Sunday, July 13, 2014

Explore the Beaches at Khiran and Zour



If you're on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/desertgirl.kuwait) you'll know that I had question on there a few weeks back asking if it was illegal to go swimming in a bathing suit during Ramadan. While it is not technically illegal, if you go to open/public areas (like along Blaajat Street), it might still get you arrested.  Go somewhere secluded (where you will not appear "disrespectful" in a bathing suit.)

I go swimming every weekend in the Khiran area; Ramadan or not and bathing attire is no problem because during Ramadan - there isn't a soul around (except for a few laborers working on the chalets under construction).  It is secluded and very clean (workers actually rake the beaches every day for trash) and the water is clear.   I let my dog run free.  Non-Ramadan is a little busier, but you can still find areas where there are no people if you drive around a little (no cars, no people...)

Getting there is a hike; it is about 45 minutes down either 30 (Fahaheel Expressway) or 40 (Malik Al Fahed) towards the Saudi border to exit 278. (And watch your speed - there are point-to-point cameras which measure your speed/time over distance rather than by cameras.  The overhead arches have cameras in them and you'll get a ticket - unless you have a Saudi license plate and that is like a license to speed in Kuwait... Just sayin.)

I guess they are planning to build Khiran City because it's not there yet...
Exit 278 and Chalets/Resort is to the left after this sign.
GPS:  28.677533, 48.298381

Turn Right at this sign - that's 278

Watch for massive speed bumps on 278.  They're hard to see and killer on your suspension!  Once you get on 278, you go straight down.  If you go all the way down to the end of 278, you'll come to the Khiran Resort.  I think they charge to get in, but you can drive around and see the resort.  You have to rent one of their chalets if you want to use the beaches there, however.

Where we swim is on the Zour side to the left of 278 (U-turn just before the bridge or alternatively, U-turn just after the bridge.  GPS: 28.687738, 48.385853 ).  If you take the first U-turn, take the first right (at the U), then the first paved road on the right (there will be an electric sub-station there).  You can go all the way down to the end of the road, or stop anywhere along the way (on the right of the road).   There are berms and trenches surrounding most of the beaches because the chalets are either still under construction or the land is still for sale.  You can either pull up next to a chalet and walk next to the wall for beach access; or just watch for where there are paths leading over the berms.


(Taken with my iPhone - and no filter added.
This is what you see!)

The streets are paved with the exception of several areas off-road where you might be better trying it in a 4x or higher vehicle.  (Any rental car is built for 4-wheeling so that's never a problem.)

There is no heavy current.  These are inlet beaches so the water is more shallow and great for kids.  What you won't find are public toilets (it's the sea...) or restaurants or even food trucks. (Although there is a Sultan Center mini-store on the Zour Chalets side near the boat ramp -  GPS:  28.676015, 48.381739.)   Bring your own food/water (and an umbrella!).  A lot of people go at night and make small barbecues on the beach.






The chalet architecture is also interesting if you just want to take a drive around.

There are closer beaches like at Dubaiiya or Julaii'a, but you have to explore along the road until you find access - and those places will likely require a 4x4 to get to (or you'll end up hiking in with your stuff).  The places I'm describing at Khiran/Zour are close to the road, so you don't have much of a trek.  The other beaches also may not be as clean as Khiran/Zour as they're not patrolled by cleaners.


This is the map of the Khiran area.  As you can see, there are a lot of inlets and places to see and to swim.  You can take exits 278, 285 or 290 and get to the sea.  (For those of you now upset with me for divulging this national secret - there are a LOT of beaches, not just one....)

If you are interested in diving, my friends at Al Boom have trips from Khiran resort (straight down 278).  You need to book in advance.  They will take you out to the islands (Um Al Moradim, Qaroh, or Khubbar - depending on where they want to dive that day) for 10kd per person for the entire day.  See my previous post here.  Their contact information is Tel : 965-4830570 /4830474 /4834831  Fax : 965-4838293  website : http://www.alboomkuwait.com

If you are interested in renting chalets in the Khiran area, there are several realtors on Instagram @luxury_chalets @chaletrent                                                                                                               

Donate Leftover Food to Poor People in Kuwait

I'm plagiarizing this morning because I' sleepy and I'm just not feeling creative.  (Ok a little, but not much...). This is a direct plagirization from Crazy in Kuwait's blog post today.  I think it is noteworthy and important.

Note to lazy people:   these guys will pick up from you.

Leftover Food Donation
Crazy in Kuwait Blog

Many people in Kuwait are used to buying and cooking more food than what they really need. They then throw away the rest, while there are hundreds of poor people in need who could benefit from it. The Al Bir Charity Foundation is now collecting leftover food and any excess food that people don’t need or will not consume soon, and distribute it to families in need.

Al Bir was founded in 1988 by Dr Ahmad Al-Muzaini, who saw similar scheme applied in Saudi Arabia and brought it to Kuwait. It started first with food only, and was called the surplus food committee, but today they also accept other items that people would like to donate to poor families. “Our goal is to provide help to families in need living in Kuwait, no matter their nationality or in which area they live.

