Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sexism knows no boundaries

For some reason, it has been a very sexist week. Several of my friends have told me stories of blatant sexism and then I've had a few stories of my own.

One of my friends discussed recruiting procedures with a European male colleague this week. He stated that the way he recruited at one location was to line up the female applicants, then hire all the ones with the largest breasts.

My sister is going to sell her business in the States.  This week, she had a group of 40-ish men approach her to buy it.  They insisted that her business must have woman-owned status.  Of course they did!  How else could she have become so successful if it weren't for the Government giving her a disadvantaged status? Certainly not on her own merit.

I met with a British business person this week so that I could consult on some work.  I can't write everything he said here (yeah yeah, that's right - even I have boundaries on how vulgar I will be online).  It all started with, "You ARE yummy, aren't you?" (imagine it in your head said by Austin Powers with a Briddish accent while dude stares into your breasteses) and went downhill from there. Discussion of "downtown" and how great that is... yada.

An Italian representative of a Kuwaiti tourism company referred to me several times as "Mr." in correspondence, then insisted that the rates they have offered (to me, as "Mr.") do not apply to single women - as single women don't make up the "leisure" market in Kuwait. According to him, there is a law in Kuwait which stipulates that single women do not have to be given rooms (is this true?) and it is up to the hotels to determine if they want female customers.  Well dayam, that's a pretty big market loss, isn't it?  What about professional working women like me who would love to drop some money on spa services and a room, pool, beach:  Aren't we allowed to take care of your "offers"?  What kind of a "tourism" policy is that?

Note that none of these "gentlemen" is Arab.  Personally, I have had very few problems with Arab men in all the years that I've been here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guided Tours of Kuwait: Narodna

A reader has asked me to post this.  GLADLY.  It is about someone created tour packages with reasonable prices and reasonable terms and conditions (like reasonable numbers of minimums).  Good on ya. 

Now, for the love of God, will someone please publish chalet and farm rentals in English with English speaking agents?

Unlike Nuzha Tours, these guys don't have a minimum number of people necessary to take the tours, so if you have someone visiting, they are really convenient.

"Are you fed up with the shopping malls and the same restaurants? Do you yearn to see a piece of the real Kuwait?

Guided tours can be arranged for your enjoyment with a bilingual guide and driver who can pick you up from your hotel/house/apartment and drop you back.

Option 1:
Dickson House, Sadu House, Kuwait National Museum, Harem Souk, Heritage Souk (include set menu traditional dinner)
12 KD per person

Option 2:
Kuwait Modern Art Museum, Kuwait National Museum, Gulf War Museum, shopping in Harem Souk and Heritage Souk (include set menu traditional dinner)
12 KD per person

Option 3:
Kuwait Modern Art Museum, Maritime Museum, traditional heritage café,(include set menu traditional dinner),shopping in Harem souk and Heritage Souk
12 KD per person

Option 4:
For those who like shopping (Friday and Saturday)
Friday Market, Iranian Souk, Material Souk, traditional heritage café,(include set menu traditional dinner),shopping in Harem Souk and Heritage Souk
12 KD per person

Option 5:
Full day on Morqab Farm (dogs, sheep, goats, chickens, fish pond, etc) with traditional kuwaiti lunch, bbq dinner in evening with shisha, complimentary arabian tea, coffee and soft drinks.
(6 persons min)
10 KD per person

Option 6:
Camel racing (December to March) with dinner at Morqab Farm, including shisha, complimentary Arabian tea, coffee and soft drinks.
10 KD per person

Contact us on email:, or mobile:  (965) 6510-0772

- End -

If anyone takes the tours, let me know your feedback.

Kuwait in the New York Times

And heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go, folks....
When you receive an Embassy Notification about demonstrations - It will either be because people are demonstrating against corruption; or because of the Bidun issue (which is yet another form of corruption)...

New York Times - Corruption Inquiry Rocks Kuwait
CAIRO — Two of Kuwait’s largest banks thought it a bit suspicious when about $92 million was transferred into the accounts of two members of Parliament.

So the National Bank of Kuwait and the Kuwait Finance House alerted the public prosecutor, who decided last week to open an investigation not just into those suspicious deposits, but also into the account activity of seven other members of Parliament, as well.

Kuwait is a wealthy nation that has managed to appease the public and avoid the kind of tumult that has swept other Arab nations. But even in Kuwait, where allegations of corruption and kickbacks are endemic, the sheer size of the deposits has set off a fury that is rocking the oil-rich country. Not to mention that investigations, so far, involve 9 of just 50 total members of Parliament.

“This is becoming the Kuwaiti Watergate,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University. “The reaction at the popular level is that this is proof that the existing government has failed the people. In this context more demands for the resignation of the government are now heard.”

Late last month, the Kuwaiti news media first broke the news that the country’s two largest banks were alarmed by multimillion-dollar transfers into the accounts of lawmakers, said Nasser al-Sane, a former lawmaker who now teaches business at Kuwait University.

But even as public anger soars, the government has remained tight-lipped about the case, only fueling public suspicions, rumor and speculation. In that environment, popular anger at the royal family, and in particular the prime minister, Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has flourished.

“We still have been given no information about the source of this money or who received it,” said Ebtihal al-Khatib, a longtime democracy activist. “Everything is a rumor, and that is one reason people are so angry and have come together, because we want more information. We want to know names, and we want to know the dates they will be tried in court.”

The corruption inquiry threatens to put the government into an impossible position, Mr. Ghabra said. If the emir allows Parliament to remain in place while at least one-fifth of its members are investigated for graft, he risks the growth of ever larger street protests and an erosion of public trust. But if he dissolves Parliament and calls for new elections, public outrage could help usher in a legislature hostile to the monarchy and more assertive in demands for constitutional changes.

“All that the government has in its hand is money, and it thinks it can use it to buy itself time,” Mr. Ghabra said, “but this scandal came about because the government has been using money to buy loyalty” from lawmakers. “We are getting more and more into a situation where money cannot solve the country’s problems. Those who have it do not use it wisely, and the result is a scandal like this that carries a very high political cost.”

