Friday, March 08, 2019

Please vote so my friend can get a small business grant for her shelter to re-home dogs from Kuwait


Please vote for my friend, Amy's, business to get a small business grant from FedEx. Amy is one of those angels who helps re-home tortured, neglected, abandoned dogs from Kuwait to homes in the US. She started her kennel for this very reason. It's a simple task - just click after opening the link HERE Thanks!





There are a few rescuers in Kuwait that work with organizations in the US to re-home dogs.  Why the US?  Because the procedures are easier for pets to be sent there.  Wings of Love flies the dogs to points in the US and from there they are taken to several shelters (like Amy's Blue Ridge Canine Services and shelters in Baltimore, New York and Washington DC).  ALL of them need financial assistance.  All are run by volunteers.

Don't forget the rescuers in Kuwait!  They constantly need cat/dog food, old blankets and towels, cleaning items, and of course, cash ( goes towards medical bills for hurt animals). 




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Kuwait - National & Liberation Days





Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Kuwait (Feb 19, 2019)

Location: Kuwait, countrywide

Event: Kuwait National and Liberation Days – February 25 & 26

The Kuwait National and Liberation Day holidays will be Monday, February 25, and Tuesday, February 26.  U.S. citizens should expect festive celebrations, large crowds, and heavy traffic congestion in downtown and waterfront areas.  There will be particularly heavy vehicular congestion and pedestrian traffic from early afternoon through the evening hours on and around the Gulf Road and in Salmiya.  In the past, local police have blocked U-turn lanes and intersections on Gulf Road, forcing northbound traffic to travel the entire length of Gulf Road to turn around as well as restricting travel in the blocks adjacent to Gulf Road.  Many celebrants engage in water gun fights, throw water balloons, and set off fireworks in the affected areas during these national holidays.   

Actions to Take: 
·          Avoid crowds.
·          Be aware of your surroundings.
·          Keep vehicle doors locked at all times.
·          Monitor local media for updates.
·          Carry proper identification, either your U.S. passport with current Kuwait visa or your Kuwait civil ID.
·          Carry a mobile phone at all times.
·          Contact Kuwait Emergency Services at 112 for emergencies.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Whats on in Kuwait Listings


What’s on in Kuwait


Sometimes it is difficult to find out what is going on in Kuwait – even for longtimers like me - because many events aren’t advertised, or perhaps aren’t advertised in English (where 2/3 of the population can understand what is written). 

I’ve tried to put together a comprehensive listing of listings that provide information in English on upcoming activities.  (In no particular order other than “good ones” and “those that really suck”.)

LiveinQ8 (e news for the Kuwait Expat) - http://livinq8.com/calendar.php


Kuwait International Fair (Mishref Fairgrounds) Events:  http://kif.net/

Kuwait Up2date:  http://www.kuwaitup2date.com/events/

248am.com Blog Events – (the blog also has “what’s on this weekend” events which is helpful.) https://events.248am.com/

Ladies Who Do Lunch In Kuwait Blog Things To Do - http://ladieswhodolunchinkuwait.blogspot.com/p/things-to-do.html

10Times (mostly industry conferences/events):  https://10times.com/kuwait
All Events in Kuwait - https://allevents.in/kuwait/all

And the losers are…..

Kuwait Tourism - http://kuwaittourism.com/events-calendar/  (Pretty updated format contains zero information.  Don’t waste your time.  I just put it out here to be facetious.)

Visit Kuwait - https://www.visit-kuwait.com/events/   Snoozefest.

Hala February – Seriously!  Is there anyone out there who can give me an annual listing of events during Hala February month?!  VisitKuwait.com and Kuwait Touristic Enterprises (the official tourism website of Kuwait) – you are both doing TERRIBLE jobs, year after year. 