Our sociologist will research their case and check all official documents about their debt, health condition, death certificate for orphans, and other documents depending on the case,” Mohammed Al-Muzaini, Chairman of Al Bir, told Kuwait Times. The majority of the recipients are non-Kuwaitis. “We focus on the expats as they live in worse situations.

Kuwaitis usually receive support and allowances from the government, while expats don’t. We realize the great increase in cost of living including rent, commodities and everything else. I don’t think there are other charities helping expats apart from the Patients Help Fund, which can’t cover all cases. We focus to make people aware to make good deeds by donating extra food or things they have to others who will benefit from them,” added Muzaini. “There are many things people don’t need anymore and can donate to others. For instance, some people used crutches and have recovered, so they don’t need them anymore and can donate them.

Also, women can give their wedding dresses to poor girls who will get married soon and don’t have money to buy one. Or people can give away furniture that they don’t need, or electronics. We also have donors who donate new electronics – they buy the item and tell us to take it from the shop and deliver it to the poor,” he explained. The foundation is working during the whole year, but is more active during the holy month of Ramadan. “Throughout the year, we deliver 450 meals daily to laborers.

During Ramadan, we deliver 2,000 meals in markets and mosques where laborers usually gather in Jleeb, Amghara, Rai and others,” stressed Muzaini.


Al Bir also cooperates with companies in the food industry. “Companies supplying supermarkets have to follow regulations by removing foodstuff two months before expiry.This food is not expired yet, and other people can benefit from it. So we advise them to donate this food to poor families,” he noted. People who would like to donate leftover food or any food that may expire before they consume it can contact Al Bir on 24830050/40, and their driver will come to the house and collect it.link

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Expat Moms in Kuwait

I get asked a lot of mom/children related questions here and I should be the last person to ask or to give advice.... but I try to help.  My friend, Emily, recommended this forum and I thought I would pass it along.




This group welcomes English-speaking expatriate mothers of all faiths/origins/beliefs, living in or shortly moving to Kuwait.

The purpose of our group is to:
1) Provide an information service to our members on the practical aspects of living in Kuwait (e.g. schools, hospitals, transportation).
2) Provide a portal for our members to arrange outings/playdates/meet-ups, etc.
3) Keep each other informed of events happening in Kuwait.
4) Provide an outlet for items for sale by members through our Classifieds section.
5) Provide positive and negative product and service information through our Reviews section.

Membership Requirements:
1) Speak English
2) Be an expatriate living in Kuwait or shortly moving to Kuwait
3) Be a mother or a 'mother-to-be'

If you fit the bill, please Sign Up and we look forward to welcoming you into our community! :)


The link is:  https://www.bigtent.com/groups/expatmumskwi

Saveco Kuwait - My new happy place



Sometimes I think I'm helpful; and other times I feel like I'm living under a rock and totally behind-the-times.

I have heard about Saveco for a while now, but I'm one of those people whose primary concern about shopping is the parking lot and ingress/egress.  I avoided The Avenues for a long time because parking was a problem (I now know a secret parking place where most people haven't figured out how to get to - saving me frustration and time!).  Anyhoo, I used to work in the same strip where Saveco is in Rai/ Shuwaikh next to the Friday Market and the construction they were doing there (and the amount of people who seemed to be going there to play demolition derby/vehicular manslaughter was a major turn-off).  Things appear to have settled down AND I have found that NO ONE is there at Iftar time (woo hoo!) so that's when I went. (Saveco has parking both in the front and rear of the store, so honestly, I can't complain toooo much.)

My buddies at Bazaar Magazine published a very nice article on Saveco last month -  which I only now read.  I'm even more impressed by the store now that I know about the background and the CEO/founder (and that she's female and went to school in Baaahstin - you go, girl!)    I like the entire concept.  It is refreshing and I honestly wish her total success; hoping she will be able to make it a chain.  The concept is actually better than I have seen at my favorite US stores (like Whole Foods or even Wegman's)

My own perspective was this:  (walking through the aisles, eyes wide with wonder/amazement, mumbling out loud, "This is AWESOME!" and calling my girlfriends to tell them).   I ALWAYS say that you can judge a store and their ownership by how happy their employees seem (sadly, we've got a lot of unhappy employees for the most part in Kuwait as progressive HR methodology hasn't caught up to the rest of the world). Saveco employees were happy, friendly and helpful; and not at all in-your-face with the "sir-maams" and BS (like in some stores where the sales clerks are forced to follow you around and ask stupid questions).  This store felt "real".  It's quality. Quality products.  Quality displays.  Quality people.  BAM.  The prices were also quite good.

You can read more in detail in the Bazaar article (I can't write anything more - or anything better - than they have).  Saveco has a food academy and I am hoping that I can get my hands on their schedule (which I will gladly publish periodically if someone will send me).  I am also hopeful that they will have Kuwaiti cuisine classes - I will be totally in as long as they are authentic.

Here are some photos I took.  Go check the place out for yourself.  You're going to love it!  It's at the corner of 4th Ring Road and 55 Airport Road in Shuwaikh.  Next to the Friday Market (do NOT go see the animals in the Friday Market!!!  CLOSE THAT PLACE DOWN!)

View of fruit and veggies section downstairs.
Home section upstairs.
(There is also a cafe upstairs that is clean and airy)
Fish art

Hey - here's something new... meat thermometers.  Imagine that.
They have a very large meat and cheese section
Large pet section - look at the massive rawhide bones, Mikey!


