Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When dude won't give up

Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 26: A Kuwaiti woman in her 20s reported to Salmiya police station that two male compatriots attacked and physically harassed her. The woman explained she was trekking with her friend along the Arabian Gulf Road when suddenly the suspects approached and tried to exchange phone numbers with them. She said one of the men sprayed water on her when she refused to take the number and then fled in their car. She provided police with the registration number of the suspects’ car plus their physical description. A case was registered against them.

- - -

If the guys seem to be adamant/beligerant:  take the number.  Then you can register a case. Why put yourself in a difficult position? 

One time, I refused to take a guy's number and he followed me and keyed my car. 

Just take the number.  You can give it to your daddy and tell him big scary man frightened you later.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Traveling to Seattle, Portland or Chicago?

Anyone traveling to Seattle, Portland or Chicago and willing to take a dog along for K'S PATH (Animal Friends)?  The passenger doesn't have to do anything, just allow the dog to be listed on the ticket, and K'S PATH will do the rest.  It's much cheaper if the animal is accompanying a passenger.  Please send this out to all on your list who might be flying out, possibly over the holiday or any time in the near future.  If interested please call Karen on 99594898 or email: q8orobey@gmail.com Thank you!!

- - -

I brought a K'S PATH saluki along with me on a United flight to DC.  It was so easy!  K'S PATH reps met me with the dog at Kuwait airport and helped me process his paperwork through.  I collected him at the excess baggage counter at Dulles and we went through the special line (with things to declare) with his paperwork.  As soon as we walked through the arrivals door, someone was there to greet me and accept the dog.  It didn't cost me a thing and made me very proud that I had helped an animal.

Little Diddy on the FAR and Kuwait Labor Law: Overtime Charging

A little note on contracting.  I thought I would throw it out there for companies who have proposed and won contracts - and must abide by both the FAR and Kuwait Labor Law. 

Note that the stipulation of a work week in Kuwait is 48 hours in Kuwait.  Anything over 48 hours is subject to overtime.  The Kuwait Labor Law is very specific about how many hours of overtime an employee can work - and the reporting procedures that an employer must follow.  Employees can not be forced to work overtime and they must be compensated.

Many seemingly innocent USG contractors working in Kuwait should be aware of this....  Many contractors have also written yearly salary increases (or COLA)  into their contracts and perhapsee the employees aren't receiving them.  Wouldn't that be fraud?  Gee, I would think so if it was written into a contract and then the employees didn't receive it; instead the difference was being pocketed.... hmmmmm

I am guessing this is how several large defense contractors assumed they could get away with being the lowest bidder.

Now, if I were on a task force or audit team, I would first randomly (and without prior notification) ask contractor's employees how many hours they work and if they receive annual increases (perhaps saying something like lying is against the law... yada.)   Then, I would ask to see a company's overtime and time & attendance logs. A random sampling should give you an indication of if the company is on the up and up or not.

Here we go, kids....


Subpart 22.1—Basic Labor Policies

22.103  Overtime.

22.103-1  Definition.
“Normal workweek,” as used in this subpart, means, generally, a workweek of 40 hours. Outside the United States and its outlying areas, a workweek longer than 40 hours is considered normal if—

(1) The workweek does not exceed the norm for the area, as determined by local custom, tradition, or law; and

(2) The hours worked in excess of 40 in the workweek are not compensated at a premium rate of pay. "

"Kuwait Labor Law

Section  Two
Working hours and weekends

Article (64}

Without prejudice  to the provisions of Article (21) of this Law, it is forbidden to allow workers to work for more than 48 hours per week or 8 hours a day, except in such events as are specified in this Law. Working hours during the month of Ramadan shall be equal to 36 hours per week.

Article (65}

a-            Workers shall not be required to work for more than five consecutive hours a day without a break of a minimum of one hour that is not included in the working hours.

The Financial, commercial and investment sectors shall be excluded from this provision  and the working hours  shall be equal to eight  consecutive hours.

