Monday, March 19, 2018

Top 25 Kuwait Blogs and Websites Award

I'm not posting as much as I used to, so this might be BS:  Supposedly this blog was awarded one of the Top 25 Kuwait Blogs award by Feedspot.  Cool if it's true (I'm a skeptic).  I didn't pay them or anything.

I would like to thank the Academy...
Thank you all for actually reading this crap.  For your continued friendship and support.  I hope that I'm actually doing something to help someone out there - even if it is just to put a smile on someone's face.

and on that note... I have no idea if this award is bogus or not, but whatever.  Cool little banner thingy, eh?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Emulate the example of HH the Amir in dealing with expatriates

Activists voice displeasure over hate speech targeting expats
‘Emulate the example of HH the Amir in dealing with expatriates’

Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, March 11: Several Kuwaiti activists have expressed displeasure on the rate of discrimination and hatred against expatriates who entered the country legitimately in search of greener pastures, given that Kuwait is in dire need of expatriate workers.

In this context, former minister of education and higher education Ahmad Al-Mulaifi declared that provocative statements issued against expatriate workers are unacceptable to the people of Kuwait and even more ridiculous at a time when the highest international body — the United Nations, has named His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as the Global Humanitarian Leader.

He stressed the Amir has justified this appellation with the recent decision to pay debts for all Kuwaiti and expatriate prisoners.

In his reaction, Assistant Undersecretary for Transfer of Ownership at the Ministry of Finance Fahad Al- Sha’alah agreed that Kuwait needs to restructure the demographic imbalance by training Kuwaitis for all types of jobs, but expatriate workers deserve respect.

He said expatriates should not be treated with prejudice, and the issue of demographic restructure should be handled professionally without provoking expatriate workers.

Academic staff at Kuwait University Dr Ahmad Al-Munayes observed that discriminative speeches against expatriates are exaggerated to win political favor. He expressed concern that the repercussions of those speeches may be telling on the incoming generations. “My fear is for the implication of careless hate speeches coming from a few of our people without considering the fact that expatriates are partners in developing our country,” he stressed.


“Those making noises and issuing hate speeches while expressing prejudice against expatriate workers are using it to exploit the political terrain as a way of distracting attention of the public from the reality on the ground. Discrimination against expatriate workers is totally unacceptable, especially as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor knows the visa traders very well.

So, why not criticize those who recruited marginal workers instead,” Secretary General of the Umbrella for Kuwaiti Work Anwar Al-Rushaid submitted. Meanwhile, Head of Kuwait Society for Human Rights Khalid Al- Ajmi said expatriates did not enter Kuwait against the will of citizens, urging the MPs and the government to follow the steps of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who decided to pay debts owed by citizens and expatriates jailed on financial offenses. Former dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Political Sciences Dr Sadeq Al-Bassam denounced the escalated racist speech targeting expatriates, indicating Kuwait used to depend on expatriates in the medical and educational fields and it’s not part of the Kuwaiti people to deny favors extended to them by others through such damned language.

However, it does not mean the issue of demographic imbalance should be neglected. It should be handled reasonably without hurting anybody. Head of Liberalist Movement Eman Hayat slammed racist expressions against expatriates and praised the noble thoughts of the Amir who made no distinction between a Kuwaiti citizen and an expatriate on his decision to pay the debts of those convicted for financial offenses. She noted the act is a precious lesson to those who discriminate between citizens and expatriates.

For his part, Lawyer Mejbel Al- Shuraikah said those who keep creating disputes among citizens and expatriates are seeking electoral gains by stimulating the feelings of voters. He noted those voices do not hunt anybody who agrees with them looking at the outcome of the grilling of the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor.

Former official of International Labor Organization and union leader Thabet Al-Haroun stressed that many countries stood by Kuwait in hard times and it’s unexpected of Kuwait to treat the citizens of those countries living in Kuwait with such racist rants, indicating such angry outbursts adversely affect the reputation of Kuwait and distort the humanitarian activities of Kuwait.

Former minister of commerce and industry Amani Bouresli is of the view that priority is given to citizens of each country, and that Kuwait is considered among the most welcoming countries for expatriates. She went on to condemn the racist statements against expatriates.


Former minister of education Dr Badr Al-Essa said the Amir’s humanitarian gesture to citizens and expatriates is a real world example of the kindness that places Kuwait in a top position globally in terms of humanitarianism. He stressed that Kuwaiti citizens are not against expatriates.

Head of Kuwait Lawyers Society Sherhan Al-Sherhan also said the country condemns any racist approach against expatriates, noting expatriates from about 116 countries around the world have been welcomed into the country. Former minister of housing affairs Yahya Al-Sumait stated Kuwait is a country that respects everyone regardless of their nationalities, indicating the few discriminating against expatriates do not have the support of the generality of citizens. He described such citizens as extremists, adding the Amiri pardon conveys the best message to those racists.