OTT selection of baking dishes/displays
(including cupcake holders)



Spanx - Massive amounts of stuff to bake and
 decorate yummy things with!
Food academy offering cooking classes!

Here is my personal wishlist of future sections to see in Saveco in the future:  Florist, pre-prepared gourmet foods (like Wegmans - OMG!), maybe organic/holistic vitamins, cosmetics and toiletries like Wholefoods.

I just love this store!  Go there!


Thanks, Bazaar Magazine for the good read and for providing the following contact information:

Saveco is located in Al-Rai off the 4th Ring Road.  Contact them at 2228 7700 or visit their website at www.saveco.com.  You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram @saveco, or on Twitter @SaveCoQ8.  For more information on the Food Academy you can call 9714 6363 or follow them on Twitter@FoodAcademyKw or Instagram @TheFoodAcademy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Meeting Desert Guy's Wife

I got home and really didn't have much trouble deciding what to wear (white linen pants and my favorite floral print top).  It was the first time in months that I put on heels (because of my back pain/fractured disc). I knew that I wouldn't be standing for long, but I wanted to look taller.  I went for cute, but not OTT.   Turns out, there was no need to stress over what to wear (but we all do, don't we?)

Mrs. Desert Guy wore a very pretty duraa and had her hair in a pony tail.  We met at the door and did the kissy thing like we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in a very long time.

I've seen DGy's "Parade of Bimbos" for years now, and I was expecting to see a heavily-made-up-Barbie doll person in something tight.  She was not.  She's probably a little younger than I am.  She is well traveled, well-educated, sophisticated and elegant.  And extremely gracious and hospitable.  We even have mutual friends.  Who knew?

You know when you meet people and they say, "I'm just staying married for the kids."  Or "We live under the same roof, but like brother and sister."  You automatically holler, "BULLSHIT!" (sometimes out loud, sometimes inside your head).   But who really knows what goes on in someone else's home/life?  I think I am going to have to be less skeptical (maybe not...)  He has always been very complimentary of his wife and I can't say that I was ever jealous of her; just envious that she got to spend more time with him (but then again, maybe she didn't).

Mrs. DGy was a lovely lovely lovely person.  I really like her.  We talked for a long time and she was open and sincere.  When you're dating someone, everything is a big mystery. I obsess about everything and everything is a topic for analyzation.  When I was dating DGy, I wondered what his home life was like, what he was doing, etc etc.  I wondered if he was telling me the truth about his wife (and I honestly didn't want to upset anyone if they were happy and in love).   ....Turns out it's no big mystery after all.

They met young and fell in love.  Had a few kids.  Decided it wasn't working and they started living separate lives; meeting in the middle to raise wonderful, well-adjusted children.

After some time, her brother came in (equally as nice/kind).  We all shared ftour meal together.  Partway through, DGy looked at me and said, "How many years have you and I been married now?"  and I immediately responded with, "Six."  Even the kids laughed.  They made me feel so comfortable (again, like old friends) that that type of banter was humorous.  It was all so "normal" and it just felt like I had been part of it all for forever.  (And yet, so strange...)

I never asked her outright how much she knew about my relationshit with DGy.  She did say that she knew a lot about me and that she had asked to meet me at our camp a few years ago, but I wasn't there (or maybe the timing wasn't right for DGy).  (She said she didn't like the people who go to his camp.  I'm down with that!)  I told her that she was a saint and that I knew it couldn't be easy for her to put up with it all.  She agreed, but basically said, "it is what it is."  I imagine at one point, there was a lot of passionate love between them. They obviously really like each other, but from what I saw, it seems to be more like he once told me, "brother and sister."  (Of course, I don't know if that is true because again, no one really knows what happens in someone's home.)

If it was me, would I be able to welcome my husband's female friend/former girlfriend in to my home?  I don't think so.  I think she must be very self-confident (or just is so far removed from him emotionally that it is all ok). I'm obviously not a threat or I never would have been invited to their home.  I doubt seriously that he has ever invited any of his other female friends (x-girlfriends) to his home. (But as his 9 year old son once told him, "Dad, your other friends love me because they love you.  "Desert Girl" loves me because she loves me for me"  That's true.  I don't suffer fools - even in small packages.)   I sincerely admire Mrs. DGy and I would love to be able to ask her about this experience later.

If it was me, would I have stayed with him for the kids?  Probably not.  I'm too selfish and too opinionated. It would take someone stronger than me.  (One infraction on his part and I would be considering ways to make his life miserable, so why stay married?)

They invited me back and I would really love to be in their company again.  I'm still feeling warm and happy over the time I shared with Desert Guy and Mrs. DGy.  I had no idea.

Like I keep saying, my life is pretty unconventional.... and I love it.  Thank you, God, for allowing me to see the same pictures from totally different perspectives.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Protests Rock Kuwait

Pay attention to this story, people.  I'm not going to elaborate or give my personal opinion.  All is not always what it appears.

Downtown Kuwait City, 6 July 2014

Kuwait Times
7 July 2014
LINK HERE

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday stressed that all people must follow the law in order to protect the state’s constitutional institutions against any violations. He also said that citizens are not allowed to violate the judicial authority, condemning the attack on the country’s judiciary system....

