Friday, November 27, 2009

BLS CHRISTMAS BAZAAR

THE British Ladies Society CHRISTMAS BAZAAR ALL are welcome and it's free to enter. Tuesday 1st December 2.30pm til 6.30pm The Lobby, Moevenpick Hotel and Resort Al Bida Come enjoy all the festive fun and start shopping for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Eid

Tomorrow is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving historically was a harvest festival to thank God (and the American Indians) for helping the pilgrims (new arrivals to America) in surviving a harsh environment and cold winter. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general.

Eid Al-Adha follows Thanksgiving this year when pilgrims returning from Mecca are returning home and giving thanks for their blessings and safe journey.

It is an overall good time to be grateful. So, on this occasion, I would like to thank each of you for your small kindnesses, your friendship, and your support.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy Eid to you and your families and God bless you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Desert Girl Down - WAAAAAAAAA

I’m totally depressed/oppressed at the moment. I’ve had some poop happen at work and it is the holiday season. First, Thanksgiving away from family is always hard. Next, it will be Eid and I’m not looking forward to another “I’m too busy to see you” day, making me feel ever so important and valued. I’ve been checking into flights to DC all morning – hoping to be able to surprise my family at the dinner table for Thanksgiving. I talked to my mom on the phone and she sounded down so I want to go even more.

Sometimes bad things happen at home at work, with friends, with people you love. Sometimes you feel like crap and you just want to depend on someone and then the someone you depend on most lets you down. I’m not having a good day. I really would like to get on that flight home tomorrow night.

It will pass I’m sure. I rarely have to depend on anyone, anytime so it just makes me a stronger person – and makes me value Desert Dawg much more. Everything happens for a reason.

Pass me the chocolate and my fuzzy slippers. When I get my salary, I'm buying myself jewelry and flowers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Thanksgiving Deal


If you haven't been to the new Sultan Center in Hawalli - GO there. It is the closest to a US-style super market in Kuwait. I was really impressed. More variety, different types of food, wide aisles, counters in accessible areas.



You can't really find a decent T-day meal at a restaurant in Kuwait. I think the closest is probably the Crowne Plaza, but they still don't get it right.



TSC has these deals for Thanksgiving every year. the price is 14.500 and you get a whole Butterball Turkey (5 kilo), gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beens or sweet corn, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls (12ct), and pumpkin or apple pie (6"). Must have 24 hours prior notice. Phones Salmiya: 25719620, Kout, 23930511, Hawalli, 22642854.




I don't have plans. Hint. Invite me. Hint.

December 1 - the Update



OMG the Sultan Center turkey was fantastic! This is such a good deal. It was a really big turkey just like they said, around 5 kilos (in 'merican that's 11 pounds). I asked them not to cook it well-done (everything in this country comes out tasting like leather!) and that must have worked; it was perfectly done, juicy and tender.


The portions of the side dishes were disappointing - very small. They also cut corners by using canned cranberry sauce and re-packaging; as well as using potato spuds instead of real potatoes. The "gravy" was some kind of gelatinous yuck. If they had only provided the bird, it would still be a good deal. As it was, I made up for it by making microwave brussel sprouts and sweet potato (mix). Their tiny pumpkin pie was quite authentic, so that was a plus.


The one great thing was that they KNOW how to make stuffing! It was very good and had all the right stuff - unlike the logs of stuffing that you get some places. OMG - look at the picture. This was taken at a Thanksgiving event at the Hilton, but I attended a Thanksgiving event at the US Embassy catered by the Crowne Plaza and it was just the same.I don't know why in this country they believe that stuffing should look like a missile/projectile. It isn't a stuffing dildo - it is a respectable side dish served to families!!!! What is wrong with these people????? We don't eat stuffing LOGS! The Hilton log tasted like liverwurst and had the same consistency. The Crowne Plaza used a combination of dark and white bread crumbs - then plumped them with water or some form of liquid to form what appeared to be a marbled log of checkered origins. I have actually sent family recipes to the Crowne Plaza. Do it right or don't do it. Oh, and at the Hilton, they served Thai beef salad at the Thanksgiving buffet. Do Thais celebrate the American/Canadian holiday of Thanksgiving? Just wondering. I've never had Thai beef salad at my Thanksgiving table. The guys we sat with were disappointed that they didn't have macaroni & cheese or sweet potatoes with marshmellos. I concur.

Blame it on the foreigners - again!

