Monday, November 30, 2015

Why is it so difficult to have a normal relationship in Kuwait?

I've really had enough and I vowed about the same time that I got my German Shepherd that I would stop dating and concentrate on spending time with someone who makes me really happy - my dog.  Mike and my goats made me happy. I could spend time alone with them on the farm and not worry about anything.  (Until, of course, Farm Drama 2015 and the farm and the goats were no longer an option.)

So I'm back in the city and usually exhausted Sunday through Thursday from work.   I attend evening events/receptions - many for work (especially this time of year).   Friday and Saturday are mine and yes, I spend a lot of time with the dog in the desert, at the beach, in Kabd in training sessions with him.  But I've also been dabbling in the wonderful world of Kuwaiti dating ....again.

.... and, of course, have remembered why I stopped....

There doesn't seem to be any difference here:  Men from all walks of life, high and low, educated and uneducated, cultured and non-cultured,  and all those in-between seem to have the same issues.  It is scripted.  And the script is now so ingrained that I feel like  one of those jaded women I swore I would never become.   (Alas, how do we all learn?  Repetition.)

Honestly, I've tried to maintain a positive attitude.  Keep it light.  Keep it happy.  Brush it off.  Keep hope alive.  But until when?

It's always the same story:  You (regardless of who you are, how much you earn, what your education, your cultural background, family,  what your IQ or your reputation is) are never the center of the others' attention.  Why is the divorce rate so high in Kuwait?  I don't blame either gender.   It is how your taught.  It is how much you are willing to sacrifice and put into a relationship that determines the outcome.  And it seems like here, the complacency level is so high that it outweighs any opportunity to see a good outcome.  No man or woman is equal in a relationship.  Everyone is doing their own thing, living completely separate lives. They never have the opportunity to come together as a unit.  There is no return on investment because there is never an investment.

I see very few role models here (and I'm talking about Kuwait because this is where I live and have lived for the past 20 years).  People cheat.  And if they don't cheat, they are constantly searching for the next-best-thing.  Nothing is maintained.  No relationship is nurtured. No work goes into a relationship.   It always has an expiration date.  Nothing is put into a relationship and very often - it is one-sided.  (Leaving me/others to ponder:  'What do I get out of this?')

There are always the few that spark my interest and make me sincerely believe that there is  hope.  The ones who (again, unfortunately, this is scripted) want to travel and be romantic and have a life together.  It is fleeting.  It's like something out of a romance movie that is never going to come to fruition.  It is a fable.

Begin as you mean to continue.

Perhaps there are good intentions?  Not everyone is so blatantly careless, right? (And I use the term "careless" intentionally because that's what it is - the lack of caring and consideration.)   I ask:  How does it begin?  Is there respect?  Is time spent on  you?  Dinners (outside of my home)?   Is that person willing to sacrifice (anything?) to be with you?  Give up a boys night out?  Spend 24 hours with you once in a while?  Watch a sunset (and wouldn't it be nice) perhaps a sunrise together?  Leave the phone at home?  Do I get to meet your friends?  Do we spend time together or apart?  Where is the investment?  .... And this is in the beginning.

I'm not an option after the rest of the tasks on the list is completed or the other options have been diminished. I'm not plan B.  Why should I ever be allowed to feel like that?  Why should anyone? This is the way I feel here time and again.  It's tiring. Dating is now perfunctory for me.  I date because I just hate to give up hope.    As my girlfriends (who have stopped dating completely also) say, "Impress me."  But it isn't happening.

What happened to normal (maybe by western standards?) relationships?  I don't think my expectations are high.  I don't need material things and I can pay my own way.  I don't need to go shopping or have a man pay to buy me things I want.  I can do that.  All I need is consistency and time.

And please - everyone has time if you want something. It is attainable.

My average time for determining if it will work or not is approximately a month (sometimes less depending on the levels of care) from the time I meet the person.  Lately, men have been pursuing me (several, for months) and I've been very reluctant to let them into my world.

I found someone I wanted to date. He met all the criteria:   Incredibly intelligent.  Funny.  Well traveled/cultured. Very handsome. Ambitious.  I literally adored the guy.  Allowed into my world, he met my friends, he met my dog, we went out to dinner, flowers....   and yet I was immediately  relegated to Plan B status.  Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he has commitments;  non-negotiable commitments.  Meaning that I don't rate prime-time (weekend nights).  I translate:  You are not important enough.  Or perhaps you have another girl who rates prime-time and  you don't.  You're an option and she is (or perhaps even "they" are...)  the main event.  He also brought up marriage (during a conversation about an entirely different topic) and how he didn't want to re-marry again.  He was setting the ground rules.  "Don't get your hope up with me," basically.  Who said I wanted to marry you?  Can't we just have a relationship for a while and see where it goes?

Why?  Why can't it just be normal?  Why can't it just feel natural?  You meet a guy who you have a connection with.  He seems happy with you. You're happy with him.  And then the barriers and rules start to be set into place.

What I hear is that the men I meet want to have a relationship with a Western woman.  But once they get to the point where they have her, they back off.  Do I need to break down "normal" in our world?

  • You meet
  • Talk.  Not SMS.  You talk. 
  • On the occasions when one of you must SMS, the other returns the SMS immediately.
  • You go outside for dinner (not in secret in my home, not his)
  • Sex is not an immediate requirement. 
  • You meet his friends/he meets your friends
  • You hang.  Spend time together.  Watch a movie (not a clock). 
  • Talk.  Not SMS.  You talk. 
  • Spend the night together.  Have breakfast together. (Please - you're not always working.  Everybody sleeps and eats.)
  • Maybe go to parties or gatherings or dinners together with other people.
  • Travel maybe.
  • You are introduced to his family.  He is introduced to yours.
  • You progress together.  This may mean engagement or even marriage (there is a possibility! not a closed door.)