(Omit)

Five nights of clashes have rocked the state after the arrest of prominent opposition leader Musallam Al-Barrak. The public prosecutor on Wednesday detained Barrak for 10 days pending trial on charges of insulting the judiciary and slandering the head of the supreme judicial council, Faisal Al-Marshed. Police have used tear gas and stun grenades against demonstrators, and the Interior Ministry has vowed to deal firmly with unlicensed gatherings. The ministry said police arrested a number of protesters, while opposition activists said around 25 people have been rounded up since Wednesday.

Opposition groups began a protest march later yesterday to the Palace of Justice in Kuwait City to press for the release of Barrak, whose trial is due to begin today. Demonstrators refused repeated appeals by senior police officers not to stage the procession and started to walk from outside the Grand Mosque, chanting slogans calling for “cleansing the judiciary”. After walking about 30 m, riot police in armoured vehicles fired rounds of stun grenades and tear gas at the protesters, who were holding orange flags.

Most of the demonstrators dispersed into the nearby markets of downtown Kuwait City where riot police continued to chase them out of the capital and in order to ensure they do not reach the Palace of Justice. Police had earlier closed down all roads leading to the Grand Mosque forcing protesters to park in remote areas and walk a long distance under sweltering heat coupled with high humidity.

Despite the closure, around 1,000 demonstrators managed to reach the protest area and more people were still coming in when the police intervened. Most of the protesters returned home with the exception of dozens of youth activists who continued to play a cat and mouse game with police.

The opposition earlier held a press conference in which former Assembly speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun insisted that the opposition rallies are peaceful and will continue and called on authorities not to attack them. Meanwhile, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd Al-Sabah was interrogated by the public prosecutor for the second time yesterday night.

The Ministry of Interior yesterday warned that it would decisively face all unlicensed rallies and marches in line with legal measures with a view to maintaining national security and stability. The ministry said in a statement it is committed to constitutional and legal constants which govern the general order in the country in line with Islamic sharia and the Kuwaiti people’s ethics. It warned that it would confront all acts of violence, rioting, burning, ransacking and assault on policemen or state and private facilities and properties. 

Regrettably, such acts are being committed regardless of appeals and calls for tranquility and reasoning out of keenness for the country’s national interests, it said.

The ministry urged all people to exercise proper conduct. It asked parents of young people who took part in such acts to explain to them the danger of such acts for them and the whole society. The ministry said in a release earlier in the day that in spite of repeated warnings, a group of people held illegal rallies in Sabah Al-Nasser yesterday evening, during which violent acts and rioting took place. The protesters blocked traffic, burned dumpsters and assaulted security forces and attacked public and private properties, it lamented.

The demonstrators also threw Molotov cocktails at the Central Prison, also burning nearby trees before fleeing the scene, said the statement, adding that police were able to arrest some of those involved. 

Policemen called on demonstrators at to stop their acts of violence that could pose a danger to families living in the area, but the groups continued to create chaos and threw rocks at the police, the ministry said. It warned it will bring all those involved in the violation of law to justice in order to safeguard Kuwait’s security. – Agencies

More Links on this story:

Telegraph, UK   
Jazeera  
The National UAE    
And This One... 
LWDLIK Blog


What to wear when meeting your x-boyfriend's wife


I am extremely grateful to have been extended an invitation to share iftar with Desert Guy and his family.  I am equally grateful that his wife called to invite me.

Many of us are from non-traditional/unconventional families these days.  I seem to get glimpses into these types of families.  It's interesting.  

When I was living with DGy in the desert 2 years ago and we were dating, I knew that he was still married and he was still living under the same roof with the Mrs.  His kids knew/know me and we all like each other. DGy told me that he was still married for the kids.  Verify:  I've heard from other people including his relatives that this is true (and was true long before I met him); they basically lead separate lives under the same roof.  Who am I to judge?  I've seen a lot more unconventional marriages, so whatever.  

Anyways, he and I are still friends.  I have met his recent girlfriend (who I like a lot).  I've heard that DGy's wife knows his girlfriends' best friend.  Yeah, ok, unconventional again.  Whatever.

I have heard that DGy wife is a nice woman and that they had a love story of a marriage that at some point went wrong.  She's a lawyer, so undoubtedly, she doesn't have to stick around for financial reasons.  I'm very curious about her.  

I just know that she must be an absolute saint for staying with him.  He's a tough one.  He has a good heart, but..... much better as a friend than as a romantic prospect.  He's got a bad temper, isn't exactly faithful to any woman, and has the attention span of a gnat.  But - he is the type of man that you can count on when you really need him.

When they both called me yesterday and invited me for ftour, it totally threw me.  She was lovely on the phone, very kind and welcoming and she said that she had heard nice things about me from DGy and her children.   

The first thing in my mind was, "What do I wear?"  I'm going to have a mad rush through my closets today.  eeek.

(I'll let you know how it turns out....)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ramadan Etiquette 101

This is from my friend, Bionic Nomad's blog.  Too good not to re-post!