Kuwait’s political system has long been seen as one of the most freewheeling in the Persian Gulf, a region whose politics are dominated by absolute monarchs. The emir of Kuwait, Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, is the undisputed head of state, and forming political parties is illegal, but the country has an elected Parliament made up of a wide range of political factions, including socialists and Islamists. The prime minister has always been a member of the royal family, appointed by the emir.

The government has relied on its vast oil wealth to provide Kuwaitis with cradle-to-grave care. But that same wealth has fueled corruption and fed public distrust, said a 2006 United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.

“The rapid rise in oil prices and the accompanying oil boom has fueled corruption in Kuwait,” the cable said. “Kuwaitis are increasingly beginning to ask where all this money is going.”

That undercurrent has burst into public with the latest revelations. Lawmakers have proclaimed their innocence in the local news media, urging Kuwaitis to join protests for the removal of the prime minister planned for this week and demanding that banks throw open their ledgers for investigators. But the royal family has so far remained silent. The emir and the prime minister are in the United States to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, and Parliament is in recess until October.

Observers say the scandal has erupted at a time when Kuwait’s leadership faces challenges on multiple fronts.

For months, Kuwait City has seen sporadic, if mostly small, demonstrations demanding the removal of the prime minister and a move toward constitutional monarchy, Ms. Khatib said. Those demands, she said, have only grown in light of the corruption probe.
Thousands of public-sector employees are also on strike, demanding higher wages and expanded benefits, and opposition lawmakers have urged them to join antigovernment protests. In an interview with The Kuwait Times, Ahmed al-Saadoun, a member of Parliament, said the strikes “could signal the beginning of a collapse because we have a failed and incapable government.”

Thanks to the Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait Blog for posting about this. 
Fasten your seatbelts.  We're in for a bumpy ride.
I think it is also interesting that this comes on the tail-end of a trip to New York by the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Sabah. He addressed the UN on September 22nd to reiterated Kuwait's full support for Palestinian UN membership.

Hey, what about Bidun's rights to membership of society/citizenship in Kuwait?  Charity begins at home.

Music of Nawaf alGheraibah

I got a nice note from a reader who said,

“I was wondering if you would check out my husbands music on  It's free to download to the general public, and the music is like nothing any other Kuwaiti has done before... it was his project for his masters degree in composition...  Just wanted to share the love.”

I really like it when I receive this type of mail, so I am happy to write about it.  I also like the fact that his wife wrote to me and she is obviously proud of him.  His music is very interesting and the website allows you to download the entire album.  I love anything culturally diverse and Nawaf sounds like he’s had a fascinating journey.. so far.

A composer who enjoys breaking cultural boundaries through music; Nawaf alGheraibah, is a half Kuwaiti, half Indian/Portuguese musician, whose music is an expression of his rich multicultural influences. A postgraduate student at the University of Southampton, UK. Gheraibah is completing his degree in composition, and is currently employed at the Higher Institute of Musical Arts, Kuwait.
    Spending most of his time traveling between Europe, the Middle East, and India, Gheraibah enjoys exploring independent and traditional music. At a young age, Gheraibah primarily played the piano and guitar; though through his travels, he also picked up and learned the Tabla (or indian drums) the Indian Sitar, the Arabian lute (oud) the Indian flute, and the Aboriginal digireedo, to name a few.

    Gheraibah believes music is not confined to one form. Instead, he finds that blending the music of many cultures produces coherent and spiritually awakening music. He enjoys experimenting with different cultural sounds, and mixing them in order to find new forms of music within the fusion of diversely different cultures.

He especially enjoys traditional tribal instruments; such as bamboo flutes, or the African Kora, which he believes contain a raw human dimension to them: “A human touch which is lacking in todays digital music age.”

    A spiritual person by nature, Gheraibah finds music to be a form of enlightenment; a source of relaxation: a deep meditation. Music connects to the human soul like no other form of art, it is a deep expression of human emotion. Gheraibah believes music should be cherished and valued as one of the most ancients of human arts. An art he believes is slowly dying away with the modern media: “Music has lost all expression of human emotion, and is instead mass manufactured and void of any significant thought.”

    In the end, Nawaf hopes his music would influence people to explore the many historical sounds humans have created through their journey on this earth. Gheraibah hopes that people would appreciate the many forms of spiritual and emotional expression one can portray through sound. The power of music has the ability to move the masses, its ability to do so is one of the most beautiful mysteries of life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Rally" vs "Demonstration"

Hmm... interesting choice of titles in the Arab Timesand Kuwait Times today.  The anti-corruption demonstration held downtown was termed a "rally" whereas the demonstration for Bidun rights was deemed a "demonstration."

Arab Times:
"KUWAIT CITY, Sept 21: Thousands of Kuwaiti protesters called on Wednesday for the resignation of the prime minister and the government over an alleged corruption scandal involving several MPs. In one of the strongest show of force, more than 5,000 protesters attended the opposition-sponsored rally in the capital Kuwait City amid tight security measures by hundreds of policemen and elite special forces. “For the sake and interests of this country, we urge the Amir to dismiss the prime minister immediately,” said Islamist opposition MP Faisal Al-Muslim as the crowds chanted: “Go out.”

"...Elsewhere in Jahra, the scheduled Bedoun demonstration did not get the needed response as security was very tight in preparedness for the proposed demonstration. According to a security source quoted by Al-Seyassah daily, the authorities took all measures and set up barriers and checkpoints inside the areas in anticipation of the demonstration."

Interesting.  "Democracy" is subjective, eh? Kuwait Times used both terms in their story about the corruption demonstration.  Oddly, Alwatan Daily had nothing on their opening page about the demonstrations.
Kuwait Times estimated the anti-corruption crowd at 70,000 whereas Arab Times had the figure at 5,000.  Huh.  Gee, I wonder why that is.

