Monday, June 30, 2008

Finding home

I am so mad at the likes of CSA who have literally ruined the real estate market in Kuwait. These companies are willing to pay KD 600 per month for 2 bedroom accommodations for their employees (passing the exorbitant amount on to the US Government/US tax payers) and it is ruining the local economy. Damn foreigners!

CSA’s contract is up in October 2009, and I hope that whoever is re-bidding will consider the fact that 1) there is no need to pay that amount of money; and 2) perhaps you don’t need to get an almost complete staff of high-paid Westerners (many of whom don’t even have a lot of work to do and would like to do more). Where is the ethical responsibility?

Back to the problems in our local real estate market.

I’m going to see shitholes at KD 400 per month. It is ridiculous. Some of these places still have squat toilets and I can’t even tell you how bad they smell when you walk in. For that, you pay prime real estate prices. I walked into one last night and I immediately sensed that someone had been murdered in the apartment; it was the kind of place where the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. As my friend said, “Look, they have 2 doors to the apartment; an extra one so that you can run out the back when the police come to the front….” ICK.

WTF Kuwait!

I’m also extremely peeved about being labeled as a "morally-challenged" single woman. One real estate agent actually said, “Well, the owners don’t know what kind of people you would be bringing over…” Before I hung up IN HIS FACE, I said, “I’m a manager with a rather large company. I’ve been in Kuwait over 10 years. I’m not on a weekend trip down from Basra….” I thought that kind of mentality went out years ago in Kuwait. Are we suddenly so conservative?

So, I got online and found some marriage certificates I can download – just incase. If they want a piece of paper: BADA BING. Just like when I went to Malaysia on a trip I won and needed to be “married” to the guy who I was going with. Done.

I’m looking at some apartments in houses and what I want to know is – what is the owners’ name? I’m not going to just walk in and stay in someone’s apartment and they have a terrible reputation in Kuwait. If these loser real estate guys can ask ME for my personal information, damned if I’m not going to ask about the owners.

I can’t find a decent-sized apartment with a balcony. The balcony comes first and foremost because Desert Dawg has to have a retreat during the day when I’m at work. Either that, or I hire a live-in maid. Well, I wouldn’t go to that extreme. I enjoy the privacy of walkin around buck neked. Anyways, a large balcony gives me (at least) the impression that the apartment is airy.

I went to see a very nice 2 bedroom apartment last night in Mishrif. It was very pretty (at KD 360); however, it had several problems. First, the balcony was off the bedroom. It was very large, but I would have to have the door open so that Desert Dawg could get out and it would be hot. I could already sense that it would be a problem with the home owners. Next, there were bars on some of the windows. That freaks me out. Maybe I was a prisoner in a former existence. I just can’t do bars. The kitchen and bathroom weren’t great and the window in the living room was too small.

Okay, so I might be a little picky.

You know what you want. You know what kind of home will make you happy to live in. When I walked into my current apartment 11 years ago, I felt comfortable and happy.

They say that by about the 10th place you’ve looked at, you find one that you like. I have exceeded that number.

Let me just say that my FRIEND who has been taking me around to look at these places has been an angel. I don’t really know why he is doing it for me. I think we are mending fences. Life is very odd and ironic.

I am happy he is helping me, but at the same time, this is someone who I remember as a completely different person. Now, I look at him and I don’t see that person there. It is like I know him, but I don’t know him. It makes me sad. I want to shake him and say, “Say something! Do something! Let me know you are really you.” Maybe he’s not him anymore. Maybe people go through life experiences that change them. I just feel like I am looking at someone who isn’t that person anymore – kind of like a pod person now – and it makes me want to cry.

Sometimes I have a really hard time understanding (remembering) that people don’t always think like you do. That maybe they change or are different. I’m the same and I just don’t get it.

Anyways, I’m really thankful for the help because even though I am now working with NINE realtors, none of them have been able to accomplish in a month what my FRIEND has in a day.


Anonymous said...

First of all i work for CSA and i dont get a high salary and i have to much work to do! I dont know who you know that works for CSA? But we all dont get aHIGH salary!!

Desert Girl said...