Article (66}

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

This  remuneration  shall  be  in  conformity  with  Article  (56)  of  this Law.  The employer  shall  keep  a  special  record  for  overtime  work  showing  the  dates, number of hours worked and remunerations paid in consideration of the additional work assigned to the worker."

TIES Center

I met a gentleman from this group last week. He went to school in Cali and seems totally cool. 

The center looks interesting and I would like to check them out some more.  It looks similar to AWARE.  I like that they ha ve different clubs and cooking classes.  It would be cool if they offered Kuwaiti cuisine courses.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Ban in Kuwait

Uh yes there WAS a ban on Turkeys... read on... (re-post from Expat and the City's Blog)

Arab Times (Link), Kuwait City, November 25, 2011: The Committee for Food Safety at Kuwait Municipality has lifted a ban on the import of all types of birds, their derivatives, and eggs from Russia. However, a ban on similar products from the US remains in effect to avoid an outbreak of bird flu, reports Al-Rai daily.  (DG:  Is there an epidemic of bird flu in the US??? This is news to me.)

Chairperson of the committee, Mohammed Ghazai Otaibi, stressed that the ban on the import of live birds from France will stay until the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) releases a report in that regard. He noted the quarterly import of meat from Bangladesh has also been suspended to prevent foot and mouth disease.

He explained the committee is active and plans on recommending to retain the ban on import of birds from the GCC countries until Public Authority for Industry (PAI) and the relevant authority monitoring procedures adopted by the GCC Food Safety Forum give the green light.

In the meantime, two delegations from the embassies of US and France presented conditions and suggestions in that regard, and the committee is waiting for a report from PAAAFR to lift ban on import of birds and meat from the state of Minnesota in the US
- - -

Sounds to me like someone of importance in Kuwait has opened a bird farm....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Regency Hotel Offering Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanks to Ladies Who Do Lunch In Kuwait for posting this.  (Repost...)

November 24th from 7.30-11PM at The Silk Road Restaurant, The Regency Hotel. Price is KD 15++ includes soft beverage. Reservations call 2576 6666

Good for you, Regency Hotel!  This is the first Thanksgiving promo I've seen this year.  ... and here I was, thinking no one cared...

How you can help women in need in Kuwait

Betcha didn't know the Salvation Army helps people in Kuwait?  They try to keep low-key and work under the radar, but they're here and they need help.

Dear Friends,

We provide food, shelter and basic necessities to the ladies in a shelter in Kuwait since 2009. These ladies are mostly runaway maids awaiting their papers from their respective embassies to return back home. Our goal is not only to shelter these unfortunate ladies but to recognize their natural talents and educate them so as to restore their self esteem and assist them to a better future.  Every effort is made to see that the ladies start a new life with confidence when they leave from the Shelter.
Besides that we make on-site visits to teach trades to other embassy shelters. We also help families with clothes, finance and ration and help out in their case by case needs.

As part of the winter initiative, the Salvation Army would like to reach out to the less fortunate in Kuwait by presenting them with food boxes. Each box will have:
·         2 kg of Rice
·         1 kg Oil
·         1 Kg Sugar
·         Tomato paste
·         Tea bags
·         Body Soap
·         Razor      
      Sanitary Napkins 

A new initiative will be a trip on Wednesday November 30 to a camp of 100 Ethiopian ladies working for a cleaning company. The SA will cover the major expense of this but donations of support would be greatly appreciated Donations of one or more items or any monetary help towards these expenses would be appreciated, however small the amount. It will go a long way in forwarding our cause.

We will need all donations latest by Sunday, November 27 2011 so as to give us time to pack them in individual bags.

If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you for considering our request.

Programs/Fund Raising
The Salvation Army – Kuwait 

Another furniture store bites the dust in Kuwait

Freedom Furniture at 360 is closing for good.  I WISH I had known earlier because I love their furniture and they had some great deals. I went there yesterday to buy a tablecloth and that's about all that's left there (150x200 black or white linen table cloths are 6kd each]).   There are a few odd tables, chairs, and I think 2 sofa sets and some small items.  Everything has been reduced by 75%. They have a lovely set of 6 wicker-style dining chairs with arms selling for 20kd each (they only have 6 - I need 10).

