You Can Now Withdraw Money from PayPal

Post by Mark

This took long to implement but PayPal users in Kuwait can now finally withdraw money from their PayPal account. I haven’t tried this yet since my PayPal account is US based, but from what I gather, there is a KD1 charge for withdrawing the money which isn’t too bad. But, I also think they charge a 3.5% currency conversion fee but not really sure if I understood that part correctly.

In any case, if you have funds in your Kuwait based PayPal account and want to withdraw it then log in to your account, click on balance and then withdraw funds. You can then select the card you want PayPal to deposit the money into. Simple as that.

If you’re wondering why this is an important change its because there are a lot of people in Kuwait who sell things online and receive money with PayPal. They can now withdraw the money instead of having it accumulate in their PayPal account indefinitely.

via waw.cc

2019-06-11T09:43:07+03:00Jun 11, 2019|4 Comments

The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr

Post by Mark

This is going to be a fairly long post but trust me, if you love nostalgic Kuwait related posts you’re going to want to read this because it’s just so random and really interesting.

A couple of weeks ago I was over at the Australian ambassador’s house (Jonathan) who is a music buff and while there he showed me a record which he knew I’d be interested in. The album was called “Jazz, Jazz, Jazz” by a Sudanese band called The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr and inside there was an interview with the band members. Turns out the band used to perform in Kuwait back in the 70s at different venues including the Hilton Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel, and the Marriott Hotel. Check out the clipping below:

And can you tell me about your journey to Kuwait?

We went by ourselves and without visa but with the help of our friend Saif (who was also our singer during that stay). And we went there without instruments or anything. At the airport we arrived and waited for Saif to pick us up. Of course, they asked us at the airport for our visas and who we were, but we replied not to have any. Saif wanted to help us to get in, so he called the son of the Prince who liked our music. Saif and him were friends. Following, the son of the Prince came in person and said “These are my guests, give them visas”. This way, we entered the country and made a contract with the television. We went to the shops to buy instruments and from there straight to the TV. After getting paid by TV we went back to the shops to also pay the instruments. That was our first time in Kuwait. But we went once more. The second time we also had a contract with the Marriot Hotel; to us it looked like a ship. This time we had a visa and stayed for a long time. We had an organ player from Jordan and a guitar player from France.

That KTV performance is actually online and you can check it out below:

So this is where things get even cooler. I get all excited about this and start taking photos of the record album and posting them on my Instagram account. A couple of hours later I get a message from a follower saying:

This is so weird. Saif is a colleague of mine and seeing this and reading it, it just seems like it’s another dimension. We knew that he was a part of some band, we just didn’t know to what extent. Where can I get this record/Cd?

Saif was still in Kuwait?? I quickly shared the message with Jonathan who suggested we invite him to dinner. So I had Saif’s colleague talk to Saif and see if he would be interested to meet. I ended up getting his contact information and Jonathan set up the dinner for us.


Me with Saif

A few days later we got to meet Saif and he was just full of interesting stories. Saif was never meant to come to Kuwait, when he turned 18 he decided to leave Sudan and head to Germany. So he headed to Lebanon first so that he could take the train to Germany. Once he got to Lebanon he met a girl and so decided to stay there for a month, he needed the money anyway and he figured he could earn money performing music while there. He then left Lebanon and headed to Syria and from there he got convinced to head to Kuwait and try and earn money there.

Once in Kuwait he met up with an old friend of his called Adam who used to play football for Qadsia club. Adam hooked Saif up with a job as an English teacher for air traffic controllers and as a side gig, he would perform music on Kuwait TV talk show. One day one of the guys at KTV comes up to him and asks him if he could put a band together because he wanted to record a performance for the station. Saif tells him he could and called up his friends in Sudan whom he used to perform with called The Scorpions. That’s basically how the whole story with that KTV broadcast came to be.