If anyone has any listings to add, please feel free to let me know.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Kuwait Souvenirs

From Ms. Kookie Colaso on Expat Mums in Kuwait group on Facebook:

"For all those who asks about souvenirs and mementos of Kuwait, there's a full fledged shop in the Souq (Grand Avenues) called FILS. They have absolutely everything. Magnets, tees, caps, key chains, mugs, mesbah, dhows, snow globes, and lots & lots more. Things are pretty reasonably priced too.  Try parking at gate 12 or 15"

Thank you, Kookie, for this post (and thank you to the owners of the FILS shop for their patriotic interest in promoting Kuwait).  I get asked by readers all the time where they can buy souvenirs from Kuwait and my stock response is to direct them to a little shop in Mubarakia which is hard to explain (very small, and I don't know the name of - you can see my dilema).  I remembered seeing FILS in The Avenues, but my memory aint what she used to be.  The shop is back in the souq section where the little Kuwaiti cafe restaurants are.

One would THINK that the great minds at Kuwait International Airport might have shops – you know, similar to Dubai or Qatar or many other countries in the world where they sell souvenirs of that country IN the airport.  Kuwait seems more interested in selling 5 kilo bags of Tang and cigarettes.  Is that how you represent?   Where is the national pride and identity, Kuwait?  C’mon!















Disclaimer:  As I've stated before, I don't get paid or receive any type of compensation for posts like these.  It is just a public service announcement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Take on US Politics as an 'Murican



So, I hate Trump.  If you know me in "real life" my Facebook page is splattered with smack about Dump.  But I rarely comment on him on the blog (have I ever???  hmmmm.... don't think so).  I'm just so angry lately about how the shutdown is affecting good, decent, hard-working US government employees that I know.  

Can you imagine if the Government was shut down in Kuwait and people were forced to work for no pay?  Eeeeek..... I can't even imagine the mayhem....first of all, the US would start BMCing about "slave labor" (which is exactly what the US is now doing to our own government employees).  Hey Trump, read up on CTIPs and some of our other laws.  They're really great.

Trump is the Manchurian Candidate. He is destroying America piece by piece. The government shutdown is only his most obvious move, but just look at how much destruction he's already done: destruction of environment (don't even get me started about animals and how hunting is allowed on several species...) , deregulating pollution controls, creating tariffs that affect America’s farmers, dividing the country through racism, deregulating corporate regulations, possibility of pulling out of NATO,  pulling out of NAFTA agreements, etc etc....  And the lies:  one lie after another.  I HATE liars!

What does it mean to be a “Manchurian Candidate”?  “A Manchurian candidate is a person, especially a politician, being used as a puppet by an enemy power. The term is commonly used to indicate disloyalty or corruption, whether intentional or unintentional.”  The plot of the original book/movie is similar to that of the recent series, “Homeland.”

And throughout the past 2 years of one Trump-created crisis or scandal after another, what progress has been made in the US? There is not even a solid Administration.  Staff is terminated at whim or they resign because they can’t effectively do their jobs.  In any private business, that would be called management instability.  In this case, it is government instability.

(I saw a segment on this ONLY this morning on CBS... at least people are starting to discuss it....) So, while the government is shut down, there is a distinct lack of cyber controls on all our big systems.  Why?  Because the cyber guardians have been furloughed and aren’t allowed to go to work.  Who is getting in NOW as I write this?  Who is getting into TSA and other security agency IT systems? Can replacement staff be vetted? NO, because that control is shut down too.

Ironically, Trump wants to build a wall or hold America hostage, yet right now NO company/agency/organization can check any worker's nationality/immigration status because eVerify is shut down. Welcome, undocumented workers! Welcome criminals! Come on in. Set the US back a few decades.

What IS eVerify?  “E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

I still find it REALLY hard to believe that some of my Kuwaiti friends with dual nationality (yeah, I know - there aren't supposed to be any, right?!)  voted for this chump.  I can't believe that other Muslim friends (and Muslim Americans) voted for this chump. I can't believe that El Cajon voted for the monkey (and that should have been a HUGE red flag).  Their arguments:   "He's good at business."  No he isn't and he's bankrupt all of his companies and bilked investors out of millions.  "He is good at foreign policy."  No, he isn't.  The rest of the world hates the US.    So the argument that everyone made against Hillary - that she hadn't secured the US Embassy in Ben Ghazi and the US Ambassador was killed..   Guess what there is LESS of under Dump?  US Embassy security!  

