I. M. Pei Was Here

Post by Mark

Over the weekend the renowned architect I. M. Pei passed away at the age of 102. He’s behind some of the worlds iconic buildings like the Louvre’s glass pyramid and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, but what few people know is that he also designed an apartment building here in Kuwait. Back in the lates 70s I. M. Pei designed what are now the Massaleh towers in Bneid Al Gar. You’ve probably driven past them and never realized the architectural importance of them but I think that applies to a lot of old buildings in Kuwait. In this specific case though, it’s also difficult to find information about these buildings online, most likely because of the age of the project and the different names it goes by. For example, on the I.M. Pei website they’re listed as “Hilton Area Housing” and in the book “Modern Architecture Kuwait” they’re listed as “Hilton Hotel Apartments”.

I heard one rumor that the reason there isn’t much information is because I. M. Pei was upset with the project. Supposedly he had originally designed just one tower but then his design was taken and replicated to create the remaining towers. But, don’t think this rumor is very accurate since the model pictured above which contains all four tower blocks is listed on his website as one of his projects.

Here is the link to I. M. Pei’s page of Kuwait projects. There is another project listed there but no idea what that is or if it had ever been constructed.

Photo on top taken by Nelson Garrido

2019-05-19T09:17:48+03:00May 19, 2019|13 Comments

PROMOTED: Ace Coffee

Post by Sponsor

It’s time to ace it!

In the past couple of years Kuwait has grown tremendously in the food and beverage market, and the more it does the more there is a need to deliver a higher quality. With third wave coffeeshops popping up all over Kuwait City, finding fresh roasted coffee that also tastes great was surprisingly elusive. Therefore, we decided to do something about it. We did not set out to change the world, just a small corner of it.

Ace was founded in 2017 out of the mere enjoyment of good coffee, our deep love towards coffee inspired us to open a coffeeshop that offers a great fresh ground coffee outside the dense area of Kuwait City. We started up with Mahboula and recently opened two new branches in Jabriya and Sabah Al Salem. We offer a great quality of coffee, good food and an exceptional customer service in a cozy environment. At ACE we are devoted to high standards of quality and simplicity, offering a beautiful aesthetic in an intimate homey vibe for our visitors’ daily coffee run.

Since its inception, we are aiming to inspire more sustainable communities in Kuwait. Being a sustainable coffeeshop we collaborate with a number of initiatives to come full circle, whether it’s sourcing our coffee from local roasters in order to ensure freshness or donating coffee compost for it to be consumed as an eco-friendly natural fertilizer to make use of our ground coffee waste, we are dedicated to supporting our community. We also engage in coffee education and making coffee equipment/tools accessible for coffee making at home.

Ace is simply an intimate cozy spot for people to stop for a good cup of coffee and a little more. This place is made for you, to take a break and unwind while enjoying a tasty cup of fresh roasted coffee and a snack. We care about the process as much as the outcome, and we are very transparent about it. We follow a sustainable kind of approach and we put an effort in everything we do. Our care extends to the community we operate in, we support it, nurture it and act responsibly towards it. If you enjoy having a good time and appreciate a good cup of coffee and socialize then you’re the one!

Here is the Instagram account @acecoffeekw, and here is the [Google Maps] location for Sabah Al Salem, and here is the [Google Maps] for the Jabriya’s branch.

2019-05-16T12:07:26+03:00May 16, 2019|4 Comments

Things to do in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

This weekend is Gargee’an so there are a bunch of children’s activities taking place. Below is this weekends list, if I missed anything, let me know in the comments:

Exhibition: Foreign Architecture / Domestic Policy
Xe Loves You by Kuki Jijo
Exhibition: Digital Flow
Women’s Football Tournament 2019
Full Moon Yoga
Elevation Gergean
Puppet Show

Xe Loves You by Kuki Jijo
Exhibition: Digital Flow
Women’s Football Tournament 2019
Leyla Fi Share’ Al Moez
AMG presents – String Quartets by Messilah Chamber Ensemble

Xe Loves You by Kuki Jijo
Exhibition: Digital Flow
Women’s Football Tournament 2019
Gargi’an in the Park

If you’d like to share an event on the blog [Email Me]
For a full list of upcoming events click [Here]

Sometimes events get canceled or have details changed so always double-check with the organizers.