It is a shame because I really liked their items.  But alas, it seems that the Kuwaiti norm of marking everything up by X-hundred percent got the best of them:  Their items were consistently overpriced.  I don't think they ever advertised either and were located in a kind of out-of-the-way place in the basement of 360 near Geant.  I rarely saw other customers

I don't understand why furniture stores just don't get it:  good quality at good prices equals return customers.  Look at Ikea (okay, quality is kind questionable, but overall it is okay):  They've survived in the market for years and have expanded.  Banta, with a similar business model, is doing well (but I don't find their furniture comfortable - whereas Ikea furniture is).

There are certain furniture stores in Kuwait that mark their items waaaaay above cost and then expect customers 1) not to notice and 2) to continue to shop there.  They might get one or two hits from the same customer, but they won't be repeat customers (loyalty is a 2 way street). (... and alas, the big spending days of CSA and the likes are gone.)

And hey, you can copy just about anything by bringing pictures and fabric to any of the furniture maker dudes in Dajeej - at 1/4 of the price of retail.  (Which is why most furniture shops in Kuwait don't allow photography.  Nice try.)

Back to the point of my story:  there is no longer Freedom in Kuwait....
(But we already knew that.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kuwait's Turkey Conspiracy

Did you guys know that there was a ban on turkeys this year?  I sureasshit  didn't. 

From a friend:

"Its on Butterball turkeys- What I heard is that they arent 'killed' the HALAL way. If that's true then PFFFFFT! What next? All canned food stuff? Probably some big wig here got together with another big wig and decided that if they ban imported turkey then people have to buy local ones. Then again, do we have local turkey?!!"

Hmmmm.... hinky.  It IS a conspiracy!  I was RIGHT again.  Dayum.

I would be more than happy to buy a freekin local turkey IF THEY HAD ANY TO SELL!!!

**** BTW - I got a 24lb Butterball turkey 2 days ago from the PX at Arifjan (thank you again, J).  Was just posting this FYI.

Oh, by the by, peeps:  What is UP with calling Brazilian turkeys "local"?  Je ne get it pas.  Brazil is waaaay over der.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Marriage annulled, wife left for 2 days alone in hotel room

I've heard lots of stories recently of people of both genders in Kuwait who are choosing not to get married.  The below would be a case in point where it might not be such a great idea. Crap like this is why the divorce rate in Kuwait is so high. 

This poor girl.  Would YOU want to re-marry?  F to tha NO.

I don't understand nancy boys who get married either just because someone else tells them to - or because they think it is going to be something "fun" to do.  Grow up. Grow some cojoines.  Be men.

Arab Times
Marriage annulled, wife left for 2 days alone in hotel room

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 16: The Personal Status Court has annulled a marriage due to the irresponsible action of the husband, who left his spouse alone for two days inside a hotel room in another Arab country at the beginning of their marital life.

Attorney Mohammad Thear Al-Otaibi, lawyer for the wife, argued the man violated religious, traditional and cultural norms when he left the woman alone for two days without any explanation. He said his client waited patiently for her husband to return to know the reasons for his action, especially his failure to call her and inform her of his whereabouts. When the husband returned, he claimed to have been detained at a police station and asked his wife not to mention the issue again. However, he repeated the act several times after their arrival in Kuwait, and he had been out for four days or weeks without explanation. He also beat his wife, accusing her of monitoring his activities. A medical certificate was presented in court as proof of the beatings.

The court ordered annulment of the marriage after a careful analysis of the pieces of evidence and arguments presented by both sides.

I hope she got a non-refundable and HUGE mahar, lots of gold and gifts from the little boy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Massacre of Migratory Flamingos in Kuwait

Kuwait is in the migratory path of flamingos.  Unfortunately, they have been moved from their natural stomping grounds several times over the past few decades because of development.