"No" and "I can't" and "Sorry" are not standard phrases.

I respect a man with determination. I admire him for having ambition. I'm happy that he's hard working and that he has a life.  It's good that he's busy and that he's got goals.  That's great.  But that's his life and where do I fit it?  Between the hours of X and X on (day) and (day)?   I'm not another attainable commodity.  I'm a busy girl too.   I have a busy schedule.  I have responsibilities.  I don't lack in intelligence either.   But.... the difference is that I make time for anyone I care about. I would never knowingly allow him to feel like second best under any circumstance.

(If I start to feel second-best, I go home to my dog who always makes me #1.)

And I have no problem (at all) with being direct.  "You're not the one for me."  "We're not well suited."  Whatever.  Direct is good.  Being given false  hope is not.  It's depressing. It's hope-shattering.   It adds another growing case-study statistic  (a statistic that in several months from now, I probably won't even remember). But it is a lost opportunity; something that if, given the investment, may have had a long-lasting high-yield return.

Kuwait is the land of lost opportunity.  In so many ways.  It doesn't have to be that way.


Disclaimer:  I know that I will get the kind of comments that read, "Because it is a different culture with a different religion and there is no dating here."  To which I say BS.  There is now a lot of dating (not just Westerners with Kuwaitis but Kuwaitis with Kuwaitis).  Many of the people I meet are Western-educated and have lived overseas for a good part of their lives.  Further, religion should make you a better person.  Dating doesn't revolve around intimate relations.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I haven't felt like blogging

(Something wonky is going on with the formatting here...)

I've been overworked lately.  Lots going on.  Lots to be grateful for.  I'm tired.  I'm not in a mood to write. I'm not even hungry.  Even ice cream has lost its flavor. (Let me just tell y’alls:  When your pralines and cream goes south, you are in deep trouble.) 

(KDD chocolate ice cream is so yummy.  I ate what was left of our quart – and then I replaced the container in the freezer with a potato in it so Dorothy would get her spoon and bowl and be all happy …. And then….. SPUD WAR CONTINUES!  I’ll write more about The Great Spud War of 2015 later in this post.  Wait for it….)

On Thursday afternoons,  I receive the inevitable message from BFF, "What's the plan?" (Intimating that have a plan or should have a plan.)  If I didn't have a job, I might be planning or calling people to do stuff so why is it that friends with no jobs don't have plans?  Why do I have to make the plan? Here is my plan:  I'm taking the dog for a walk, putting on my PJ's, staring at the TV for a while and going to sleep. That's my plan every night.  It's sad.  Make a plan for me and maybe that will change.  I'm too busy and tired.  “I am dying for barbecue in the desert.”  Well snap!  Now I am too.  Go buy meat and marinade it.  There’s a desert plot across the street from my house.  Let’s go.

And in other news….

I had a hissy fit at work this morning.  I try not to do it, but I let my inner biotch out this morning. (My apologies to anyone even close to Ground Zero - the blast zone...)  I’ve got to start blasting Aretha Franklin:  R E S P E C T!  Then, I got an "I'm so full of myself.  Me me me" message that had me gritting my teeth.  (For the record:  You are NOT special.  Nobody effing cares.  Get over yourself.)   God, I wish I could talk about some of this stuff on the blog.  It sucks that so many people read it.  Now, I have to actually PAY psychiatrists and therapists to help me. Before, my blog was my therapy.

For the record (again), I can be all "me me me" up in here because it's a blog - my blog.  Just sayin.

Thanksgiving is coming up.  Thank you, God for giving me a great job with people who do actually appreciate me (once in a while, after a biotchfit) and a roof over my head and a room mate who cooks and rock solid friends a great dog and on the other side of the pond - for a wonderful family.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

We hired someone recently… Can I blog about this? …. Ok.  I didn’t know who it was until after we hired (the person).  So cool!  I know her because this person is a blogger.  It’s so awesome.  We’ve been blog buddies for years but I just never know (the person’s) real name.  That’s how I got hired here.  Stella hired me from the blog through people who read it.  I had met her about a year and a  half earlier at an event and then she posted a comment on the blog when I was thinking of leaving Kuwait and we got together, had a 4 hour dinner, and she hired me.  I probably would have hired (this new person) if I had known also because I can vouch for their character.

And in other other news….

Oh!!!!  Holy snap!  I didn't tell you guys!  You'll never guess what happened!  Ok, before I found this fab apartment in Mishref, I was supposed to move into a 4 bedroom apartment with a local Western realtor.  Very nice guy that I have known for a long time.  Well, due to a miscommunication, Dorothy Spornak room mate and I didn't end up taking it and I was (yes again) totally pissed off.  (I mean really - I held it in, but I was so angry.)   I had to find the Mishref apartment in ONE day.  The 4 BR apartment was furnished. We had asked that they remove all the furniture - except for the refrigerator which we were going to use.  That was our plan.  So, last week, I ran into the real estate dude and he said, "I was meaning to tell you.  In my 30(?) years of doing this, we have never had a major fire - until we did - in that unit you were going to take.  The people who were going to move in had their suitcases outside when the fire happened."  Now holy shyt - we would have already been moved in there by then - WITH our pets.  So, more than likely, we would have been at work and the 2 dogs and cat would have died.  Guess how the fire started?  The REFRIGERATOR was faulty!  Can you believe it?  Everything is part of God's plan.  Dayum.