Ramadan Kareem everyone! Now let’s give you a basic crash course on Ramadan Etiquette 101:


1.     Nobody is interested in your daily Fitoor/Sehoor photos: We know how good the food is after a whole day of fasting. Your dates and laban (or whatever you are drinking) aren’t anymore special than mine.
2.  Being devout is cool. Taking selfies of being devout isn’t cool. (Example: selfie in a mosque, selfie on the prayer mat, etc) Nor it is going to score you anymore “devoutness points”.
3.     Posting/sending texts: Fitoor time, prayer time, sehoor time, prayer time..get the hint? That’s called spam, it’s not called reminding someone. That’s uncool. We all can hear the mosques. I am deaf and I know the timings. So don’t be an annoying spammer.
4.     When you’re out driving, keep your eyes on the road; not on that setting sun or the clock. Don’t kill yourself or anyone else on an empty stomach. Keep your cool, drive sanely and wisely. Food isn’t going anywhere and God won’t blast you into a smoking crater if you’re late. (Try sleeping on an empty stomach, unpleasant feeling isn’t it?)

5.     You’re fasting and about 2 billion other Muslims are fasting too. Don’t be a wuss, go to work like it’s any other day. You didn’t get your caffeine/nicotine fix? Suck it up, princess. Think of those people who work outdoors for a living while fasting. Also, who cares if you see a person eating/drinking? If it’s legal to eat/drink in public then you don’t have the right to complain. I repeat:

Suck it up, princess.


Have a blessed Ramadan!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pretty little Kuwaiti Porsche girls

You know how there is a difference sometimes in car drivers?  Some people discriminate on people solely by the automobiles they drive.  Of course, these are sweeping generalizations and not everyone is the same.  I am often judged unfairly because of the type of car I drive (but I don't care - I love my car and that's why I bought it; not to race it or to prove how much muscle the engine has).

This is my perspective; what I see.

I am passing along a compliment to all the Kuwaiti girls who drive Porsches - specifically the 911 model (not Panameras or Cayans).  All (again, a generalization) of the 911 Girls look like little dolls. Like founder Ferry Porsche said, "a small, lighweight sports car that uses energy efficiently." The drivers here are similar. They are upper class, are very well dressed and polished and don't seem to be easily annoyed in traffic. They know the capability of their cars, but just seem happy to be driving them rather than proving their power. And unlike their sisters who drive Mercedes, they seem much more content to just "be".   (I love Mercedes by the way - it is my favorite vehicle, but then ... I've never driven a Porsche so I don't have anything to compare it to.)  The Mercedes girls seem to have been gifted their cars rather than having to earn it.  Maybe the Porsche girls had do to more work to attain a sports car.  It just seems to be a different attitude.


20 years ago, you would rarely see a Kuwaiti woman driving a sports car.  Now, it is normal.  But if you think about it, the women who started driving sports cars were pioneers for others to follow.

Anyhow, back to my point:  You go, pretty little Kuwaiti Porsche girls!

Still seeing affects of November 19 flooding

Some of you driving down towards the chalets (South on either 30 or 40) may have noticed that there is a lot of standing water in some areas.

Desert area across from Dubaiya/Julai'ia, Kuwait

This is the water which is still standing since the November 19, 2013 rain and flooding.  I can't believe that it hasn't dried up yet.  There is a lot of livestock in the area as people are bringing their sheep and camels to graze on the grass (which is usually not there).

Kuwait fascinates me....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Al-Zor Refinery

I was talking to a friend at KNPC last night about the plans to build the Zor refinery (part of the clean fuels project).  It hadn't occurred to me in the past how close the refinery will be to Khiran - and all the amazing waterways and chalets they are building.

The planned refinery will literally be across the road (and in the desert) from the Zor power plant.  If you've spent any time recently on a beach in that area, you know how close it is.



My question is this:  Why develop water ecology and resort townships only to later plunk down a pollution-pouring refinery right next to it?  Why not make it further away where there are less inhabitants?

The sea life in the area is bound to be harmed by this as well.   I think it's sad.  If this was planned (and this has been going on for years here) anywhere else in the world, home owners would be up in arms over it.  It has all been very quiet.

If you want to read up on the project, there is an article LINK here and you can do a Google search.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Kuwait Dog Obedience School Experience

I got Mikey back this weekend from obedience school. 

Peter the dog trainer (GSD_Q8 Kennel in Kabd – 67755959) was amazing.  They are a wonderful group of dog breeders/trainers/friends who have an obvious love for dogs and animals.  They also raise birds;  and have cats on the property that show absolutely zero fear in the face of even the biggest, meanest dogs there for training.  They use one of the fearless cats to socialize the dogs (the cat is never in danger).  I saw it with my own eyes – and Mikey seems completely indifferent to cats now; as well as other big dogs.


I was welcomed by the kennel to go and visit as often as I wanted, so I went there not only to see Mikey, but to receive owner training (train-the-trainer).  I saw a lot of other healthy dogs being trained as well as some absolutely gorgeous German Shepherd puppies that they have for sale.  This, with the added bonus of true Kuwaiti-style hospitality:  Turkish coffee or tea served with interesting and funny conversations, often with other customers and buyers; all centering around the dogs.

