Wednesday, August 12, 2015

US Defense Contractors in Kuwait - Read This

Ah, you can smell it in the air... the adrenaline is running a little higher.  The twitch of an eye.  The discreet American business development people quietly filtering through Kuwait International Airport with their heads down, as if not to attract attention. ("Who do you work for?") The increase of American guests at the Hilton....

That's right... KBOSSS is up for re-bid this year.
(More on KBOSSS to follow below)

This post relates to employee rights for people working on US military contracts in Kuwait.  What you should know. What you're probably not being told.  It is relevant now, as this 5-year contract will attract more employees to Kuwait who probably have no clue what to ask for and/or expect. Relevant also for those who have been working 18 hour days (as an example) on the current contract, and have never been paid overtime.

I posted several articles previously regarding how foreign companies (non-Kuwaiti that is) handle overtime to their employees and enforcement of the Kuwait Labor Law.  To date, most companies do not comply/work in accordance with local law (even though they specifically state on ALL US Government contracts that they are).  Why not?  Because if they wrote overtime into their proposals, the prices would increase dramatically.

Also, there is a cap on overtime an employee is ALLOWED to work in Kuwait:  180 hours per YEAR (not week/month).  YEAR.  If you're working more than this, it is illegal.

Anyhoo, here are several previous posts on the Kuwait Labor Law and how it applies to folks hired to work here:

 (American Girl's World Post) Americans Seek Dues Per Kuwait Labor Law (Update)

Kuwait Base Operations & Security Support Services (KBOSSS)

KBOSSS is not the only US military contract in Kuwait, but it is one of the largest;  employing a majority of Western contractors.

Contract Summary

The KBOSSS contract covers peripheral services to the US Military that can be completed by one single large contractor (called the “prime contractor”) and subcontracted to local or international vendors.  The prime contractor must be large enough to be able to handle the entire workload of the contract.  The contract covers all US military installations in Kuwait.

Areas of Coverage of the KBOSSS Contract

The major functional areas of this contract include but are not limited to:

  • Administrative Publications
  • Postal Services
  • Operations
  • Logistics (DOL) – Travel, lease vehicles
  • Safety
  • Information Management Systems
  • Engineering (DPW)
  • Medical Services
  • Installation Support (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation – MWR)
  • Security and Fire (DES) 

Civilian Entitlements 

Through local and international law, the following entitlements are basic to employees working on US Military installations in Kuwait:

Article 18 Visa – In order to be badged (granted access to work on bases/camps), employees must have a valid Kuwaiti Article 18 visa.  (That means that they are covered under the Kuwait Labor Law.)

Kuwait Labor Law Entitlements.  Specifically overtime stipulations (Article 66):

The local labor law, Kuwait Labor Law, is very specific as to the number of hours each employee can work and sets a cap on the number of hours per week and per year that an employee can work:

Kuwait Labor Law Overtime Stipulation:
Article 66:  Without prejudice to Articles (21) and (64) of this Law, the employer may, by means of a written order,  have workers work overtime if the necessity arises for the purpose of preventing a dangerous accident, repairing damages arising from such accident, avoiding a loss or facing an unusual work load.  The overtime work should not exceed two hours a day, a maximum of 180 hours a year, three days a week or 90 days a year.  The worker shall have the right to prove by any means that the employer required him to perform additional works for an additional period of time. The worker shall also be entitled to a 25 percent increase over his original remuneration for the period of overtime.

Combatting in Human Trafficking (CIHT) – (Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 22-17).  This is an “anti-slavery” requirement and it applies to fair and ethical treatment of employees; how they are paid; how they are housed, etc.  The US Government is taking a very firm stand on CIHT and this law applies to employees in Kuwait on this contract.

DBA - Western employees must be covered (by law and by contract) by Defense Base Act Insurance.  DBA Insurance is in addition to either local (Government) insurance or private insurance.  DBA is designed to provide medical treatment and compensation to employees of defense contractors injured in the scope and course of employment.  Are you covered under DBA?  Ask your employer to see their certificate with your name on it.  BAM.

Cutting Corners

In order to win the prime contract, some  bidders have (historically) cut corners by not abiding by the Kuwait Labor Law.  They do not factor overtime, 30 days paid vacation, or other stipulations which would increase their labor costs into their proposals. 