FAST FOOD served in the White House????  WTF.... I know that getting an invitation to the White House is a huge honor and those who do get invited are expected to show respect and attend. However, this "president" shows no respect for the dignity of his office. He shows no respect for African Americans or any other non-white, non-Christian, non-heterosexual human. So my feeling is - don't go. And then once they went, they were insulted with boxes of cold fast food? Again, they were shown no respect. I wouldn't go to anyone's home - regardless of the real estate - if I didn't respect them or if I had any slight indication that they would treat me badly once there.

Ok, I could go on and on but that's enough.  

I'm turning off comments because.... well shit because I can. 


Friday, January 11, 2019

Animal Abuse in Kuwait

Animal abuse in Kuwait is so rampant and horrific that it has been a major factor in making me want to leave the country for good - should I ever.  I'm not going to post any graphic photos - if you are interested in seeing photos of animals for adoption with their stories, please look up any of the rescuers social media accounts (and I have listed some below).




When I first arrived in Kuwait to work in 1996, I started trying to help animals.  I think the first one was a kitten suffering from dehydration and was hiding next to a curb on a heavily traveled street.  He didn't make it at the vets.  I wondered how many people had seen him and just driven by.

The next, I think, was when I heard a dog crying in pain from my desk at my office in Dhajeej.  It started, then stopped.  Other people in the office heard it too and did nothing.  I went to see what it was.  A security guard at a loading dock behind our building was keeping a 4-5 month old puppy entrapped under a commercial truck, in July, so that he could take the puppy out and beat him for his sick pleasure.  I crawled under the truck and took him to the vet.  He stayed with me for 2 weeks before I found him a home.  His new family took him to London.

Petunia (named because she constantly smelled like garbage) was my favorite semi-rescue garden/street cat.  She had her babies on my doorstep and I tried my best to help her.  She was an "outdoor pet".  She sneezed a few times and seemed to have lost weight and tried to get into my apartment to rest - I didn't give it much thought and I really wish I had at the time.  She disappeared with her kittens and it wasn't until several years later when our hariss was cleaning out under a shed that I knew what had happened.  I still feel guilty (tearing up while I write this).  You can only save so many.  I just feel like you have to give it your best shot.  RIP little, smelly girl.


There were many more after that.  "Rocky" was my last rescue with the help of (a rescue I will not name here) and a midnight snatch-and-grab rescue.  Rocky was a pittie that had been left outside my drug-addict neighbors' house on a 3' rope while the druggies went on vacation for a few weeks in July.  All of the neighbors were afraid of him.  I brought him food and water and pet the big lug (leading to hugs and kisses).  He had scars all over his back.  He was a lover, not a fighter, but someone had obviously tried to make him into one.  If I didn't already have a big territorial dog at home, I would have Rocky now.  He went to a loving family who will eventually take him back to their home in Texas with their other family pit bulls.

I digress, as usual:  The only animal rescue at that time (1996-7ish) was PAWS.  They had about the same amount of resources that I did.  Everyone who was an animal lover in Kuwait just did what they could and tried to network by phone.  There was no social media.  There was very limited internet/e-mail.  (Yeah, ancient history - can you imagine?).

PAWS tried to create a shelter at IVH, but it morphed into a commercial venture and the PAWS organization separated.

KSPATH (formerly Animal Friends League) emerged from there.  Ayesha Al-Humaidi was an animal warrior and had returned from University in the States to do good.  She was on a mission. I can't remember if she was already married to her husband, John Peaveler, or not, but the two of them set out to rescue and educate.  (And education is, I believe, the solution to animal abuse in the country.  Or at least to decrease it.  But unfortunately, most rescuers are too busy putting a bandaid on the solution for such a large wide-scale undertaking.)

More grass-roots rescues have started since then and with the help of the internet, people are able to readily share information and help reunite pets with owners or rescue animals in need.

The internet, however, has been an emotional stresser for many of us who love animals.  I can't make a good determination if the abuse in Kuwait is getting worse, or that it is more readily reported and shared.  What I have seen turns my stomach.  Many who feel the same way as I do have had to unfollow accounts or turn away from the graphic images.  I think the last one that I could bear that made me turn off one account was a dog named Paul who had been buried alive along with 2 other dogs in the desert in Jahra.  He was the only survivor.  The video footage of the look of sheer terror in his eyes was something I can't burn out of my memory.

Where do these animals come from?