This is some of the dumbest shyt I've read in a loooooooooooooong time:

Non-Kuwaiti Wives Blamed

Arab Times, Local, 22 November 2009

A number of social and psychological specialists (WHICH ones? Qualify statements, newspapers!!!!) disclosed the issue of Kuwaiti men marrying foreigners has caused an increase in the percentage of spinsters in the country, which meddles in the process of raising of the kids (is that even possible if they are spinsters?? Poor writing.), reports Al-Shahid daily.

The specialists (again, which specialists and what qualifies them to be a specialist?) noted the phenomenon has caused the emergence of social problems in the country (as if social problems weren't already here). They added foreign women consider Kuwaitis as mobile banks (Puhleeeeze – the majority of Kuwaitis these days are middle class and some with government jobs make less than 1000 KD a month – do they consider that a “bank”?) and deal with them in relation to this concept.

Moreover, they stressed that marriages without intimacy and compassion will definitely fail. (Ok that has nothing to do with the rest of the story. In what context? Does it mean that Kuwaiti men are marrying foreigners for more or less compassion/intimacy?)

- - - End - - -

Here is my thing, maybe the women just don't want to get married. Did the "experts" ever consider that? Maybe society is changing. Maybe because of the archaic family law in Kuwait, women in the country have seen marriage as something different - servitude. And at the end, what happens? Dude cheats (which is legal in Kuwait for the man) and/or marries a second wife. If the woman wants a divorce, she looses end-of-marriage money (which is similar to alimony that has been written into a marriage contract). On the flipside for men (in Sunni marriages), the mother always gets the kids.

There are also all kinds of home-grown Kuwaiti social issues like marrying into an "acceptable" family, the dowry, having to deal with Kuwaiti inlaws (which leads to quite a few divorces in Kuwait). The dowry is often quite high: clothes, jewelry, car(s), the promise of a house with servants, etc. Dude would HAVE to be a mobile bank to finance some of these requests.

Foreign women are less likely to hand their kids over to a nanny to raise. Did the "specialists" consider that? It is not unrealistic for Kuwaiti couples to have 2 or 3 nannies/maids to "help" with the kids.

As for the incentives for Kuwaitis to marry Kuwaitis - I know of at least 4 Kuwaiti couples who have married purely to receive the government incentive money. They split it, split up, and move on.

I think that before casting the first stone, the "specialists" should take a good hard look at their glass house.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another nonsensical Municipality moment

Here's another thing I don't get - and call it "complaining" or call it my unique perception on life: Why does the municipality (baladia) take the time to chop down trees in the country when bozos like these have set up illegal structures - IN FIRE LANES? Hey, let's all endanger the lives of our co-workers and customers (and ultimately, firemen)... It is in between 2 clothing stores. You know - as in FLAMABLE materials....


Please note the fire hydrant to the bottom right of the photo.
You can't see it in the photo (as they are to the rear of the building) but there are steel bars on the windows. NO ESCAPE.

Where is the fire department?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where have the local English magazines gone?

Have you ever wondered why there are so few English language magazines in Kuwait? I used to write for Kuwait Life and Kuwait This Month - both were excellent and full of information on life here in Kuwait. They are of particular importance to newcomers to Kuwait who look for things to do.

It was yet another example of Kuwait's "democracy" at work. When they went to renew their licenses, they were told that they would be put under the same category as newspapers. Therefore, the owners had to come up with a 250,000 KD bond. Poof - both magazines were out of business.

Isn't it pathetic?

Why doesn't the Ministry of Information launch their own magazine to inform English readers of happenings in Kuwait? They can fill it with as much propoganda as they want - just as long as it is information!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Agility - tsk tsk shaaaame

There are a lot of stories on this in the media today - including one at the bottom of Page 1 of the Arab Times. Looks like some people are going to be in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep poo-poo.

These investigations have been going on for years and so far, no one at the top has gone to prison. I think it is probably just a matter of time.

Probably should have just given Kamal his props from the get-go. Pay him off or give him a percentage. As it is, he's been like a bulldog at your heels. He never did just go away, did he?



CNN: Kuwaiti company that supplies U.S. military accused of fraud

November 16, 2009 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- A Kuwaiti company that has been paid more than $8.5 billion (DG note: thats like the value of some small countries) to supply food and other items to the U.S. military in the Middle East has been indicted on multiple federal fraud charges, authorities announced Monday.

Public Warehousing Company KSC is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, committing major fraud against the United States, making false statements, submitting false claims and wire fraud, a six-count indictment states.

The company obtained contracts in May 2003, February 2005 and July 2005 to feed U.S. troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan, said the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Georgia, where the charges were filed.

