Sunday, July 06, 2008


Kabd is pronounced "chebd" in local dialect. "Chebd" means liver in Arabic. Don't ask me about the correlation. I don't know.

Since the government bulldozed the entire Funaitees area off of Fahaheel Expressway (30) where most of the farms used to be, almost the entire former population has moved their farms to Kabd. Nobody (except for my friend, M, whose wife kicked him out of the house) lives in these places as they were intended for agricultural use. (When I say “agricultural” I mean “party”.)

When I say “farm” I mean a walled area with you-name-it inside. One of the first “farms” I visited in Kabd in 1998 was a 2-storey glass-fronted villa with a swimming pool and terrace. The villa and the walled area were painted yellow and it looked surreal and out of place in the middle of the desert. From inside the walls, the only way you really knew you were in Kabd was because the entire area smelled like sheep and camel dung.

Kabd plots (farms) were allocated to citizens who were related to the camel racing club. They were areas intended to keep camels and livestock. The plots were originally sold to people for around KD 500. Prices now range from KD 25,000 to 70,000 depending on the area in Kabd and the furnishings in the farms. Older plots were 2500 square meters on average and newer ones are approximately 1250 meters. As the land is leased from the government (similar to chalet areas in Kuwait), building is risky business as the government can decide on a whim that they want the land back and then it is just another “encroachment” to be bulldozed. People are taking the chance.

My friends have farms in Kabd now with waterfalls and nightclubs and the air has improved tremendously. The entire area has expanded to become quite a large village with various different divisions, traffic circles and many mosques. There are also a lot more services in Kabd now like stores, gas stations and police stations. There aren’t any fast food places (yet), but I’m pretty sure that will change in the next few years. One strategically placed McDonald’s could make a fortune – especially if it was the 24/7 type.

Ok... and people do actually keep animals in Kabd. There are a lot of pigeon raising people (you can tell when it is a windy day) and you can see livestock (trying to) grazing when you drive around. People bring their families out for weekends away from the city; similar to Paris and Nichole in "The Simple Life".

I remember even 10 years ago when Kabd was considered way too far to drive from suburban Kuwait. The roads were just a few lanes and they weren’t lit for the most part. If you dared to go out there, you risked your life because you shared the road with trucks (still do, but the roads are better now). The roads to Kabd have been improved a lot: 604 is now a well lit, 4-lane divided highway that, for the most part, is well maintained. There are stretches, however, where the sand creeps onto the pavement making it a little dangerous – especially at night. There is a way to bypass 604 by taking an alternate route down 7th Ring Road, but I haven’t figured out how to do this yet, and I usually go to Kabd at night, so I don’t want to take the chance.

I don’t know what the statistics are for traffic related deaths are on the 604, but it has got to be really high. I’m out there every weekend and we see multiple wrecks by the side of the road. The road is long with a lot of straight stretches and most people speed. There are, unfortunately, still only U-turns and no stop lights making the temptation to speed even greater. The main problem with accidents to/from Kabd is centered around the trucks. They have to turn somewhere and there is often a long line at U-turns. Where the trucks are, the pavement has been ruined and there are a lot of potholes and dips in the asphalt (especially at the intersection of 604 and 7th Ring Road at the light – OMG!). They’re also doing construction in strange arrangements at weird places (it seems like for no reason all of a sudden there is a diversion around something invisible). On one of these diversions (towards Sulaibiya away from Kabd on 604), there is a MASSIVE hole in the left lane that I have almost wrecked on three times. I’ve got a big car and I can’t imagine what would happen to a small car. If they are doing construction already – why not just fix the damn hole?

Wrecks of another kind: Kabd was formerly infamous for late night drag racing. There were only a few police out that way and they turned a blind eye to the races held late at night. That too is a thing of the past now (except once in a while you can still find videos on YouTube – especially of drifting around the circles).

Driving home from Kabd at dawn is really gorgeous. If you put your windows down, you can hear animals all around you. With the sunrise over the desert, it is really a thing of beauty. The area looks like it could be a village on the outskirts of Basra (only way cleaner even at its dirtiest). Most of the walls are painted either with an adobe color or yellow and it is very pretty.

If you want to venture out there, take 5th, 6th, or 7th Ring Roads and take a right on 604. Go straight (past the camel market on the left and the gas station on the right) until you come to an area with brick walls. You will know you are in Kabd fer sure when you hit either the 1st or 2nd traffic circle. I literally “hit” the first circle when it was new because it didn’t used to be there and all of a sudden it was. I kindasorta ran into it. There are Desert Girl "notification systems" out there now: speed bumps (no, they are not “humps”) before you get to the circle (they don’t really warn you about those either, but they are way better to hit than the circle itself – take my word for it). Don't expect any cutesy souvenier shops, quaint folklore, or activities for the kids - it aint gonna happen: It is just Chebd.

You can Mapquest Kabd, but the maps in that area pretty much suck regardless of the resource. Like this one, for example. At least they gave the L&L coordinates to Kabd on this one - and I can't believe that they even made mention of Dubaiyah. A lot of long-timers in Kuwait don't even know where that is (fer you 'mericans - it is the McDonalds area off 30 before the 30/40 merge). We 'mericans base our navigations on food and numbers. I had a friend who was trying to give me directions one time based on the numbers painted on the light posts on Fahaheel Expressway! WTF!

My DG weekend in Kabd

Well, for some reason, Hickey decided to put on a show. Hickey (not her real name or occupation) is not a small girl. I laughed so hard I almost peed myself (as The Romanian said, it was "Premiere Night"). Sheikha Minor has a new love ("Hummer" guy) and she was acting all coy and demure (it SO doesn't suit her!). The Romanian and I quietly drank our Red Label (Lipton Red Label tea, that is - what do you THINK I meant???) while the shenannigans went on. The guys played the oud and tabla and the organ and the singing and dancing (if you can call it that) went on into the wee hours of the night/morning. Regardless - Endless hours of nonsensical fun.

I hate sleeping out there - I can never sleep well if I'm not in my own bed, plus everybody wants the beds and it ends up being a drunken-pile-up-free-for-all ("DON'T TOUCH ME!"), so I usually go home in the wee hours of the morning (hopefully after some food). Furthermore, I don't want to end up in bed with Hickey. I don't trust her with any gender or species. It could go very very wrong. Further, furthermore, there are BIG mofo bugs in the desert that stalk you and EW!

I took the weekend off hunting for apartments and now I feel guilty. I have to look some more this week. So far, out of all the apartments in our complex, only one family has moved. I HATE moving! The more ugly places I see, the more I love my home. Sniffle, whimper.

1 comment:

Jewaira said...

I like this perspective on Chebd :-)