I brought my Irish cousin with me on one visit.  Cuz is very perceptive and caught on immediately, “It is easy to see that the trainer likes the dog, but more importantly, your dog loves that trainer.” Admittedly, I was jealous.  For the time Mikey spent at the school, I left him in Peter’s competent hands and I didn’t feel like Mikey was my dog.  (I observed that Peter, a big/tuff looking Slovakian guy, seemed sad to see my boy going home.)

The kennel actually told me that they had a buyer from Saudi Arabia who had offered 1,000KD (Mashallah) for Mikey.  It’s never going to happen and it kind of made me feel “removed” – for lack of a better term – from Mike.  It was a nice compliment, but something that I don’t even want to think about (Where would he go?  Who would he be with?  What would they feed him?  Where would he sleep?  It would be a lifetime of endless torture and worry for me.). The other compliment they gave me was that he is show-quality and would probably place very well if I ever wanted to get him into competition.  Niiiiiiice!  (Not bad for a discount-puppy that his previous owner didn’t think was a pretty dog!  In.Your.Face!)

I took him from Kabd to the groomers at PetZone (no appointments required/taken).   He wasn’t “house ready” and needed a good perfumed bath and manicure/pedicure.   I also had no idea that there was a flea and tick problem in Kuwait!  (In almost 20 years here, I’ve never experienced it, but that’s mostly because Desert Dawg hasn’t frolicked much on a farm.)  Frontline usually works pretty well (had it on him at the school), but these horrible things seem to have had a resistance.  Guess they are a different breed of insects  in Kabd.  The PetZone groomer was very thorough and did a good job (for only 12KD). I was really apprehensious  about how Mike would react to other pets at the groomers.  Previously at IVH, he went berserk and embarrassed me when around other dogs.  But, he did so well this weekend.  He was quiet and calm even around the Rottweilers and other German Shepherds, cats, and little dogs.  With the exception of one time when a chihuahua ran up and started barking at him;  Mikey wanted to play and barked back.  Overall, it was a major obedience improvement.
 
Only on the day that I took him home did he feel like my dog again.  He hasn’t taken his eyes off me since he got in the car and he is constantly at my heel.  (He’s also sleeping very close to me as if to make sure that I’m there.)  The first day that he was back, he slept quietly on the sofa with his paw covering my hand as if to say, “I don’t believe you’re really here.”  He is fer sure  a mama’s boy. He still runs around like a puppy (he is, at only 8 months although he looks like a big, fierce grown dog).   

I love that Mikey has become a calmer version of himself; although still as cunning, cleaver and mischievous as ever.  He is a different dog.  He no longer chews my shoes and my bras seem to be out of danger (he formerly stole them and then hid them while I was getting ready for work because he knew well that I wouldn’t leave the house without it).  Last night, he got a hold of a paper napkin and proceeded to try to rip it into shreds (he loves eating tissue!).  I grabbed it from him before it was too bad and hid it behind me on the sofa.  A few minutes later, he picked up a toy and threw it at me.  When I went to pick it up, the little devil grabbed the paper napkin again!  I don’t know who is training who.

"Hi.  My name is Mike. Can I get you a drink?"
(Bartending skills!  Awesome!)

Yesterday, I went to see my group of friends who I originally got Mikey from (Mikey lay quietly on the floor during the entire visit).  It was yet further/firmer validation that I made the right choice in keeping Mikey.  The guy that I got Mikey from (PuppyBoy as I called him  in previous posts – for a completely different reason) had Mikey in a cage, in cold windy November,  without any blankets or water when I first saw him. Mikey was only about 6 weeks old.    I offered to take him home and house train him.  Months (and vet bills and vaccinations later), PuppyBoy still wasn’t coming to see him and it was questionable about whether or not he even wanted Mikey back.  So, I put money in his hand and basically told him that Mikey is my dog.  My friends (his uncle) told me yesterday that since then, PuppyBoy has had 2 other dogs; and that both had died “mysteriously”.  Mysteriously translates to no vaccinations (parvo and distemper are really prevalent in Kuwait), or no water in 120 degree heat, or whatever other negligent acts that he has perpetrated on those poor dogs (where, in other parts of the world he would be prosecuted for!).  I am SO THANKFUL that God brought Mikey to me.  I saved him and he has in several ways saved me.

In the 7 months that I have had Mikey, I have made numerous new friends – all because of him.  I’ve been introduced to a world that I never knew existed in Kuwait; the German Shepherd and dog breeder/owner/trainer community in Kuwait (and it is REALLY extensive).  I’ve built relationships with kind-hearted and generous people like Peter and Ahmed and Abdulrahman and GSD_Q8 Kennel, and with their friends like Bader who runs a group of German Shepherd owners and enthusiasts.  I’ve also met other German Shepherd owners like Angel and her fiancĂ© and started what I know will be long-lasting friendships.  ....All because of one really cool, handsome dog. 
  
God always works in ways which you never could have imagined.  It has all been a fabulous blessing.



For info/photos/videos on GSD_Q8 Kennel: 
Add them on Instagram  @bu_Noooo7 or @k9_peter_q8 


Monday, June 16, 2014

WTF is an ISIS?!

I've had a self-proclaimed DG political blackout going on for a while now. I don't want to get too worried/concerned/educated on political events ANYWHERE because I'm just not into it and I find it disturbing to my chi.