"This indictment is the result of a multiyear probe into abuses in vendor contracts in the Middle East involving the illegal inflation of prices in contracts to feed our troops," said F. Gentry Shelnutt, who is serving as acting U.S. attorney on the case. "The indictment alleges PWC submitted false information and manipulated prices to overcharge for food."

Public Warehousing Company, also known as Agility, did not return a telephone message Monday.

The charges came after federal officials joined a 2005 whistle-blower suit by Kamal Mustafa al-Sultan, the owner of a Kuwaiti company that had partnered with Public Warehousing to submit a proposal on the food supply contracts, the Justice Department said. The case remained under seal to let federal officials investigate the allegations and determine whether the U.S. government would join the lawsuit.

The whistle-blower's civil complaint was filed in Atlanta.

According to the indictment, the company violated the False Claims Act by presenting false claims for payment, overcharging for locally available fresh fruits and vegetables, and failing to pass along to the U.S. government rebates and discounts it had obtained, as required by its contracts.

The indictment does not say how much the United States was allegedly defrauded, because the investigation is under way, officials said.

The investigation is being conducted by a team from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, auditors from the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Department.

"The defendants, tempted by monetary gain, betrayed the trust invested in them by the U.S. Army and now they must face the consequences," said Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson, commander of Army Criminal Investigation Command.

- - - End - - -

Update: Big red letters, the headline of the Arab Times on Nov 18 reads, "Without merit'.... PWC denies US fraud charges." In the infamous words of Shaggy, "It wasn't me."

When the US Government uses the word "indictment" - that means they have enough evidence to send people to jail. The stories are naming names; you can check them out. Regardless of how Agility/PWC wants to spin it, it isn't going away. "Debarred" means you are out of the game. Over.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monkey Drivers


On my way to work this morning, there were 2 drivers racing on 5th Ring Road. One was in a bright red Lumina SS with tinted windows; the other was a black Grand Marquis. You would think the morons were 20-somethings, but nooooo…. These idiots were in their 40’s.


They were zigzagging in between cars, flashing their lights… acting like chimps on speed.


This is why I have high blood pressure. This is also why I leave my house promptly at 6:25 am every morning (to get to work on time by 7:30 am) to avoid traffic.


I wanted to BITCH SLAP both of them. I go into this trace/fantasy world where they get into accidents (with each other – not harming other drivers) and they aren’t terribly hurt, but just incapacitated and stuck in their cars with the windows rolled down. I go to the first, SLAP him hard across the face.. ‘This is for your wife!’ SLAP ‘This is for your kids.’ PUNCH ‘This is for me and all the other drivers on the road.’ PUNCH SLAP ‘This is for our collective families and children – born and unborn.’ Then, I repeat it with the second.


The Chosen Ones of the Universe… so they think.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cirque D'Avenues



I dunno about you peeps, but to me The Avenues is a big circus. Slaps and I came up to this conclusion at the same time (she came up with the catchy name). We go there to watch.

Cirque D'Avenues!

Cirque D'Avenues is mesmerizing and extraordinary; the main event a continual parade of clowns in all different shapes and sizes. Clown make-up, clown clothes, clown shoes, clown hair. Some are sad clowns, some are happy clowns, some are horny clowns, some are scary clowns. They arrive stacked like wood in cars and get out in a never-ending procession.

There are the acrobats and contortionists. Lots of those, twisting and sticking out various body parts to the amazement of the audience. How DO they do that?

All the usual carnies are there: The Bearded Lady, the Tatoo Man, a 2-headed snake. And the animals! Shreeking, screaming, wailing scary animal acts!

Cirque D'Avenues takes place every weekend under the big top. There are lots of concession stands and even rides. Admission is free. Fun for the whole family!

Commenting on the Ironic




This is from http://www.6alabat.com/ - which I LOVE! Funny that "Anytime" restaurant is closed while the ice cream place they have listed is open. Apparently, "Anytime" refers only to 2pm to 10pm. I didn't know....

Cinemagic's Opening Night

Did anyone go to Cinemagic's opening night film, Russian film, "The Banishment"? There was a really cool crowd there - quite diverse. I'm just wondering what other people thought of the film. It was my first time there and I didn't know what to expect. I will definately go back - very cool. They serve refreshments, but there is also a concession stand downstairs. I noticed people brought their own food from fast food places and other people smoked.
The screenings are on the rooftop of the Excite (Al-Ghanim electronics) showroom in Salmiya.

If you would like to attend their showings, add them as a group on Facebook (Cinemagic Kuwait) and they will send you the event notifications.
(Photo from Cinemagic's Facebook site)

I'm very happy to see a small corner of culture in Kuwait. I just don't understand how they are getting away with it as anything that promotes thought here is illegal.