Also, former minister of oil and Head of Kuwait Society for Human Rights Ali Al-Baghli said the racist tirades of some politicians against expatriates are in no way acceptable. He called on the relevant authorities to punish visa traders, especially those having marginal labors registered on their files.

Pastor of the Anglican Church in Kuwait Emanuel Ghareeb disclosed that Kuwait at present or in the past never discriminated between citizens and expatriates, and nobody has the right to ill-treat expatriates in any way. He stressed that expatriates came to Kuwait in search of decent livelihood, especially as the country allows freedom of religion. He also said HH the Amir is an example of respect and kindness, as he makes no difference between citizens and foreigners.

--- End ---

I think these activists should come together and sue the individuals guilty of issuing hate speeches under the Kuwait Unity Law.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

American Stranded in Kuwait. Help?

You know what I'm really sick of?  Hearing how companies don't pay their employees on time (or at all).  WTF.  How many decades need to pass before someone gets a clue?

This is the story of a very nice American woman who is virtually stuck in Kuwait.  She's been a teacher in Kuwait for 20 years and now:   She can't pay her rent.  She can't get a plane ticket out.  She can't pay for food.  Why?  Because some bastard company just decided not to pay her (and other employees working there).

So don't think this kind of treatment only applies to domestic helpers from Asia.  This stuff is going on with all different nationalities in a variety of industries. It's disgusting and disgraceful.

This very-nice-lady's daughter has created a funding site to help her mother get home.  If you can provide her with ANY other kind of assistance inside Kuwait - she needs it all.  Leave a comment on her daughter's GoFundMe site.  I'm not going to publish her name because she is still going through hoops at shaoun (Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs) and it may be detrimental to the case.

Of note (because I saw someone comment on these issues saying that her case sounds "strange"):  "She could try to contact the US Embassy in Kuwait for assistance"; however, it is NOT the mission of the embassy to assist US citizens in trouble (with legal affairs or otherwise).  They may help, but don't count on it.  Even in emergency cases when the US has to evacuate Americans, the evacuee PAYS.  You sign a document prior to being evacuated stating that  you will pay back the US Government within 30 days.  And the longer you wait, the higher the rate.  (American friend paid $10,000 for a plane ride from Kuwait to Dahran, Saudi Arabia back in 1990.)   Labor cases can take YEARS to clear (because of a backlog).  In the meantime, you get no income.  And if a company is going out of business, you may never see any money at all.  She can leave Kuwait anytime. So... how many people out there are willing to pay for her ticket home?  Any takers?

From "Americans in Kuwait" Group on Facebook

"So let me just start this discussion by asking everyone to please not shame me. Believe me I have enough shame about this situation. But the fact is, and I have come to accept that, I need help. I am trying to find the money that I need to survive in Kuwait until the day of my flight home which is May 15. Long story short, my company stopped paying my salary (but they haven’t fired me... so I still have to show up to work every day) four months ago; forcing me to use all the money I had saved in the past to pay my rent and other expenses as I waited and hoped that the money from my job would finally come. It hasn’t. Back in the US, my daughter has started a GoFundMe campaign to try to raise money to help me start over in the US. I’m not sure how well that will work, but I really appreciate her trying. So what I’m asking here, is for help from the community. I have a PayPal account, ( ) and I’m asking for your help in the form of donations in any amount... 1 KD… 5 KD… Or more...any amount; hoping that these donations along with my own personal efforts to bring in extra money will keep me in my apartment for the next 2 1/2 months and maybe even help me start my life over back home. So again please don’t throw rocks at me… I know what you may be thinking because I have already thought it to about myself and my situation many times. Even if you can’t help with donations, would you mind sharing this post with your friends in hopes that maybe they can help? Thank you very much."

From her daughter’s GoFundMe page to bring her mom home

"Please, help me get my mom back home.  As we all know, she has been in Kuwait twenty years now.  She has been working as a teacher, and until recently, she has been doing great.  However, for four months now, the company she works for has stopped paying salaries to the entire staff.  

In Kuwait, you can't just stop going to work...they have control over your residency and if you stop coming to work, they can file a case of "absconding" against you, making you an illegal resident.  This carries a bunch of unpleasant connotations like arrest and deportation (after serving a jail sentence), so she has to continue to work, unpaid.  

Before the salaries stopped being paid, she had planned her vacation to the U.S. as usual (she comes home once every two years), and paid for her non-refundable plane ticket (also non-changeable) so she has the means to return home, but not until May 15, when the vacation was originally planned.  She has rent at her current home to pay until then, and has used her entire savings already to keep her head above water.  