I have been here since 1996.  There have never been strikes nor demonstrations against the government since I've been here. 

I've heard a lot of expat friends say recently, "Arab Spring won't come to Kuwait. Why should the Kuwaitis demonstrate?  They have it all and the Government gives them everything. They should be happy."  Well, if you look at it one-sidedly, yes.  If you dig deeper, speak to Kuwaiti friends, and learn a little about the history of Kuwait, you'll see that the social problems currently occurring in Kuwait have not come up before.  A lot of people are not happy and a lot of people are getting much more organized in how they voice their concerns.  It should be interesting to see what will happen next in Kuwait.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Thanks to the "Emergency" notice to US Citizens (most likely) from (new) wardens at the Embassy, I'm now aware of the demonstrations and where they are. Thanks youse guys.

"An anti-corruption demonstration is planned for the early evening hours at Determination Square on Wednesday, September 21 in downtown Kuwait City." 

(By the by, in the spirit of "freedom":  Did you know that Determination Square is also a gay pick-up place in the evenings?  Just a little bit of trivia for ya thar.)

"There are also reports of possible demonstrations in support of Bidoon rights on Wednesday, September 21 in the cities of Jahra, Al-Sulaibyah and Al-Ahmadi." 

DG:  This is probably why Refugees International is in town to support the Bidoon in the demonstrations and document what takes place.  Awesome.  You go, RI!  Why Jahra, Sulaibiya and Ahmadi?  For several reasons:  many Bidoons can't get drivers licenses or own vehicles.  And many can't afford gas.  Why?  Because they have no nationality, are shunned by the system, and many do not have jobs or identification. How they gonna git away?  No git away car.  No git-away license.  Simple. What they gonna do?  Take the bus?  (Ergo the DEMONSTRATIONS.   Get educated. End the suffering.)

So, there are always alarmist people (usually newbies) who say, "Oh my GOD!  Demonstrations!  I'm going to bolt myself inside and wait a few days until they are over to go out."  Yeah, I know because I know some of those types.  Gimme a break!  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  Why are you HERE?  Nancys.

The only way I know there will BE demonstrations is through the US Embassy Warden Notifications (again, thank you. I pass the info along.) and 2) the only way I know there HAVE been demonstrations is the little pieces of information I can sew together from the Arab Times or other news agencies (and by the way - the really good stuff comes from Reuters or media in the UAE).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I do NOT need for Christmas

Don't get me these.  I don't like them.

I can think of other things I need for $2445 (KD674).  Yup.  But hey, if you are going to buy these shoes from the needless markup site, you can dontate money to disaster relief at the same time and feel less guilty about your purchase!  Yippee.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I drank sweat

I finally got up the nerve to drink the Sweat last night.  It has kind of a grapefruity taste, but not as good as Fresca used to be.  It wasn't really bubbly either, so you couldn't mix it well with anything.  Sweat is kind of a non-drink.  They say that Sweat is good for athletes, but it seems to lack the substance.

... Incase you were wondering.

Did you know? The single largest donation given to help the victims of hurricane Katrina

Sunday, September 4, 2005, the country of Kuwait pledged US$500 million in oil products and other aid to United States Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. It is the single largest donation given to help the victims of hurricane Katrina.  Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah explained, "The humanitarian aid is oil products that the devastated (U.S.) states need in these circumstances, plus other humanitarian aid to lessen the devastation these three states have been subjected to."

Al Sabah also stated that "It's our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a payback for the many situations during which Washington helped us through the significant relations between the two friendly countries." Kuwait is in fact one of the U.S.'s strongest allies in the Middle East, due to the U.S. protection of Kuwait in 1991 during the Gulf War.

Source:  LINK

I didn't know.  That's very interesting. 

Free the peddlers! Free the peddlers!

I can't even tell you how disturbing it is for me to see these articles/photos in the paper. 

Arab Times
Over 4,000 bottles seized as liquor peddling gang nabbed

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 18: Securitymen arrested a five-member gang for smuggling and trading in liquor with 4,248 bottles worth around KD 200,000 in their possession...."

Crap.  Another price hike.  What is the normal price (in the US) for "The National Drink of Kuwait" - Johnny Walker Red Label - around $14 a bottle? (Heavy sigh....)

When you know its time to start using the stairs

Arab Times – 19 September 2011

Women stall lift: Five old women were trapped inside the lift of a residential building in Saad Al-Abdullah area. Rescue workers and paramedics rushed to the location after the Operations Room received information on the incident. They helped the women out of the lift which, sources say, malfunctioned because the total weight of the women — 400 pounds — exceeded its capacity. No injuries were reported.

Hold please.

... wait a minute.... did they mean 400 kilos?  That would make more sense.  400 pounds means they were like 80 pounds a piece - which is rail-thin for an adult-sized woman. 

Tailors, Fabrics and other "get it made" stuff

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time once again for the season change in Kuwait and as such, time for me to remind you people about where to go to have clothes made.

Kuwait rocks when it comes to having stuff made:  Clothes, furniture, cabinets, drapes, even funky Indian shoes.  I've had all kindsa stuff made here (everything mentioned in that last sentence) and can make recommendations about where to go for each.

So let's start our talk with tailors.  Having recently been on a fabric-buying trip with Stella and M (to be nicknamed later), (and having our butts stared at by 4.2 hundred nasty men in the fabric souq)  I thought I would share the information I have learned about having clothes made here. 

You gotta start with the fabric and be ready to be disciplined.  The fabric souq downtown (map is on this post) is going to shake your discipline because you will see thousands of gorgous fabrics and you just "know" that  you can have something (anything) made from it.  So you buy it and then wonder what you will do with it.  (I'll get to "Where do I get it made?" in a minute.) Unfortunately, it is full of icky men (WHY?) who stare.  You'll also notice that Esmeralda and her sisters are in there buying fabrics for The Ball at any given time.  (Sometimes Esmeralda wants to jack your Western style, so she'll come rushing into the store to see what  you're buying while she rudely starts ordering the guy  helping YOU pick out fabrics what to pull out for her.  Out-diva the diva!)

