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Food Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Chipotle Interior, Prices & More

Yesterday I was at Chipotle Avenues Mall (they’re not open yet, I was just given access) and here is everything you need to know.

Opening Date:
They still don’t have an exact date, it will be during Eid that’s for sure, possibly April 10th. (Update: The opening date is officially April 9th)

Prices:
They’re going to be slightly more expensive than the US, but just slightly. For example, the burrito in Kuwait starts at KD 3.5 which is around $11.5, the same burrito in the US would cost around $10.5 (with tax). Here are all the items and their prices:

Burrito KD 3.500
Burrito Bowl KD 3.500
3 Tacos KD 3.500
Single Taco KD 1.250
Quesadilla KD 3.700
Salad KD 3.500
Kids BYO KD 2.250
Kids Quesadilla KD 2.000

Chips KD 0.950
Chips & Guacamole KD 1.900
Large Chips & Guacamole KD 3.150
Chips & Fresh Tomato Salsa KD 1.250
Chips & Tomatillo (Red Chili) KD 1.250
Chips & Tomatillo (Green Chili) KD 1.250
Chips & Roasted Chili Corn Salsa KD 1.250
Chips & Queso Blanco KD 1.750

Proteins:
Chicken, Steak, Braised Beef (Barbacoa), Sofritas, Veggies “includes Guacamole”

Ordering:
There will be 4 ways to order from opening day, you can either stand in line and build your order with an employee, or you can order from their digital kiosks, order through a QR code on the table, or order through the Chipotle Middle East app which will be available at launch.

Delivery:
Won’t be available at launch, but will become available as they open more branches.

Tidbits:
Some of the staff were brought in from Chipotle in the States and will be here permanently including the manager. Their prep and cooking kitchen is open and visible while waiting in line (I love that). Everyone I met and saw while there seemed happy and thrilled. I’m not very familiar with the brand since I only had it twice before, but the vibe I felt was really upbeat and fun, they’re really excited to open.

Hmmm, I think that’s all there is to know. I didn’t eat anything because I wasn’t really hungry, but I did leave with some fresh chips and guacamole.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. And this is my last Chipotle post, I promise 😅

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Food Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Nando’s at The Warehouse

Nando’s will officially be opening in Kuwait next week at The Warehouse Mall on February 21st according to the Nando’s team (20th will be a private event).

I was invited yesterday for a sneak peek and to take some pictures. The coming soon hoarding was still up so I couldn’t get a shot from the outside, but I did take some interior shots which you can check here.

I also found out that they will be opening Nando’s in Salmiya, and very near to where I live. Along with The Warehouse Mall and the Al Kout Mall locations, it would mean there will be at least three Nando’s in Kuwait opening this year.

Their Instagram account is now live so if you want to stay posted on the opening and more, check out @nandos.kw

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Information Sneak Peek

Kuwait National Planetarium Set to Reopen Soon

Kuwait’s National Planetarium was one of the first in the Gulf Region and originally opened back in 1986. But a lot has happened to it since then.

During the 1990 Gulf War, the planetarium was destroyed and the signature dome remained visibly damaged for many years after. Eventually, the planetarium was rebuilt and it reopened again in 2002 but then closed down again in 2016 due to the major renovations that were going to take place at the National Museum. Now, 8 years later, it’s set to reopen again.

The technology at the planetarium has been fully upgraded with a new system consisting of nine 4K video projectors, new computer technology and the modernization of the sound system. But, at the heart of it all is the Zeiss STARMASTER projection system which has been at the planetarium since the reopening in 2002. The STARMASTER replaced the Zeiss SPACEMASTER which was installed in 1986 and was badly damaged during the 1990 invasion (It’s now displayed in the planetariums lobby). Only 19 STARMASTER projection systems are installed worldwide and they’re known for their high level of brightness, pinpoint sharpness, and providing a realistic starry sky.

Work on the planetarium is basically complete with only minor maintenance work left. Their aim is to open it as soon as the work is complete, but most likely it will be right after Ramadan.

If you’ve never been to the planetarium before, it’s located on the Gulf Road, opposite Seef Palace and is part of the Kuwait National Museum.

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50s to 90s Interesting Kuwait Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Khalifouh Heritage Village

Khalifouh Village opened this past February, but I only found out about it in April and by then the village had already closed down for the season. Now the village is getting ready to open again and I was lucky enough to be given permission to pass by and get a sneak peek.

