’ve got delicious burgers and crazy good fries, but they also have my favorite salad in Kuwait, their pumpkin salad. It’s a baby spinach salad which I usually have them add grilled chicken too, so delicious.

Breakfast
1- Cocoa Room
2- Lunch Room
3- Baker & Spice

I had difficulty deciding on the number one spot here, it should be Lunch Room but since it’s more convenient getting a table at Cocoa Room I chose them as number one. Lunch Room is my favorite breakfast spot at the moment but the place is small and so there is always a waiting list. And unlike Cocoa Room, you can’t call ahead and put your name on the list so you have to go there, put your name and then just sit in your car since there isn’t anything else around them to do. Cocoa Room is also always super busy but I tend to call them an hour before I plan to be there to put my name on the list. Then, usually by the time I get there, my table would be ready or I just have to wait for one or two tables before it’s my turn. Baker & Spice is my healthier choice here, but during the summer months, I tend not to go to Baker & Spice since I enjoy the place more sitting outdoors especially at their Souk Sharq location.

Delivery
1- Joa
2- SimSim
3- Clean Eats

Before Carriage came to be, I think I used to only ever order food from Hardees. Now I’ve got a whole list of places I order from but these are my favorite ones. JOA I love ordering from when binge watching a show with a friend or when I’m having movie nights. Their poke bowls are the best and they’ve also got affordable sushi rolls if I want. SimSim is a place I find delicious but I try not to order them a lot because they’re all carbs. SimSim easily have the best flatbreads in Kuwait (get the pumpkin or musakhan) as well as a delicious rose water flavored knafa for dessert. Finally, Clean Eats I heard about at first because of their delicious yoga bowl which is what I used to order all the time but then I started making my own bowls. Now I tend to mostly order their banana and chocolate chip overnight oats since its a great source of energy before I hit the gym.

Cheat Meals
1- CHKN
2- Arby’s
3- Eighty Six

This was another category I had trouble trying to pick a favorite place. Both CHKN and Arby’s have perfect cheat meals but I decided CHKN was slightly better because of their sides. I tend to order their Slaw CHKN sandwich with the original CHKN bites on the side. So soooo good, it’s like the best fried chicken burger ever. Arby’s on the other hand, I just order their Double Roast Beef N’ Cheddar sandwich but that’s all I really want from life sometimes. Full disclosure on the third spot which is Eighty Six, they’re one of the brands I work for at the moment so I literally go to sleep thinking about them. So although I might be a bit biased here, I’m really a huge fan of their Billie Jean burger as well as their Saku Saku chicken burger.

So there you have it, my favorite spots around Kuwait right now. I might more add categories to this if I think of anything but this should be good for now. Don’t forget to let me know your spots!

Categories
Blog Info Personal

I Shared Fake News (I think)

Yesterday I posted about Eddie Griffin being barred from entry into Kuwait and this morning I found out it wasn’t true, it was fake news. I never fall for fake news, I’m usually the one telling friends if the news is fake or not but this time I messed up.

How did it happen?

Originally when I was writing up my post about Eddie Griffin, the working title was “Calls for Eddie Griffin to be Barred from Entering Kuwait”. My source originally for this “news” was @tafteeesh. So as I was writing up my post I decided to look for news on twitter. Eventually I found the hashtag #لا_لدخول_الملحد_جريفين_الكويت with a ton of people posting about this including MP’s, users with over a million followers, and various news sources. So I concluded this was a fact and not just a rumor or a call for a ban. I then edited my title and removed “Calls for” because it was no longer a call for action but an action that had already been taken and I published my post.

Throughout the day yesterday, I was reading the comments when one reader posted stating that the organizer Algas Events were doing damage control saying it was just a rumor and that the event would still take place. So I quickly checked their instagram account so I could post an update but didn’t find anything concrete to dispute the original story. The organizers were replying to their followers with vague comments like “we got this” and then when a follower called them out on their vagueness they responded with the following:

That to me didn’t read as a denial to the rumor. In fact, it read to me like a decision was made to ban Eddie Griffin, but that they were in talks with the authorities to reverse the ban and they would keep us updated. Then, this morning I got a phone call.