Camping on Friday the 13th


I had a great weekend. Any weekend that I get to go to the desert is a good weekend – even if I do almost get killed. Well, not really, but it was scary. First of all, the Man and I had planned to go out to the desert, bring Desert Dawg, and have a barbecue. We had planned it for some time – and stupid things always came up, so we weren’t able to go for a few weeks. We finally decided to go on Friday and went out to buy all the stuff. I thought The Man had a destination in mind. (Well, he did kinda but it turned out to be not at all what he thought.)


We got a late start and then drove and drove and drove towards Subiya. If you haven’t been out there lately – OMG! The highway towards the Boubiyan Causeway is THE place to go if you have a fast car. I can’t believe the road construction that is going on out there. The road in either direction is 3 lanes and brand-spankin-new. When/if I buy my new black-on-black Camero V8 6sp, I am definitely taking it out on that road at night: NO police and NO traffic cameras. The road is straight and the asphalt is new; ideal conditions for putting the hammer down. Top Gear, Kuwait style….


I digress (as usual).


Anyways, we drove all the hellandback down to the Boubiyan Causeway, took a left and headed towards the big mosque at the circle. It was 6:00. It was dark. I was hungry and cranky. Where the hell was this mystery place? The Man was driving me crazy – and to make matters worse, he got quiet and ignored my constant complaining. Dayam – there is nothing worse than a man who ignores you while you’re bitchin at him! He had no particular spot in mind. I was pissed (American term meaning angry rather than British meaning drunk – which would have been a F of a lot better than my mood!)


I told him to turn around and head back towards Mutla’a. So we did. We got close and I kindasorta recognized a road up the ridge and then told him to turn onto a dirt path leading up to a hill. He reluctantly did – although we were driving a stupid Envoy which is really crap on sand (he didn’t want to dirty HIS car!). We drove up, found a nice spot, and started the fire.


We brought everything imaginable – except jackets. It was humid and the wind was fierce. It got really dark, really fast. There were a few camps around, but people left early and there were fewer and fewer lights around us. Even the cars on the main road became less frequent. In the distance, there were high voltage towers and it was so quiet that we could hear the sizzle of electricity, which is a really weird sound. (I wonder how much electricity is escaping from those things. Does anybody ever check? Is that normal? Do you think campers may be electrocuted? I worry.)


We took a walk around with a flashlight and it was so dark that at one point, Desert Dawg almost went over a ridge into a deep ravine. Scared the bejezus out of The Man. Thank God, I didn’t see it happen. I just saw him grab her and hug her and tell her he loves her (who would have thought he would do that when I first met him! Big Bedu man telling a little dog that he loves her – it just warms my heart!).


At around 9:30ish, we decided to leave. We packed up and headed off the top of the hill. The only problem was – it was very dark and there were no lights at all. It was also really humid – almost to the point of fog. We totally lost our bearings. The Man would stop the car, get out with the flashlight (“torch” for you Brits) and check over the hills. (I was in the car giggling because in the soft sand, he was walking kinda effeminately – had a swish thing going on. Here he was, trying to save our lives and I’m laughing my ass off because he’s walking gay… back to the story…) Ok, to a certain extent, I am afraid of heights. I am really afraid of going over cliffs in the dark. I had visions of us careening over the side of Mutla’a ridge. It wasn’t pleasant. Oh, and I had to pee and I refused to go until I got home.


Thank God, we finally found the way down. It took us an hour to find the way out. Totally freaked me out (except for the gay part and yes, that still did freak me out but in a silly way).


Sometimes when you fear for your life, people deal with the stress in different ways. Like bitching, moaning, and complaining and giggling about an effeminate swish. Go figure. Hey baby – want some fries to go with that shake? (He's going to kill me when he reads this!)


We got home, I got to pee, we ordered some kanafa (comfort food), bathed, and went to sleep.


The Vegetable Market (Souq al Khuthara)


I have been past the veggie market about a gazillion times since I've lived in Kuwait and I've never actually been IN it. I went there this weekend and filled the equivalent of an entire shopping cart full of fruits and veggies for a whopping total of 7 KD. No Dorothy, you're not in Sultan Center anymore. I did go a little craaaaaaaazy, but OMG! It is wonderful! I split most of what I bought so that I could send some to Slapperella.

They have one whole area (enclosed in glass) that has local Kuwaiti produce, and 3 or 4 large areas with produce from other countries. They also have fresh eggs.