She needs enough to keep her under a roof and keep her from starving for the next few months while she is stuck in Kuwait, and enough money to start over in America in May, sans savings.  She will need to find an apartment and get all of the deposits paid to move into a new place, get a car, etc.  As we all know, starting over isn't cheap or easy, and starting over coming home after 20 years out of the U.S. is darned near impossible without start-up money.  

We all want her home, it is my sincere prayer that we can all find a way to contribute at least something to this goal.  We appreciate ANY help you can give, even if it's only $1, because it all adds up!!"

---  End ---

Unfortunately, it is hard without start-up money.  But once she's in the states, many people I've known in similar circumstances (even with kids) can get government assistance to get on their feet.  

I've also been close to this a few times myself in Kuwait.  It could happen to any of us.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Yulin Dog Meat Festival

I just learned a little-known fact about the Yulin dog meat festival (and similar dog meat sales).  Maybe others knew about it, but I didn't.  Did you know that they torture the dogs prior to killing them?  On purpose.  Because supposedly the meat tastes better.  Little children are taught torture techniques on dogs to bring them to more pain.

Sign a petition against this barbaric practice today!

Friday, February 16, 2018

MP Safaa Al-Hashim – “Expats are opportunistic bacteria”

MP Safaa Al-Hashim – “Expats are opportunistic bacteria”

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15: MP Safaa Al-Hashim continued her attacks on expatriates at Wednesday’s parliamentary session through the discussion of recommendations contained in 26 reports of the parliamentary committees concerning traffic congestion, environmental pollution, fish demise and others, reports Al-Seyassah daily.

Al-Hashim jettisoned deliberation of the parliamentary committee reports on the protection of public funds as regards investigating the sale of companies, shell deal, KGL Company violations, and encroachment on state property. Instead, she focused her contributions on expatriates.

The lawmaker declared that all problems stated in the committee reports were due to the unusual population density. She noted traffic congestion in the country is caused by the abnormal population structure and large number of expatriates compared to citizens.

She continued to describe expatriates as opportunistic bacteria, saying the number of vehicles doubles the population. She reiterated that expatriates have been causing accidents that claim the lives of Kuwaiti children.

She lamented 571,000 driver’s licenses were issued to Kuwaitis compared to 657,000 for expatriates. “Why do the expatriates refuse to use air conditioned public buses and taxis,” she retorted.


--- End ---

Ok, so I am personally insulted. I’m now being told – by a member of the Kuwaiti Government – that I am “opportunistic bacteria”.  Yes me.  I am an expat.  She must be referring to me.  Or to my friends.  Or to people who live and work in our community.

Once again, this racist, xenophobic person is adding to the divisions in the country when our dear Amir has stated emphatically over time that he wishes unification for Kuwait and all people living here.   I agree with him!  Unify Kuwait and many of the problems work themselves out. Divide it and stagnate.  Then why are MP Al-Hashim’s tirades being tolerate at the top levels of Government?

The term “expatriate” refers to anyone living and working outside their home country.  She has used the term over and over again.  I see no division of the term into categories.  And I am shocked by some well-meaning expats who have come out and said on social media, “I think what she was referring to was domestic helpers (or laborers, or etc..)”  It doesn’t matter what others think she’s referring to:  her statement is in lump form:  Expatriates.  We are a collective virus by her chosen words.

This group includes anyone wishing to come to Kuwait to do business/trade here.  Foreign trade delegations are exempt from being expats because they are only TRYING to become expats in Kuwait; to do business.  To promote the economies of both their country AND Kuwait's.    But once they are here, like all major companies who have expat employees living in Kuwait, those employees are now labeled as “opportunistic bacteria.”  Those engineers building new refineries:  Bacteria.  Doctors:  Bacteria.  Lawyers:  Bacteria.  Educators:  Bacteria.  

Who is bringing the bacteria to Kuwait?  Well… Kuwait is.  There is one side that is saying, “Welcome, expats!  You help our economy.  You help our education and medical systems.  You are welcome here.”  And then there is the MP that is trying to expel the very same people brought in to assist the country;  Oh, and while insulting them at the very same time.

Yes I am angry! 

I helped in the liberation of Kuwait only to be called a “bacteria.”  The “cause of accidents that kill Kuwaiti children.”  Personally, I’ve never killed a Kuwaiti child by car or any other means.  Although I have been put in the hospital after a Kuwaiti (under the influence of drugs and chasing a young woman at high speed with his truck) collided with my car.  I’ve tried to do right by my second home every day for the 22 years I’ve lived in Kuwait (and added to the economy by purchasing Kuwaiti products and services from Kuwaitis).

From my perspective, this MP is doing more harm to Kuwait than me (an expat) has ever done.