Hi Jon,

CSA pays some of the highest salaries in Kuwait. They also pay for accommodations and transportation.

I don't know what your job is or what your qualifications are. Why would you come here if you weren't getting paid well unless you are a TCN local hire? Maybe you should ask for a raise before they start downsizing. Good luck with that.

abolesanzalef said...

Dear friend..
i know its hard when you leave your apartment that you live in for 10 years.. its memory inside walls, windows, everything..

but once you get a new nce apartement, you will change your idea about old apartement...

they are also tols me that i have to leave the apartemnt after 6 months.

it is too hard at first to find a suitable tell me descriptions you like and i can help you inshallah...

with pleasure...

Desert Girl said...

Hi Abolesanzalef! Thanks for the nice words. Change is good... :)

I need a 2 bedroom with balcony (very important) in South Surra, Salmiya, Salwa, Mishrif, Shaab for less than 400.

I wish you the best of luck too. Maybe we live in the same area... although they seem to be tearing down all of Kuwait lately.

Sam Lawson said...

Dear Desert Girl,

I do work for CSA and I am very qualified for my job, which is in the top 90% of the pay scale for hourly employees. My counterparts at other companies make anywhere from 35,000 to 105,000 a year more than me, if not more than that. I came to CSA for quality of life, which I got.

Please, check your facts. CSA is high paying compared to working at McDonalds, but it is not high paying compared to working at KBR, ITT, Stanley, General Dynamics, Honeywell, PWC, or several other higher paying contractors.

PS: I rent on the economy and got my apartment for 450 a month. Companies who rent in that building pay 500 to 600, depending on how well they negotiate. CSA does not live there.

Your pal,


Desert Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Desert Girl said...

Hi Sam

Thanks for your response. Please re-read my post carefully.

As I stated, “the likes of CSA” and “whoever is re-bidding will consider…”.

I do check my facts – frequently – through salary surveys taken throughout Kuwait. In the KUWAIT (not US) market, CSA is one of the highest paying employers in Kuwait. They are, as international companies, paying higher salaries to Western employees (as is KBR, ITT, Stanley… as you mentioned)than local companies.

You mentioned that “CSA is high paying compared to working at McDonalds, but it is not high paying compared to working at KBR, ITT, Stanley, General Dynamics, Honeywell, PWC, or several other higher paying contractors. CONTRACTORS.” I wasn’t writing related CONTRACTORS. I am stating IN THE LOCAL/KUWAIT EMPLOYMENT MARKET.

PWC (now Agility)is a Kuwaiti company that pays more in recruitment of Western candidates -recruited from overseas - than they pay local hires (of any nationality including American or British or whatever). “Local hires” generally earn less money in Kuwait.

“My counterparts at other companies make anywhere from 35,000 to 105,000 a year more than me…” Do they work for Kuwaiti companies? Again, my post is related to the Kuwait market and the Kuwaiti economy.

”PS: I rent on the economy and got my apartment for 450 a month. Companies who rent in that building pay 500 to 600, depending on how well they negotiate. CSA does not live there.” Again, please re-read my post carefully. “The likes of CSA….”. I believe that the companies you mentioned are probably Western companies (“contractors” as you mentioned). Perhaps I should re-phrase to mention all the contracting companies in Kuwait?

In 2001, the average price of a 2 bedroom apartment was KD 350 maximum. When “contractors” started moving in en force in 2002/2003, the prices went up. You do the math. What I am saying is that the influx of contractors has had a real affect on the real estate market in Kuwait and that PERHAPS if a contract is re-negotiated with (for example) 5,000 less western-hired contractors (plus their families)requiring accommodations, the market may change.

Nice to see you commenting on my blog for the first time in the 5 years it has been up. Always nice to make new friends.

Sam Lawson said...

Point for yourself. You specifically mention CSA's contract though. That gives the apperance of targeting CSA and using it as your basis for this post.

"CSA’s contract is up in October 2009, and I hope that whoever is re-bidding will consider the fact that 1) there is no need to pay that amount of money; and 2) perhaps you don’t need to get an almost complete staff of high-paid Westerners (many of whom don’t even have a lot of work to do and would like to do more). Where is the ethical responsibility?"