The fabric souq - also known as "Block 9" is in downtown Kuwait.

The first building of stores (towards Mubarak Al-Kabeer Street) are more upscale and you can find baGORGEOUS fabrics for dresses, blouses, etc in silk, silk velvet, linen and other nice weaves.  I loves me some silk chiffon. Give it to me, baby (uh huh, uh huh..)

It also has men's fabric stores (light wool - "winter dishtasha" material; good for suiting for both men and women) and houses Karim Tailor (which is the best place in town to have men's suits, women's business suits, and coats made).  Karim Tailor is on the 2nd floor in the middle. Take Karim Tailors a favorite old wool coat and they can replicate it.

The first building also houses a lot of upholstery material shops.  Re-upholstering anything you have is less expensive than in the US/UK.  If you are indecisive (like me),  you can even have sofa/chairs made (to be discussed later in this post) with different slipcovers.  (I'm feeling a need to have some made even now as I'm writing this.)  You can have matching pillows, bedspread, and curtains made, fer example.  Nisssche. 

The 2nd building has less-expensive (and some hoochie-mama) fabrics and lots of notions stores.  It is also where you can find Indian Heritage.

Indian Heritage is one of my favorite fabric stores.  A lot of expats know the store.  It is the BEST place to get raw ("chanton") silk - in just about any imaginable color.  It sells for KD5($18) meter (which is way better than the $100/M it goes for in the US of Hey).  Indian Heritage also has all kindsa other awesome fabrics, ready-made Indian clothing, furniture, costume jewelry, bed and table linens, pillow covers and more.  It is a great place to stock up on Christmas gifts.  Indian Heritage is fixed price, but most of the other fabric stores are not, soooooo....Haggle!

If you want to have funky Indian shoes made (genie shoes that curl at the toes), there is a shop behind the 2nd building to the left as  you walk out.  I got my sister some genie shoes one year for Christmas. (Photo is similar - mine were way cute pink with sequins.)

NEGOTIATE!  Don't be timid.  "Akher shay" is how to ask for a better price.  Tell them what I do:  that I have 8 children, my husband was a Kuwaiti martyr and today is my birthday.  Work it!

Otay, for the ladies:  If you want to have a ballgown, dress, trousers, or even beadwork or embroidery, Elegance Tailors in Jabriya is THE place to go. Shams is your guy.  He is a wonderful tailor and pays close attention to detail.  Phone:  25325865.  Elegance is in the Commercial Block is behind Mubarak Hospital on the same street as the Philippines Embassy, Block 7, Street 103.  There are a lot of other shops in the building and many do really beautiful embroidery work.  Elegance is on the right (if you walk in from the front of the building) with wood panneling on the front.  (Again, Esmeralda might be there trying to push you out of the way - push back.  I do.)

Shams is very good, but you should make sure that you get properly fit when the item is finished.  He can also copy anything you bring him and if  you bring him your fabric and a photo, he'll make it for you.  Pattern?  We don't need no stinking pattern!   Do not EVER go to any tailor in Kuwait before Eid.  It isn't pretty.  Everybody and their mother is getting new clothes for Eid and there is a backlog.  Usually, anything takes about a week to complete.

Otay, so on to furniture.  Say you like a 10,000 designer sofa that you saw in the US of Hey (the one I liked was $6000 and shipping at $1500)... get a photo, get some dimensions, get your butt to Dajeej. Or maybe you saw an incredibly overpriced sofa or other piece of furniture at a local store.  Sneak photos, but be discreet.  Most places are onto the furniture copying trick.   The place I had my sofa made in Dajeej is no longer there.  I would recommend that you visit several shops and look at their work.  Then, start asking for quotations on how much they would make it for.  I recommend picking out your fabric FIRST (a lot of the fabrics in Dajeej are less expensive but of a lesser quality than what you would find at the Fabric Souq), and then have the furniture makers in Dajeej tell you how much fabric you will need.  Sometimes, you can bring a swatch and a card from the fabric store, and let the furniture makers buy it cheaper for you.  If you can take an Arab with you to the furniture maker, it is even better because they will haggle the sh&t out of it.  My sofa took about 10 days to make.  Don't be afraid to make them make adjustments if it isn't perfect - it is YOUR money and YOUR furniture. (I heard a lot of blah blah blah about why they couldn't - whatever - and one scream settled it.)

There are also carpenters in Dajeej - just drive around.  They can make dining room tables, chairs, cabinets - all kinds of stuff.   There are carpenters in Shuwaikh too (off Canada Dry Street - near where the banks are near 55 - Airport Road).  Those guys make ANYTHING:  Chairs, doors, cabinets, room dividers, outdoor benches/furniture.  It is way cool just to go there and check them out.

So, here are the maps.     Have fun.

Fabric Souq downtown.

Elegance Tailors in Jabriya.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Calling Bidun Women in Kuwait

A representative from Refugees International is in Kuwait and would like to meet with Bidun ("stateless" - no nationality) women to discuss their personal stories; life, obstacles, what it is like for them and their children to have no nationality in Kuwait.  It is extremely important that stateless people share their personal experiences so that others can understand the situation.  No one else can be their voice.

As you may know, RI has been instrumental in bringing the Bidun cause to global attention through their reporting and activism.  They have published numerous reports (check out here). 