Street cats multiply.  Some of the rescues do TNR (trap, neuter, release) to control populations.  It is humane and animals are sent back out to live out their lives in their colonies.

Caucasian Dog
However, dogs are another story.  It has become "moda" or a fashionable trend in Kuwait to import and own high-end, even exotic breed dogs.  Most people never research them; buying off the internet as you would a Prada bag.  Only the "returns" system isn't quite as easy.  The novelty wears off.  The kids get tired of playing with "it" (as the animal seems to be more like a thing than a living being with a soul and feelings.)  The owners haven't researched a breed (like beautiful Huskeys which are difficult to train, highly loyal to only a few people, require a LOT of exercise and indoor air conditioned accommodation).  Some idiots are even importing Caucasians and Tibetan Mountain Dogs.  These breeds both grow to approximately the size of a small pony, have several coats of thick fur (NOT appropriate for the extreme high temperatures in Kuwait), and can be extremely aggressive; as they are bred to herd cattle in the mountains.  I have seen photos of dozens of Caucasians chained in the desert  with no shelter by breeders.

And then they become strays...

Once the understanding of how much responsibility it takes to raise a dog sets in, most likely they will be dumped.  (And then there is the monster who wins my absolute disdain:  The educated expat who leaves and dumps their family pet.)   A rescuer won't be called.  Someone will drive the dog out to the desert (maybe to Kabd or to Wafra) and just let it out of the car and drive off.  These areas are FULL of  starving, neglected and abused designer dogs from Yorkies to Huskeys to German Shepherds and more.  Don't believe me?  Take a drive up to Kabd at dusk into some of the back alleyways.  Oh, and bring some dishes, dog food and water with you if you have compassion for animals.  You'll need them.

What is the Government solution to strays in the country? 

There are no official shelters in Kuwait.  No humane euthanization.  The Government puts out rat poison which gives the dogs and cats a slow, very painful, completely inhumane death.   There is no public notification (just incase your child or your pet may be playing in the area.)  Or stray dogs are shot.  Private citizens also are known to shoot stray dogs, usually leading to maiming, but not immediate (humane) death.  (The UAE in contrast has much stricter, more humane laws governing animals, including a recently-introduced law making it illegal to abandon animals.)

Unscrupulous Breeders and Puppy Mills

Another trend in Kuwait is breeding dogs and selling them for money (which is ironic as the Holy Quran actually states that it is haram to sell dogs).  Authorities have not cracked down on kennels in the country on land where people are supposed to be raising farm animals.  Some of these kennels are indeed professional and meet or exceed international standards.  K9 sporting events are held in Kuwait now and respect is growing from the international breeding community.  However, many unethical "kennels" (cage farms, really) are run by people who give little or no care to dogs other than what their offspring can produce (in other words, hot, sandy, desert puppy mills).  Life expectancy is very low.  Most puppies don't receive proper vaccinations, so diseases like Parvo and Distemper are rampant.  Puppies are also taken away from their mothers too soon to build their immune systems. The lack of proper care at a young age causes most to die and/or diseases to spread.

Further, there is ZERO regulation (laws)  governing dog kennels in Kuwait.  ZERO inspection.  Why? Because they're not supposed to BE there.  So, puppy mills and legitimate breeding kennels are all operating illegally and can be closed down at any time by the Government on an inspection or raid.

On another note - So what about boarding kennels?  Who is licensed?  Is my dog safe there?
The ONLY boarding kennels that are licensed in Kuwait are the ones affiliated with (and directly located within) veterinary hospitals.  To the best of my knowledge, there are TWO:  International Veterinary Hospital (IVH) and Royal Animal Hospital (RAH).  RAH's kennel is very small and is mostly for recovering pets.  IVH will allow you to tour their kennel to see where your pet will be kept (dogs and cats) and discuss food and exercise schedules.

Be very careful where you board your dog. NONE of the commercial kennels in the Kabd/Hejen area have licenses. None have signage for this reason because they are working on the down low.  (Why?  Because Kabd/Hejen is not zoned for commercial use.  It is a farming area for livestock; divided into sections for camels, horses, sheep and goats.)   