Employees hired in the US may be asked to sign papers stating that they agree to work extended periods (even up to 18 hour days, 6 days a week) at a single salary rate.  These documents are not valid or legal in Kuwait as there is no jurisdiction and employees hold Article 18 visas.  They are civilians and therefore not covered under any military exemptions as service members.

Note that in the US there is a difference between management and labor.  Management is not paid overtime (and generally receives a higher salary); whereas labor is paid overtime.  Under the Kuwait Labor Law, there is no difference between management and labor; all fall under the Kuwait Labor Law (and please - do not take my word for it - ask a lawyer).

All prime contractors have both local and international legal advisors.  The local labor law has historically been brushed aside by all prime contractors.  Small numbers of employees have filed class action suits.

Lack of Labor Monitoring of Subcontractors

Prime contractors often (again historically) do not properly monitor subcontractors (usually local vendors):  Local vendors may propose much lower prices because they are practicing illegally and not paying in accordance with the Kuwait labor Law or CIHT laws.  Subcontractors most likely utilize only TCN labor, so these employees are less likely to be able to stand up for their rights.

Employee Legal Alternatives

When employees educate themselves on the Kuwait Labor Law, and document (keep track of their accumulated overtime), they have a case in the Kuwait courts. 

However, the prime contractor may choose to disregard the Kuwait Labor Law and immediately ask the employee to board a plane and leave the country without indemnity or the legally-required 90 days termination notification.  In this case, it becomes a very expensive, difficult, and lengthy process for the employee and he/she usually gives up without a fight.

With the risk of immediate termination/return to the US, employees who have accumulated and documented overtime and have any further entitlements (vacation pay, etc), may choose to wait until the end of the contract period (NOW) to contact legal representation in Kuwait; as they are in less danger of losing their jobs.

Process for Suing for Back-Pay in Kuwait

Prime Contractors always use sponsorship companies in Kuwait.  There are several sponsorship companies in Kuwait. Several may be used in the local market.   These companies are responsible for processing all employee documentation, providing drivers licenses, and sometimes providing accommodation, vehicles, and travel.

As the employee is under a sponsor company’s visa, and not directly with the prime contractor, the employee must sue the sponsor company; and in turn, the sponsor company must request the funds be paid by the prime contractor (or the sponsor company must sue the prime contractor).

Consider also filing the case with colleagues under a class-action type suit.

Finding a Lawyer

I've been here 20 years.  I have talked to a LOT of lawyers.  I've asked for advice, mostly.  I have had several instances (including recently) where I have had to retain a lawyer.  It is mostly word-of-mouth.  You will find lawyers through the US Embassy's website.  (The mission of the US Embassy is NOT to help Americans with their legal problems, so don't try to go that route.)

Here is who I choose to endorse/recommend:

Pauline Bond
International Paralegal & Business Development Mgr
Universal Legal Group
Web site :
E-Mail :
Mob : +965 51787843
Hot-line : 1844440

Pauline is British, and is a paralegal.  She is not a lawyer. She is a paralegal and will listen to your issue, provide advise on how to proceed, and then basically package it for the legal group of lawyers to determine if  you have a case and what the next steps are. 

And no, I'm not getting paid to endorse her or her firm.  She is a friend and genuinely wants to assist people.  How did I find her?  She found me - through the blog when she heard I was having problems with my landlord.  She reached out and has been very informative, supportive, and tenacious (which is important in Kuwait as a lot of firms will take your money and sit on it without any results). I met with 3 other lawyers before I met with Pauline on my case.  One of them took 100KD from me (non-refundable) just for signing a power of attorney with him and then never answered ANY of my calls.

I have reached out to a LOT of firms in Kuwait during my  years here and it is hard to find people who actually listen to you, speak the same language, and can be of assistance.  If I endorse anyone, it is because I believe in their service or product.

Your choice. 

How Much is It Going to Cost You?

Your initial consultation should be free.  Get ready to drink some tea/coffee and make small talk.  (And please- PR people!  If you want to be remembered or have people do stuff for you - send your lawyer a little gift or whatever. Stand out and get results.)

Generally, a lawyer will take between 500 - 1000 KD for a civil labor suit of this nature and 10-15% of any settlement money.  There are also filing fees with the court that you must pay (I believe approximately 130 KD for a civil suit).