But when my mother called me the other night and said she was worried about me in light of events in Iraq, I was like, 'Woah, Mom!  What are you on about?' (That's actually more Irish than I said to her.)  But it was like that.

So yet another name for terrorism. Sadly, the acronym, Isis, is the Goddess of motherhood, magic, and fertility;  A mythological figure that I admire.  That's just disrespectful.  For a fundamentalist group, you would think they would have thought that through a little better.  Just sayin'

ISIS in Iraq came up just about as fast as Al-Qaeda did in 2001..... All of a sudden, dudes are all over the media.

The US started seeing some of these factions as a threat and started questioning their financing.  They even pointed a finger towards Kuwait and some of the GCC countries that were funding this cause.  See my post LINK HERE from an article published in March of this year  (ISIS has dropped the "Levant" as no one understood what it meant.)    Kuwait's own Minister of Justice was called out by the US as someone who was financing terrorism; and once again, some people in Kuwait were pissed off at the US for meddling in Kuwait and throwing out what they perceived to be false accusations.  (If their theory applies, the same people upset with "meddling" should have been upset in 1991 as well....)

I personally think that if Kuwait can find links of  Kuwaitis (ESPECIALLY senior government officials like MINISTER) to terrorism of any kind, those people should be put in jail.  Aren't those individuals working AGAINST national security/national unity??

Anyhoo, Kuwait's military today is on a "Level 3" alert - meaning that all the Kuwaiti military guys I know will be on lockdown until God-knows-when.  Damn!  Right before Ramadan too when everybody is pre-partying to the max!

Some conspiracy-theory thoughts for ya:  So why is it that the US northern border camps (like Buehring - formerly Udairi - just a hop, skip and a jump at approximately 30 miles from Iraq) have had large construction projects going on for the past few years?  Hmmm? Why is it that Kuwait has floated several border detection/barrier tenders for the past few years - and ironically, to include a complete upgrade of security to the Kuwaiti side of Udairi range?  Hmmm?  And now with KBOS3 coming up for re-bid in 2015, contractors are itchy to do something in Kuwait to support their lifestyles.  (Those contractors also include Kuwaiti companies who have made plenty o'dosh since 2003 providing support services like accommodations and contracts to the camps.)

Am I personally concerned about Kuwait?  No.

I think that Kuwait has great internal security forces. In early 2000's, there was a terrorist group here who got into a gun fight with Kuwaiti forces - in 2 locations in Kuwait. The police immediately took charge of the situation and the suspects were either shot outright or taken into custody.  Those boys (and now girls) don't play.  Since then, Kuwait has built up internal security forces and have purchased urban warfare type equipment and trained Kuwaitis.  They have a new police college and the infrastructure to take on internal combatants is now in place.  It would not be fun to be in Kuwait should these terrorists ever make it into Kuwait, but I don't think that will ever happen either.

If ISIS escalates operations in Kuwait,  no doubt that the US would step in as we (and potentially would several other foreign militaries like the UK, Canada, and Australian, that have forces on the ground in Kuwait).  Kuwait is still a FOB (forward operating base) to Iraq and there are enough resources still in Kuwait to take on whatever happens on the border (or to assist the Kuwait Army/MOI with their efforts).

That is my take today on ISIS.  Can't we all just get along?


If  you want to read more about ISIS, here are some links:

Kuwait on Level 3 Alert
Terrorism at Our Doors
Growing Concerns in Kuwait About Terrorism in Iraq
How ISIS Rampaged Towards the Capital

Impotence in Kuwait

(I like creating sexy titles like that because it helps gain me better hits/stats.)  This is really about stagnation in Kuwait, but it can be referred to as "impotence" also.

My morning started off by checking my blog comments and by reading the feeds from other blogs.  Crazy in Kuwait (Life in Kuwait) has a post about how the Kuwait Free Trade Zone now looks like a ghost town. You can read my comments on her post (and please check it out because she'g got some really great photos of what the formerly-pretty urban area looks like now).

The Free Trade Zone was going to set an example for the rest of the country to follow and to draw large international companies into Kuwait through friendly services and regulation.  Ha!  See how that has gone!

Reading that post was followed by a feed  from Zawya.com about how the Kuwait airport project has been put on hold indefinitely because international firms are pulling out.  Why?  Because once again, Kuwait has shot itself in the foot, imposing unrealistic conditions for doing business here.  Full story is HERE.  Literally, the companies who would have made money constructing the new Kuwait airport, have decided that Kuwait isn't worth the effort!  (Estimated project value:  1 billion KD!)

Here is the truth of the matter:  KUWAIT DOES NOT WANT BUSINESS HERE.

Plain and simple.  The country would rather flounder flacidly in the past while progress and achievements take place all around it.  I mean, why bother when so many Kuwaitis can make investments in foreign countries where the regulations are so much easier, the ROI is higher, and the risk is lower?  Even Bahrain has off-shores and you can open a business there in several hours.

Kuwait has literally made it so difficult for people to do business here that even Kuwaitis are seeking business elsewhere in the world; and international firms that stand to gain millions (if not billions) in construction projects here - are choosing not to do business here!