Who cares for your dog?  Today  a maid and driver, tomorrow "kennel technicians - highly qualified and trained to care for your pet."  What happens if your pet becomes sick or injured?  What happens if one of the other dogs at the kennel is vicious and attacks your dog?  What happens if another dog is infectious (parvo is a quick killer and very infectious).  What happens if there is a tick infestation?  Or a scorpion or snake happens to get into a kennel and bites a dog (you have 20 minutes or less to get the dog to a vet in some cases).  What happens if the kennel is flooded or if there is a fire? A few years ago, a champion German Shepherd (probably one of the finest and best trained dogs in Kuwait) died of a scorpion bite while inside one of the better boarding kennels in Kabd.  Things happen.

Rescuers

ALL RESCUERS IN KUWAIT ARE VOLUNTEERS - RELY 100% ON DONATIONS.

PAWS is still working hard to help rescue/treat/re-home animals.  KSPATH, very unfortunately, has closed (and I'm still very very angry about that because they were the ONLY rescue in Kuwait with a license and assistance from the Government).  So now most of the rescuers who actually have a physical location (not just inside their homes) to keep/treat animals are small and struggling.

Abdulaziz Zaatari, President of the Committee for
Animal Protection and Its Environment
To make it harder for them, naysayers  have publicly stated that these rescuers are pocketing money meant for animals, "...most use donations for themselves."  As recently as this past week, a government official, mentioned in photo to the right, went on television and stated this!  (Name translated - I hope it is correct.) I don't believe that anything could be further from the truth.  I believe this gentleman should look into Government-run humane animal shelters and rescues.

Ok, so for me, I've been in Kuwait 23 years.  I've met most of these rescuers (never seen Mr. Zaatari).  Most of the rescuers are women; women who don't spend money on physical appearance.  They don't spend their money on fancy cars or make-up or the salon.  They spend their paychecks buying animal food and on veterinary bills or for paying salaries to animal care-takers.  They spend their free time driving around the Friday Market in search of discarded, sick, maimed animals - that are often literally thrown into trash bins to die. Or trying to educate shop owners/workers to end the abuse at the market.  Day in and day out they see torture and go out the next day to help more; at the peril of their own mental well-being.  Most are fierce defenders of helpless creatures (animal warriors).  They don't ask for or get recognition. It isn't about that.  They don't care who they offend.  It is all about helping an animal that needs them.  A thankless task that goes overlooked and unpaid (and this week like many - insulted).

Several of the local Kuwait rescuers have teamed with international animal organizations - and more power to them!  (For example:  World Animal Guardians - WAG US 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.  See LINK HERE on Facebook or Wings of Love - also Nonprofit LINK HERE.)  They use the network to get donations; NOT for personal gain, but to help more animals or to get funds to ship animals outside of Kuwait where they might have a better chance of survival.

One rescue posted this, this week:

"Financial Statement January 2019.

Some people say we only care about money. For us, they say, “animals are money.” Last night, for example, we sent 9 dogs and 29 cats to the USA - our biggest shipment yet!

310 kd : price of ticket for person travelling 
1600 kd : price of 29 pets travelling 
40 kd : plates and blankets 
290 kd : crates  (DG note:  My dog crate cost 140KD - S$462 in Kuwait.)
187 kd : vaccination books and microchips 
80 kd : export permits 
67 kd : screw worm certificates 

...Not to mention the cost of caring for 88 cats and 31 dogs here in Kuwait . . . rent for the (physical rescue housing) and salary for the man who works there . . . food, cleaning products, vet bills . . ."


And these rescues collect strays and ship them for a better life ALL.THE.TIME.  You see them lining up crates of cats and dogs at the airport to transport out.  And there are volunteers on the US side waiting to pick them up, transport them, house them, and hopefully find loving homes.

I've posted the below before, so if you can spare cash donations, dog or cat food, blankets, towels, cleaning supplies or if you or your almost-adult children can volunteer, I implore you to make a difference.  (Please share this list with friends who can donate/help or people who have found a hurt animal.)

(Note:  Mimi is closing her rescue, but she still has animals for adoption.)

And if any rescuer would like me to post stories or requests (anonymously or not), please write to me at amerab@gmail.com.  I'm happy to help.