Ms. Al-Hashim:  Work on cleaning up public transportation before condemning others trying to get to work!    Get on a bus anonymously and travel around Kuwait.  Get a perspective!!!  It’s not clean.  It’s not safe.  Expats aren’t your problem.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Animal Rights Article in Arab Times - Feb 7, 2018

All life matters – ‘OUR PLANET … THEIRS TOO’
Feb 7, 2018
By Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud
Special to the Arab Times

The newly-established Kuwait Liberal Society held its first official event, an expertly-organised and well-attended seminar on animal rights titled “Our Planet, Theirs Too.” Held in the KLS headquarters in Shuhada, the seminar was a powerful and impassioned plea to local authorities to remedy the dismal situation of stray animals that are suffering and dying on the streets of Kuwait every day.

Among the KLS members welcoming the guests were President Eman Hayat, members in the Media and Membership Committee Fatimah Al Hasawi and Hamad Al Saeed, and Co-founder Dr Ibrahim Dashti. KLS was officially licensed as a non-profit organisation by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor in December 2017. According to the President, the group works “to strengthen the pillars of a civil state inspired by the principles and values of liberalism consistent with the constitution of Kuwait that promotes the spirit of freedom, justice, and equality.”

Among the group’s goals is to pay attention to ethics and morality of the society, regardless of religion, sect, gender, or ethnicity. They aim to create a civil society based on morality, dominated by human love and giving, where the individual is committed to the ethics of respect for others and the appreciation of public freedoms in accordance with the law.

Fatimah Al Hasawi explained that the group of Kuwaiti men and women chose to hold a seminar on animal rights for their first event in order to promote equal rights for all creatures to live peacefully together on earth. “We want to take a stand for animals. How can we be a civilised society if we do not show mercy towards helpless animals? They all have souls, just as we do.”

The program began with a graphic video made by the KLS team Fatimah Al Hasawi, Anwar Dashti, and Mohammed Al Sebaee. It was filmed on the streets of Kuwait and at the infamous Friday Market, where animals are sold in inhumane conditions, crammed into tiny cages without shelter from the heat or cold, often without food or water. It includes shocking scenes of horribly sick and terribly injured animals, some of them dragging themselves along with crushed limbs after being run over. The team also filmed dead kittens and puppies that had casually been discarded. The heartbreaking images were accompanied by simple captions: “I can’t speak for myself. You are my voice.” “We can’t walk away. Please help us help them.”

“We cried a lot during the filming of this video,” Fatimah recalled.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening Hamad Al Saeed introduced the first guest speaker, Tamara Hayat, an animal rights activist, volunteer with PAWS Kuwait, and an employee at Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice. Asking her to respond to what she had just seen in the video, she replied, “The problem is that animals are too often seen as something that can just be thrown away at whim. And when animals are run over on the road, people may feel pity for an instant, but they usually don’t do anything to help them. We need to change the way that animals are perceived.”

Hamad asked her to comment on a video on the PAWS instagram @paws_kuwait showing dogs and cats at the PAWS shelter. “The shelter is housed on private land that is rented by PAWS. It is not subsidized. The volunteers work hard to provide the animals with a warm, safe place to live, and they depend entirely on donations to pay the rent, workers’ salaries, food, medical care, etc. Expenses are very high and raising enough money is a constant struggle.”

Tamara asked the audience, “How many of you have been criticized for helping animals? And how many get criticized because ‘there are people in more need that you should prioritize’?’” A show of hands made it clear that these are indeed common remarks.

Tamara said that her response is to point out that she works in a children’s hospice, and that she makes time to help people and animals. “I assure you, it’s not even about choosing animals over humans. If you choose to help people in Rohingya, people will criticize you and say, ‘Why aren’t you helping people in Syria?’ In fact, it’s not about putting one group over another. If you manage your time right, you can help in more ways than one.

“It’s not a coincidence that people who believe in the pillars of humanitarianism are willing to help more than just one population group,” she continued. “A quote I like that best reflects this idea, by James Keller, states, ‘A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.’ Empathy is a skill, and it is our duty as a community to do everything in our power to foster that skill and allow people and especially children to learn and strengthen it. This will change the fate of not only animals in Kuwait, but the members of the community.”

Tamara went on to discuss the need for the animal rights movement to urgently move forward in Kuwait. She spoke of the ethical, humanitarian, and religious reasons that support the humane treatment of animals. “But it’s not just about the animals,” she stated. “It’s about Kuwait’s youth, education, children’s development and society’s understanding that all beings experience pain and suffering. We can help alleviate that suffering if we work hard, and work together.”