A friend who is working with the organizers called to let me know that no decision was made to ban Eddie Griffin yet, and that all the sources for this news including reputable sources were not basing it off any official announcement by the MOI.

So, I basically posted fake news… I think. The only reason I’m not really sure is because they haven’t issued an official statement yet denying the ban. So there might be a bit of truth to all of this, we will have to wait and see. For now the event is still on and they’re still selling tickets.

I’m sorry I posted news that wasn’t verified yet (basically fake news) and I’ve updated my previous post to reflect this. I always try to post facts unless they’re clearly stated as rumors but this time I messed up.

Check out the events page for more info on this show [Here]

Categories
Information Personal

My Visit to the Museums

On Friday I passed by the museums with a bunch of friends and I figured I’d share my experience which was overall pretty good, especially considering the number of people who were at the museum on Friday. First though, let me get the negative out of the way.

We got to the museum around 3PM and the traffic to get in was a block long because of the fact you needed to buy tickets before entering the parking lot. Although they have 9 drive-thru ticketing booths, they’re arranged 3 in a row, so only 3 lanes with each lane having 3 booths. If you’re the third car in a lane, you have to wait for the two cars ahead of you to finish buying tickets before you could enter the parking lot which is what slows things down. What was also annoying was that the main gate had two lanes to enter, the people who drove through the gate in the left lane ended up at the first ticketing lane, but the cars who drove in from the right lane had access to the second and third lane of ticket booths. So the cars that drove in through the right lane moved twice as fast as those who entered the gate from left lane. So here is a tip, enter through the right lane!

The ticketing system is the only negative thing I have to say about the museums and I imagine its a short-term issue since the museums just opened. It took us exactly 30 minutes waiting in line to enter the museums’ main gate, buy the tickets and then park the car.

Once inside finding parking was easy since there was plenty. Not only that but when we were leaving around 5:30PM, the museum had closed its main gate because the museum was full, even though there was still plenty of parking. I guess based on the number of tickets they sold, the museums had reached their maximum capacity. And here is the great thing, the museums didn’t feel like they were overcrowded on what probably is going to be recorded as their busiest day ever, the first Friday right after opening. Sure there were some busy areas with tons of kids running around, but there were also plenty of areas that were practically empty as well.

They had live music playing outdoors which felt surreal when combined with the orange sky that date and the beautiful and futuristic lights of the museum. Kinda felt like I was on the set of the film Blade Runner. You can check a couple of vertical videos I shot (sorry they were meant for insta stories) [Here] and [Here].

One thing that caught me off guard was their bookshop located in one of the buildings. They actually had a ton of great books for kids and adults and most of them were from Phaidon which is my favorite publisher. I need to go back again this week and buy some books.

Like I mentioned in my previous posts, the museums are huge and you really need a full day to explore them all properly, and even then you’ll probably miss some stuff. I’ve been there twice so far and I have yet to explore the whole museum properly and there are areas I still haven’t even visited. I really love the place and I can’t wait to go back there again. For ticket prices, opening hours and more information, visit the ASCC website [Here]

Categories
Blog Info Personal

15 Years Blogging Anniversary

I posted my first blog post ever exactly 15 years ago to this day. It wasn’t on 248AM, I launched that two years later, it was on another blog called qHate. Back then I was still living with my parents, I was piss-ass broke and didn’t really know anyone in Kuwait. Crazy how that was just 15 years ago since a lot has happened over that time. It’s kinda scary when I think about where I’ll be 15 years from now, probably in L.A. working in the electronics section of a Walmart would be my best bet.


My computer setup back in 2003

There are dates that represent important moments in my life, I was born in 1978, 1988 was my first trip to L.A., the Gulf War in 1990, graduating from high school in 96 and so on.

2003 is when I started blogging.

Categories
Automotive Personal

Introducing… My Lotus Exige 380 Cup

Last month while visiting the Lotus dealer with a friend of mine, I was given the opportunity to upgrade my car. A friend had ordered a Lotus Exige 380 Cup, but once it arrived at the local dealer he decided he wanted the more powerful 430 Cup instead. So, the dealer gave me first dibs on the car along with a too good to be true buyback offer on my Lotus. So after a lot of deliberation in my head (which mostly sounded like yada yada yada, you only live once, yada yada yada, mid-life crisis, yada yada), I decided to pull the trigger and get the car.