Please pass the word to Bidun friends who can get in contact directly with the RI rep.  Contact e-mail is

Refugees International website is

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kuwaiti Bidun men will be facing court for protesting: Mona Kareem

Re-posted directly from Mona Kareem's blog:

Mona says,

"This February, after the Arab spring hit our streets, the Stateless (Bidun) youth of Kuwait went in protests in their areas (Taimaa, Sulaibiya, and Ahmidy) where the government has worked for years into isolating them. The Bidun are 100,000 in number equaling by that 10% of Kuwaiti population. I do not want to explain once again who are the Bidun and what they are going through, as you can check this label "Bidun" in my blog to know more in details.
My father has always described democracy in Kuwait being "as weak as a chocolate bar" referring to how this alleged "democracy" is an exclusive right for certain people/classes in Kuwait. We saw a Shiaa tweep getting arrested and banned from family visits by state security police months ago because he bashed the Saudi and Bahraini regimes, we saw Egyptians getting deported for protesting in front of their embassy in support of Al-Baradi last year, and in support of their revolution this year. We have also witnessed police brutality against hundreds of Kuwaiti youth protesting in February and March for their rights of documentation, health, education, and citizenship. 
Around 100 Bidun youth were investigated by the state security police for over a week (Investigation is not limited to questions and answers, as you can imagine of an Arab regime). Kuwaiti Human Rights association has met with those who were investigated, later released, and documented how they were tortured and harrased. When contacting one of the association's members, she told me that those agreed to speak asked to keep their cases confidental in fear of facing SS again. 
On the coming 18th of December, 48 Kuwaiti Bidun men will be facing court for protesting. In Kuwait, "the country of chocolate-democracy", those who are not Kuwaitis are not allowed to protest for whatever reason. Citizens are asked to get a permission for protesting, and might not face trouble if they do not, depending on the nature of their protest. Those 48 men where bailed out paying 6$ each except for one man who payed 3000$ because he confessed to have been the mastermind of those protests, sending text messages to others to join the protests. 
Last June, Human Rights Watch, for the first time, organized a conference in Kuwait on the case of Bidun, gathering authorities and Bidun activists to reach a proposed solution. Kuwait, for sure, gave promises and started to give some birth and marriage certificates, only to back again and fire some Bidun from their jobs, confiscate some passports, and stop issuing Identification cards. The situation is swinging and speculations cannot be "logically" made. 

I ask all activists, international organizations, and human rights groups to stand with the Bidun who will be facing trials for their natural right of protesting. This inhuman discrimination needs to be stopped, and human's right of free speech should not be negotiated anymore."

K'sPath Golf Tournament

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you on this day ten years ago?

I was at home in Kuwait watching Good Morning America with Dianne Sawyer.  As she reported about the 1st plane hitting, the 2nd one hit.  I terrified because my mother was travelling that day; possibly thru Boston to NY. After 2nd plane hit and I watched it live on TV, I sat in my living room crying my eyes out, thinking she was on that plane, until I knew she was ok.  I'm sure my neighbors must have heard me because I was scream-sobbing so loud. 

My sister was in her office in VA close to Dulles airport in the DC area. I called her and she didn't know it had happened; thought I was being a nuissance (she was in the middle of her sales meeting) and hung up on me!  I guess I wasn't too coherent and probably made no sense, shouting, 'Where is mom!  Where is mom!'  Within minutes, fighter jets were flying over her office, cell phone service was down, and she was rushing to get her son from school - like every other parent in the Mid-Atlantic region. The roads were full of emergency service vehicles and the fighter jets continued circling.  Employees in my sisters office had family members who worked at the Pentagon and couldn't get through to them on phones.

I felt very very alone sitting in my apartment in Kuwait.  The most horrific thing for me was seeing people jumping from the towers to escape burning to death.  When the plane hit the Pentagon, (I later found out) my friends living close by felt it from their homes.  There were immediate reports that car bombs were being detonated around the DC area and no one knew what would hit next. Everyone was sad and confused.  It was like the end of the world.

My Kuwaiti friends started calling me right away; asking if I needed anything and expressing their compassion and support; some were crying. Nobody could believe it.  It still looked like an action movie and it couldn't be real.  TV channels repeated the scenes over and over again.

Some people in a high rise across the street from my building in Salmiya put out a huge American flag on their balcony.  They took it down right away - probably not wanting to be a target.

The next day, I was crossing a street downtown and some (foreign Arab) young men were celebrating in the street and shouted at me that they were happy at what had happened.  It was shocking and scary.  I just put my head down and started crying again.  How could people be so heartless?   I heard that Kuwait immediately deported several groups of young Palestinian men (along with their families) who were celebrating in the street and handing out candies (maybe the same guys who harrassed me).
My cousin, a nurse who lived in Alaska, travelled to New York to volunteer and work at ground zero.  She, like others, were shocked that there were no need for medical crews following the fall of the towers.  She told me about the rescue dogs that accompanied their team and how they had to bring them down from the wreckage of the towers because their paws were getting burnt from the still-hot wreckage even days later.

For those of us who have worked hard - either personally or professionally - to promote better Arab/Western relations  (in small or large ways), 9-11 was a terrible shock to the system.  My thoughts turned to how my Moslem friends in the US would be treated and would feel.  We all know that travel to the US from the GCC declined drastically after 9-11.  When I went to Virgina last month, I noticed that there are a lot more Gulf Arabs than there have been in previous years either visiting or living in/around DC.  It has been a sloooooow process to get things back to normal.

I think most Americans have personal stories of how 9-11 affected them.  We all know where we were that day and perspectives of how much things have changed since.  I still can't believe that it has been 10 years.  It still hurts to see the photos and listen to the stories and it feels very recent.

Why the rude?

I started my weekend off being blocked in by a car in our underground parking garage at work.  I was wrongly parked in a space that I thought belonged to our company.  I shoulda paid more attention to the sign (in Arabic), but I've seen other people from our company park there before, so I didn't think anything of it.  Anyways, there are usually lots of other spaces and it is no big deal.  If someone needs to block someone else in for any reason, they leave their number on their windshield incase you want them to move it. In this case, not only was the person blocking my car in, but blocking a big portion of the way out of the lot.  I called the hariss, he went to the company.  A nice guy came down and agreed that it was "not nice thing to do" to block my car.  A while later, a woman came down, all full of attitude, flanked by 3 men.  WTF, did they think we were going to fist fight?  Did she bring her lawyers with her?  I apologized, she was haugthty and arrogant.  I told her, in a regulated tone with a smile, that regardless, I wouldn't block anyone the way she did to me - without a note, that it wasn't nice. Diva's boy-band back-up singers agreed with me - nodding in understanding and agreement.  There might be some reason why someone would need to park in the space.  She told me that I live in an Arabic speaking country and I should learn Arabic.  I told her she should learn who she is dealing with before instigating "unrest". You betta check yourself before you wreck yourself.   Perhapsee I shoulda just slammed it into reverse and jack up her circa 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix.  I just got in my car and had some words for her (although this time I didn't use dirty words), leaving her out there screeching, "What did she zay?  What did she zay?" ... guess she wanted more.  Perhapsee if it hadn't happened in the parking lot where I worked, I would have given her more (I need to at least try to keep outward appearances, n'est pas?)