You don't HAVE to be in the country to receive your settlement.  As long as you have signed a power of attorney allowing your lawyer to act on your behalf, your settlement can be sent to you where ever in the world you are.

[Note this:  Usually refers to criminal acts where the po-po pick you up for drinking or whatever.  If a lawyer (or their associate) is EVER called out of the office, be sure that there is a fee involved (usually hourly rate); ASK before having them come out to (where ever) to help you.]

How long is it going to take?

It could take years and your court date may be set back several times based on whims.  Be patient.  It will happen.  I've never heard of a labor case being lost by any employee who was trying to fight it. You might not get the maximum amount, but the case is generally won.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Truly Fascinating Summer

....  not....

This has been one of the hottest summers that I can remember.  Heat approaches 50c almost on a daily basis and if there isn't a dust storm on the weekend, it is a miracle.  I (like most people here this summer) am tired, cranky and just not in a mood.

I'm not even in a mood to post stuff on the blog. That's really bad because it is therapy.

I have tried hanging out at the farm, but that gets boring.  Now, my farm mates want to rent it out to strangers on the weekends because THEY need the money.  I'm going to look for my own damn farm with a few female friends who are reliable and (obviously) won't try to sneak ho's in every now and then or wait till I'm sleeping at 2 am to turn the music up full blast so that the planes passing overhead at 30,000 feet can hear.  F that.  I'm going to move my goats and pack up my junk.  Que cera.  It makes me sad, but alas I guess change is good.

I'm still not in my own apartment yet.  I'm staying with BFF.   She's on vacation in a foreign and exotic country.   I have decided (by friends repeatedly asking me a question: "What is it that you really want to do with your life?") that I am an interior decorator at heart.  BFF leaves the country and (with her permission this time), I start to decorate.  Her place is looking faaaabulous and I am actually going to be sad to move out.  I hope she's going to like it.  (I do....)

My Dream Crib should be ready mid-September.  (If not, you will read about my suicide in the paper. Donations should be made to animal rescue organizations in lieu of flowers.)  I have seen about 30,000 apartments now and this place stole my heart.  Its like it is the ONLY one for me and the kids.  My friend lives there now and he's looking for a bigger apartment (3 br).  I know I'm a pain in the ass, but I can't stop worrying that I won't be able to move in, so I send him reminders to the tune of, 'GET OUT!!!' and 'When ya leaving?'  or when I see him on FB at a restaurant, stuff like, 'I hope you're taking a realtor out to lunch....'   (I'm sorry, seriously---  I am.  But I'm pretty sure God has destined me to live there.  I'm an obsessed  woman in love... just so happens to be with your apartment.  I feel that I must stalk it.... yes yes, that is me hiding in the shadows, trying to determine what color I might paint it or where I should place my furniture.... )

My dogs are still with friends. It has been months and months.   I have been very worried about Mike because he stopped eating after I brought him back after he spends weekends with me.  I haven't seen him in a few weeks to let him fatten up.  I haven't seen Desert Dawg at all and I am really guilty of that.  I know she is safe and happy with my friend, but I just haven't gotten down there to visit.

Anyways, I'm tired and I can't wait to go on vacation.  I wish I could take my dogs.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

EEK! Magazine Poll to Expats on the Bombing in Kuwait

I'm glad to see that EEK! Magazine is starting up again after a while out of service.  They sent a very interesting poll a few weeks ago after the suicide bombing at the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait.  I'm publishing my responses below:

1)   As an expat living in Kuwait, would you mind sending us your thoughts on Friday’s attack in GENERAL TERMS?

I cried.  I am incredibly sad for Kuwait; however I am proud of my second home for how fast they united and showed solidarity between religious sects.  All ONE Kuwait.

I think this event seems more personal because technology has changed and has brought something that might be 5-10-20 miles away from you into your living room.    I've been in Kuwait since 1996.  There have been security issues - big ones - during this time, but not bombings.  We didn't immediately receive information because, until recently, smart phones with apps like Twitter and Instagram weren't common.  Now, everyone has the technology, and you could be sitting in your home (or boat, or car, or at the beach)  watching events evolve.  You see the images instantly.  They're raw and uncensored.  You feel the emotions along with the person feeling them (like when I saw HH the Emir's face after witnessing the aftermath of the bombing).