The village is owned by the popular Kuwaiti actor Khalifa Khalifouh who is known for his roles on a few popular tv shows and plays. Khalifa is very passionate about the Kuwaiti heritage and while working on shows involving old Kuwaiti villages, he didn’t like the way they were being poorly built so he decided he wanted to build a proper village, which he did. Khalifouh Village isn’t the first village he built, he originally built one in Salmi but then decided to knock it down and build another one in Wafra to make it more accessible to people.

The village is big with lots of buildings and alleyways connecting them all. The village has the basic necessities that a real village would have like a mosque, a baker, a tea shop, a theater and a main square. When the village officially opens for guests it will have more props and activities happening, but since it was closed when I visited, it was just me and an empty village.

I really wanted to visit the village for two reasons. The first is obviously to post about it, but the second reason was to take one of my classic cars so I could take photos of it with the village as a backdrop. Driving through the village in my old car felt weirdly real, like I had stumbled upon an old, abandoned village in the desert. Because the village is in Wafra where there are no tall buildings, once you’re inside all you see is the village and nothing else from the outside world.

There is no set date for the reopening of the village. They were targeting this month, but the weather hasn’t really cooled that much so it now looks like it will be in December. To stay posted on the opening, follow their account which also has some great photos @khalifouhvillage

Here is their location on Google Maps.

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Sneak Peek

Piatti – A New Italian Fine Dining Experience

A few weeks ago I got a call asking me if I’d be interested in getting a sneak peek of a new Italian restaurant opening called Piatti. I was hesitant to check it out at first but the person over the phone told me it was a fine dining restaurant and was confident I’d be impressed with the space. Since it’s not everyday we get a fine dining concept opening in Kuwait, I was intrigued. Just a month ago, a video went viral of a Saudi personality stating that unlike Riyadh, Kuwait didn’t have fine dining or an even a fine dining culture. I guess that’s going to change now.

As soon as I walked into the space I realized it was going to be something special. I think it took the walk from the reception area to the waiting area for me to fall in love with the interior, so pretty much instantly. There were so many different layers of materials, textures and colors all somehow working together cohesively to create this visual eye candy. Wherever you looked you’d spot an interesting design detail or beautiful craftsmanship, even the wallpapers were hand painted for Piatti. It had a lot of classical elements, but yet still felt contemporary.

They had wanted me to take some sneak peek photos, but after seeing the place I told them I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t feel I’d be able to do the interior justice, so instead, I connected them with my favorite architectural photographer @mashkanani who was able to take these beautiful photos in this post.

I haven’t tasted or even seen the food yet and I’m already excited about the place. The average paycheck per person isn’t going to be over the top crazy, from what I understood it’s going to be similar to Cipriani, probably a bit less, so fairly reasonable in the scheme of things.

The restaurant location is interesting as well. It’s located across from Seef Palace, right above Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Google Maps) and has a beautiful view of the sea and the palace. There will also be an outdoor terrace but it wasn’t ready when I passed by.

They’re starting private dinners tonight and then opening to the public on November 1st. If you’re interested in booking you can do so through their website piattiofficial.com starting October 31st. Their instagram is @piatti.official

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Kuwait Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Gulf Road Bicycle & Walk Paths

From all the projects currently taking place in Kuwait, I think this one is the one I’m most excited about.

Back in June I posted about the new 9.7-kilometre-long waterfront project that stretches from the Yacht Club in Salmiya all the way to the Kuwait Towers. The project involves facelifting the waterfront while also offering essential amenities for people which includes a dedicated bicycle and jogging path among other things.

We now have a first look at how the new pathway is going to look like and I’m super excited!

This small strip in the photo is not a rendering, it’s a real strip that was constructed for testing purposes. I’ve been told this is the final approved design that will now be implemented along the whole waterfront.

What I love the most about the design is how the walk path and bike path are separated with plants, benches and other amenities. This means you can’t accidentally walk into the bike lane which is what I tend to do when I’m in Europe.

Another cool thing I like is the bike racks which you can barely make out in the photo, they’re on the top left next to the bench and black colored street light. This means I can now park and lock my bicycle if say I want to take a quick dip in the sea (something I’m probably never going to do but I like the option). The whole thing looks really tastefully done, it looks really great.

Maybe the best part about this project is that it’s real, it’s already under construction and they’re targeting to have it completed by February. As someone who rides their bike all the time on the Gulf Road, you don’t understand how much I’m excited about this.