Friday, November 02, 2018

Blame the slave, not the master: Human Trafficking

The system in Kuwait is this:   Anyone working in Kuwait must be sponsored by a company (or individuals in the case of domestic helpers) to obtain a residency visa.  This system has led to human trafficking as some sponsors use their position to sell visas to those wanting to live/work in Kuwait (usually unskilled workers from poor countries).  When they arrive, there are no jobs for these people (and it would be very difficult to transfer their visa to another company even if they could find work).  So they end up as beggars or may even commit crimes just to live.  The "Kafala" (or sponsorship) system has been in place for many decades.  Usually, when there are stories like this in the media, it means that someone/somewhere has pointed a finger at human trafficking and some form of arrests are made.

Instead of dealing heavily with visa-trader sponsors, they are slapped on the wrist and are out on bail.  Meanwhile people from poor countries who bought the visas (albeit illegally) are being arrested for deportation (according to the article below).

Never-ending cycle:  2,900 individuals from poor countries will leave (after having paid enormous amounts of money - to traffickers - to try to make a better life for themselves and their families) and another several thousand will be brought in - likely by the same traffickers.  How can there be any end to this system if the people who are DOING the trafficking aren't dealt with seriously?  Where is the humanity in this?

And a Syrian "mastermind"?   Here is the reality:  You must be a Kuwaiti to own 51% majority in a company.  You must be a Kuwaiti to sponsor employees.  Everyone knows this.  It is the law.


Arrest ordered of 2,900 Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Egyptian expats in Kuwait
Arab Times - November 1, 2018
3 fictitious firms caught selling visas between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 1: In one of the most serious cases in Kuwait’s history over the past few years, related to trafficking in persons, security sources said the Ministry of the Interior has issued orders to arrest about 2,900 expatriates of different nationalities who were brought into the country by three fictitious companies to work on government contracts and abandoned them with no jobs, reports Al-Anba daily.

The daily added, over the past few days, the ministry has arrested about 90 persons who admitted to paying huge sums of money to these illusory companies to get the job to work in Kuwait.
The sources revealed that the prosecutor of Crimes of Human Trafficking summoned the owners of the three companies and released them on bail.

However, an unidentified Syrian who is believed to be the mastermind of the operation is behind bars. The daily quoting sources said it is he who enabled the three delusional companies to bring this huge number of workers and leave them without work.

With regard the details of the case, knowledgeable security sources said this was discovered when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs carried out a surprise inspection campaign in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and arrested a number of workers, whose residence permit was stamped in the name of companies which have government contracts. When they were asked why they did not report to work, they admitted that they have no jobs and that they were brought into the country on what they called ‘free visa’ and that they had paid huge sums of money get into the country.

The sources added when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs checked the files of these companies, it was discovered that the headquarters of the companies were in the Capital, Farwaniya and Ahmadi governorates and that these companies were dormant.

Another surprise was when the department discovered that the number of expatriates hired by the three companies was more than 3,000 and they were brought into the country to work on government jobs.

The sources added that the General Directorate of Residence Affairs, after informing the senior officials in the Ministry of Interior referred the case file to the Human Trafficking Prosecution.
The sources pointed out that the Human Trafficking Office has resumed hearing into the case and is recording the testimonies of the victims.

Some of them admitted to paying between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa. The sources indicated most of the expatriates are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt. The Pakistanis are said to have paid nearly KD 3,000 each person.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution has said everyone who is linked with the issue will be summoned for interrogation.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A man followed me in Kuwait. What should I do?


I saw a post on one of the expat women’s forums on Facebook.  I thought I should throw this out there for people either new to Kuwait or just not as informed as you may think you are.  

This is a discussion of the dangers (perceived or not) of men following you in the country.

The first time I came to Kuwait was in 1993.  I stayed with a Kuwaiti family and respected their traditions.  Because all the girls in the family wore hijab, I also wore one when we went outside.  We got followed by men in cars.  Why?  Because they wanted to give us their phone numbers.  When we pulled up at drive-up fast food restaurants (Happy Duck, back then), men in cars behind us paid for our meals.  Why?  Because they wanted to see if we would thank them and take their phone numbers to meet later.  The big thing back then was going to the Sultan Center in Salmiya - which was considered a pick-up place.  Guys and gals would troll the aisles looking for potential mates.  That first visit to Kuwait in 1993, my girlfriends brought me there and I couldn't understand why they were applying so much make-up to buy toothpaste...  (TSC later discontinued allowing single men to enter the store on the weekend nights.)  