The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr Performing at KTV

But that’s not the end of it. Saif used to perform for a Kuwaiti event organizer back then called Hussein Abul. Hussein was the guy who brought the likes of Boney M, Demis Roussos, James Brown and Santa Esmeralda to perform in Kuwait. When James Brown came to Kuwait, Hussein gave Saif the job of driving James Brown around since Saif spoke both English and Arabic. Since Saif spent a lot of time with James Brown, a friend of his told him to ask James Brown if he could perform the track Super Bad at his events. The first two nights James Brown performed he didn’t play Super Bad but it was a really popular song with the locals and so a lot of people were requesting it. So Saif explained that to James Brown who said he didn’t mind. During rehearsal that day, James Brown tells his band that he wanted to play Super Bad but, one of the two bassists in the band didn’t know how to play it. James Brown tried to help him out by humming the rhythm he wanted but the bassist couldn’t get it right. Out of frustration James Brown asked his band if anyone else knew how to play the bass on Super Bad, and Saif who was sitting there watching the whole thing said he knew how to play it. James Brown was like are you sure you know how to play it? Saif and his band used to perform covers all the time and he used to practically play Super Bad every night at hotels. So even though he was under pressure now to perform in front of James Brown, he knew the song inside out. He ended up playing for James Brown who was so impressed that he asked Saif to perform the song with the band over the remaining events in Kuwait.

One interesting fact I found out, Hussein had also supposedly signed a contract with Michael Jackson to come to Kuwait. But before Michael Jackson’s event, he had scheduled the popular band Osibisa to come to Kuwait as well. But Islamists caused an uproar over one of Osibisa’s tracks because it contained an Islamic verse or something like that, and Hussein was banned from organizing events ever again. Hussein supposedly ended up leaving to Brazil where he now lives permanently.


Saif with Pele in Kuwait

Anyway, Saif eventually ended up leaving Kuwait to study but then came back once he was done. He’s been in Kuwait ever since and currently still teaches English at a local aviation school but still performs in Sudan every now and then with his old band. He lost most of his old photos during the 1990 Iraq invasion but I shared two remaining ones in this post, the Pele photo above and the band performing at KTV above that. Jonathan the Australian Ambassador is also gonna try and bring the band together again to perform in Kuwait and once that happens I’ll let you guys know.

For now if you’re interested in buying a copy of the album “Jazz, Jazz, Jazz” it’s available for purchase in different formats on bandcamp.

Update: Jazz, Jazz, Jazz is also available on Spotify. Farrah Galbi Aljadeed is my favorite track followed closely by Forssa Saeeda.

2019-06-10T16:52:39+03:00Jun 10, 2019|19 Comments

Racism at a Yeezy Sneakers Launch

Post by Mark

Over the weekend the new Yeezy sneakers launched around the world including in Kuwait. People lined up from early morning for the chance to buy a pair since they’re a limited release and would sell out quickly. I saw some pictures and videos of the lines around Kuwait and they were extremely long and mostly unorganized.

That same morning a reader emailed me about an incident that took place at the Adidas store in Al Hamra and since then I’ve heard the story from one other person who was in line and seen a video that kinda corroborates it. Here is the email I received:

Hey Mark,

I wanted to let you know about this incident that took place at the Adidas outlet this morning.
So today was the launch of this limited edition Yeezy and I was at Hamra mall branch. They said it’ll be first come first serve. There were about 6 Philippine Nationals lined up at like 6am, they were the first ones there. A paper was passed down the line with the name and preferred sizes of people and it seemed completely civilized.

Then at 830am when the doors were supposed to open, a Kuwaiti Adidas representative announced in Arabic that Kuwaitis get priority. And a bunch of Kuwaiti guys rushed in front of the Filipinos and it was utter chaos. Then when one of the Filipino men spoke up and asked “what about us?” The Adidas rep was like “Filipino want to buy shoes?” And everyone started laughing.

And then a bunch of Kuwaiti guys proceeded to walk inside the store.

A woman (Arab) then started shouting at the Adidas representative and was saying that this is straight up racism and unfair. She was ignored. The Filipino group left and some guys just kept mocking them. An overwhelming majority of the Kuwaiti crowd joined in on the mocking. They waited for 2.5 hours to be disgraced like that.

There is a video that was taken that morning which you can watch [Here]

The incident is currently being investigated by the mall as well as the local Adidas dealer so if you were in line that morning and saw what happened, get in touch.