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Sneak Peek

Inside the New Kuwait T2 Airport Terminal

Yesterday I was given a tour of the new Kuwait T2 airport terminal, which is a candidate to get a LEED green building certificate. LEED is a certificate that is awarded to buildings whose construction and design incorporate sustainability methods.

I was first given a tour of the outside of the terminal before making our way inside. Usually, the renderings look better than the final result but I think in this case, it’s the other way around. I don’t think the renderings do the building material and color justice, it’s much more impressive in person. Also, seeing the multiple arches from various angles and noticing how they layer in some areas creates a visually stunning experience that you need to see in person to appreciate.

The airport is huge and not just when compared to our existing airports, it’s proper international standard airport huge. From what I could tell the airport structure had been completed and the majority of the work I saw taking place was at the aircraft gates, the parking lot area, and the large bridge that will take the cars up to the arrival area. I wasn’t given a completion date but according to previous articles published, the deadline for completion is later this year.

One thing that caught my attention while walking around the construction site was how clean it was. That’s part of the requirements in the construction phase when you’re aiming for a LEED certificate, they have a dedicated crew whose job is to go around the site cleaning it up and recycling as much of the waste possible. Right now 86% of the collected waste is recycled which is extremely impressive. Obtaining a LEED certificate involves more than just recycling waste. For example, they sealed off AC ducts during construction to prevent dust from entering and compromising air quality once the airport is operational. We won’t even get a “new paint smell” when the airport opens because they’re controlling the kind of chemicals used inside the paint. It’s a legit operation.

After walking around the airport yesterday and imagining how it’s going to look once it’s completed, I can’t wait for it to open up. It’s the airport we’ve always wanted, I just hope by then we get Smart Gates for passport control.

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Food Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: The New OVO Location

OVO, the vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian restaurant located in Bnaid Al Gar is opening their new location next month. The new location is located in Shuwaikh, inside the Design District, the same complex where the restaurant Cure and the gallery CAP are located.

The new location looks really great and will have both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s also located in the back of the complex overlooking a courtyard so once you’re inside it doesn’t feel like you’re in Kuwait.

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Sneak Peek

Winter Wonderland Updates

It’s been around a month since I last posted about Winter Wonderland and there has been major progress since then. They’ve basically finished all the groundwork since my last post and have now started installing the rides.

There will be over 30 rides and games for both children and adults once they open in December and they’re planning to announce the rides soon on their Instagram account @winterland_kw.

They haven’t officially announced the ticket prices but in a news interview, they stated they’re aiming for a 5KD entrance fee and then 1KD for small rides and 2KD for larger ones.

The popular content creator @mohamedalwazzan lives across from the park and has been posting nearly daily updates of their progress, so check out his account if you want to get a sneak peek. This project is moving impressively fast.

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First Impression Information Luxury Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Grand Hyatt Hotel

Yesterday I got a tour of the new Grand Hyatt Hotel that’s opening as part of the new 360 Mall extension. I have to admit, I went unprepared. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting the hotel to be anything special but I went out of curiosity. I even left my camera in the car because I didn’t think I needed it and I quickly regretted that as soon as I walked into the hotel.

The best way to describe Grand Hyatt is that it’s the hotel we’ve always wanted Kuwait to have.

Grand Hyatt is massive and there is so much to talk about and cover that I’ve decided to do it over multiple posts, a sort of a “Grand Journey”. For this initial post, I’m going to just quickly go through some of the main areas of the hotel which are the lobby, restaurants, spa, and a peek at one of the rooms. But over the next month or so, I’ll delve deeper into the various spaces and share more specific areas like the corporate meeting rooms or the VIP suites at The Arena which will be managed by Grand Hyatt. In a future post I will also go through the different rooms including the Presidential Suite which is so large it took me 45 seconds walking at a fast pace to get from one end to the other. If there is anything specific you guys want to see or know about, I could also put together a post covering those questions.

The Lobby
The hotel will have two three entrances, a small one at the mall side in the new extension of 360 next to the pond, and a main entrance from the street side that leads straight into the lobby (*Was just told there is a third entrance next to Table Otto in 360 Wadi). I came in from the mall side which is one level above the lobby so we had to take the stairs down. It’s a luxury hotel and so you get that premium feeling as soon as you walk in. The decoration isn’t very busy with lots of large empty spaces, the ceiling is very high, there is a striking large sculpture in the middle, and expensive artwork and pieces spread throughout the floor. It feels like walking into a luxury hotel in Dubai which is something we’ve lacked in Kuwait.