Random thought 

I really like the US Ambassador’s wife, Catherine Silliman.  She is so down to Earth and approachable. She knows my alter-ego (not Desert Girl, but my real name) and came up to tell me how sorry she was to hear that my dog had passed away; as hers older dog had passed away last August.  She didn’t have to, but it was such a compassionate gesture. She must meet a gazillion people and it was lovely to be remembered.  Catherine is also one of those people who, if someone more important (depending on how you measure important I guess) walks up and starts talking to her, she turns back to the first person she was talking to (me, in this case) giving them her full attention.  I admire those types of people.  You go, girl.  You have the Desert Girl Seal of Approval.  So people, if you are ever anywhere that you are lucky enough to see Mrs. Silliman, go tell her I said she’s a wonderful person.

(I had the random thought because the realtor guy conversation took place at the same event.  That’s how I made the segue.)

By the way, Hilton Hotel:  YOUR THANKSGIVING STUFFING STILL SUCKS!!!  How many YEARS have to pass before you realize that the annual stuffing log (looks like a turd) is NOT the way it is supposed to be.  I mean – go to Sultan Center and look on the package of stuffing mix.  There’s a picture.  Stuffing log!  Ick.  Oh, not that I am not GRATEFUL to have had stuffing turd (my mom told me to be polite and grateful).  Whaaaaaat?  Other people commented too.  I just blog.  That’s all.

The Great Spud War of 2015

I vowed about 20 years ago (I’m 29, shut up!) never to have a room mate again. My belief is that there can only be One Queen in every castle (I still am – don’t doubt it).  But this year, it just worked out that me and Dorothy Spornak needed a place to live at the same time and the rent prices in Kuwait have everyone’s behind hurting.

The Mr. PotatoHead War of Yesteryear

Pre-20 years ago, I had a room mate.  She and I grew up together.  She has the same sick sense of humor that I do (and that I have discovered that Dorothy does).  She started the PotatoHead War back in the day by pulling the same stunt that I did recently on Dorothy (replacing the empty ice cream container with a potato and returning to the freezer).  Former roommie and I went back and forth with that damn potato (I painted a smiley face on him and put him in the bottom of her toilet once)  until he was about the size of a raisin.  At which point, I wired him to the front grill of her car and she drove to Georgetown Law School with him like that for 2 days until he came back to me in a body bag (Hefty sandwich bag with a slide-lock): Mashed PotatoHead.  When I moved to Kuwait, I mailed her a potato sitting on a mini beach chaise with an umbrella and a drink in his hand!  Probably broke several international mail and agriculture laws doing it, but whatever.

THIS time it is slightly more despicable as Mr. PotatoHead is anatomically correct.  (NOT my fault – it was Dorothy!).  This twist has led to major changes in the strategy, including picture-taking on location with Mr. P.  All very fascinating.  I thought of posting pictures here, but I would get in trouble with The Internet Police (who have become very tough lately).

Anyways, now it is the weekend and quitting time and I have to figure out a Plan for my friends.  I’m having some painting done and taking my Big Dog out (not metaphorical) and I have a date with a new guy.  That’s my plan. Oh – and the sofa of course.

Y’alls have a good one.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Unethical Salon Owners

This post happened to a very dear friend of mine by the owner of a new salon catering to Western clients (or local clients wanting a Western stylist) in Mahboula (I think it is Mahboula.  Gee... I'm not sure. Or was it "Mangaf"  Well... one of those M words.   Maybe....).  And for the record -  I will NEVER give my business to that place.

Western salons get more higher paying customers than other salons.  So, salon owners recruit either from abroad or locally for western stylists.  They even ask their assistance in setting up the salon - teaching them the ropes, etc.

Smiles, promises, "I'm your new best friend" kind of shit.

Then... BAM!  You're fired.  You need to leave your accommodation like NOW (7pm on a Friday night, for example).  I don't care if your cat is still in there.  I don't care that I haven't paid you.  I don't care.  (That was my friend's first bad experience in Kuwait.  They told her to get out and get on a plane that night... sure.  Several years later, she got her payout from her lawsuit...)

So, following the (usually illegal terminations).... It's followed up by stylist-friendly ads on forums and places where Westerners frequent - want ads in search of someone to join their "fun, friendly team!"  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  Sure.  For 1/3 the price of the person who helped establish the place.

As soon as I hear about this BS, I boycott that salon for forever.  And NEVER recommend it through the blog or anywhere else.  I don't deal with unethical and those who lack integrity.  Karma is going to bite them in the ass.

My friend, Hair Girl, has been through this hot-drop situation a lot in the Middle East.  It sucks.  Other stylist friends of mine have gone through the same thing.  I get all angry-pants every time I hear another one of their stories.  Pisses me off.  Say what you mean.  Mean what  you say.  Abide by your contract and your promises.  If you have a year-long contract:  phucking HONOR IT.

The expat community in Kuwait is small.  And everybody knows that  you go to your stylist not just to get your do did, but to gossip and for some gal-pal therapy.  So... unethical owners... watch your step.  We're already talking about  you.  Girlfraaaaynd!  You want me to dish?  Write to me offline at and I'll tell it like it is!

Some of my Western female friends who have been disparaged this way work out of home.  And you know what - I'm happy to promote them to the best of my ability.  I would rather see money going where it belongs - to the people with the TALENT.