So what are the biggest changes over the Exige I already had? (skip this paragraph if you’re not into cars)

To start with, the 380 Cup is over 100KG lighter than my previous already super light Exige. The Cup weighs in at just 1,057KG! It also produces 375 hp compared to the 345 my previous car made and does 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds. The aerodynamics of the Cup car is also much more aggressive producing over 250KG of downforce compared to my previous Exige. You can really feel the car being pushed down to the ground once you hit high speeds. The wheels are also lighter forged aluminum, and the tires are larger and come with the track and competition Michelin Cup 2 tires. The AP Racing brakes have been upgraded and the gearbox is now a manual instead of paddle-shift and looks incredible with all the metal gearing exposed. The suspension is two-way adjustable so I can make it softer for the road or harder for the track. Finally, the car is covered in carbon fiber, everywhere, from the roof to the interior, even the rear engine window was replaced with a carbon fiber hood to save weight. So yeah, loads of changes compared to my previous Exige and that’s not even including overall usability improvements. I should also add that the 380 Cup is limited to just 60 cars worldwide (and the only one in the region), so its super rare.

I’ve had the car for around 10 days now and I’ve put just a bit over 1,000KM on the car already so I’ve gotten a good feel for it. The Cup is a lot faster than my previous Exige, and because it’s more track-focused, it rides really rough, is pretty noisy and is now even more unpractical than what was already a very unpractical car to begin with.

But I love it.

Its raw, it’s not bullshitting you pretending to be something it isn’t, it’s as honest a car as you can get. And it’s not just me, EVO magazine gave it a 5 out of 5 and Road & Track called it “too much fun to be street legal”. It is too much fun.

I was planning to take the car to Bahrain for their open track day on February 15th, but turns out I need to have at least 3,000KM on the car before tracking it and I don’t think I can get that done in two weeks. So not sure when I’ll have the car on the track but hopefully pretty soon.

If you’re looking for a good place to take car photos by the way, I’d highly recommend the rooftop parking of the complex in front of Mayar in Shuwaikh. I took all the photos here with my iPhone on the roof and loved the spot because of the neutral colors and clean lines. Here is the location on [Google Maps]

Categories
Personal

I’m Selling My Nikon Gear

Since I got my Sony RX1 a few years ago, I basically stopped using my large Nikon D800 camera. Over the past few years I’ve only been using the D800 for taking photos of cars when reviewing them for the blog. The rest of the time it’s just been sitting in my closet gathering dust and depreciating in value.

Since I’m trying not to be a hoarder, I’ve decided to get rid of all my Nikon gear. So if you’re interested, I’m selling it for a pretty good price, check it out [Here]

Actually, since I got my iPhone X, I’ve even stopped using my RX1. But don’t think I’ll ever sell it, I just love it too much.

Categories
People Personal

Cars & Coffee with the US Ambassador

A few weeks ago I got contacted by the US Embassy telling me that US ambassador Lawrence Silverman wanted to meet up for coffee. Originally they wanted to know if he could come by my office, but I thought that might be a bit weird since I currently work in a government office and it would be kinda awkward if the US ambassador came to our offices with his entourage just to meet with me. So I asked them if we could meet somewhere else and they were like sure, where?. Now in my head I was thinking, can the US ambassador actually have coffee anywhere? I didn’t know if there were any rules or security protocols that prevented him from doing so, but I wanted to meet somewhere casual, so I figured I’d ask anyway. So I proposed Arabica at Arraya and they agreed. First thing I then did was get in touch with Arabica and see if I could book a table. I didn’t want to get there with the ambassador and then not have anywhere to sit so Arabica ended up hooking us up.

I actually just got back from having coffee there with the ambassador since our meeting was this morning. His arrival was pretty dramatic as expected, first I got a message from the Cultural Attache saying “We’re approaching” and then I saw all the flashing lights of his convoy pull up a few moments later. He then walked over to Arabica with his security detail who ended up hanging out around the area until we were done with our meeting. It was my first time meeting with ambassador Silverman. I had met the previous ambassador when we flew together to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, but ambassador Silverman has only been in Kuwait for a year and so we hadn’t had the chance to meet yet.