This made me gag when I saw it on Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait's blog, but I really need to pass it along. What the HELL is happening to this country????????????????

I KNOW that HH The Emir is a man who respects wildlife - I have been told so by his close relatives.  I hope he takes personal action against the people who committed this horrific act.

Re-posted from LWDLIK Blog

Flamingo Massacre in Kuwait

A  recent rescue mission conducted by K'S PATH. On November 17th, they received a frantic phone call from Kuwait Oil Company employees horrified to find dead and dying flamingos in the Abdaliya Nature Preserve in West Kuwait. K'S PATH was able to respond quickly and rescue the two live birds and document the deaths of 11 more. After receiving prompt medical care from Royal Animal Hospital, they were placed in a temporary holding cage over night. By the next morning K's Path staff were hard at work to modify an existing bird flight for use by flamingos. They don't normally publish gruesome photos on their Facebook page, but in this case they feel it is important that our community see what poaching is doing to our wildlife. With knowledge will come the ability to make change.

Eleven flamingos who did not survive being shot by poachers who had forced their way into the Abdaliya Nature Preserve.

Kuwait's American Thanksgiving Conspiracy

There is an anti American Thanksgiving conspiracy going on in Kuwait.  (Desert Girl meltdown...)

There are no fresh turkeys to be found in Kuwait.
The Sultan Center has no US sweet potatoes and NO cranberries of any kind.
Sultan Center says that they "think" they'll get a shipment of turkeys after December 7th and that they "might" get fresh cranberries around the same time because "they're not in season".  BS!

Oh, and get this... Dean & Deluca, the pillar of quality food and service in Kuwait "hasn't priced their turkeys yet" (according to management) and "needs to check with their procurement office".    Emmm..... hel-loooo!  Thanksgiving is less than a week away!  D&D - OF NEW YORK!!!!  A disgrace to all Americans living in Kuwait on Thanksgiving Day.  Uffaaaaa

I'm REALLY PISSED OFF. (Can you tell?!)

I have heard from one of my friends where I can find fresh cranberries.  I'm sorry, but I have to keep this one close-hold until I get get my hands on some (and then I'll announce).

The PX on Arifjan has turkeys.  Thanks to the BIG heart of a certain Boy-de-'bama, I'm going to get one of them and Stella has very very kindly volunteered to cook it (I LOVE YOU!!!)

Oooooo Saaaaaaaa.  It will be okay.  It will be okay.  It will be okay.

November 20 Update...

BamaBoy came to the rescue with "the biggest turkey they had" at the PX for all of 8KD!  Woo hoo.
Found and procured cranberries.  Done.

Dean and Deluca called.  12KD per kilo for their cooked turkey.  Um.... that's why they waited until the last minute:  because they knew people would be desperate enough to pay those kind of prices.  GLAD I don't have to!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Protesters Break into Kuwaiti Parliament

Photo Credit:  Al-Watan

DG:  I must have been under a rock because I haven't seen any of this - but then again, I haven't been downtown for a long time.  I have seen no increase in police presence, no additional security outside of HH the Emir's house, and no national guard.  

...Hey Slaps, do you know that guy in the middle?  Single girls: now is your time to find a husband!  They're just so PASSIONATE! 

Protesters break open the gate as they storm the Kuwaiti National Assembly in Kuwait City on Wednesday
Angry protesters demanding that the prime minister step down broke into the Parliament in Kuwait City late Wednesday, said a witness who is a Kuwaiti journalist and asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Videos that appear to have been shot from cell phones and posted on YouTube show a throng of protesters at the Parliament chanting, "The people must remove the prime minister!"

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the videos, which show Kuwaitis inside the Parliament building.

"There is an attempt to bring down the prime minister," said the witness, who added that the protesters had left the Parliament building and were heading toward Irada Square in downtown Kuwait City.

The country has no elections, according to the CIA Factbook. The emir, whose position is hereditary, appoints the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers. The prime minister's cabinet resigned last March, the CIA Factbook says.