Here are a few of my favorite stylists working from home:

Siobhan - 9728-1683.  I have known this Irish cousin for the past (OMG - can you believe it?!) 18 years.  Great cuts and color.

Connie - 9922-2331.  I wrote about Connie under "Hairytale Ending".

Yolanda wrote in about Tifani  who I just met recently.  Tifani is a wonderful person. Great energy (well ok, how many people have you met from Jamaica who aren't positive energy people?). Tifani had a similar experience when she first arrived to Kuwait and was dumped by a salon.  She also works with a lot of charity organizations in Kuwait if you have anything to give up.  I was going to write something about her because I like her so much and then I decided to write this post and THEN Yolanda wrote to me!  Tifani, I told  you - divine intervention!  Anyhoo...

Yolanda writes:  As a Black female moving to a different area, the first thing you think about is "where can I get my hair done?". Luckily, I bumped into a few friendly people and they told me about Tifani. It's my fifth year living in Kuwait and I have only used her for cuts and relaxers. She does many other things like color and weaves. I've referred many people to her Black and White. I highly recommend her. She'll bring your hair back to life in these desert conditions. Here is her info. +965 5594 2923 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Rest in Peace, Desert Dawg

2 years ago

I had to have Lilli (AKA "Desert Dawg") put to sleep (humanely euthanized) this weekend.  She was 18 years old and died the same month of her birth.  I didn't expect to have to do it.  I thought that like many visits to the vet before, they would give her something and she would recover.  Obviously, I was in denial.

Lilli, a Malte-Poo,  was a gift from a Kuwaiti friend in 1997.  He knew I was looking for a pet companion and brought her to me in a wooden pet carrier, hand painted with leopard print (the prettiest carrier I have ever seen).    I had helped Abdullah with resources in the US after his sister was diagnosed with cancer and had to go there for treatment.  Lilli was brought from Egypt and when I got her, only 2 months old  and could fit in the palm of my hand.  She was a wiggly little powder puff.  The first several nights, she slept on the corner of my bed facing the door and barked at my neighbor across the hall coming home late at night.  She has always been very protective and has taken care of me (and my friends) when we were sick or sad; putting her little paw to my face or laying her head on my chest.  My 18 years with my 4-legged daughter lasted through relationships, exploring places together (she loved being on boats and had a pink life preserver), visiting friends.  Through a war and scud attacks on Kuwait. Through a bad car accident. Several jobs. Seeing friends come and go.  She was with me for almost the entire time I have been in Kuwait.

Through the recent months of my housing drama, I finally got her back from my friend, Hair Girl/S, who is like her second mother.  HG/S has known and cared for Lilli throughout Lilli's life.  HG is a gentle soul who went to great lengths to take care of Lilli while I was trying to find us all a new place to live.

For the past 2 years, I have been on "death watch".  It started with doggy dementia:  She didn't recognize me and would often intentionally bite me (something which she had never done before as a docile little creature).  Then,   Lilli suffered from a stroke and I only realized what had happened after doing research on aging dogs - with the specific behaviors she was displaying.  (I write about this partially for readers information.  If you have an elderly dog, chances are at some point they will have similar issues.)    Lilli was "pressing" - a posture where a dog will press it's forehead to the wall.  Then, she started tilting her head to one side and pacing in circles (HG/S bought her a soft-sided playpen so she could pace without banging her head on the wall.)   The circuit-pace has never stopped.  For the past year, it has gotten much worse. Since I've had her back this week, , instead of pacing, she began fast "spinning" in smaller circles until she would fall down.

Last week

Writing this, I realize that it sounds like these were indications enough that I should have had her put to sleep a while back, but vets (and I consulted lots of them)  and people who knew her said that as long as she was comfortable and not in pain that I should probably let nature take it's course.

I only had her back home with me for a week.  It was as if she had been waiting to see me again; maybe to say goodbye before letting go.  The night before I had her put down was the worst.  She was too old/frail to bark.  When she got in trouble (usually stuck somewhere/anywhere in a corner, under a dresser, in a blanket) she would wail. It was a terrible sound like a baby.  That night, she wailed constantly.  Every few minutes.  When I went to check on her, she was having seizures (stiff with her legs straight out and her head turned to one side with tongue out).  I found her several times on her back this way.  I picked her up all night to comfort her, but it wasn't working and I could feel her seizures.

I took her to International Veterinary Hospital (IVH).  As I waited for the vet, I looked over at the brochures on euthanasia and I lost it.  The receptionist brought me a box of tissues.  Lilli continued to wail.  The vet came out and looked apologetic as if he knew it wouldn't be good.

After a thorough examination, the vet said that she could have had another stroke or perhaps a brain tumor.  Lilli wasn't walking and he agreed that she was in pain.  He said, "She's had a long life.  I could give her some pain killers and some cortizone, but until when?"  He handed me a paper for my consent to have her put to sleep.  I don't remember signing it or even speaking.

I called BFF from the exam room and asked her what I should do.  No one can make the decision for you. She just said that if Lilli was in pain, it was probably time.

I had a few minutes with her as the sedative started. Her eyes met mine.  They follow the sedative with another injection that would end her life.  It is painless and with the sedative, she was already asleep.  I didn't stay for the second injection.

I told her that my dad would be waiting for her on the other side to take care of her.  I thanked her for taking such good care of me.  The vet and the staff were incredibly compassionate.

One of my biggest worries being here in Kuwait was what to do with her body once she was gone.  I have read stories about foreigners being arrested for burying their pets here.  I couldn't conceive of throwing her body in the trash.  Years ago, one of my compassionate Kuwaiti friends offered to bury her on his property (and that has always been my plan).  Fortunately, I didn't have to do that.