If you’re wondering how people could be so racist in 2019, so was I until I started getting hate on twitter when I posted about this. I actually had to block a bunch of people who were accusing me of hating on Kuwait or who were rationalizing why they were right to sell to the Kuwaitis first. It’s shocking.

Update: I’ve closed the post for commenting, also I’ve been made aware the photo of the Yeezys I posted aren’t the ones people were lining up for.

2019-06-10T08:16:17+03:00Jun 9, 2019|72 Comments

Causeway Bridge Exits Closed

Post by Mark

I got into a kinda awkward situation this weekend. I was in Avenues with a friend and after we left I decided I’d show them the new causeway bridge because they hadn’t been on it yet and wanted to see it. I wasn’t gonna drive the whole bridge, just up till the first island, u-turn and come back. I looked at my fuel gauge and it was less than half full but more than enough for the short trip.

Well I nearly got screwed because it turned out the two island exits on the bridge had been closed off. Once you get on the bridge you can now no longer exit and turn back but instead, you now have to drive all the way to the other side (a 20~ minute drive). To make matters worse, once I got to the other side, instead of taking the correct exit that sends me back over the bridge towards Shuwaikh again, I accidentally took the exit towards Bubyan Island which wasted even more fuel.

There are no fuel stations on the other side!

Anyway, luckily I did make it back down without running out of fuel but someone else might not have been as lucky. So in case you’re planning to do the drive over the causeway bridge, make sure you have a full tank of gas.

2019-06-09T08:53:56+03:00Jun 9, 2019|6 Comments

Kuwait Bowling Club is Now Open!

Post by Mark

Yesterday I was driving by the new Kuwait Bowling Club in Salmiya and noticed a security guard walking around. So I decided to ask him when the bowling alleys were gonna open and to my surprise he told me it was open and I could come in. So I quickly parked my car in the arena’s multistory car lot and went in to check the place out.

The Kuwait Bowling Club is huge!

The building is 7 floors with the ground floor containing a 48 lane arena as well as a smaller and separate 10 lane VIP room. The rest of the building will be for different facilities including a mall, coffee shops and restaurants, a gym with a swimming pool that overlooks the bowling lanes as well as a hotel with rooms that also overlook the bowling lanes. The multistory car park is large enough for 1,000 cars.

Since I was there and the arena was open I decided I might as well stay and bowl a few rounds. I got there around 8PM and it was fairly empty but by the time I had left at around 9:40PM the arena was fairly busy with other bowlers.

Their Ramadan timings and prices are as follows:

2PM to 6PM: 1KD/game
6PM to 12AM: 2KD/game (or 3 games for 5KD)
After 12AM: 3 games for 4KD

During Eid the timings and prices will change to the following:
10AM to 4AM – 2.5KD/game or 4KD/game in the VIP Room

I asked about the timings after Eid but they didn’t have them yet so will update this post once I get them. The bowling club has been open for four months now and they also offer a bunch of bowling-related services including training, lockers, ball polishing, ball drilling and ball plugging services. Since the club is pretty close to where I live I might end up taking bowling lessons just for the fun of it.

If you want to pass by and check the place out (which I highly recommend you do), here is the location of the club on Google Maps.

2019-06-03T08:57:10+03:00Jun 3, 2019|18 Comments

Mashatel Plants App

Post by Mark

If you want to get plants but don’t feel like going to the nurseries, the Mashatel app is a good alternative.

The Mashatel app allows you to buy plants and gardening gear from the nurseries in the same way Carriage allows you to buy food from restaurants. The app divides the plants into indoor and outdoor categories, you choose which you want and then browse through the available plants. When you click on one it will give you more details on the kind of plant it is, and how to maintain it. Pretty helpful if say you’re looking for something that doesn’t require a lot of watering for example.

Delivery prices vary depending on where you live but they start at KD2 and go up to KD10 if you want to deliver to Khiran. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and you can download it from here.

2019-06-02T08:59:32+03:00Jun 2, 2019|4 Comments

Car Meet in the 80s

Post by Mark

Got this video forwarded to me yesterday. Looks like it was taken sometime in the 80s on Plajaat street in Salmiya. Wish it was a bit longer.

2019-06-02T08:29:53+03:00Jun 2, 2019|3 Comments