You may have said the likes of, but with comments like that it appears like you are targeting one company.

We have a TON of eastern employees on contract, and CSA does not pay a ridiculous amount of money. Yes, some people have a small amount of work to do, but that's life everywhere. Having someone make $13.50 an hour is not overpaying. Some of those people do not have overtime. We have employees clearing 55,000 a year, in US dollars, that's it. Overpaid my backside.

Rant aside, I agree with the housing rationale, and the facts cannot be disputed. I just feel you should have expanded and not left the perceived target as CSA.

I wonder why not alot of people seem to ever mention those guys making 160,000 US a year, 35,000 of which is not taxable (cost of living), and another 85,000 tax free per the limit, staying in 800KD a month apartments (should cost far less), and working 2-3 hours a day, sometimes skipping work all together.

I've posted comments on your blog before, I've just started using a new name in the blogosphere recently. Besides a few details, seems like we both agree with some of what is going on here with outside companies. The rental market is shot.

Desert Girl said...

Dear Sam,

Apparently you have missed the intent of the blog post. IT IS NOT ABOUT CSA. I mentioned CSA specifically as they employ the largest amount of Westerners in Kuwait - I believe the count is around 7500 if not more; ergo the need for accommodations for all those employees and their families.

I’m really tired of arguing this point and if you want to take it off-line, write to me. I noticed that there is no contact e-mail on your profile.

Why do the likes of some get their panties in a bunch? Puhleeeeze.

This is not a contract. It is not a legal venue. This is a blog – my blog. You can write an entire blog on the benefits of working at CSA. Je ne care pas. This is my perspective and you are welcome to write about your perspective on your blog. Take my perspective (appearances) anyway you want to – that’s fine. It is open to interpretation.

Sam Lawson said...

I concede to your point. Just don't get me wrong on one thing, I am no way endorsing working for my company or any others. For every good reason to work for western contracting companies around here, there are multiple reasons not to.

I am actually on my way out the door to one of the more evil companies. I might as well take advantage of it while I can, but I am against the obscenely high pay (as in 125k+, and no, I won't be making that much).

On a non-argumentative point, do you feel the housing contracts with the western companies are corrupt and inflated due to kickbacks or some other non-public reason? I do.

I apologize for no contact information. Not really all that familiar with the blogger system.

Stinni said...

I'm glad someone posted about this! The American contracting companies HAVE ruined the rental market in Kuwait. I have a friend whose company paid over KD1,000 for rentals. It's actually good for me, if I ever choose to rent my home out - I'll get over KD1,000/month, but it sucks for others who are out looking to rent an apartment. Some rentals even down in Fintas/Mangaf are renting for over KD1,000. I have Italian friends who pay KD900 - KD1,000 for their APARTMENTS in Mangaf. (Yeah, they're pretty though, overlooking the gulf, gym, pool, etc.)

Oh, and thanks to the pesky Americans, you now have to pay part-time maids a fortune. Sorry, but I'm not paying a teaching assistant's salary for someone to come clean my home for a few hours 3x's/week.

Desert Girl said...

Yo Stinni!!!! How are ya, girl? I've missed you. Thanks for the comment. Going to the States next month - need anything? Quahogs? Clamcakes? Dells? :)

Stinni said...

Hey girl, I'm already in the States! Left in mid-June and am currently enjoying the nice breeze on Cape Cod. I'm staying until September. Bought a place. Have a guest room if you're ever in the mood to spend some time up here. :)

Anonymous said...