Recently (and I don't know how recently), IVH has started to offer pet cremation services.  I didn't know this when I decided to have Lilli euthanized.  I thought I would be walking out with a plastic bag containing her body. Just the thought of that had me traumatized.   Having the peace of mind that she would be cremated was priceless to me.  IVH offers 2 different types of services:  Standard (which your pet is cremated with other pets) and Exclusive (your pet is cremated alone and you are given the ashes).  Standard is 10KD, Exclusive is 23KD.  IVH has urns/boxes you can select from - or you can bring them your own.  I am SO thankful that they offered that service.  I picked a simple, small pine box for her ashes.

I immediately felt guilty.  Did I do enough?  Should I have waited to let her die by herself?  I don't think so.  She was in pain.  She couldn't stand at the end.  Her wailing sounded to me like when she used to say "mama" (in dog speak) when she was young (clip below because no one believes me).  I kind of felt like she was asking for my help.


I spent the entire day in tears.  I called my mom first from the car.  Moral support.  She reassured me that I did the right thing.  (Don't we all call our mom's first in an emergency?) Then I let Hair Girl know because she was Lilli's second mom.  I think she felt worse than I did. She lost it equal to my losing it at the news.    I have spent several days worried about S because she lost her beloved cat (about the same age as Lilli) a while back and I know this second blow can't be good for her.

I let Lilli's human friends know that she has passed.  I had so many calls and messages from people and it has been extremely comforting.  Some friends had only met Lilli once or twice, but adored her and were upset by her passing.  I don't think there was ever anyone who met that little dog who she didn't win over.  She was so affectionate.

My sister called me. She's been through this several times with pets - recently with Bo, her 12-year-old retriever.  This is my second time (the first, having to put a 30-year-old pony down when I was 13 years old).  My sister empathized and cried with me.

I started remembering happy things about Lilli that I had forgotten.  It was kind of like messages that she's okay now and free from illness - happy where she is.  She used to love Polo candies and every morning while I was getting dressed, she would bop me with her paw until I gave her one.  When she was really excited, she did the "doggy dance" (and because she was originally from Cairo, I called her, "Fifi Abdou").  She used to sit by the door and wait for me when she heard my car.  She used to run around the house at high speed.  These are the things that started coming back to me like small signs that she's ok.

And then, like when my dad passed away, I started seeing  her out of the corner of my eye.  I know her little spirit is still around.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Foreign companies no longer need 51% Kuwaiti ownership to do business here

(Repost - source link below)


It is a long held and established business principle under the Commercial Law No. 68 of 1980 (the “Commercial Law”) that foreigners cannot engage in any commercial business without having a Kuwaiti partner.
If the business is in the form of a Kuwait commercial entity, the Kuwaiti partner(s) must own at least 51% of the company. Alternatively, if a foreigner will not engage with a Kuwaiti partner to establish a commercial entity, that foreigner may only do business in Kuwait through the use of a Kuwaiti agent.  Such agents receive favorable treatment under the Commercial Law in respect to termination of the agency relationship and other matters which can act as a disincentive for foreign investors. 

The Foreign Investment Law 
In 2001 Kuwait passed the Foreign Direct Investment Law No. 8 of 2001(the “FDI Law”) to encourage and secure direct foreign investment into the Kuwait market.  The FDI Law was established as part of the Kuwait 2035 Plan which seeks to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial regional hub by diversifying the economy, reducing its dependence upon the oil industry and inviting the private sector to drive economic activities.   
The FDI Law created an exception to the Commercial Law by allowing foreigners to own up to 100% of a commercial entity in Kuwait where the entity operates in select industrial sectors such as infrastructure, insurance, hospitals, housing, tourism and entertainment.
Under the FDI Law, foreign investors are incentivized to invest in Kuwait including property incentives in the form of a land grant and a tax holiday for up to 10 years.  These incentives are linked to the proportion of Kuwaiti nationals that are employed.
The FDI Law was introduced with much anticipation and optimism given its alignment with the 2035 Plan. However, to date, the FDI Law has arguably not had the desired impact that was envisaged at the outset. This is primarily due to the difficulty foreign investors have faced in obtaining a license from the Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau (KFIB), the entity established to implement the FDI Law.  Further, where a license was granted by the KFIB it can often take many months to process and there have also been delays in obtaining land grants. 
Until fairly recently, the FDI Law was largely viewed as ineffective by the private sector, leading many to abandon pursuing their own license and instead focusing their efforts on participation in Kuwait through other means (e.g. the use of SPVs within the GCC). This is not entirely attributable to the FDI Law as inward investment has been affected by political turmoil and the delay of many anticipated projects in Kuwait which were also designed to boost economic diversification and foreign investment.
Changes to the Foreign Investment Law 
In line with the recent modernization of legislation in Kuwait, the KFIB and government officials sought to revise the FDI Law after discussing the various concerns with investors. Due to the critical need for change, the FDI Law was repealed and replaced by Foreign Direct Investment Law No. 116 of 2013(the “New FDI Law”) in June 2013. The intent of the New FDI Law is to address flaws in the repealed FDI Law, encourage more direct investment in Kuwait and make it much easier for investors to obtain a license.  
As a starting point, the KFIB is replaced with the Direct Investment Promotion Authority (“DIPA”), which is essentially created with the same mandate as the KFIB. DIPA will assume all assets and liabilities attributed to KFIB, which will be subsequently dissolved.  KFIB is enthusiastic about the issuance of the New FDI Law and deems this as a promising step towards achieving the objectives of the 2035 Plan. 
It should be noted that the New FDI Law will be accompanied by executive regulations (the “Regulations”) which we anticipate will be introduced in December of this year. Accordingly, the New FDI Law will become effective upon the issuance of the Regulations.  The Regulations should shed light and provide further detail as to the implementation of the New FDI Law. Nonetheless, there are a few improvements, which can already be seen in the New FDI Law.
First, the New FDI Law provides a “One-Stop Shop” whereby a DIPA license application is considered by a specialised unit comprising of all relevant officials from the various relevant government departments.  This unit will hopefully deal with the issuance of commercial, employment and all other licenses required for operations and avoid or reduce bureaucratic delays. Additionally, this specialized unit is expected to deal with the grant of land required for many projects, a role typically held by the Public Authority for Industry.  Whilst the concept of a “One-Stop Shop” is not new, the New FDI Law formalizes its creation and should hopefully reduce ‘red tape’ for foreign investors. 
Another improvement is the use of a “Negative List” in Article 11 of the New FDI Law to identify the sectors available to foreigners for investment. The repealed FDI Law specifically identified 14 available sectors for foreign investment. The New FDI Law expands the available sectors by stating that the Council of Minister shall prepare a list of those sectors which are excluded from foreign investment within the scope of the New FDI Law. This implies that investment in any sector not identified by this list would be permissible. 
Another likely improvement is the reduction of time required to receive a license from the DIPA. Unlike the KFIB who could take up to 8 months to issue a license, the New FDI Law establishes that the DIPA must respond within 30 days of receipt of the license application. This brings Kuwait closer to its GCC neighbors with respect to the length of time ordinarily required to process a foreign investment license. 
The New FDI Law is certainly in need of the Regulations in order to be able to establish how the proposed improvements will be implemented.  However, to meet the objectives of the 2035 Plan, we consider it crucial that the New FDI Law proves effective in attracting foreign investment to the Kuwaiti market.
We look forward to the introduction of the Regulations to enable a further analysis of the implementation of the New FDI Law and its likely impact.
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