Tamara pointed out that countless studies have proven that abuse towards animals is correlated with violence against people, giving alarming examples and statistics. Cases of children who abuse animals should also be a red flag. This type of behavior indicates there is a problem with their mental health that needs to be addressed, before their aggression becomes worse and is directed towards people, as has been the case among students in the US who carried out deadly shootings in schools. Among the common characteristics of all these students was the practice of abusing animals.
“Thank God we haven’t yet had any school shootings in Kuwait, but we do have cases of violence, so let’s work to prevent such cases before they become a reality,” she said.

Outlining other measures that should be implemented, Tamara spoke about the need to ratify the GCC law against cruelty to animals so that it can become effective in Kuwait; holding widespread awareness campaigns to educate lawmakers, police, and the public about this important issue; and cracking down on dog fighting, a cruel and bloody practice popular throughout the world, and unfortunately, also in Kuwait.

“Pets are often stolen and used as dog fighting bait. Large amounts of money are bet at these barbaric events. Some people regard dog fighting as entertainment and even bring their children along, which is obviously very harmful to young minds,” she said.

Other important needs are strict laws on importing pets and regulating pet breeding and the standards of pet stores. “Did you know that the Friday Market does not have a license to sell pets? They are only licensed to sell feed, cages, and accessories. Most of the animals in the Friday Market are there because they were dumped by people who don’t want them anymore. They keep them there and expect to be paid once they’re sold. What happens when the animal dies due to the terrible conditions and infectious, not to mention lethal diseases that are prevalent there?” she remarked.

“We need a proper animal control department that is transparent in its procedures and must be properly regulated,” she continued. “It’s absolutely wonderful that there are so many groups in Kuwait rescuing animals and finding them homes, and getting them treated at the vets. But on behalf of every group I’d like to say that having Kuwait rely on these groups is unsustainable. It is incredibly taxing on these people’s personal lives and finances, and has a high rate of burn out. Unfortunately, as of now it is the only help available. Kuwait needs a reliable and dependable animal control department that does not resort to rat poison as the only solution. Within this department there needs to be veterinary care and a regulated government-sponsored shelter.”

Concluding her comprehensive speech, Tamara also emphasized the need for animal welfare education in the classroom and more platforms such as the Kuwait Liberals Society event. She thanked the KLS for bringing together people of different backgrounds that can provide insight into how to help with this important issue in different ways.

Next, Hamad introduced Timi Cissna, another animal rights activist with experience in rescuing and training animals and working with animals and autistic children. Hamad asked Timi about the common belief that having animals in the home can contribute to children developing allergies and other illnesses. Timi replied that in fact the opposite is true, and that children who grow up with animals usually develop a stronger immune system. “Personally speaking, I have always had all sorts of different animals all my life, and I’m as healthy as can be,” she said with a smile.

Timi said that her goal is to educate people about the countless number of stray animals suffering on the streets of Kuwait. “These animals, many of which have been abandoned by their owners, are helpless because they are not accustomed to living on the streets. Each and every animal lover here in Kuwait can lend a helping hand by protecting these animals and providing them with homes and shelter before they fall into the hands of individuals like the cruel people that my friend Tamara described.”

Timi mentioned various reasons why adopting a pet is much better than buying one. “First and foremost, you are saving a life. That’s something that will provide you with a sense of fulfillment that you may not be able to experience any other way. Many of these animals have experienced horrific circumstances and will provide you with unconditional love and loyalty for giving them a safe home.
“By adopting such animals, you are helping with the problem of the overpopulation of dogs and cats on the streets, and you are also helping the local animal groups and shelters, because they are all overwhelmed with unwanted animals,” she continued. “Providing medical help for all these animals is not always possible because the medical expenses are so high.”

Timi also spoke about some of the benefits experienced by pet owners, such as reduced stress and anxiety and a healthier lifestyle. “Kuwait has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. All dogs need exercise, so when you own a dog you are more likely to go and get the exercise that not only your dog needs but that is good for you too.”

Timi cited a study done by Loyola University in the US that found that patients who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery often need significantly less pain medication than those who do not, because when patients feel less anxiety due to the presence of their pet, they also feel less pain. Other studies have proven that animals can help people recover from traumatic events and that owning a pet has even been directly correspondent with decreased suicide rates. “Caring for another being gives one a sense of purpose and motivates them to get up and start their day every morning,” she explained.

In the United States and many other countries, animals are used to help sick and disabled people perform tasks they are not capable of performing by themselves, Timi said.  Common examples of service dogs are guide dogs to assist the blind and visually impaired, dogs that help people with impaired hearing, mobility assistant dogs, and psychiatric service dogs. Timi spoke of her own experience using her nine-year old rescued dog Nala to help children suffering from autism.
“My friend Laila and I took Nala to the autism center where she entertained and socialised with the autistic patients. It was one of the coolest experiences ever,” she said, her face lighting up at the memory. “The kids were so happy, they had the biggest smiles on their faces, and Nala just loved being with them. The kids really responded to Nala’s completely nonjudgmental and unconditional love.