2)   I more specific terms, could you comments briefly on the following statements:

 a)   I think this was a once-of event and will likely not happen again

This is not a one-off event.  Although it was carried out by a Saudi national, it was assisted by Kuwaiti stateless (Bidoon) people.  The Bidoon situation in Kuwait has been going on for several generations. It is a breeding ground for "deviant" ideology to come in and take root in the country (and I am not placing blame on the Bidoon population).  Young men are hopeless (many are without educations, jobs, a way to help their families, and are not able to marry because of their economic situation). Many are denied drivers licenses or passports.  When you lose hope, there is vulnerability.  Terrorist groups like ISIS (and others) have an open opportunity to offer a little hope through deviant religious beliefs and a sense of (displaced) "family"/community. Before this event, the Bidoon have been blamed for crime in the country.  This suicide bombing may be a turning point as now they are being trained in explosives and other means.   Unless the Bidoon issue is specifically addressed and a solution(s) is found, there will only be an increase in violence. I believe that the Government is aware of the potential threat;   If not, there would be no need to purchase urban warfare equipment, water cannons, rubber bullets, etc.

 b) Malls are targets and I will choose very carefully

This was true even before the recent events.  There is added security at the #1 most popular mall in Kuwait, but there is nothing in place to ensure that large bombs can't be brought into their underground parking lots.  Metal detectors aren't the answer, but sniffer detection dogs are and mall owners should start considering them as an option.  I try to avoid times when there are large amounts of people in the mall. It is never a good idea; from someone with a knife (or a bomb)  to someone with the flu - I don't need to be that close to anyone.

 c)   My concern is real and I feel uneasy

It is a real concern because now this recent attack has shown the vulnerability of security in Kuwait.  There are holes - just like there were prior to 9/11 in the States.  The age of innocence is gone.  

 d)   I will think twice now before attending places frequented by expats

I always think twice, but any time something terrible happens, it just deepens my caution.

 e)   I do not feel threatened by the attack at all, it can happen anywhere

It can happen anywhere, but in my almost 20-years in Kuwait, I've learned to be vigilant.  You have to be.  Don't wear your big American flag T-shirt, for example.  Know your surroundings.  Have a "plan B".  And for your own sake - make friends with Kuwaitis because in a real emergency, they may be the only people who can help you.

 f)   My family and I are so affected we are thinking of leaving Kuwait

I disagree with this statement.  My family here consists of 2 dogs, 1 parrot, and 5 goats,  We are all just fine here.

 g) Another attack like this and we will definitely leave the region

My mother is in her 80's.  I don't know if I want to put HER through the stress, but I feel fine about staying.  I love Kuwait and feel safe here overall.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Illegal Big Cats of Kuwait

Repost from Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait.  (Thanks, Girl!)

Sick, horrible, and dangerous trade.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Suicide Bombing in Kuwait: Love Prevails

There are positive things emerging after the bombing here on Friday.  Contrary to the wishes of the terrorists, the country is unifying - and quickly.  Social media is springing to life with positive messages of solidarity.  People are acting out of kindness.

Although on a smaller scale, it is similar to what happened after 9/11 in the States.  "I fear you just woke up a sleeping bear."

Here are links to some of the positive shows of force around the country:

Kuwaitiful:  We Always Thought It Would Never Reach Us
(This one contains a video clip which I LOVE. Translated, it is a father telling his son that if anyone asks you, "Are you Sunni or Shiite?" you look them in the eyes and say, "I am Kuwaiti.")
Alison & Peter:  Dear Kuwait:
Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait: 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Kuwaitis were killed on their own soil by terrorism.  In the 1980's, the Fisherman's Diwaniya (next to Marina Crescent - at the T of Hamad Mubarak Street and the Gulf Road) was bombed and many innocent people lost their lives.  Someone drove a car into the diwaniya and ignited a bomb.

History is bound to repeat itself as long as people don't know their past!  No one talks about negative history here.  It is like it never happened.  Learn, educate, and find solutions for the future.

But back on a positive note:  Love always wins over hate and I'm glad to see that good things are coming out of bad.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Attack on Kuwait: Sad day for my second home

The attack on a Shiite mosque on Friday morning wasn't about attacking Shiites.  It was an attack on Kuwait.  As such, the country has come together within a few short days.