New life in Mishref

I'm loving my new apartment.  We finally got curtains up this weekend and a few pictures on the wall (thanks to Bunny and his power tools).  Its coming together and feeling like a real home.

I finally got Desert Dawg (Lilli Putian, my 18 year old Maltese-poodle mix) home this weekend also. She took a while longer because I was travelling and she is more work than Mikey and I didn't want Dorothy to have to clean up after my 2 dogs. Lilli  really is a shell of her former existence. She's so frail and after a doggy stroke, paces around in circles with her head tilted to one side.  My friend who she was staying with, Hair Girl, very kindly bought her a soft-sided playpen (which she must have had to scour the country for) so Lilli  wouldn't bump her head on the wall.  

When DD is out of her pen, I have to keep a close watch on her because she will get stuck on/under/in just about anything even the slightest bit potentially dangerous (like TV cables or under a dresser).  Then, she lets out this horrible wail like a banshee coming for your soul late at night.  It's awful.  I don't think she can bark anymore and this sound comes from someplace other-worldly.  She gets frightened, pees on herself, and starts crying.  Having an aging dog is not for the faint of heart.

Anyways, when we got her home, Mikey walked over and kissed her face.  Louie, Dorothy's cat, put his little paw on DD's face to welcome  her in.  They were both very gentle with her.  

Yesterday morning, something amazing happened.  Lilli has suffered from eye issues for her whole life.  If, 18 years ago, there had been a specialized vet for eyes in Kuwait, it was a problem that could have been corrected through an operation.  Her problem was diagnosed a few years ago, but she is too old to be sedated.  So, I put antibiotic drops in her eyes whenever the problem gets really bad.  Mikey has also had an eye infection when he was a puppy, also treated with drops.

Mikey was running around the apartment.  Lilli had disappeared somewhere.  The drops were on the kitchen counter and turned around to do something.  I went to see if Lilli had food and water and there, in between the bowls, standing upright, were the eye drops.  I believe that Mikey knew that Lilli needed them.  He's a smart, compassionate guy.

Mishref is so quiet and the people are so decent and friendly.  People smile and say "good morning" and admire the dog instead of looking like they are hoping to bash his head in.   Mashallah.  I really love the area and I'm so glad that things have turned out like this - even if it was a bad start and things were thrown together so quickly when I found it.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thoughts on Married Men

I'm probably going to catch some crap for this post, but here goes....

One of my (former) friends broke up with her boyfriend recently.  She dumped him.  She was in a line of western girlfriends he's had before that also dumped him.

I didn't know him.  I met him once with my (former) friend and had a brief conversation; and saw him another time for maybe 3 minutes.  He approached me and I'm still not certain if he just wanted someone to talk to or because he was interested in me as the next stepping stone in a line of western girlfriends (does he think that we are "more open-minded?")   Anyways, we never went out. We just talked over the phone about his X and their relationshit.  He didn't have pleasant things to say about her.  The blame was shifted her way.

One of his first statements to me was, "She wasn't interested in true love."  Ah yes.  True love. Okay.

Why am I blogging about this?  Because I'm fascinated by people's perspectives.   I've also been through a similar scenario in the past with a former relationship where both of us thought it was "true love."  Since then, I've become older and wiser. (Not dissing true love - just how it comes to you, in which package, in which format...)  In a parallel universe where things were different and yes, ok...

The "person of interest" of my first 3 paragraphs above is married.  My own person of interest was married.  There are a lot of married men out there seeking true love.  (As I am sure there are a lot of married women, but I'm focusing on the guys for now.)