CSA and ITT are both sponsored by KRH and both are paying kickbacks to KRH. All of you should go and pull your contracts from the Kuwait Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. You will see that you are the employees of KRH and NOT CSA or ITT. ITT I recently found out is based out of the Cayman Island and not Colorado as the Stateside contracts says. For all of you who work for either of these corrupt companies and any others sponsored by Kuwait Reconstruction and Housing and the corrupt owner Mohamed Khanna, then you need to call Dr. Muharab Al-Enzeni, who is a Kuwait lawyer and will tell your your rights. His number is 965 980 7535. CSA is going to lose their contract on Camp Arifjan because of their poor service the the unrecognizable slop they serve the soldiers there. ITT is going to lose their contract because they have been gouging the Government on their GMASS contract. KRH is the company making over $ 90 million per year in leasing and overcharging for those apartments, cars, and labor from CSA and from ITT they are making another $60 million per year. What ungrateful bastards. Well, they are all under investigation and the sooner all 3 are debarred from doing business with the U.S. Government, the better for the U.S. Taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Well, as you can see. On 11 October, 2008 CSA investigation of overcharging made the news and the slop that was being served at the dining hall has ceased because Agility took that part of the Contract. KRH (Kuwait Reconstruction and Housing) is ultimately responsible for much of the overcharging the U.S. Government is suffering in Kuwait while having contracts with ITT Corporation and CSA. ITT was directed to lay off 380 employees in Qatar by the U.S. Government. GSCS is in Qatar what KRH is in Kuwait. Both need to be shut down. To save taxpayer money, both of these companies should be debarred just as ITT who was debarred and put on probation, but continues to rip off the U.S. taxpayer with the collusion of KRH, should be debarred. ITT has been under investigation for over a year, but no charges? Why is that? GMASS II is up for an early ribid and ITT Corporation shareholders should know that ITT is not going to get this contract because of their poor performance and fraud. So, Desert Girl, pass the word. One thing I have said already has come true. CSA is on the way out the door and ITT is next.

Desert Girl said...

All good news for those of us working as competitors on the 2009 bid. Thanks for your comments!

Prior to around 2004, KRH had a shitty little office in a 3-story run down building. They now have an enormous (20 floor?) tower.

They also haven't been able to hold onto business development managers.....

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the owner of KRH, Mohamed Saleh N. Khanna, who according to Registration Document for KRH from the Kuwait Ministry of Commerce, is responsible for lining the pockets of CSA and ITT corporate executives. Khanna, was charged with fraud and fired from the Kuwait Government opened KRH shortly after. Where else do crooks go from a failed political career? Anyone who has information relating to the bribes, kickbacks and fraud relating to the CSA and ITT contracts are encouraged to write anonymously to:
This email address will be monitored daily through the time when charges of fraud, waste, abuse and corruption can be brought against KRH, ITT, and CSA. The readers of this site either can continue to be subject to the fleecing of American taxpayers, or you can choose to provide information to a case that will ultimately debar ITT, CSA, and KRH and the owners and officers from doing any further business with the United States Government. ITT is already on a 5-year probation for lying to Federal investigators and ITAR violations. They are convicted on 2 felony counts. On 10 October, CSA was charged with OVERCHARGING the U.S. Government. A case has been started against both of them and additional evidence will be appreciated.
If, in the long run, you want to be part of lowering the costs to our Government and lowering the rents in Kuwait, then please come forward. Your information will be forwarded to the attorney who is preparing the case.

Anonymous said...

I am sure if you grab the first apartment you find you may pay a lot but I found a three bedroom apartment for 350KD. and others that were 300KD three bedrooms. I took the 350KD because it had a dinning room and three big bedrooms along with personal parking areas. The key is to look around and take your time if you can. I know not every one has over a month to look for an apartment but if you do it can realy help. of course the 350KD is not in Salmia those apartments are crazy expensive and you get a crap one at that. And as much as I like reading your blog deser girl I agree with jon. CSA screws there employees they are a camon island company like mine but mine pays a lot more and comparing my job to the jobs at CSA i dont think i would last an hour doing what they do. they defenetly should be making more money. But I did understand what you were explaining desert girl i just had to stick up for jon a little bit those guys at CSA deserve it. Well the workers do the big wigs over there can eat crap. I picked anonymous only because i am lazy to remember my google id. sorry

Anonymous said...

ITT is has lost the Qatar BOSS contract that it was awarded in 2007. That contract should have run until 2012. What happened ITT ???
4 new contracts will break up the GMASS contract that ITT is also losing. ITTs Paul Diggins, who worked on ITTs proposals has moved over to GSCS and is writing proposals for them. GSCS if anyone knows is ITTs sponsor in Qatar. Hmmmm, anyone smell anything. It is odd to see his name on all the proposals for GSCS on all 4 contract bids. These Solicitations are so far out of GSCS's capabilities and basic scope of abilities, that only an Army Contracting Officer name John Cockerham or a close associate would even think of awarding to them. Damn, Qatar and Kuwait will never be short of brief case deliveries with the U.S. Army running things.