They are open on the weekends. From 60 (Ghazali), turn north at 3rd Ring (Canada Dry St). Pass Harley Davidson on left, London Center on Right. At circle, go right to Coal Circle (Dowar al Fahem) and the veggie market is on the left.

By the way, if you ever need items for camping (like aluminum grills, coal, teapots and cookware), Coal Circle is the place to go in Kuwait.

Desert Girl Pet Peeve of The Day: Kuwait and FIFA

Why can’t Kuwait get on board with FIFA? I don’t get it. There are so few things for Kuwaiti youth to do in the country (other than racing up and down highways and either dying or killing others). Why all the bureaucratic DRAMA at the sports clubs? Who suffers? Not the committee or board members. Not the guys making or breaking the rules. The players suffer. It’s stupid. Why do some in Kuwait feel that they are above the rules in the rest of the world as if the country is some kind of golden child of the universe? I don’t get why everything in Kuwait has to be a fight. This country thrives on nonsensical drama. If FIFA has rules – ABIDE by their rules, or get out of the game. Sports club rulers in Kuwait: JUST DO IT.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day Spa for Men

Here ya go, guys... your very own day spa.





It looks nice. If you go there, let me know how your experience was!

Incase you can't read the fine print, it is located in the Behbehani houses complex downtown (near the Sheraton and church), Behbehani House #12. Website: www.thedayspa-kw.com, phone: 2249-6699


Monday, November 09, 2009

Rent a dhow for a barbecue


I went on this boat years ago and had a great time. The food was excellent and it was really relaxing. Glad to see the Radisson is still doing it.

Stupid Rescue

3 Airlifted From Failaka
Arab Times, November 9, 2009


“Air Force helicopter conveyed three Kuwaiti citizens aged 35, 31 and four years old respectively to Adan Hospital after they suffered psychological trauma during a tour of the Failaka Island.

Security sources confirmed the family had visited Failaka Island for leisure when the four-year old child experienced psychological distress and cried continuously without a reason, resulting in the mother and sister breaking down to tears as well.

Sources added security on the ground reported the situation, while an Air Force helicopter arrived at the island to carry the victims to Al-Adan Hospital. One Kuwaiti woman was reported to have become dizzy and fallen from a height on the island, as the child was crying incessantly.”

First of all, what kind of F-ed up “journalism” is this??? It has no flow, and it doesn’t make sense. The third paragraph could have been written into the first paragraph and then it might have been easier to understand; yet another reason why it is best to pay editors more than KD250 per month. I submit articles to the AT and they never even bother to call me back or respond: Everything happens for a reason.

Next, I think everyone involved should be psychiatrically evaluated. They actually used an air force helicopter for crying tantrums? OMG. I want to slap this family and I don’t even know them. WAAAAAAAAAAAA. The four year old probably had a tooth ache or just wanted to go home. Women – if you can’t handle having children, DON’T HAVE THEM! (Whee! Ma endich khadamaaaaa?)

I’m in no mood for a pity party today. What a bunch of whiners.

In the States, the Government would charge them for the rescue. I think they should do it here too.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Just say NO to drugs

A mind is a terrible thing to waste....
Attention foreigners! Don't light up in Kuwait.
Here is another example of why it is a really really really bad idea to do drugs in the Middle East. Are these people too young to have ever heard of Midnight Express?
For another thing, foreigners!, you don't HAVE to look at the camera when the guys who have busted you are taking your photo. It isn't like you are Lindsay Lohan or something. You can look at the floor, turn your face away, cover your face.
I feel so bad for this girl. She is going to be like a roaster chicken at a wolf convention in jail here. Get ya a good lawyer, girlfriend!




Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bitchology

Someone sent me this....



BITCHOLOGY

When I stand up for
myself and my beliefs,
they call me a
bitch.

When I stand up for
those I love,
they call me a
bitch.

When I speak my mind, think my own thoughts
or do things my own way, they call me a
bitch.

Being a bitch
means I won't
compromise what's
in my heart.
It means I live my life MY way.
It means I won't allow anyone to step on me.

When I refuse to
tolerate injustice and
speak against it, I am
defined as a
bitch.

The same thing happens when I take time for
myself instead of being everyone's maid, or when I act a little selfish.

It means I have the courage and strength to allow myself to be who I truly am and won't become anyone else's idea of what they think I 'should' be.

I am outspoken, opinionated and determined. I want what I want and there is nothing wrong with that! So try to stomp on me, just try to douse my inner flame, try to squash every ounce of beauty I hold within me. You won't succeed.

And if that makes me a bitch, so be it. I embrace the title and am proud to bear it.




*** end ***



- a nit-picking ultra-feminist woman's libber....