And why the hey are they seeing "true love" when they are married?  Well, most (here) didn't marry for love.  They married by arrangement or to have kids or for some kind of deal.  The arrangement is keeps them married, "For the children" and all that.  (Well, married men are married men and want to have their cake and eat it to - in any continent in any country in any town.)

My POI (MPOI) shall remain nameless, but if you are a long-time reader, you can probably figure out who he is through my previous posts from years ago.  MPOI didn't sneak around.  He stated his intention to his whole family (and no, it is NOT Mr. Clean).  His first wife knew.  His kids knew (brave, strong, little people who sought me out to find out who I am).  His sisters knew.   And I met the whole crew.  I was his second wife (although not in court for several reasons - which is an entirely different post).   In Islam, men can have up to 4 wives as long as they treat them all equally (which I don't believe that any man can because the Holy Quran also states that we are all unique individuals, so how can we all be equal?).   I believe that MPOI is a stand-up guy.  He did what he believed was right and I respect him for that.  If it was right or wrong in reality is something that is subject to interpretation, but he believed what he was doing was right and there was no sneaking around.  When I met him, he told me he was married and he wasn't actively looking for a relationship with someone else.  He was honest (to everyone involved) and still is.  I love his family.  I love his kids.  I even have a fondness for #1 (wife).  She is a lot like me in many ways.  We got to be friends at one point.

Did it work out?  No.  Would I do it again?  No.  Would I recommend it for any of my friends?  Hell to tha NO.  It isn't something that I usually openly discuss; it is something to be embarrassed by. Several of my other western female friends (professional, educated, thinking women) have been married at times as second wives and they don't discuss it either for the same reasons; you are always second-best.  You will always be the side chick; legally or not.  The implication is that #2/3/4 has a lack of self-esteem or self-respect (which I don't believe to be the case, but I think most people judge it that way).

MPOI's #1 once asked me what I would do if MPOI married someone after me - or what would I do if I were in her shoes.  I said I would have divorced him.  If he's having a public long-term relationship with another woman (marriage or not), he shouldn't be with the first one.  He's looking for something that is lacking.  (Again, this is my perspective.)

So back to POI and his quest for real love. POI sneaks around.  He meets discreetly at GF's homes and seldom goes out in public to hide the relationship.  He makes excuses.  Dude!  You're not going to get it.  Especially with a single Western woman.  I don't think POI qualifies in the sugar daddy category.  Free meals at home once in a while maybe.  Maybe some trinkets.  But that's about it.  And only on his schedule.

Why would a woman want to be "committed" to someone who is already committed?  Love?  Yeah, ok.  Let's look at that argument.  What is a single western woman going to want from a love relationship:  a future with that person she loves.  She's going to want more.  And if she wants more (a commitment), it will likely be sooner, rather than later.  "Marry me or move on".  (and then IF you get to the point where you get married as a second wife, the reality hits you/novelty wears off and you want out).  POI Dude doesn't want to get married.  He wants to sneak around.  This translates to him getting dumped again and again.  (Don't get me wrong - I don't feel bad for him.  I am perplexed by his lack of understanding of it all and why he would be so arrogant as to believe that any woman would go along with his scheme.)

If he isn't going to follow through, POI should aim lower.  Start looking for someone from a similar background: local and married.  It's a win/win (actually, lose/lose in my viewpoint) situation:  They both have to go home to their partners.  They both have very limited free time.  They both will understand the need for no calls after a certain hour on certain days of the week.

But ultimately, POI shouldn't do it at all.  Taken is taken.  A guy who cheats on his wife is going to cheat on the next woman.  You're not helping your children by cheating on their mother or getting married to another woman.  They will know and the cycle will continue. (And having more than one wife is no walk in the park - it is WORK.)    You are only teaching them to accept being unhappy.  If you want true love, get divorced and go find it and commit to it.  Live.  Be happy.  Let  your wife live and be happy.  (How can you be her knight in shining armor when you're sneaking around?)

If it is true love - you will want to spend the rest of your life (and most of your time) with that person.  If not, you're just lying to yourself and no one else is to blame.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Facebook Page Closed

I figured it would happen eventually because my Facebook account is anonymous,  but now I'm locked out.  I'll look into other apps that I can chat with all y'alls on.  I'm not ignoring you.  I just can't get in.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Move-in Day

Thought I would share a photo of the moving truck that came with my stuff.  Yes, all that is mine (but - they even bubble-wrapped my bathroom waste baskets, covered them with plastic and cardboard and then taped.  

 I moved into my new apartment.  15 movers.  2 days.  210 boxes.  BAM.  5 months in storage.

If you look off to the left of the photo, sitting in a chair he "procured" from our building, is the smelly truck driver who decided it was appropriate to get a piece of cardboard and make himself a sleeping area in my living room for the entire time people moved furniture around him.  Smelly only moved when I brought out my German Shepherd from the bathroom where he was quietly content to listen to people outside rather than barking at them (he has been SUCH a great dog, Mashallah).  Smelly was the only crew member who Mikey didn't like - and I was happy that Mikey let him know it.  Tee hee.  Good boy!

Hairytale Ending: Hair by Connie

Every once in a while I seem to stumble upon someone truly exceptional.  It usually happens in an odd way and I'm sure that The Universe has set it up in some mysterious and magical weave of journeys.