Above article from Rima Maktabi, CNN, (Link) , Photo credit: CNN, November 17, 2011

Kuwait Opposition Protesters Storm Parliament As Political Tensions Rise

The Washington Post (Link), Kuwait City, November 17, 2011 — Opposition lawmakers warned Wednesday of a growing political crisis after dozens of anti-government protesters muscled their way into Kuwait’s parliament during debate over efforts to question the prime minister about corruption allegations.

Local media reported the demonstrators briefly chanted before being forced out as hundreds of others protested outside.

Opposition parliament members have sought to question Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the Gulf country. Last month, Kuwait’s foreign minister resigned as the scandal grew.
Pro-government lawmakers managed to vote down a request for the questioning, but opposition groups filed another motion to force another debate later this month.

Kuwait’s key affairs are run by the ruling Al Sabah family, but it has one of the region’s most politically active parliaments.

The prime minister has survived votes of confidence in parliament in the past and Kuwait’s ruling system does not appear in jeopardy from the opposition groups, which include Islamist parties and others.

But it highlights the rising political tensions inside the strategic Western ally, which could host thousands more U.S. soldiers under a Pentagon proposal to strengthen Gulf forces following the withdrawal from Iraq.

Last months, Kuwait was hit by a wave of strikes that grounded the state airline and threatened to disrupt oil shipments.

Kuwait has not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but the tiny Gulf nation stands out in the region because of its hardball political atmosphere. Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family.

In January, Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. Last month, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers.

Kuwaitis are used to a cradle-to-grave social security system that has increasingly become a burden on the government.

By Associated Press, Thursday, November 17, 2:24 AM

Al Arabiya News (has video)
Thousands storm Kuwaiti parliament; Sheikh Sabah promises to maintain security
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, on Thursday ordered the national guard and security forces to take all “necessary” measures to maintain security in the Gulf state.

The order was issued in a statement by the cabinet which held an emergency meeting chaired by the emir, a day after opposition-led protesters calling for the premier’s resignation stormed the parliament building.

The emir “ordered the interior ministry and the national guards to take all measures and preparations necessary to confront whatever undermines the security of the country and public order,” said the cabinet statement.

He also ordered that they should be “provided with all authority necessary to ensure security and the application of the law... to put an end to such shameful provocative acts,” it added.

Thousands of Kuwaitis had stormed parliament late Wednesday after police and elite forces beat up protesters marching on the prime minister’s home to demand he resign, an opposition MP said.

“Now, we have entered the house of the people,” said Mussallam al-Barrak, who led the protest along with several other lawmakers and youth activists also calling for the dissolution of parliament over alleged corruption.

The demonstrators broke open parliament’s gates and entered the main chamber, where they sang the national anthem and then left after a few minutes.
The police had used batons to prevent protesters from marching to the residence of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, after staging a rally outside parliament.

Opposition parliament members have sought to question the prime minister over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the Gulf country. Last month, Kuwait's foreign minister resigned as the scandal grew.

Pro-government lawmakers managed to vote down a request for the questioning, but opposition groups filed another motion to force another debate later this month.

Kuwait’s key affairs are run by the ruling Sabah family, but it has one of the region’s most politically active parliaments.

Witnesses said at least five demonstrators were injured and treated on the site.

Some activists said they will continue to camp outside parliament until the premier is sacked.

Chanting “the people want to remove the prime minister,” the protesters started to march to the nearby premier’s residence when police blocked their way.

This was the first political violence in the oil-rich Gulf state since December, when elite forces beat up protesters and MPs at a public rally, though activists have been holding protests since March.

Tension has been building in Kuwait over the past three months after it was alleged that about 16 MPs in the 50-member parliament received about $350 million (259 million euros) in bribes.

The opposition has been leading a campaign to oust the premier, whom they accuse of failing to run the wealthy nation and fight corruption, which has become wide-spread.

Earlier on Wednesday, about 20 opposition lawmakers boycotted a parliamentary session, a day after the government and its supporters succeeded in rejecting a bid by the opposition to quiz the premier over allegations of corruption.