I cried when I saw the photos on Instagram.  I cried when I saw the emotions on HH the Emir's face as he witnessed the destruction.  This isn't about our divisions; it is about our commonality.

I was at the farm, miles away from where it happened.  But, I know the mosque well (Imam Sadiq Mosque).  It is directly behind the building where I worked for 5 years when I first came to Kuwait.  I was new here.  I didn't know much about anything.  But, from my desk, I could hear the beautiful voice of the muezzin, welcoming people to prayer during the day.  I could always hear the emotion in his voice (and could tell when he wasn't feeling his best or had a cold). It was always very soothing; and I was hoping that he wasn't hurt in the blast.

Kuwait is like a small town.  Everybody knows everybody. (And everybody talks - which is probably why they were able to identify some of the suspects so quickly.)  I was immediately certain that I know someone who was directly affected by the attack; who either had a friend or a loved-one who was injured or killed (27 dead, over 200 injured).  I was correct.  Within hours, friends told me that their friends and professors or someone they worked with had died.

The talk at the farm was all about what happened - and my Kuwaiti friends' solidarity with other Kuwaitis (regardless of religious beliefs).  They were talking about their plans to go to a Shiite mosque for the next Friday prayers to show their support.  All of my friends planned to attend the mass funerals yesterday (where thousands of people showed up and stood together in 107 degree temperatures).

Coming back from the farm yesterday (the day after the attack), I completely expected there to be checkpoints around Kuwait. I had my registration and license close at hand.   There were numerous checkpoints during 2003 when American troops were moving into Iraq.  It only makes sense that there would be checkpoints around Kuwait.  But there wasn't even one.  I noticed more police patrol cars on the roads, but no checkpoints.  Maybe we've had a huge leap in technology since 2003 rendering checkpoints fruitless?  I don't know.  I would probably felt much more secure if I had had to drive through one.

Three weeks ago, I had borrowed a friend's truck to go to the beach to take my big dog, beach gear, and other friends.  The transmission gave out along the way and I was able to pull the truck into a parking lot at a mosque where I thought it would be safe to leave until we could get a tow truck.  The police came around approximately five times, asking us to move it.  They were concerned because there had been a terrorist attack at a mosque in Saudi Arabia recently  They were adamant that we move the car, so we did.  I wasn't upset, but perplexed by the hightened security.  How far do precautions go?

I guess now it is the end of innocence at mosques.  I've seen metal detectors being installed.  I hope that the tighter security will continue.  It is necessary I think.

I'm wondering if this is a spark that will unify the country against a common enemy.  I hope that people's eyes have been opened.  This kind of hatred can't be allowed to continue.  We are all ONE Kuwait.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Handyman Services in Kuwait

I’m not going to lie – I’m not a fix-it girl.  I have power tools; which I gladly let others use.  I’m not useless, but I can’t do the work myself and I know my limitations.  Plus with anger-management issues, you really don’t want me with a hammer in one hand and a power drill in another.  Not good.

And I don't want to get some guy from the jameeya (co-op).  I've had bad experiences with stinky feet and lost-in-translation instructions.  Noooo thanks.  I'm looking for professionalism.

I have been staying with my BFF until my Perfect Apartment is ready (Inshallah). Girlfriend is out of town, so I have been fixing things that need fixing (WHY don’t apartment building owners do maintenance when it is actually IN the contract?!) 

Anyhooser, I called (25682000 or 25683000).

“Filipinos in the house!”  Represent.  Ok, so three very nationality-proud gentlemen descended upon the apartment.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a small task, but they all worked diligently and got everything fixed – and at a very reasonable price.  I needed electric outlets installed, the kitchen equipment re-arranged, the kitchen plumbing (in its entirety) fixed – including drains and new faucets.  I’m calling them back this weekend to paint.  They are happy guys and I liked them all a lot.

Q8realtor has also launched a handyman service.  They don’t have a number -  you have to write in at is another one.  Their number is 99141086.  These guys do tiling also.  Woo hoo.

If anyone has used any of these services and can comment on your experience, I would appreciate it.

Bronchitis almost killed me.

I know - I haven't been posting a lot recently, have I?  I guess I have some catching up to do.