“As you can see, there are countless benefits of owning a pet, but the reality is that there are large numbers of dogs and cats on the streets that will never have anyone to care for them,” summarised Timi. “We have shelters and rescue groups that can help you find your fluffy new best friend. Let’s be the change these deserving animals need.”

The second half of the seminar brought Maha Al Khatib and Sara Al Awadhi from Kareq8 to the stage. Kareq8 is a volunteer animal rescue, rehabilitation, and education organisation. The animals that are rescued by the group are kept in foster homes until they are adopted either locally or abroad. Maha and Sara spoke about the challenges facing the group and echoed some of Tamara and Timi’s frustrations and concerns.

Like other animal activists, members of Kareq8 also sometimes face criticism for concentrating their efforts on helping animals. “People tell us we need to solve the human rights issues first, but let’s be realistic, all the human rights issues will never be solved, so we need to work on both fronts,” Sara stated. “Besides, we have to take into account the fact that animals have no voice. If humans are in trouble, at least they can make themselves understood, unlike animals. In addition, we have the Red Crescent Society and many other well-organised and well-funded groups in Kuwait that are working to help people.”

It was pointed out that most of the animal welfare groups have a very limited number of volunteers. “We are only about fifteen members in Kareq8, and around five of those are very young, so we urgently need more committed volunteers,” Maha added. “We are not a government agency, we don’t get paid for this, we are all just volunteers with jobs and families who give our time to rescue animals.”

“Sometimes people call us and report an animal in a remote location, and we do our best to go there and pick it up and take it to the vet,” said Sara. “These private vets are very expensive, but we have no alternative. Every day there are sick and injured animals that urgently need our help, but sometimes our hands are tied because of a lack of funds. We need help, we can’t help them all just by ourselves. We also need more foster homes. When a person finishes their treatment in the hospital, they go home, but where does a stray animal go?”

“We get some really shocking cases of animal abuse,” continued Maha. “They are often so bad we can’t post them on our Instagram. If parents don’t teach their kids that hurting animals is not ok, then there is something seriously wrong. We also need to do more work in the schools and educate children on this issue.”

The Kareq8 volunteers also lamented the lack of effective animal welfare laws, the deplorable conditions at the Friday Market where sick and dead animals are simply thrown in the trash, and the fact that there are no mobile rescue vans for animals, and no help for animals from the government.
A lively discussion and question and answer session took place after each segment of the seminar. Dr Ibrahim Dashti spoke strongly and convincingly of the urgent need to take action for animals. “Why is nothing official being done to help animals? Each one of them is a soul. Where is our government, the Environmental Protection Agency, our politicians, our members of parliament, our religious leaders, public figures like actors, celebrities, and sportspeople? Why is there no public outcry? Except for these small groups of volunteers that are struggling on their own, I don’t see anyone doing anything to help. In this country we have an overabundance of shopping malls, coffee shops, and restaurants, but where is the government animal shelter?”

Lynn Whyte, the founder of Second Chance Charity, was another member of the audience with strong feelings on the subject of the plight of stray animals in Kuwait.

“I work with many animal rescue teams, mostly expats, gathering donations of pet food and essentials for rescued animals and also helping with vet bills. I have a lot of concerns regarding animal welfare in Kuwait. I see many problems on all levels and I’m hoping this meeting tonight will help raise more awareness, but more importantly I hope that the Kuwaiti government will realise the importance of education and protection of animal welfare. As an animal lover and Muslim I hope we can work together promoting Islamic values of the rights of animals.

“It’s time for Kuwait to act, just talking is not enough any more. There are resources here, land, manpower, and money. Let Kuwait be known for its fair treatment of these poor animals, not shame for its neglect,” she said. “Let Kuwait act on the abusers and educate the negligent. It’s time to start to care.”

The discussion continued, with KLS President Eman Hayat promising to schedule a meeting to follow up on animal welfare issues, particularly in regard to lobbying for the ratification of the GCC law for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Judging from the strong opinions of the audience and the large turnout, the issue of animal welfare in Kuwait should indeed be taken seriously by the government.

Concluding the successful event, MC Hamad Al Saeed gave a brief speech that summed up KLS sentiments. “Every day we take it for granted that we live in homes and we demand that hospitals take care of us, and we are given medicines that protect us from all kinds of diseases. But let’s put our human selfishness aside and remember that even the smallest creatures on this planet need to live with health and safety. Therefore we demand that free and humanely-run animal shelters and clinics be established. God gifted this land with the power of wealth to sustain us. Animals are the wealth that balance the earth and are an integral part of this land. Therefore, just as we care for human beings, we have to care for them.”