My hair girl of the past 4 years left Kuwait a month ago.  I'm a loyal hair person. I don't switch.   I thought she was doing a pretty good job.  I was really upset because she had gone and hadn't been able to refer me to anyone else. I had finally gotten the closest to Gwen Stefani hair color that I ever had - but it wasn't in the best of health and a couple of choice words from my tell-it-like-it-is sister made me question the inevitable:  Had I gone too blonde?  ("The girls in my office didn't recognize you. They asked if you had decided to go white.")  DAAAAYUM!

The most commonly asked question I receive from female readers is:  Where do you recommend for either highlights or a cut?  (Male readers' most commonly asked question is;  How much do you charge for a massage.  I DON'T DO THAT!  Sheesh!  I wrote one innocent post about legal! massages in Kuwait and it turned into a free-for-all that has now lasted over a decade.)


Someone asked recently so I posed to my DG Facebook account asking the question.  Then saying, 'Hey, while I'm out here - if someone wants to do my highlights in exchange for a POSSIBLE blog post/review (if it is a positive experience - and only then), write to me."

I got a nice message from an American lady named Connie who does hair from her home salon in Fintas.

Ok, ok, so I have been to "home salons" in Kuwait before and had to stick my head under someone's kitchen sink tap when it came time to wash out the foils.  NOT for me.  Equally degrading is having to stick your head in their sink and then being charged the same amount of money you would AT a real salon where you would be pampered and offered something to drink and finished with the latest products offered to you (but not at the home salon).  That just has never done it for me.

But, I thought - ok, I will give it a try and Connie seemed nice.  I knew very little else about her, but I did see some of the photos of people's hair she had cut/colored and they were all fabulous.

I made an appointment.  I got directions to her house. I went.  Didn't know what to expect.

Out came this petite woman with a shiny mane of long, thick hair.  It was sooo pretty (Mashallah) and she probably thought I was being weird because I couldn't stop staring at her!  Was it real?  Was it a wig?  Who did that??  (Her daughter - who she taught.  OMG.)

Connie's salon really is just that - a salon.  Ok, let me back up a little.  It could be a salon in the South (US) maybe - comfortable seating area and nice kitchen area as well as a little terrace outside.  A real salon wash station (reclining chair and salon sink), comfortable salon chairs - the whole experience.  She also has quite a bit of high-dollar products to choose from.

And... Let me just say... ho lee sheet.  Girlfriend is more hair technologically-advanced than almost all of the salons I have been to in Kuwait - and that includes Tony and Guy; which is right up there.  Connie receives more regular training than most stylists in Kuwait do (regularly attending hair shows and conventions and training in the US).  She uses the latest techniques and the equipment she's got in her basement salon is shock-and-awe level.  She's got over $10,000 in sheers, a Wella Climazone (which is a 7000KD piece of equipment used for processing hair color), and uses Jaguar Thermo Sheers (which seal in hair during a cut and makes your hair healthier).  She's got an enormous array of brushes and insists on using only natural bristles.  Me likes.

(Not me)  Photo by @hairbyconniekw

What I liked the most was the personal touch.  There were no snooty, staring customers.  Just me.  I got her full attention. Connie doesn't double-book and likes to take her time (in my case, it was about 4 hours from beginning to end).  Don't freak!  She offered me chicken pot pie that she had just made and has lots of snacks on hand.  Connie's from Kentucky and those women are constantly trying to feed you (love it!!!).  Even when they are about a size 2....

And like most Southern girls, she's gonna tell it like it is.   If you are used to people cow-towing to you and BSing you, Connie is not your girl. She is a straight-talker just like me.  So, when I first sat down and heard her (first, but not last) expression of, "I gotta be honest with you...." about how my hair looked like, "trailer trash", I was like, 'Ok, let's do this.  Show me what you got.  Bring it on.'

(At this point, I already knew that she was about to get a favorable review.)  "We're going to do something different.  Something that  you've probably never had before."  Yup.  It's true.  It happened.

I had asked her just to touch up my roots, but she asked me if she could make my hair healthier and put in some lowlights.  She started by painting my roots with color and then proceeded to do balayage (hand painting individual strands - similar to foil highlights, but she could do several different colors and it is less harsh than foils).

During the time that she was doing my hair, I got to hear about her life's adventures in Kuwait (and how similar we both are).  She's been here for 25 years.  I've been here coming up on 19.  So we played the, "Do you know...." game.  I knew some of her friends.  She knew some of mine.  Kuwait is small. I'm sorry that I hadn't met Connie before because I just felt like I've known her forever in a matter of hours.  My new best friend.

We ended with a lovely cut - just a little off, but it all fell into place with the thermo sheers.  She knew immediately what type of cut I had received before (bad! "chemical cut").  ... Live and learn.

We hugged.  I promised to see her soon.  I went home happy and sleepy and with bagorgeous new hair.  When I got home, Dorothy and BFF were in the kitchen and the "Oh my God!  Oh my God's" started.  "WHERE did you have it done?  Let's call her!  We're going!"

I thought I would freak out by not having platinum blonde hair anymore, but I really like it. It feels better.  It looks better and I have had a lot of compliments (but not at work, where I could walk in wearing a pink wig and a tutu and no one would bat an eye.... Don't dare me... don't....).

So, go to Connie.
As her card says, 
"Free driver service available for those who do NOT have a car.  
Minimum salon service 25kd or 3kd round trip"  
Instagram:  hairbyconniekw.  
Phone 9922-2331

As her card also says, "The greatest form of flattery is a referral."  Connie, consider yourself flattered, girl, because it just doesn't get any better than this.  I can NOT say enough good things about you!  Looking forward to our next hair story.