2019-05-16T10:59:19+03:00May 16, 2019|0 Comments

Movies Showing in Kuwait this Weekend

Post by Mark

Screenshot from A Dog’s Journey

The movies below are now showing at Cinescape, Grand Cinemas and VOX:

New This Weekend:
A Dog’s Journey (7.0)
The Convent (4.3)
UglyDolls (4.5)

Other Movies Showing Now:
Avengers: Endgame (9.2)
Captain Marvel (6.0)
Dumbo (7.1)
Godzilla: Resurgence (6.7)
Long Shot (7.2)
Shazam! (8.1)
The Curse of La Llorona (6.4)
The Intruder (5.4)
Primal Rage: The Legend of Konga (4.9)

The movies below are also now showing at the Scientific Center IMAX theater:

Amazon Adventure 3D (6.6)
Fly Me to the Moon (4.5)
Galapagos 3D (8.6)
Oceans: Our Blue Planet (7.4)
Penguins (6.7)

Numbers in brackets refer to the IMDB rating at time of publishing.

2019-05-16T08:56:08+03:00May 16, 2019|1 Comment

Saudis Offer Permanent Residency to Some Expats

Post by Mark

Saudi Arabia approved a program that offers permanent residency for some foreigners, the latest sign of how the quest for non-oil revenue is prompting Gulf Arab countries to rethink the role of expats in their societies.

“The special residency is for doctors, engineers, innovators, investors and residents who contribute to the development of Saudi Arabia and lead to a prosperous future,” said Lina Almaeena, a member of the consultative Shura Council. The appointed body approved the program last week, with 76 members voting in favor and 55 against. [Source]

First UAE, then Qatar and now Saudi Arabia. Hopefully, we’re next.

2019-05-15T18:17:25+03:00May 15, 2019|22 Comments

Sneak Peek: Inside the New Al Salam Palace Museum

Post by Mark

A couple of days ago I got contacted by Al Salam Palace asking me if I’d be interested in coming in the next day for a tour of the new museum. I’d been trying to figure out how to get early access ever since the museum was inaugurated earlier in the month, so even though I had a lot of work at the office, I couldn’t say no.

Al Salam Palace was built in the late 1950s and was used to accommodate visiting heads of state. During the 1990 invasion, the palace was completely destroyed and stayed abandoned for years until the restoration project started back in 2013 to turn it into a museum. The palace is located right next to JACC and consists of three main museums:

Museum of Kuwait’s History through its Rulers
Museum of Al Salam Palace History
Museum of the Civilizations that inhabited Kuwait

When I first got to the palace I was pretty surprised at how much security there was. After confirming I was on the list to get into the museum, security at the gate had to make a second call to check and see if I was allowed to bring in my camera since they have a very strict no photography policy right now. I was then escorted into the palace by a security guard and handed over to another security guard who waited with me until the palace team met me. Security personnel were also scattered all around the museum and some rooms even had 24-hour guards. I later came to understand it was because of the amount of rare and priceless items exhibited all around.

When I was invited to visit the museum I had the impression I was gonna get a quick walkaround of the premises, but instead, I was actually given a full and very informative guided tour of all three museums with all their exhibits. Unlike other museums in Kuwait, Al Salam Palace will be a strictly guided tour affair once it opens up to the public. The tours would start every 30 minutes and there would be two kinds, a quick version which would take around 30 minutes and just cover the most important subjects, and a longer 90-minute tour covering the whole museum in greater detail. My tour yesterday took 90 minutes and we didn’t even watch all the videos scattered all around the exhibits. It’s a pretty big place with lots of information and a lot to see so I’d imagine they might have tours even longer than 90 minutes once they open.

There is a lot to cover in this post but I’m going to try and condense it so I don’t bore you with too much information. Firstly you’ll notice a limited amount of photos in this post. The reason for this is that the museum doesn’t want to reveal too much right now because they want people to eventually come and see the place for themselves, without any spoilers. I was asked if I could limit the photos I take of the exhibition spaces and I wasn’t allowed to record any videos, I didn’t mind both those requests since I wasn’t planning on taking photos of the actual exhibits, and I was honestly there for myself first, blog second (sorry guys).

The thing is I’ve always been fascinated with the palace and I was even lucky enough to visit it and photograph it before the reconstruction started. One of the things I was curious about was how the museum would be restored and thankfully, they managed to restore the museum to its original state.