As recently as 20 years ago, men and women in Kuwait didn't mix at all.  Many restaurants were segregated by "families" and "bachelors."  Kuwaiti marriages were, for the most part, arranged.  I have Kuwaiti female friends whose families didn't allow them to go out of the house without a male chaperone. And if a man and woman were “dating” – they were already engaged or had signed a marriage contract.  This tradition carries on with conservative families and is the norm in Saudi Arabia (where public dating is against the law). 

Note to the expat gal:  Foreign women weren’t necessarily regarded as “easy” (but in some cases, sure we were), but men knew they could more easily approach a foreign woman.  Also, 20 years ago, there weren’t as many foreign women in the country.  Unless you were butt-ugly or having a really bad hair day, chances are that you would be followed around.  

And just FYI – if you tell the man, “I’m sorry, but I’m married,“  it will mean nothing to him.  It means only that you are not a virgin.  Likewise if you are pregnant.

Kuwait had developed their own discreet dating language/culture. Like signals (a wink or a nod) to meet in front of the bathroom in restaurants to exchange numbers. A circular motion with the index finder in front of the lips meant, “I want to talk to you.”  A wink or a tap of a finger below the eye meant, “Ok.” Direct eye contact (stare) is a come-on.  Certain signals in cars mean different things: If you smile at a strange man in another car, it gave the “ok” to be followed (which is why many women in Kuwait look straight ahead at traffic signals).  Tilting the rear view mirror to one side (upward/downward) meant you were interested in someone in the car behind you.  Turn signals meant either “follow me” or even a few blinks either right or left meant you were interested in either the driver or the passenger.   Men left notes on women’s cars with their phone numbers.  Stick-it notes with phone numbers were balled up discreetly and handed to women.  A man following a woman around a store would be trying gain her interest, seeing if she would get close enough to him to take his number.  Kuwait’s dating language, not unlike other languages throughout time, is becoming extinct, although there are people who still use it.

I've lived alone in Kuwait 23 years and being approached, followed in my car, being slipped numbers on tiny pieces of paper, and discreetly talked to in stores and other public places by many men has taught me one thing: It's a historical/cultural dating system and I don’t fear it (only in several cases have I been afraid and that was being followed in a car.  In both instances, I reported it to the police.)   If a man is following you and you tell him to leave you alone or you’re not interested, 99% of the time, he will leave you alone.  For the tenacious 1%, you have the choice to scream and he will run away; or just take his number and throw it away.  I’ve also found that if it is a Kuwaiti man that is approaching you in a store, the store’s OCN security guards won’t be of much help to you.

Following a woman around isn’t right, but it is not particularly dangerous in Kuwait (unless your instinct tells you that it is).  Some of the die-hard old-school men (maybe 40s and above or from conservative/traditional families) still use the old dating system (probably those who have never used a computer chat room!).  Don’t freak out unless you have told them to go away or the man touches you (as even on your arm it is illegal in Kuwait) - or you feel you are in danger.

Change is good.  It's good that women in Kuwait are changing perceptions and laws regarding women's rights and mores of decency.  It is illegal for men to follow women in cars in Kuwait (called "eve-teasing") and punishable by 6 months in jail (you MUST report it to the police and unfortunately, that means going to a police station in person.  Call 112 for emergencies first.).  In the UAE, they publish full names and photos of offenders in the newspaper - regardless of their nationality or rank in society.   Stalking is serious, but sadly there are no anti-stalking laws in Kuwait (I had a friend who had someone follow her for months and the police couldn't do anything).  Being approached by a man in a store probably won't be taken seriously by police (perhaps just a report taken) but at least it gets the problem on the radar and adds to statistics.  More women need to report violations. 

I also hope that they will abolish Article 152; which states that a man can kill his wife if he catches her cheating. Yes, it is a current law.