--- End ---

Claudia is a wonderful person and has worked with PAWS in helping animals.  The sheer amount of abuse and torture that rescuers face on a daily basis in Kuwait has many stressed to the point that they just can't go on.  I hope more people will be pioneers in the fight to end animal abuse in Kuwait.

Monday, February 05, 2018

(Didn't I say this?) Departure of expatriates seriously affects real estate market

Departure of expatriates seriously affects real estate market: Ghanem
Arab Times, 02/03/18
Kuwaitization policy, hike in service charges blamed

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 3: Secretary of Kuwait Real Estate Association Qais Al-Ghanem affirmed that the real estate market in the country has been seriously affected by the departure of expatriates, indicating that they had warned about this crisis last year, reports Al-Rai daily.

He said he is expecting the trend of expatriates’ departure to increase in June 2018, as they are either searching for better opportunities in other destinations or choosing to return to their countries of origin. Al-Ghanem explained that the recent pressures imposed on expatriates resulted in a large number of vacant flats especially in the investment residential sector.

The Kuwaitization policy, which is aimed at terminating the contracts of expatriates in the public sector and increasing the charges of services offered to them, and the announcement about a new tax system have contributed to the crisis.

A large number of expatriates are considering sending their families back to their countries of origin but keeping their residency valid, and choosing to stay in Kuwait as bachelors.

This trend will further worsen the current situation of the real estate sector. He said he is expecting the rents to drop after the decisions concerning expatriates are announced.

Al-Ghanem indicated that this crisis has not only negatively impacted the real estate sector but it has also badly affected the economic circulation, affirming that the real estate sector is one of the basic pillars of the economy.

---  End ---

What they’re not saying is how expats are being treated in the country within the past 2 years.  The expats with expertise and higher salaries aren’t going to care about price hikes.  And many of us aren’t working in jobs where nationalizing our specific job categories/positions is an issue. 
Why would I want to leave Kuwait?  Because there is no longer JOY in the country.  Joy has left the building.  Why would I want to stay in a country where I’m not happy?  What about QUALITY OF LIFE?   All the talk is about they don’t want expats here, so why not leave to where it is happier?  More freedom?  Less checkpoints and ID checks and polarization?  Less pollution?  Less road congestion and construction? Less animal abuse?

All the talk is about “unifying the country” but there is no unity.  That’s gone. The barn door was left open and all the horses ran out.  If you really want to unify the country, squash the key lawmakers who are dividing the country.  Get rid of all the negativity and bashing of all kinds (dividing not only expats from the community, but the division of Kuwaitis as well).   Make Kuwait INCLUSIVE again rather than EXCLUSIVE.  It’s not a club.  And if it were, what would the membership stats look like?  Why join? 

Sheeeeeet, half the time you can’t even tell what activities are going on in the country because  1) there are no advertisements and 2) if there are ads, they are only in Arabic; excluding a majority of the population.

I received an e-mail from a reader and we had a discussion about how newcomers view Kuwait vs how those of us who have lived here for a few decades feel.  From what I see, newcomers who will be staying maybe 1-2 years see Kuwait as an adventure; a place to take in and get out of.  For those of us who have lived here a long time, it gets to you after a while and everything just accumulates.   He said, “And of works splendidly as anyone can tolerate that behavior (DG: expat bashing) for a day or a week or a month, but when you are living in a place year after year or (like you) decade after decade, it starts to wear you down, and eventually you just decide to leave...which is what you are saying is happening: some people are forced to leave under deportation orders, but more people are just getting tired of the aggressive and rude behavior that is prevalent, and they are saying "Thanks but no thanks, I'll go elsewhere."  Yup.  That pretty much sums it up.

Ok, so I’m going to get the usual, “Stop bashing Kuwait.”  Point taken.  However, I wouldn’t have stayed in Kuwait as long as I have if I didn’t love it.  I just immensely dislike what is happening NOW to Kuwait.  It isn’t the same as it was even 10 years ago.  And yes, I’m just an expat voicing my (personal expat) opinion, but ask a Kuwaiti and see if the answer is any different.  Are they happy?  Are you happy?  What can be done to make it better/turn it around?

Kudos to the grass-roots organizations that are popping up around Kuwait, doing the job that others SHOULD be doing to help bring good back:  the lone environmentalists on social media.  Organizations like Coexist, LOYAC, AWARE and TIES trying to bridge gaps. Second Chance and Operation Hope giving to the less fortunate in Kuwait.  And all the small, unfunded animal rights groups that go out diligently day after day rescuing animals that are tortured or injured or dumped on the streets.  (There are many more to add to this list.) It is a constant battle. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Philippines bans Filipinos from Travel to Kuwait

One of my dear friend, American Girl in Kuwait, posted the following today and it mirrors my sentiments about Kuwait.  More needs to be done and unfortunately, it is taking foreign governments to draw the line.