Anonymous said...

HaHaHa CSA what a crarm. Anyone wanting to get the real dirt about CSA just needs to chat with some of the many disgruntled employees. Many people are fully aware of the fraud,waste and abuse and often speak about it openly. All you would need to do is befriend some of these folks and you could have a field day with these folks.

Anonymous said...

I worked for the company known as low pay CSA.It is a bottom feeder organisation that degrades American workers with its management style.The upper management takes all the high salaries and tosses a bone or a crumb to the workers.
They are losing their contract this fall after 10 years of waste, fraud and non accountability to the government.
I only worked for this dirt bag of an outfit for a month and I could read between the lines after working for wages in Iraq for almost 5 years.
I bought my own airline ticket and made a departure from these bums and left them a trail so cold you could pack fish in it.
I would not advise anybody to travel 7000 miles to work for CSA or you will be sorry!

Anonymous said...

Hi desert girl. Im new , but your post intrigued me as i have a little to do with everything in the post .
#1 - you have to rememeber its not only CSA but other companies renting Flats . Also note that they require the flats to be fully furnished , so hence automatic mark up , 2ndly they wont sign for a 2 year lease only 1 year " with options " so after the renter buys the furniture lets say as per CSA standards , how much do you think they spent ? 1,000 - 1,500 KD for sofa , bedroom , dining room, coffee tables , lamps accessories wsshing machine TV , microwave , pots pans etc ... Now take your 350 rent , and divide the 1,500 by 12
now your at what , 475 ? Now add DSL lines , 24 hour security , costs for gating or fensing the building and your eaily at 600 per flat ..
I agree with you though they did ruin the market .
Also regarding looking for a flat .. its a lost cause if your Looking for the perfect flat, you need to shoot lower and start looking at fixer upers with alout of potential .. we found a flat in salwa for 350 , top floor of a villa with huge balcony , but we had to dump about 2400 KD in redoing the house to our standards, we have been here now for 3 years and love the place ..


Anonymous said...

HA! CSA what a joke! For the most part, the employees seem like they were drafted them from mental institutions. Not only that, but Kuwait work doesn't offer hazard pay and its extremely expensive to live in the city. FALA does nto even cover a quarter of your food and phone needs. Plus, they want you to pay for crappy DEFAC food that should be free! The employees, including myself, spent a year doing nothing. I got paid but I saw all of America's debt growing larger while me and many others slept our shifts away. People stole many items and sold them to the poor in the city and no one cares. Anytime someone is in a position of power, they take it too far. They act like they work for the FBI or something. Needless to say, CSA is a joke. ( I know all of you women that have married locals are going to defend Kuwait because your new rididculous husbands will buy you whatever plastic surgery you desire in any country now. You ppl make me sick.)

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 10:26 - wow. Somebody didn't take their happy pills today.

I almost didn't publish this comment because of the last statement. Why the hate? Sounds like a local man stole yo girl, but whatever. I couldn't make the connection between CSA and women marrying local men (?) Did I miss something?

I decided to leave the entire comment in because it is one person's perspective on their company.

Gotta tell ya, buddy, if you hated it here so much - why did you stay????

Kuwait's not a danger-zone country to receive hazard pay. And CSA provides housing.

And I also don't really understand, if you have a direct story to tell about government waste, why not do something about it? Write to your congressperson. Write to the defense committees. All that time sleeping your shift away. I think I would be writing every day. You could have made money either as a freelance consultant or journalist.

Good luck in your new job.

Anonymous said...

hi jon
this is pat in va, and i'm comptemplating coming to kuwait, very confused not sure of what company to apply for, the employment office here referred csa
now reading all of this i am scared to death, maybe i should just stay here at my dead-end job in the postal service??? any suggestions??

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 12:16 - write to me at and I'll give you the latest on CSA.