Saheel Lounge
The Saheel Lounge is on the same floor as the lobby and is composed of different styled seating spaces. It’s a social space where you can come have a drink or a small bite with a friend or someone you’re meeting.

Liberté
There are three restaurants at the hotel and Liberté is the one most people will see and likely visit since it’s located partially inside the hotel, and partially inside the mall. It’s a modern brasserie and is located adjacent to the hotel’s mall entrance.

’Stambul
This is going to be the main hotel restaurant, it’s where hotel guests will come for breakfast but also where people would come for lunch. It’s the largest restaurant at the hotel and is described as a theatrical Turkish dining experience.

MEI LI
This is the restaurant I’m anticipating the most. It’s a fine dining Chinese restaurant that is really beautifully designed. It’s the area of the hotel I took the most photos of but it sadly won’t be ready in time for the hotel opening. The tentative opening date of MEI LI is currently October but that can change.

The Rooms
The hotel will have over 300 rooms including 21 that will have their own garden terraces, 35 Grand Club Suites, eight Junior Suites, and one Presidential Suite. From what I saw on the website while trying to book a room, prices will start at around 150KD a night without breakfast.

Noor Spa
This was also one of the most photogenic spaces in the hotel and will definitely be the most instagrammable area by fashionistas. The spa is split into half with a stream splitting the men’s and womens areas both of which have gyms, treatment rooms, and features like steam and sauna rooms. At both ends of the pool is a pathway that leads you to an outdoor area where you can tan and chill under the sun surrounded by water and greenery. The spa will be available to use by hotel guests as well as have a limited number of yearly memberships.

So that’s pretty much a quick rundown of the main areas of the hotel. As I said I’ll go into more details in future posts but for now I just wanted to give a general overview to start with. It really is a beautiful hotel and after finishing the tour and initially taking photos with my phone, I ended up going to my car and getting my camera and coming back to shoot a few more photos.

The hotel is set to open on August 15th which is less than a month from now. Booking is already open on their website which you can check out by clicking here or you can check them out on Instagram @grandhyattkuwait

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Activities Sneak Peek Sports

Kuwait’s Largest Indoor Climbing Wall Opening Soon

During the holiday I got a sneak peek tour of the new indoor climbing wall arena opening in Sabah Al Salem (Map). I knew it was pretty big before I got there but in person, it was even bigger than I imagined. The climbing wall covers three sides of a very large space and will be able to handle over 25 climbers at the same time.

There are different climbing difficulty levels and one section is even dedicated to sport climbing. The sport climbing section has timer start buttons at the bottom of the climb and a stop timer button on the top of the wall. That section is certified for competitions and is similar to the one athletes compete in during the Olympics.

While there I also checked out Ozone next door, the indoor skydiving which I posted about a couple of weeks ago. This is going to be the third indoor skydiving center in the region with the other two located in Bahrain and the UAE, but our center will have the most powerful wind tunnel of the three. Both Ozone and the Climbing Wall are expected to open very soon, within 2-4 weeks, they’re just waiting for the electricity to be turned on so they can finish up the remaining work which is minimal.

Right now Ozone is running an early bird promotion where you can get 20% discount on your first flights in the wind tunnel, if you want to take advantage and pre-book, here is the link.

Climbing Wall is on Instagram @climbingkw while Ozone is @o3_kw

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Activities Sneak Peek

Indoor Skydiving Opening Soon

The first indoor skydiving in Kuwait is set to open soon in Sabah Al Salem. The indoor skydiving place is called Ozone and is part of a larger complex that will house a huge indoor climbing center, a crossfit gym and a spinning studio.

The project is still under construction but they’ve already finished installing the windtunnel and looking at the photos and videos they’ve also been playing around with it.

The climbing wall also looks pretty huge as you can see below. The only thing that sucks about this project is that it will be located in the already heavily congested Sabah Al Salem area.

If you want to follow Ozone, their Instagram account is @o3_kw and here is the location on Google Maps.

Thanks LovelyKuwait

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Art Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Kuwait National Museum

In May 1960, an international competition was held for the architectural project for the Kuwait National Museum which would be located in the cultural district of the 1952 Master Plan of Kuwait. The competition was won by French architect Michel Écochard and the museum was finally opened in 1983 where it stayed open up until the 1990 invasion. The museum was badly damaged during the war and most of the buildings remained closed (some photos of the destruction here). There were talks at one point of demolishing the museum and building a new one but thankfully in 2014, it was decided to save the existing museum by restoring it.