Almost a month ago, I was hit with bad bronchitis - in a day.  I often get bronchitis because I have asthma and it usually creeps in behind some kind of dust storm or humidity front.  The weather in Kuwait has NOT been the best this summer.  Extreme temperatures and a lot of dust.  No humidity, though.

I was on Arifjan the day it hit me.  In the middle of a huge project we are doing - at THE most critical period.  I've been working towards this project implementation since November... and I was stuck in bed.

I've never had such a severe case.  I've heard from friends that many people have been hit by bronchitis this year, leading me to wonder if it is actually something else that is being mis-diagnosed.  My doctor at IC had never even heard of MERS, for example.  I had to show her the CDC webpage.  That is scary.  My x-rays showed no pneumonia, but on a second opinion, the doctor said that the x-rays might not have shown pneumonia (either at that particular time or it could have just not shown up at all). He thinks that it probably was pneumonia.  Whatever the funk was kept me in bed for almost 2 weeks consecutively.

I was on IV antibiotics and the nebulizer for 10 days straight.  My arms are all black and blue.  I slept.  I slept.  And then I slept some more.  Even after almost 3 weeks, I am still coughing.

I am waiting for The Perfect Apartment.  I am still staying with my BFF in her apartment (she is in China so I am alone there).  I have found one that I'm in love with; I'm just waiting for the current tenant friends to move into their Perfect Apartment - which should be ready in a few weeks.

While I was sick, I haven't been able to visit Mikey.  I miss him so much.  I miss my little dog too (she's staying with another friend in another location. Thank God (and you, S) because she is too old and fragile to be able to handle life in a kennel.  I can't wait to get our little family finally reunited again.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Chocolates that Cater to Kuwaiti Palates: Lutece Chocolat

(No, not "pilates" - I said "palates".)

I'm a simple girl. I like simple things.  Once in a while, someone will ask me to review something and if (and ONLY if) I like it, I will write about it.  What is your return on investment going to be?  Probably some praise and a blog post.

So here goes....

Lutece Chocolat 

Got a request out-of-the-blue from a very nice Kuwaiti gentleman who asked if I would try his new-to-Kuwait chocolates and if I liked them to write a post.  Sure, why not?  I'm taking my Glucophage and my count isn't so high, so here goes.

This comes during the same week when a very nice reader, Kathy, sent me gorgeous flowers out-of-the blue.  It looks VERY cool to receive both during the same week, on different days; as everybody knows that I'm single and I work all the time and I really have no romantic prospects whatsoever.  Everybody now thinks I have an extremely considerate admirer.  As if....

I was expecting the usual chocolates (snore) - nothing out of the ordinary. But hey - do I care? Chocolate is chocolate, right?  There is never a bad chocolate (unless it is stale and then who wants that unless it is 3 am and you are really really desperate?)

What I got was unexpected.  These hit me from several different directions.

First, I'm one of those kids who will poke a hole in the bottom of each and every piece if I can't easily determine what is in it.  Most likely, if it is one I don't care for, I'll put it back in the box - hole and all.  I don't care.  I'm still 11 years old at heart.  But these came with a MENU!  It has pictures and tells you whats IN each one.  So cool. Like Russel Stover, but not as difficult (because Russel Stover chocolates have the menu on the inside of the box lid which makes it kind of harder - especially when you are handing them around to people or want to share a menu).

Armed with my menu, I set in.  But... I kinda came to a screeching halt when I saw how pretty they actually are.  Since they arrived in my office (and truth be told, I could NOT eat the entire box because it really would put me into a diabetic coma), my colleagues got to sample too and I got to hear their reviews.  They usually just grunt when receiving food (don't we all?) but this time I got, "Oooh's" and "Aaaaah's!" about how pretty the little chocolates are.

"They look like gemstones," or "They look like they've been hand-painted!"  So pretty.

So then I went to the menu to see which ones would be my favorites.  Holy Shhhhh!!! WATERMELON!!!  Who DOES that?!  In chocolate?  Could it be?!  Two of my favorite flavors together?  And yes, it actually does taste like watermelon.  That's a first.  I thought I had seen it all in the world of chocolate (and I'm sure you think you have too, if you live in Kuwait...)

Let me run down the list of my fav's:  Watermelon, rose truffle, saffron cardamon, and pomegranate.  Yuuuuuummmm.   