She wrote:

If there's anything I learned while living in Kuwait, it's that change doesn't happen overnight. Or, even over decades. Sometimes it takes action outside of their control to force that change. Which is exactly what the Philippines has done; forced change. Bravo!
"Kuwait will always be a second home for me and will always have a special place in my heart. But serious changes need to take place in terms of human rights and animal rights. When an entire country can have a reputation for being cruel to people and animals, something is fundamentally wrong.
Fortunately, among some of the worst, are some of the best. There are people who step up and take on the issues head-on. They work tirelessly to make changes in Kuwait which is anything but easy.
Yeah, it's a little unfortunate someone has to write an op-ed telling people to be kind to those of different nationalities, but I applaud her for doing so."

This was in reaction to not only the ban, but to an article in the Kuwait Times, by a Kuwaiti woman; forward-thinking Nejoud Al-Yagout.  

The full story can be found here:

I agree.  I think it has been a long time coming.  If Kuwaiti women were being raped and tortured in a specific country, they would immediately stop Kuwaiti women (and most likely men) from travelling there.  Over the decades that I've been in Kuwait, more cases are being prosecuted, but it isn't enough if it has become a culture of abuse.  It is common.  The stories continue and it is almost systematic.  The Philippines Embassy in Kuwait has become an abused women's shelter.  It can't be allowed to continue.

From the Arab Times today, "Kuwait Expresses Regret, Bewilderment...."  Oh yes.  It is shocking and surprising.  Emmmm.....

Well, Safa, you should be really happy about this!  Mabrook, boyfriend!  You wanted more expats out of the country and now you can wash your own dishes and clean your own toilets.  I'm so happy for your win.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Kuwaiti Women in the Military

Grilling threat if women called to arms – Our identity a red line, warns MP

Arab Times

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 18: MP Mohammad Hayef Al- Mutairi has threatened to grill Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad if women are allowed to enter the military.

On his Twitter account, Al-Mutairi asserted: “Our identity is a red line that nobody should cross. We do not accept alienation of our society. Women have no place in military institutions. They had earlier been allowed to play a minimal role such as inspecting women at the borders and places frequented by women, taking into account their privacy as Muslims.”

--- End ---

Guess what, MP, Mutairi:  You should educate yourself on Kuwaiti women's role in the Gulf War of 90 and 91.  KUWAITI WOMEN FOUGHT IN COMBAT in 1990 and 1991. (And I can name names if you want a list.)   They lived in the battlefield along men.  They fought for their country next to men.  Their rank was given to them by the KUWAITI GOVERNMENT as Sergeant - making the same pay rate as men who had worked themselves up the ranks in the Kuwaiti military.    They were trained by the Americans and they helped liberate Kuwait.  But you won't find that fact in any history book anywhere in Kuwait because of small-minded people who keep it from public knowledge. 

Know your own history - or at least learn from those who have first-hand knowledge of it!  There is nothing about your so-called "identity" that keeps women from protecting their country, their families, and their lives.  It is honorable and should be treated as such!

Duterte aint playin' - I'm just sayin'....


Arab Times

MANILA, Philippines, Jan 18, (AP): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Thursday to impose a total ban on sending workers to Kuwait because of sexual abuses that have forced some Filipino women to kill themselves.

Duterte said he wanted Filipino officials to hold talks with Kuwait and tell them the abuses are unacceptable and that the Philippines may ban Filipinos from working there unless the abuses end.
“I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders but they have to do something about this because many Filipinas will commit suicide,” Duterte said in a speech at the launching of a Manila bank for Filipinos abroad.

“We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months. It’s always in Kuwait,” Duterte said, without providing details. Discussing the problem with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently, Duterte said: “My advice is, we talk to them, state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore. Either we impose a total ban or we can have this corrected.”

More than 250,000 Filipinos work in the Arab nation. The Philippines is a major labor exporter with about a tenth of more than 100 million Filipinos working abroad. The earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades. Workers endure the threat of abuses, including rape, in some countries to be able to send money home and keep their children in school. But with their parents working abroad, some children end up being sexually abused or become drug addicts, Duterte said, explaining his anger over drug dealers.

Thousands of mostly poor suspects have been killed in Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs since he took power in 2016, alarming Western governments and human rights groups. Duterte has denied he condones extrajudicial killings although he has openly threatened drug dealers with death for years.


Personally, I wouldn't want to be caught in this guy's cross hairs.