(Insert here:  A million fantasies of what I COULD do in retaliation....  Fantasies of grabbing her by the garb and punching her lights out.  Fantasies of how her beater car would look after my rental 4X with full coverage insurance - and the ability of immediate replacement vehicle - repeatedly slammed into it.  Fantasies of a Louisville slugger going through her windshield. And, perhaps notsomuch a fantasy:  calling beloved wastah at the traffic department for the sudden appearance of traffic fines on her record...  Yada.  Elevated blood pressure.... anger, anger....rrrr. )

Southern Bedu told me that if it ever happens again, I should call the police:  They'll have the car towed and ticketed.  He also advised me that if anyone starts talking to me that way again, just to wave my hand, Kuwaiti-style and say, "En zain.  Yala!  Yalaaaaaa khalass!" ....Yeah, I shoulda.  Hindsight.  Sometimes the only way to out-diva a diva is by becoming a bigger diva.

So anyhoo, not a good way to start off the weekend.

Rude, Part Deux:

Several weeks ago, Sir Software invited everyone at a "dinner" at my house that night, to a party at his chalet in 2 weeks.  "Bring your friends."  So, we invited several friends and my friends invited several of their friends; busy people with demanding jobs/little to no down time,  people who schedule things during the free time that they have. Southern Bedu went out and bought swim trunks (he didn't have any). I packed gear and I almost bought beach chairs.   It was to have been this past Friday.  Thursday rolls around and SS isn't answering his phone or returning text messages.  None of the other gang members have heard from him... So, I texted friends who I invited and told them it was off.  SS is a friend of Pookey's and bless her heart, she tried to make ammends for him, but alas, there is just no excuse.  Game over.

Rude, Part Trois:

So we decide to get together with some friends on Friday night.  One of my friends really offended another friend and now everyone's feathers are ruffled. There has been a disturbance in the henhouse and there's a whole lot of clucking going on.  It is a delicate line for me to walk because I love both of them, but now I have a dilema because we get together every weekend and if it can't be smoothed over, I will have a hard time (yes, it's all about me again).  It happened in my home, so it is difficult...

And I know you are reading this but you just can't talk that way.  You can't.  It is not okay. 

The Aftermath:

So all this left me craving comfort foods.  I have had several blonde moments lately where I'll order food online, wait and wait for delivery; only to discover that I forgot to press the "Submit Order" key.  Hardees is 2 nanoseconds away from me, so it wasn't such a big deal and I finally got my hamburger (although I could only eat half).  I couldn't even sleep last night.  I'm feeling really restless today and discontented like I want to be someplace else far far away.  I have built a contented, quality lifestyle for myself and all of a sudden, I feel like it is under attack from bad energy and I need a retreat.  Maybe I need to whip out my crystals and sage and cleanse the house.

Good energy:  Southern Bedu has been my rock lately.  He brings me pink roses every week and "Okay" or "Yes" are his responses to just about any whims that I have (like home projects, shopping, etc.).  He's off to look at rental chalets so we can do our own thing.  I have seriously seriously had enough rudeness for a while and I very much appreciate his kindness. 

 Time to cash in that massage voucher that Spanx gave me (thanks girl!  I love you and miss you!)  I should also get into Harmony House (which is just a rock's toss from where I live) and do some meditating.  OOOOOOOOOOsaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Service is My Joy Program through Loyac

Re-posted from Mark's blog.

I think this is VERY important for young people - especially since there aren't a lot of programs for young people here and they can't get part time jobs in the afternoons.  Work or volunteering teaches you valuable life skills and I think they're both blessings for youth.

Loyac just kicked off registration for their “Service is My Joy” program. The program aims to bring young people to serve their community and draw smiles on the faces of others, through volunteering in various centers such as:
Abeer 2
Down Syndrome Center
Kuwait Red Crescent
Kuwait Society for the Handicapped
Al-Kharafi Center
Foster Care Center
Elderly Care Center
Registration Terms:
- For youth of 15-27 years
- All nationalities are welcome
For registration and details contact:
Yusra Al Essa
Assistant Manager – Local Volunteering Programs
Telephone: +965 – 25727399 ext – 102
Address: LoYAC – Bayt Lothan – Next to Marina Mall – Salmiya
You could also sign up online by clicking [Here]

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nairobi, Kuwait

Isn't it about time that Kuwait got serious about money laundering?  For as long as I've been here, there has been talk about "anti-corruption committees".  Let's form a committee to form a committee to form a committee.  Then, nothing has to be done about it. 

I love these political cartoons, Bu Qutada & Bu Nabil.  I'm glad that they're in English.  (From Alwatan Daily)  Sorry, I couldn't enlarge any more.

Uncle Booger's Bumper Dumper

Along the lines of my previous GoGirl post...

As J (to be nicknamed later) says, "When you take care of your #1, you've gotta take care of your #2..."

The Bumper Dumper®
Includes frame for
2x2 hitch receiver
and toilet seat

"Use in Disaster Relief, Hurricane and Earthquake preparedness, and other situations where a sanitation situation may occur."

 I DARE someone to drive around Kuwait with this on their car.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

You GoGirl!