And a word to the wise:  Follow the laws of the country where you live. Don't make your first violation into something that could put yourself in further problems.   Do not post the man's photo online.  While you may think you are warning others, you are placing yourself at risk.  This is in violation of the Kuwait Social Media Law, punishable by a 5000 KD fine, 6 months in jail, and if you are an expat; deportation. Further, if the man is from a large tribe, they may seek revenge for "shaming" the family by showing his photo. Why put yourself in further danger?  If you want to report someone suspicious, go immediately to the nearest police station or call 112.

Having stated all the above, if you as a woman ever feel like you are in danger: SCREAM and run for help.  Call 112 and report it at the nearest police station.  

The same applies in any country.

Disclaimer:  What's funny is when 20-somethings write to me and say that I'm insulting the "real Kuwait" or that I'm somehow slandering Kuwait.  My intent is never to slander Kuwait.  I wouldn't have fought for/lived/worked/bettered Kuwait for the past 2+ decades if that was my intent.  
Kuwait is not perfect.  No place is.  But good or bad - it is what it is.  This blog is written from MY PERSPECTIVE about my personal experiences.  If you don't like it, you don't have to read what I have to say.  No one is holding you hostage and forcing you to read.

Ethiopian maid tortured to death by her sponsor


KUWAIT CITY, Oct 30: 

An Ethiopian housemaid was beaten to death by her sponsor inside the latter’s house in Firdous area. According to security sources, Farwaniya securitymen had been conducting investigations over the death of a housemaid.

Autopsy had revealed traces of physical abuse on the corpse. During their investigations, securitymen discovered that the victim’s sponsor had beaten her to death because of the victim’s lack of concern for the cleanliness of the house.

After securitymen detained the suspect for investigations, the latter admitted to beating her housemaid but insisted that it was not premeditated. A case was registered against her and referred to the Public Prosecution.


--- end ---

How long is this culture of abuse against domestic workers going to continue?  Safa Al-Hashem:  Where are you and your outrage against expats when one of the expat community is tortured to death by a Kuwaiti sponsor?  Can’t these foreign domestic workers be replaced by Kuwaitis – just as you have suggested that Egyptian plumbers be replaced by Kuwaitis?  Perhaps only then will these horrendous acts of cruelty cease.


Alternatively:  Death for those who cause death.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Kuwait Government Documentation Service Company

My last post brought me to this post.  I've never heard of this company before, but their website says that they've been around since 2003. Maybe one of my readers will find this useful - especially since I get the, "Where do I go to.....?" questions all the time. (Drivers license renewal seems to top the list at the moment.) 




I don't know anything about their fees or anything more than I have posted here, but I like that they have all their services listed in English and in a simple manner.  If anyone uses them, please let me know so I can post your comments.

Great concept. I hope their service is good.  Wish I had known about them before.


Concierge Medicine - Coming Soon to a Doctor Near You?


Since Kuwait likes to get behind the trends of other countries, this may be something that will catch on sometime in the future.

The definition of “Concierge Medicine,” according to Wikipedia:

Concierge medicine (also known as retainer medicine) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. In exchange for the retainer, doctors provide enhanced care, including principally a commitment to limit patient loads to ensure adequate time and availability for each patient.

The practice has been referred to as concierge medicine, retainer medicine, membership medicine, cash-only practice, and direct care. While all "concierge" medicine practices share similarities, they vary widely in their structure, payment requirements, and form of operation. In particular, they differ in the level of service provided and the fee charged.

My mom is 86, retired and receives US government Medicare insurance.  Very few physicians in her area (near Washington, DC) will accept Medicare anymore.  (This is something to think about if you have elderly parents in the US.)    So, her alternative is finding a concierge physician.  She found one and the annual fee is around $2000.

In an article in Health Journal:

The concept of concierge medicine began in 1996, when a Seattle doctor decided to ask his patients to pay a flat fee—or retainer—in exchange for what he called “highly attentive medicine.” This allowed him to not have to rely on fees-for-service that were regulated by insurance companies.  (Full article HERE.)

The article goes on to say that the downside of concierge medicine is that it creates a two-tiered healthcare system for the haves and the have-nots; allowing membership only to those who can afford it.

This concept of membership is popular in Kuwait (health club memberships, auto-purchasing memberships, errand-running memberships, Kuwait official documentation servicing memberships, banking concierge memberships travel agency memberships), so I can see concierge medicine coming to Kuwait.