The restoration project is now complete and the museum is currently in the process of getting ready to reopen. I got invited to a sneak peek of the museum, something that I’ve been wanting for years. I was lucky enough to visit the museum back in the 80s, and although I don’t remember much of it, I do appreciate the fact that they decided to restore the landmark building instead of demolishing it as is the case most of the time.

The Kuwait National Museum is part of the Qibla Cultural District (Google Maps) which includes the Sadu House, the National Library, and Al-Qibla School for Girls Education. The main museum complex comprises of four buildings each housing a different part of Kuwait’s history:

Building 1 – Archeology of Kuwait
Building 2 – Ethnographic History of Kuwait
Building 3 – Ancient East
Building 4 – Ancient East

Buildings 1 and 2 are already open while buildings 3 and 4 are the ones heavily damaged during the war and the ones I got to tour. Buildings 3 and 4 are the largest buildings and will cover art in the Ancient East starting in the 3rd millennium BC going through Arabia before Islam, then the beginning of Islam, followed by the full chronology of Islamic Art.

All four buildings are connected by closed bridges. This means once you enter a building you can navigate the whole museum without stepping outside making it very convenient during the hot summer months.

Minor changes were made to the structure of the buildings, large semi-opaque windows were installed to bring in more daylight, and some minor new stairs and walkways were added due to updated fire safety requirements. All the work looked very tasteful and well-executed although I do wish they had kept the original pink brick facade.

There is also a planetarium outside the museum which you’ve most likely seen driving by on the Gulf Road since it’s the building closest to the road and its round spherical shape is hard to miss.

The planetarium is also in the final stages of renovation and will be reopening soon.

As I mentioned early on in the post, buildings3 and 4 of the museum are currently in the process of getting ready to reopen. They’re expecting that would happen in two years’ time, around 2024. In the meantime, buildings 1 and 2 are open and you can visit those now, here is my previous post about them. Link

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Food Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Shawarma Shakir Salmiya

Back in the mid 90s we really only had two places to hang out as teenagers, a restaurant called Fuddruckers on the Gulf Road and Johnny Rockets in Salmiya. Both were pretty expensive for broke teenagers and we didn’t have malls or places like Starbucks where you can just go and chill for hours. But then McDonald’s came to Kuwait and they opened a location over Johnny Rockets and it became the go-to place for me and my friends to meet up at. The staff didn’t care if we just hung out without ordering anything and the street corner outside became a popular meeting point for teens. So when Mcdonald’s shut down and Shakir took over the location, I was kinda upset about it but also curious to see what Shakir would with the place.

Yesterday I passed by the new location to get a sneak peek and noticed they had removed the large hoarding that had covered the side of the building revealing a brand new facade. The old building no longer looks dodgy anymore and instead looks pretty great. As I walked into the space I was expecting to see some indoor seating since McDonalds had seating but there wasn’t any. The whole interior was designed and optimized around fast order pickups. Shakir is so popular that the whole indoor space is one large queuing system with a long railing that splits the interior in half. As you go in through the entrance, the railing leads you to the far end of the restaurant where the ordering windows are. After you’re done ordering the railing leads you back towards the pickup area which is near the exit doors.

Disappointingly, there won’t be V-Thru at this location which is what I currently use to pick up my orders at their Rai location. If you haven’t used V-Thru before it’s one of my favorite services, you order from a restaurant via their app and once you arrive outside the restaurant, they bring the food out to your car. I mostly use it for Arabica when I order beans and Shakir to avoid the long car lines.

Shawarma Shakir Salmiya is opening tomorrow, July 7th at 7PM. They’re on instagram @shawarmashakir

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Mags & Books Sneak Peek

Q8Books Moving to a New Location

Q8 Books, the popular used books store has a long history of moving. The original store was located in Kuwait City (pictured below) before later moving to Bayt Lothan. When Bayt Lothan got shut down they moved the bookstore to Dar Al Athar. Then last year during the pandemic the bookstore moved temporarily to another location in a tower overlooking Souq Sharq. Now for the fifth time, the store is moving again and it’s heading back to the city. The new location will be in Dasman Complex and I got a sneak peek last week and I think this might be the best version of Q8 Books yet, or maybe second best since the Bayt Lothan store was pretty epic.

I can’t share much more about the new location or plans yet but they’re opening up really soon and once they do I’ll share more info. For now, you can stay up to date by following them on Instagram @q8bookstore


The original Q8 Books location in Kuwait City.