Kuwait has not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but the tiny Gulf nation stands out in the region because of its hardball political atmosphere. Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family.

In January, Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. Last month, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers.

Kuwaitis are used to a cradle-to-grave social security system that has increasingly become a burden on the government.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I got crabs from being on the internet

I got some of the best crabs ever last night and ate them in the comfort of my own home.

I thought I would try the mysteriously-labeled “Fish Grill Crab” from Fish Grill through 6alabat.com.  It made no mention of how many I would get or how it would be cooked, but the picture appeared to have whole crabs, so I went for it.
(Photo credit:  Fish Grill on 6alabat.com)

I love crabs, but I am somewhat reserved about cooking them in Kuwait as I’ve always heard that you never never eat crabs that you purchase dead.  Like lobster, crab should always be alive and then steamed (or boiled or whatever).  Cooking crab is kinda messy too (now that I’m getting lazier in life).  AND, although some of my friends tell me they have bought Old Bay in Kuwait, I haven’t seen it anywhere.

So anyhoo, I ordered the crabs from Fish Grill and Oh. My. God….


I got a tray that contained about a half dozen (I didn’t count, unfortunately, because I was hungry and tearing through the buggers).  Fish Grill cooks them in a barbecue-style sauce with shredded onion and peppers.  The sauce is really really good- kind of sweet-Asian.  The crabs come seemingly intact, although on closer inspection, you can see that they have been neatly re-arranged after the lungs (bad parts) have been extracted.  I guess this could be so that the sauce permeates into the meat; however, I like the “mustard” and wished they had left it in.

I set about eating them with table manners to that of a Tasmanian devil.

Southern Bedu looked at me with a look of shock and dismay (dare I say "disgust"?)

‘Whaaaa?  I’m in my own place.  I can do this.  Go get me some pliers.’

“Pliers?!  Why do you need them???”  (Shockfaced again).

‘Because I want to smash their legs of course!’

Dude gets me the pliers (NO!  Not the SMALL ones!) and sits back down to eat his shrimp while staring at me the entire time as if it is the first time he’s really seeing me.  He finally just says to me, “You know, if I wanted to eat one of those things, I would need a user’s manual…”

It made me laugh (but not put down the sauce-covered crustacean in my hand). 

So, with the help (not much, actually) of Desert Dawg (she loves crabs too), we devoured the entire tray.

I don’t know if Southern Bedu has a trash phobia, but he had whisked the shells up to the curb before I had a chance to wash my hands.  (Or could it be, perhaps, that he just didn’t like the looks of the things and didn’t want them hangin around?)  He’s actually quite good with trash and if he doesn’t have any other chore (well, okay, to be truthful, he does; even if he doesn’t always know it), he’s got taking out the trash well covered. 

I know it isn’t because he wants to feed the neighborhood stray cats with seafood leftovers either.  He’s got a theory that cats harbor bad spirits and he always shouts something that sounds like, “chim chim” at them.  There’s some religious significance to it supposedly but I’m not buying it…

Just like trying to kill all the gecko lizards on my terrace.  There’s some religious significance to that too, but I’m not having it.  I love my lizards and both the geckos and the cats bring me endless hours of joy with the laser pointer.  Why you wanna squash (literally) my fun?

… how did I digress from crabs??? 

Oh, ok…  Anyways, for the paltry sum of 5kd, you can have crabs delivered to your house through 6alabat.com from Fish Grill and they rock.  5kd is kinda shteep if you consider that crabs sell for around 750 fils ($2.73) at the fresh fish market, but you don’t have to cook them, so whatever.

Anyhoo, Southern Bedu’s response was priceless.

(Eating crabs capped off a very very good day. Plus it was maid-day.   I got an invite from the owner of The Boudoir Salon to stop by and check them out.  I did and it was amaaaaaaaaaaaazing and I’m going to write about that in a separate post.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Made-to-Order Items

In previous years, The Sultan Center had a special for Thanksgiving.  You got a cooked turkey, sides, and desert for around 14.500 kd.  Well, they're not doing that anymore.