The whole ground level of the museum is basically an exact copy of how the palace originally was before it was destroyed. Everything from the mosaics on the wall to the marble on the floor was restored with the same material previously used. Even the heads of state welcome room and the special room built for Queen Elizabeths II’s visit in 1979 (pictured above) was also recreated. The large and iconic chandelier that hangs in the main hall of the palace was event sent abroad to be fully restored and now looks incredible again.

Al Salam Palace material moodboard on display in one of the exhibits

I was extremely impressed by how detailed they were with the restoration and I wish more older historic buildings in Kuwait were restored in a similar manner.

Moving on to the actual exhibits, like everything else in the palace so much effort was put into the details of the exhibits as well. For example, in one display there were replicas of different spices on display that used to be imported to Kuwait back in the old days, but when you come up to the display you can actually smell the spices because they had a hidden smell machine. Another thing that caught my attention were all the old books on display around the exhibits, books that were written by explorers who came across Kuwait over a hundred years ago. From my personal experience, I know how difficult it is to source these kinds of books and how much of a waiting game you need to play for specific books to enter the market place. But books are just one aspect of the exhibit, there are multiple examples throughout the museum of extremely rare sourced items like Kuwait’s first Baiza coin which only two are known to still exist today, to more current items like Sheikh Jaber’s iconic sunglasses. I asked the museum manager how they were able to source all the items because many must have been stolen during the invasion. Turns out a lot of effort was made to find and retrieve stolen items while others were stored in boxes and forgotten about or were donated by families who had them in their private collection.

There are a number of video presentations throughout the exhibit where they recreated historical moments from Kuwait’s history, and they all looked like expensive productions with proper sets, actors, wardrobe and special effects. I even got to watch a trailer of a short film they produced on the 1990 invasion and it looked like such an incredible film. One scene gave me goosebumps, there are these iconic photos of a British Airways plane completely destroyed on the runway of Kuwait’s Airport and they had that exact scene in the trailer but it was as if the original scene was shot with video with smoke billowing out of the plane wreckage. In another scene we were onboard an American tank, first-person perspective heading towards a burning oil field, the fact the room we were in had a super wide 180-degree screen helped engross me into the film even more. I can’t wait to watch the whole thing.

After going through the main museums we headed downstairs into the basement which housed the museum’s digital library. The space looked like a scene from a sci-fi movie and once open would give visitors access to everything in the museum from the books on display to all the films and more. Everything would also be available online to access but with some restrictions like only parts of the book would be accessible instead of the whole book.

I was really curious about the museum before visiting it, I had heard it was going to be about Kuwait and wasn’t sure if there was enough interesting content to display or even new content that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. But I ended up leaving extremely impressed, it was obvious the people behind the project really cared about the restoration of the palace and really put a lot of time into all the exhibits. The museum is currently starting the training program for all the guides while also finalizing some details in the different exhibits. The museum is not open at the moment, but the aim is to have it ready for the public sometime in October of this year. For now you can follow the museum on instagram @aspm.kw

2019-05-15T12:57:40+03:00May 15, 2019|4 Comments

Interesting Gazelle Club Post

Post by Mark

This was published on the Gazelle Club Facebook group and I knew I had to share it here.

Jay Rizzo shown in the first picture with his sister outside one of the Chalets at Gazelle Club, returned later as part of the US Marines who liberated Kuwait in 1991.

Gazelle Club was a very popular beach resort in Kuwait back in the 60s and up until the 1990 Gulf War. During the Gulf War the resort was badly damaged and it was never rebuilt again. You can find more posts about the club by clicking here.

2019-05-14T09:21:07+03:00May 14, 2019|6 Comments

New Jazeera Airways Business Lounge

Post by Mark

I’ve only flown out of the new Jazeera Airways terminal once since it opened and it wasn’t that great of an experience. That was back when their terminal had access to the main terminal where all the restaurants and lounges were. But, shortly after I flew out of the Jazeera terminal, they closed off access to the main terminal which meant passengers could no longer use any of the lounges.

But last week Jazeera finally launched a new lounge for their business class passengers (and some credit card holders) inside their terminal. Not sure if the seating condition in the Jazeera terminal has improved vastly since I was last there, but if its anything close to how it was when I tried the terminal, then this is a much-needed lounge.

Photo by @bo.waleed1

2019-05-13T09:19:19+03:00May 13, 2019|2 Comments