My mother gets a lot of old lady catalogs.  Baby boomers are gettin up there and they are fair game for retailers.  Well (disclaimer) she gets a gazillion catalogs because that's just another form of shopping and it is, of course, The Way of My People.

So this one particular old lady catalog has some fun and interesting items.  I guess the item below caught my eye because it's PINK.

Ladies!  When you are driving for miles through the desert to some of the "remote camps" - here is something just for YOU.  Desert camping this winter?  Little boat, no bathroom?  Can also be used to add engine oil.

Available from!  (They also have "as we age and don't have a partner anymore" products - cause everybody knows, the men die first.)

My friend just asked me if it is dishwasher safe.  That is just wrong.  ROFL!!!

Micknasuh Update

(Micknasuh is, according to reader, TisMe, the Arabic word for vacuum cleaner.)

This is what my
Wansa looks like.
Same color too.
19KD at Excite.

So this morning, I decided to use my new shiny red McNasuh to try it out.  HOLY SNAP!  OMG - the Wansa is way better than my Hoover was.  It almost chewed up a loose carpet through it's amazing sucking capability.  I LOVE IT.  It almost makes me wait in anticipation of a big dust storm (uh... noooooo).

I also had my outdoor lights installed last night (oh joy, oh happiness).  If anybody needs a referral for an electrician, I got a guy.  He took a long time, but did quality work and charged me next-to-nothing.

Tomorrow night I have a nail appointment.  (Why are you still reading this crap???)  I had a Shellac manicure in Virginia and I can't figure out how to get the stuff off.  Pookey told me that there are a few places around Kuwait that does it.  Let me tell you, girlfraynds, about Shalac.  It is the BEST.  It goes on like a regular nail polish, but lasts 2 weeks or more.  In fact, my nails have grown before the stuff wears off.  It comes right off with acetone, but I don't have any at home, so I'll just go get another manicure anyways.  It's way awesome.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Blood type OOOOOOOO

What blood group are you, and do you take it up the butt?

Arab Times
September 5, 2011
‘Indecent’ query: Scores of people — men and women, Kuwaitis and expatriates — are said to have expressed their dismay at the queries contained in the Blood Bank form which they have to answer prior to donating blood, reports Al-Mustaqbal daily.  It has been reported that donors are particularly embarrassed when it comes to answering the query No 30 pertaining to anal sex.  The daily added the Ministry of Health should test the samples of donated blood instead of making the donors answer embarrassing questions.

(Proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished.)

Hey, BTW, this post has nothing to do with the title of the next post - incase you were wonding.  Perv.  It's not my fault you have a dirty mind.

Little things make me happy

I had a GREAT Eid break.  So great that I felt that I needed to be re-trained when I got back to work yesterday.  I've been in slow-mo (although, Stella, I am managing to eek out a little work.  Really.  Honest.)  Stella is on vacation and sounds like she is on a REAL one this time.  She sounds relaxed and happy (mashallah).

So, back to me, me, me....

Southern Bedu (I'm not liking his nickname and I may have to change it soon) spent the whole week with me and I didn't even get sick of him.  Not once. Usually by about the 3rd day, I am already sick of anybody around (not just a man) and want some alone-time.  Not this time:  We had a really nice holiday. 

The only time he left was when he went to visit his family for Eid.  I sent flowers for his mommy.  He said she probably woudn't like flowers.  (WHAT woman doesn't like flowers?)  Anyhoo, he came back happy - with a huge bouquet of pink roses for me too.

We went to a friend's chalet with Special K, Pookey (K wanted me to call her "Lolli" but that just doesn't fit her.  She's about the same height as Snooky, and twice as adorable and way more elegant/intelligent/upper class, yet equally as perky.  She's cute like a pookey-bear so there it is.  Pookey.) and the chalet owner, Sir Software (not to be confused with "softie").  I posted about this before.  Pookey is recently married to Emiril of the East and is quite happy.  Emiril never leaves work, so Pookey hangs out with us and other circles of fascinating and interesting people.

SB and I went boating with Special K, his brother, and BamaMan.  It was SB's first time on a boat and I wanted to buy him water wings before we left (he can't swim). I asked for a life preserver.  He makes me giggle.  He's just a big, happy guy; always up for an adventure and always flexible about everything.  We went to eat and get SB sheesha-fied at Marina Crescent.  He told me later that sheesha there is like 7kd.  That's CRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAZY.  Expensive dirty nasty habit.

We had dinner at Spanx's house one night and got to spend more quality time with Berkini and Spanx's inlaws who are visiting from the States. SB helped them get Berkini's birth certificate which, as anybody in the know knows, is a major pain in the butt sometimes - exspecially for foreigners.   SB arrived late because he stopped to buy sweets and blocked traffic (I don't want to say "typical Bedouin guy" but hey... if the shumakh fits....) and the cops stopped him.  Cop said, "You look younger now than you do in your license photo.  What happened?"  He said, "Divorce." (tee hee.)  We had a great time at Spanx's as usual.  I love her inlaws.  Great people.  Good times.  Spanx did NOT look like she had given birth 11 days before.  She is always pretty, but she really snapped back from being out-to-here pregnant in a jiffy.

Had lunch with SB, Pookey and Butterfly on the weekend at Muhallab.  Slaps has been bagging out a lot lately. Tsk tsk. 

My man, SB, is very good at home projects.  I'm liking this.  We went to Shuwaikh to buy outdoor light fixtures and ended up at Abyat.  If you haven't ever been there, you should really go.  I'm a girl who LOVES hardware stores (and not just for the mancandy) and this one is really good.  Plus, it also satisfies my girlieness with all the pretty things and linens.  It ain't cheap, mind you.  I plunked down 70kd for a duvet cover and 4 pillow cases, but heeeeeey, they're nicsche (big pink peonies).  Oh, anyhoo, so... we were looking for outdoor lights - which proved to be way too expensive at Abyat (and they didn't have exactly what I was looking for).  We went across Canada Dry Street (which is the extension of 3rd Ring Road by the by) and went to one of the small lighting stores and bought some.  Bada BING.