The meeting turned out to be pretty enjoyable surprisingly, I was worried we wouldn’t have anything to talk about and end up with awkward moments, but there wasn’t a dull moment throughout the hour we were together. We kinda clicked from the start since we were talking about Oman and I mentioned how me and some friends of mine were planning to send our sport cars there for a road trip, and he mentioned that Audi recently launched their RS3 in Oman. I was like wtf? (in my head) How did he know that? Me and my friends were actually watching an RS3 review video that was shot in Oman when we decided on this trip. Turns out the ambassador had watched the same video and himself is a car guy so the conversation pretty much flowed after that with us talking about cars mostly.

Close to the end of the meeting we brought up the idea of him possibly guest posting on this blog, similar to how the previous British ambassador had his “Mondays with Matthew” posts. He was interested so expect those posts to come soon. I have to say, its occasions like this that make me enjoy what I do so much. It’s unreal.

Categories
Complaints Kuwait Personal

Friendship Ended with Salmiya, Now Netflix is My Best Friend

A few days ago I posted about how Salem Al Mubarak Street is finally turning into a pedestrian only street. One of the negatives I highlighted was the fact they had chopped down some of the old trees that have been there for nearly 50 years. I was upset about it, but when I asked the engineer behind the project if they were removing the old trees, he responded saying “only some”. So I assumed they had chopped down the trees that they didn’t need and all the ones left were the ones they were keeping. Well last night I noticed they had removed nearly all the remaining trees. Using Google Maps I counted 28 trees that were originally planted on that street and there are now only 3 left. That means 25 trees in total were removed! One of the remaining trees currently has a chainsaw parked under it so it might not even be there anymore by the time this post gets published. I’ve marked all the removed trees with x’s in the above picture and the ones remaining with circles.

How is 3 trees out of 28 considered “only some”? Why are they removing the trees anyway? If they were building an airport runway I could understand but they’re not so why? Some of the trees were fairly large and it would have been pretty cute to have small cafes underneath with seating areas around them. The trees were large enough to provide shade, they didn’t need any watering because they were well rooted and the trees were also homes to a lot of birds.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore.

Last night I got so upset about the whole situation I emotionally booked two trips for the next two weekends. Why am I getting so worked up about all of this? It’s not my country, I don’t own the street nor were the trees mine. Why am I even surprised about all of this? Based on the renderings the engineer shared I should have known no good was going to come out of this. When you demolish historical buildings in your renderings and replace them with fancy shiny malls, it says a lot about the thinking process. Chopping historical trees isn’t only a Kuwait thing either, it happens everywhere. In Lebanon for example a politician cut down part of an ancient cedar forrest so he could setup an outdoor venue for his son’s wedding. I mean like wtf? If shit is gonna happen its gonna happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

So starting today I’m hopefully emotionally disconnecting myself from Salmiya. I no longer want to be mayor. If anyone wants to take over the responsibility of giving a fuck, they’ve only started construction work on half of old Salmiya. They haven’t started on the other half yet (pictured above) and based on Google Maps there are approximately 38 trees there. Good luck trying to save them.

Categories
Personal

When are you moving to L.A.?

Since I’ve gotten back from my vacation I’ve been asked that question over a dozen times. The truth of the matter is, although it is something I consider every year when I visit L.A., I don’t think I’m leaving anytime soon. Other than the fact I still have things I want to accomplish while here, when I talk to family and friends living in L.A., I realize the grass is not that greener over there. I mean I’ve always known that, ever since I was a kid and played the PC game Theme Park. If you wanted to start a park in a highly populated country, you had to pay much more for the land. If you didn’t want to pay for land, then you’d have to build in a country with a smaller population which meant less income for your park. There were things you needed to compromise on depending on what country you wanted to build your theme park in, and its the same in real life. We compromise on one thing, but in return we have something else going for us here.

When people living in L.A. ask me about life in Kuwait. I tell them about how things are here and their eyes get all dreamy, wishing they were living in Kuwait and had our lifestyle. We generally have it pretty easy over here and in my case, super easy.

So yeah things aren’t perfect here and I’m usually the first to point the issues out, but if you don’t appreciate what we having going for us right now (we really do have a lot going for us), then you’re probably not making the best use of your time here.