At the last company I worked for (sadly, which has now gone out of business; so much lost potential!), they tasked me with trying to partner with (bring in) international companies to work with us on projects here in Kuwait. I could only stare at them blankly.  It was a task that I was destined to fail.  Although always positive, the voice in my head was realistically shouting, "WHO wants to come here to do business?  WHY?"  Since that job, I believe it has only become more difficult for businesses in Kuwait.

Business regulations are changed on a whim.  Heck, the parliament changes regularly, so why not the rules?  Even if you can get your hands on something documented, it will be outdated almost as fast as it is printed.  Not to mention all the negative PR Kuwait has received in the past few years on how "welcoming" authorities are to expats.

I'm an expat.  I love Kuwait.  I've been here a long time.  I've seen a lot of changes.  But, I am also seeing a lot of my long-term-in-Kuwait expat friends (including some that were born here) pack up and leave for something better.  The "something better" used to be Kuwait.  That is no longer the case.  Even the Kuwaitis are now packing up.

It's sad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Post About Everything

I was debating about writing a post on my online dating experiences lately, but I’ve written about this subject previously (been there, done that) and nothing has really changed.  Still a time-fill for something else to come along. Although, now with the introduction of Instagram; everybody who you meet online wants your account; and then you get theirs; and you start following each other;  and then you can kind of determine what they’re like from their photos and comments.  All the technology stuff makes me tired.  Wouldn't it be possible - just once - to share a meal and get to know each other the real way?  I don't need to see your 500 selfie photos of you working out at the gym.  Seriously.  (I've noticed that you don't have any selfie photos injecting the steroids....)

My friends and I face the same dilemma once we get into a relationship; Insta-jealousy (Instagram jealousy).  “Why is he adding all those bimbos?”  or “Why are those bimbos commenting on his photos?” or “Who IS that particular bimbo?”  I have to actually stop following online because it gets out of control and at some point, you just have to give up and trust.  If there is no trust, you don’t have a relationship anyways.  If dude is going to cheat, it probably won’t be so obvious anyways, so let it go. 

How did we get to this point?  Sigh.  

The best relationships happen spontaneously.  I’ve heard over and over again, once you give up, he’ll appear. 

Mashallah, someone appeared in my life recently and he wasn’t through the usual means.  God just sent him to me and the day I met him,  I spent 5 hours with him (that felt like 5 minutes) in the water at the beach.  I didn’t even know his  name until several hours into the conversation (and he didn’t run away, blinded by my whiteness!)   I had/have no expectations and that is what is so amazing about it all.  He is just there.  The day I met him was one of the most magical experiences of my life and you know what?  That’s enough.   Sometimes you are given those days as a gift and they stay with you. 

... And enough said before I jinx myself.

And the other man in my life:  Mikey will be back soon from obedience school; hopefully by the end of this week.  Around the same time as my sound-proof apartment door is completed.  I don’t want to give the landlady any ammunition.    (Expat renter woes, unfortunately.)  I know the law and my bases are covered.  I don’t disturb anyone and they shouldn’t disturb me.  I'm the ideal renter:  Single, quiet, pay rent NLT the 28 of the month (before rent is due), pay double when asked for an advance (I'm freakin' Bank of America!), fix my own stuff (plumbing, electric, appliances, etc.).  Don't mess with that just because I have (quiet) dogs. Desert Dawg is actually written INTO my lease agreement, so they have already shown their acceptance to dogs in the apartment.  I just have one more now - purely for protection (mostly from the landlady's too-creepy half-brother!)

Speaking of disturbances.... They have been “painting” the house where I live for the past 3 months.  It was supposed to take 1 month.  They have completed almost the entire house – except where I live. (Thaanks.)  I wasn’t able to take advantage of my terrace/grill for any of the nice weather.  I had to cancel my annual birthday bash.  I have scaffolding and debris and tarps all over my terrace.  It is disgusting.  I have very noisy Egyptian men (Mohammed and Abdullah!) shouting at each other constantly at 7am on Friday and Saturday mornings; which, in turn, wakes up the kids upstairs who can no longer go outside to play for fear of hammers being dropped on their little heads (yeah, one fell down very close to a kid when they first started working).  So they play inside.  At 7 am.  On top of my head.  IF my dogs did ever bark (neither do, thank God), you wouldn’t be able to hear them over Mohammed and Abdullah.  I thought painting was a quiet art?   

So, I get up on the weekends and go to the beach.  Sometimes with friends to Kubbar Island; sometimes with other friends to Khiran (where we just drive around and pick a beach next to a chalet).  In Khiran, the water is clear and the beaches are clean.  Most of the time, you can find a quiet spot with no one around and spend the day in peace. I don't like the inside inlets, however. The water is more shallow and there are lots of oyster/crustacean beds and I hurt my feet.  Some of those things are enormous (not good for eating, however).   Kubbar is another story.  Depending on the time you go, it might be a big party.  The friends I go with don’t park close to other boats so we still have privacy (unless, of course, there are pretty girls around and then they are like sharks when the water has been chummed).  ‘Please!  You’re old enough to be her grandfather!’  Neither party seems to care.


Everybody is into serious activity prior to Ramadan.  I’m still planning to go to the beach every day during Ramadan.  Shorter hours at work - and no one will be around.  Woo hoo!  I can bring Mikey and be content.

And then... vacation in the States!