My big thrill was the vacuum cleaner, however.  If you read back on my old posts, you will know how I was on a happy-high for seveal weeks after the purchase of my 1400 watts of sucking power Hoover a few years ago.  I'm not a cheap vacuum cleaner kinda gal; even IF I don't use it and my maid does.  It has always gots to be an upright with some wattage.  So, years have gone by and after several attempts at fixing it (WTF DO maids do with vacuum cleaners - I wanna know), I set out in search of a new one; in my LEAST favorite place in Kuwait to shop - Hawalli. 

I don't go to Hawalli unless I really really really really have to.  I have to get all aggressive and drive jungly and put up with skanky-ass-mall-Joes leering at my butt while blowing smoke (ick, ick ew - cooties!!!).  They nas-teh.  It is one of the few remaining pockets in Kuwait where people still stare at foreign women as if we just walked off a porno set (regardless of how you look or how much you weigh or what you are wearing). It's like they're saving the mental picture for later if you know what I mean.    (Desert Girl, tell us how you really feel about Hawalli....)  Anyhoo, I did NOT want to go there, but I did.  And I'm glad.  Only because of my outstanding purchase.

Now, there are Excite stores all over Kuwait and why the F wouldn't I just check in one of those first, eh?  Who knows how my mind works.  As fate would have it, I pulled right up and got a parking space right in front of the door.  Mashallah, I always amaze with my parkma.  First thing I notice is the chocolate fountain in the adjacent electronics store, Wazzan.  (Now, who in their right mind would put a small appliance store right next to the gynormous, variety-packed Excite?  Why is that the norm in Kuwait?  You find clusters of same-item stores together.  That's just dumb.)  Ok, first things first:  Vacuum cleaner. 

So, The Romanian and I swooped into Excite into a gaggle of blue-shirted, staring men, who I can only assume are there just to look at you funny and apply copious amounts of hair gel during their breaks (or not).  Other than that, they're about as useful as tits on a bull.  (Back to my story. Yes, again.)  So, I have been thinking of buying a cute little phone for the longest time now and I was almost there to buy it.  Dumb hairgel blue shirt (I don't want to say 'salesman' because that implies 1. knowledge and 2. salesmenship) showed me the phone, and flipped it open; told me how much it costs after discount.  I said I would take it.  DHBS told me they were out of stock.  Now, why the F would you go through all that when the first thing you could say was, "That's out of stock, but we can get you one."  DHBS! 

I hate shopping at Alghanim stores on principal and I will take a moment now to discuss why.
 Alghanim stores MUST employ about 1,000 workers each because there is a menial task for everyone:  paper stampers, security guards roaming about for no apparent reason, people who are supposed to be salesmen, but are really just zombies with hair gel.  If you buy anything - from 1kd to 10,000, you have to get an A4 sized invoice with your name and contact details on it.  And, similar to most ministries in Kuwait, it must be stamped.  Twice.  In order to even get that peice of paper, you have to be in the right department.  Same store, multiple departments.  Now, if you like say cosmetic body scrubs, you have to pay for that at a different department than the linen items you have in your other hand (about 100 feet away from each other).  To buy linens, you have to go over and wait in line with about 40 other people being helped one at a time (although there are SIX - count em) "salespeople" behind the counter, staring at the floor to avoid making eye contact with customers, God forbid. Oh, and yes, they do make buying on credit VERY easy, but just go there and try to make a payment.  No one who works there knows where to send you.  You may end up (like me) in the wrong place, standing in line after taking a number to get yet another A4 sized piece of paper - stamped TWICE.  Have they never heard of online payment systems?  Seems like they have a lot of money invested in A4 paper; maybe they should look at better IT.  Why do I continue to shop there?  Well, they really do have nice items and it is a SHAME that they have (what must be) such horrible operational management processes.

Anyways, no one understood what either "vacuum cleaner" or "Hoover" meant, so in International Sign Language, I had to make the motions of actually using one while simultaneously making a bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz noise.  They laughed.  It suddenly occurred to me that maybe they thought I was simulating a vibrating device.  Bygones.   They pointed towards the down escallator.  We went downstairs and into the corner where The Gorgeous, Sparkly Upright was!  Ok, so it is a Wansa (usually said with contempt by locals because it is made in China - as IF everyting in America and elsewhere is not), but I got a 3 year warranty for 3kd extra.  I forget how much the regular price is - I think around 50kd.  Nice knowlegeable English Speaking Salesman told me that it was discounted to 30kd.  Then he checked the computer and (insert harp music playing and angels singing here) it was further discounted to TWENTY KD!  Holy SNAP!  And did I mention it is red and shiny - just like a new Corvette?  Fassssssssssssscinating.   

So, on the way out, I stopped back at the Wazzan shop to buy the chocolate fountain.  It is part of their Disney appliance line.  If I had seen another chocolate fountain anywhere else (and please write to me and tell me if you have seen one), I would have bought it.  I don't like this toy-like appliance much.  For one thing, it has Mickey Mouse feet.  For another thing, the service was so God-awful autrocious that I shoulda just walked out (but I kept picturing strawberry skewers covered in Herseys and I couldn't stop myself).  RUDE rude rude people work there. 

On the way out of the jungle (Hawalli), we almost got in 2 accidents with people cutting in front of us. Jungly.  I swearaGod, I just want to buy a bigass junker of a car - something like a 1980 Yukon or the likes - and drive around crashing into frickin IDIOTS in little white crap cars.  That too would make me so happy.  Little things, right?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

City of Life

I saw this movie last night on OSN.  REALLY well done (even if it is somewhat like "Crash")!  It has several story lines going on at the same time and they all come together.  Many of the social aspects of the movie (filmed in and about Dubai) also pertain to what is happening in Kuwait. It is slow in places, but worth the wait.  The movie isn't "in your face" and is refreshingly subtle.   Watch it if you get the chance.

Friday, September 02, 2011