Disclaimer:
This is NOT to be associated with the Middle Eastern version of "bitch" meaning whore or slut, but the Western version meaning bossing.

Name that vine!


Does anyone have an idea what the name of this vine is? It is growing on (covering!) a fence in Rumaithiya. I took a few clippings, put them in water, and they are growing like monsters. I love it, but I just have no idea what it is. Help?
(There is bamboo in the same vase - the vine with the flower in the foreground is what I am trying to identify).


Kuwait's Job Market

I wrote this article a while back and it has been published in several places. Thought it was about time to share with my blog buds...

The job market in the US is relatively easy. Even if you don’t have a full-time job, you can always find something part time or on a temporary basis. I knew the rules of the game and how to play them. Send out a few resumes and you would at the very least get an acknowledgement card, if not a phone call or interview. If you signed on with several temporary or contract agencies, you could even bid yourself against them to negotiate a higher hourly rate.

On my first visit to Kuwait as a tourist in 1993, I knew nothing about Kuwait’s job market. I thought that if I liked Kuwait enough, I might try to find a job there. I had no idea how to go about it – and at the time, there wasn’t much on the internet about Kuwait. E-mail hadn’t really come into full-swing in Kuwait (or the US for that matter) yet. So, I did it the “old-fashioned way”, armed with my strong belief in the law of averages: I copied 300 resumes and cover letters, and stuffed them into 300 individually-labeled, stamped, and sealed envelopes and sent them all airmail to potential employers in Kuwait. I also sent same to all the ministers at all the ministries, hoping to get something. I mentioned the dates that I would be available in Kuwait for interviews. Out of the 300 resumes I sent, I received 50 responses. Out of the 50 responses, I had five solid interviews when I came to Kuwait.

The most interesting-sounding entailed work with a holding company which included a travel agency, car rental agency, and a hip restaurant housed in one building. I had four hour-long interviews with the company; lots of tea, lots of smiles, lots of small talk; nothing definitive. At the end of the interview process, I finally was able to meet the General Manager, who made me an offer of a whopping KD 150 per month with no further benefits. I explained that my housekeeper in the States makes more than that and left his office feeling deflated and frustrated for having wasted so much of my time.

I had received several intriguing calls from the office of an Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice, asking me to stop by and see the gentleman, Mr. Jamal Al-Shehab, when I arrived in Kuwait. One of my letters to one of the ministers had fallen on his desk and he literally took it as a personal mission to help me. He sent me on several interviews with his friends, and an offer was made to me by an IT company; which is how I eventually came to live in Kuwait. Ironically, Mr. Al-Shehab is the former Minister of Social Affairs, Labor and Justice. At first, I thought, ‘Nothing is for free’ and wondered if there was some ulterior motive for helping me, but sometimes in Kuwait, I have found that it is just the way it goes. Like everywhere else, there are sometimes random acts of kindness; and timing and luck (and good marketing skills) are everything.

Kuwait has made big strides in the job market; although it may not appear that way to people coming from Western countries. At least now, there are reputable recruitment agencies and websites for job-seekers. Print media has a lot to catch up on with only ¾ page of job ads in English dailies – if you are lucky – compared to 20+ pages in any papers employment section in any major American city. Still, compared to the few-and-far-between ads in the early 90’s, it is currently a much better situation.

How can you determine what type of compensation you can expect in the local market? First, talk to people and ask their opinions. Salary surveys are extremely hard to come by in Kuwait and are generally expensive for purchase. Bayt.com, in my opinion, has the best readily-available statistical information on human resources in the area (which is a blessing as there is an obvious lack of any statistical information in the region). Bayt posts their reports directly on their website.

A common concern in Kuwait is the question of job security: in my opinion, it is a common problem in the US, but even more of a problem here; especially for expats. Bayt.com’s 2007 Human Resource Overview: Salaries, Cost of Living and Loyalty: “The average length of time holding a job in the polled countries ranged from 4.7 years in the UAE to 5.8 years in Kuwait and Bahrain. In the past 5 years most people have changed jobs at least once with the average number of jobs held in the past 5 years ranging from 2 in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to 2.3 in Kuwait and 2.4 in Qatar.” Be prepared to change jobs and always have a back-up plan: network and discuss consulting opportunities. A note of warning: If you have a credit card which is secured to your salary account and you suddenly don’t have an incoming salary anymore, local banks can withdraw the full balance owed on your credit card from your salary account. Meaning, you may not have cash readily available if you suddenly lose your job. Obviously, if you lose your job, you will be disheartened, depressed and weary. The easiest remedy is to hop on a plane to your home country and lick your wounds (maybe even find a temp job for a while). However, if you enjoy living in Kuwait, seize the opportunity and start pounding the pavement. Don’t limit your opportunities to just Western companies – scour the market.