I like the fact that they are actually marketing to local tastes:  Rahash is Kuwaiti Rahash flavored ganache filled in milk chocolate.  Saffron cardamon is a local favorite. Hazelnut caramel, pistachio truffle.  (Have you guys thought about branching out do do wedding cakes in Kuwait?)

Is it getting dizzy in here or is it just me?

Anyways, Abdulrahman at Lutece, please come visit me in the hospital and I can't thank you enough for putting me there!  It was a lovely, lovely thing for you to have thought of me and sent me these wonderful treats.  Everyone in my office is thanking you today as well.  As you can see, your menu cover has their dirty little fingerprints all over it, so I hope you will be receiving a lot more customers soon.

Here's some pics and how to get in touch with them.

For dark chocolate lovers:  Blue Cherry and Cherry Raspberry in dark chocolate

Sidebar:  In keeping with my tell-it-like-it is method of operation....  Although it was nice to receive the chocolates for free (so that I would write about them IF I liked them - which I obviously did), I never received a thank you for this post, so I am having mixed feelings about actually keeping it posted here.  Good manners are everything and so is follow-through.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Apartments for Rent in Kuwait - Recommended Realtors and Online Sites (2015)

My Favorite Realtors
(Se habla Engles)

The realtors below are all pet-friendly realtors and will NOT ask you stupid questions, give you funny looks, or try to talk you out of pet ownership because they want a commission.  I have found them all to be sincere and trustworthy also; they don't try to up-sell you or show you something that you won't want.

Zamina Huseynova, Comfort Real Estate, 99464866  or 6659-3911.
Zamina has been helping my friends find new homes for about a decade.  She’s a lovely woman from Bulgaria.

Omar Dawood, Easy Homez, 50198999,,
I met Omar recently and like him a lot.  He’s one of those people who, like me, gets rattled by insincerity and injustice.  He’s Kuwaiti – and the only Kuwaiti realtor I’ve met. 

Tomas Czerwinski, HorizonQ8, 66663091,,
I met Tomas recently.  I think I found his website by mistake – and let me tell you it is outstanding!  Check them out for properties and lots of photos in an easy-to-view layout. Tomas is Polish (we have the UN of realtor listings here!)

(I had another friend - previously listed in another post - who is a hustler at finding real estate - but totally unreliable and often lazy, so I'm not including him. Sorry.)

Apartment finder Sites 
(I’m not listing the ones that I believe to be sucky)


For the love of God realtors, would you PLEASE list “Pet Friendly”  (like Comfort Real Estate does), so that we don’t have to call them all and get negative or even rude responses?  One of the main reasons that I am willing to pay commission to realtors is so that they (and NOT me)  have to deal with nasty people.   Call it a pre-screening fee.

Get this:  Many westerners CHOOSE not to have children.  Shocking, I know.  But once you pull yourself up off the floor, realize that westerners are also likely to be considerate of their neighbors and landlords.  Most westerners understand how to actually TRAIN their pets to be quiet and clean (unlike some nasty children runnin round here).

Landlords:  You can ASK for a pet deposit.  It is standard in most Western countries if you rent to people with pets. You can also limit the size of the pet.  For example, "Dogs allowed under X kilos."  Most of the fuss about pet deposits in the West is because apartments have wall-to-wall carpeting.  NOT SO in Kuwait where most apartments are tiled because of the weather.

My goodness!  With the amount of greedy landlords there are in Kuwait, you would think that they could have figured out by now that money has no religion.  Rent to people with pets – there are a LOT of us.  Put pets and terms and conditions in the contract.  Attract even MORE tenants.  Gee…. Duuuh. 

Religion and dogs:   When people say, "It is against Islam to have dogs in the house, " (With the exception of protection dogs which - by the way - mine is.)   I call bullshit - and for several reasons.   But let me just cite the one inside my head right now:  Many landlords take religion and bend it to their particular whims.  For example, treating your tenants unkindly or illegally; raising the rent when they have agreed to a period set by law and in their own documents; causing harm to the elderly or the sick, lying, cheating or coercing tenants into leaving.  None of these factors have anything to do with religion, do they? So save the bullshit about not renting to people with dogs.   I'm not hearing it.  And using pets as a reason to evict is not only illegal, it is merely a ploy for unscrupulous landlords to evict and then rent at a higher rate.  And it is happening all over Kuwait.