Monster.com and Bayt.com are probably the recruitment sites with the most listings of jobs in Kuwait. Recruiters such as MRI and Clarendon Parker can also be called upon as resources by job seekers, but ultimately self-marketing is the key. When friends ask me about finding a job in Kuwait, I immediately recommend two books (available in local book and office supply stores): The Kuwait Pocket Guide and the Kuwait Top List. Both guides list e-mail addresses; the Kuwait Top List goes further and lists company contacts, business sectors, working hours, and number of employees. I recommend that job seekers “blanket the market” with resumes: send resumes and cover letters to as many e-mail addresses as they can possibly gather. Perceive finding a job as a new job and go about it with the same amount of enthusiasm, creativity, and driven determination that one would in any posting. Someone always knows someone who needs someone in Kuwait. There is an obvious problem with confidentiality, but if you are desperate to find a job, e-mail shots will help you gain interviews – and at least a foot in the door to potential employers. There are no temporary agencies in Kuwait, but sometimes you can negotiate consultancy work or part-time work if you are cleaver about it.

I have had several jobs since 1996, when I finally started working here full-time. I lost my first job with the IT company with a major management restructuring. They couldn’t disclose the restructure at the time and I couldn’t understand why I was losing my job. The management wasn’t exactly kind in their explanation: choosing not to provide a reason. Alone without family in Kuwait, I stayed locked in a fetal position in tears for several days before my big job hunt started again. For nearly eight months, I worked at various jobs until I found something permanent. I tried to target companies that I thought could use my skills (which is what we obviously all try to do), but I also met with companies that I thought could use a westerner in particular (working for law firms and even doing voice-overs at KTV).

As a job seeker, don’t give up. There is always a long delay to get a job here. The concept of time is different than it is in the Western world. In the Middle East, emphasis is more “in the here and now” in relation to time seemingly rather than related to definitive time-related goals and deadlines. One of the most common words in the Middle East is, “Inshallah” (God willing). Time and goals are connected to spiritual belief that it will happen by God’s will, with a distinct lack of urgency on when. I have seen many western friends get frustrated by the lack of understanding of this concept when living/working in the Middle East. It has equal application when it comes to the time it takes to get a job and starting work.

Recruiters and Employment Sites for Kuwait (send me your link if you want it posted)

http://www.bayt.com/

http://www.monster.com/

http://www.wazeefa1.com/index.php

http://www.mri-kuwait.com/

http://www.axis-solutions.net/

http://www.globalcareersearch.com/

http://www.sosrecruitment.net/

http://www.prolinks-kw.com/

http://www.clarendonparker.com/

http://allarabia.com/

http://www.gulfjobsites.com/jobs/Kuwait/Recruitment_Agents/

http://www.adnargroup.com/

http://www.gulfconnexions.com/

mriww@mri-kuwait.com

http://www.krbonline.com

jobs@axis-solutions.net

anton@globalcareersearch.com

ceo@gec-web.com

http://www.prolinks-kw.com/

Learn4Good

http://www.naukrigulf.com/

http://www.indeed.com/


US Companies in Kuwait:

SAIC (select “Kuwait” from country list)

US4 (Northrop Grumman, KBR, Chenega partnership for KBOS3): http://www.us4kuwait.com/

Dyncorp: http://www.dyncorprecruiting.com/

Jacobs Engineering

ITT

Agility Logistics (really a Kuwaiti-owned company that hires lots of westerners)

MPRI

List of Recruiters in Kuwait


Good Luck!

Monday, November 02, 2009

No need for the same old parliament BS

No need for ''radical solutions'' to Bedouns issue: AlـDuwaisan
Al Watan Daily, 2 November, 2009
KUWAIT: MP Faisal AlـDuwaisan said that the Cabinet''s decision to form a committee to look into the issue of Bedouns (stateless Arabs) is a "positive move" accredited to the government. In a press release forwarded to Al Watan, he hoped that the committee "will be just and really seeks to develop realistic solutions in order to do justice to the Bedouns and put an end to their suffering." He also warned of "not developing radical solutions to this serious issue."

What happened to naturalizing 2000 Bedouns per year? That’s not drastic. That’s what a former parliament passed. Isn’t the BS ever going to end? Committees to form committees to discuss committees to form committees and what gets done – NOTHING. Confront the problem, resolve the problem, move on. It is a national disgrace to Kuwait. Anyone who doesn’t believe it – take a drive up to Sulaibiya. Kuwait – one of the richest countries in the world, with it’s own shanty town that the entire country turns a blind eye to.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Put on Your Happy Face, Kuwait! ... Or not....

Kuwait 'unhappiest' in Middle East region
01 November 2009, By Ahmad Saeid, © Kuwait Times 2009

KUWAIT: In recently released international report that lists countries worldwide according to the happiness levels, Kuwait was placed at the bottom in the Middle East region. It was also ranked the least among all other Arab countries. On a global scale, Kuwait ranked 128th just 15 places above Zimbabwe, the unhappiest country in the world. The report called 'Happy Planet Index' (HPI) was compiled by the New Economic Foundation (NEF), a UK based organization, that aims to "challenge the mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues," the organization's website information page states.

The report, however, measures HPI according to indicators such as life expectancy, life satisfaction, and ecological footprint. The latter serves as a defining factor that gauges the advancement societies make towards achieving the balance between lower carbon emissions and a well-rounded lifestyle.

The NEF does challenges the common notion that the GDP is a good enough indicator to measure countries' development. Arguing that "a government that took GDP too seriously would be pleased to see people paying for things that are normally done for free, such as domestic labor - as this would increase GDP growth. It would measure, as a positive, wars that are required the manufacture and sale of military equipment, the building and maintenance of prisons, or the increased rate of divorces requiring expensive legal services," the report adds.

Some of the results indeed challenge the notion that GDP is a satisfactory indicator of a nation's well-being. Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, the leading country in the overall index results, with a life expectancy of 78.5 years, has a GDP per capita of $10,180 when compared to Kuwait's life-expectancy of 77.3 years with a GDP per capita of $26,321 that places it in 34th place with a GDP per capita that occupies the 22nd position.

In the area of life satisfaction , Kuwait is placed in 50th position. Scoring 6.7 out on a scale of 10 points, Kuwait is placed fourth in the Arab world behind KSA, UAE and Egypt, and occupies the fifth spot in the Middle East. Interestingly, Israel has been placed ahead of Egypt in the ranking.

The third area, ecological footprint, is where Kuwait takes a nose-dive. "To achieve one-planet living, a country must keep its ecological footprint below the level that corresponds to its fair share given the world's current bio-capacity and population - 2.1 global hectares (gha) as set in the year 2005.

In this segment, Kuwait fares the poorest among four countries in the world behind Luxemburg, UAE, and USA, with an ecological footprint of 8.9 global hectares, compared to only 1.7 gha in Egypt, the happiest Arab country, according to the report.

A happy planet? Perhaps not. Looking at the world's population as a whole, the mean life expectancy is just 68.3 years. Life satisfaction is only 6.1 and we are overshooting our ecological limits with a mean footprint of 2.4 gha. The planet's overall HPI score of 49 out of 100 reflects the fact that humanity as a whole has much to change if we are to live long, happy lives that do not cost the Earth," the report concludes.


Thanks for sending that to me, Amer. Now I have something (else) to blame!

Al-Setinat Kuwaiti Restaurant - Hawalli




I found a new Kuwaiti restaurant this weekend. The Man has known about it for a long time, but he didn't share this info with me. Payback will be a bitch...

Al-Setinat is on Beirut Street in the building next to Boubyan Bank - kind of diagonally across from Beirut Center and not too far from Tunis Street. It is on the 1st floor.

They had the bestest gaymat. Totally yummy. I can say "bestest" in retaliation to all the spelling and grammar mistakes on their menu. Even their business card says, "Kuwaitian Foods".

The restaurant is very clean and light. It is similar in decor to Freej Swailah only you don't get a feeling of claustrophobia because the aisles are bigger.


I hate Hawalli in general, but I would definately make an exception to visit this restaurant again.


We had machboos lamb and they gave you huge chunks of really really really fresh and tender meat. I had mrubian which was a mistake. Didn't like it at all. It wasn't done the way I was used to it and none of the shrimp were de-veined (which I usually don't even consider, but this time it was really obvious).

Another difference from Freej is the service: Freej's waiters/waitresses just got off the bus from I-Hate-Everything-and-I'm-Taking-It-Out-On-You-Land (the business owner must treat them very badly for them to be so upset all the time). The guys in Setinat were very friendly and ran around the room making sure that customers had what they needed.

They have all the Kuwaiti good stuff on the menu. I will have to go back to ask for another menu because I can't remember it all now. I'm definately going back, though.

Al-Setinat's numbers are 2266557 or 2266559. AND THEY DELIVER!!!