But the good news is, if you either buy a turkey there (local or Butterball), you can also get them to cook it for you at the hot foods counter for a minimal charge.

As an alternative, Dean & Deluca (2224-2224) has these cooked items which you can order:

  • Honey Roasted Whole Turkey
  • Honey Boneless Rolled Turkey  
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Roasted Sweet Potato
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Corn stuffing
  • Saut├ęd green beans with bacon
  • Pecan tart
  • Pecan Tart Portion
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie Portion
[November 17:  I just called D&D to place an order.  WHAT A CROCK.  They haven't PRICED the items yet (according to the woman who answered the phone) and therefore they can't take any orders.  Thanksgiving is a WEEK away.  I don't mind spending extra money, but where is the customer service???   StoooooooooooooooooooooooopID.]

Hey, if anyone goes to the PX on Arifjan, would you please drop me a line and let me know if they have turkey. Thanks

Holiday Bazaars

Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait's blog lists a full menu of upcoming events.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What other country in the world gives you a 5 day national holiday?

This was the coolest holiday ever (not that I did anything to make it a big sha-bang or anything).  Just that we got a 5 day Eid holiday was the coolest.  Stick 2 weekends on and that made 9 days of uninterrupted laziness pour moi.

I didn't make it far off the sofa - unless it was to eat.  True to my Goal, my desire was only to eat fish and sleep late. I did both (the later, I'm paying for at the moment as it is 12:00something-am and I'm up writing this because I can't sleep).  Work is going to be Hell in the morning.  Bring on the caffeine.

Something else I love about Kuwait:  You can order coffee and croissants online to be delivered to you.  Hey, if you want, you can have a SINGLE donut delivered to you.  Lazy people's paradise, I say.

So, I ate some fish early on, but it wasn't my usual type (I loves me some subaiti or sheem) and I got sick.  Maybe because I ate so many of the little buggers ("meide" - I don't know what it is in English).  It was an oily little fish and just the thought of the smell right now is making me ill.

But then, I switched to chicken and then to beef.  Slaps' mother was in town from Scoootland and I made a chicken dish that I can only make for a small army.  I'll have leftovers for a week, but that's fine.  It's comfort food.  We also did a barbecue the other night and OMG - let me tell you about a new butcher I found!!!

It was Friday, so we went to my favorite butcher, Pinar in Shuwaikh.  Pero alas, it was Friday and it was closed.  The butchers next to it (why the same shops always got to be right next to each other???) only had Chinese beef.  Who tha fuuu eats meat from China?  Whyyyyyy?  What is the Kuwait food ministry (or whatever) thinking???   Not this girl.

The Romanian suggested a butcher at City Centre in Salmiya.  Something with "Sabah" in the name.  It's right next to the veggie market.  I got Brazilian beef for 4kd a kilo and it ROCKED.  It was like butter.  You can cut it with a spoon.  Shity Centre is really close to where I live, so this is a remarkable discovery for me.  (I just wish I never had to navigate the Circle of Death, Bidaa Roundabout.  Can't someone build a bridge directly over it from Rumaithiya to Salmiya?  That goes on my wish list.)

Brazilian beef (you could tell it was Brazilian because it was wearing a thong and had feathers on its head) marinated in Jack Daniel's marinade bags (from the PX) and some fresh pineapple et voila...

.... so then back to the sofa....where my ass has worn a groove into the cushion to the right; Southern Bedu's groove is to the left.

One whole day we didn't get off the sofa.  I didn't wash my hair for 2 days.  Je ne giveashit pas.  Different friends dropped by to say hi and we never got up.  It was pathetic.  Hey, they know where stuff is in my place.  It is an "American household."  Make yourself at home, dudes.

And now I'm "well rested", right? Well, you know when you get too much sleep and then  you feel twice as groggy?  That's me.

Seriously, don't any of my readers want to donate a health club membership for promotional consideration on my blog?  Maybe that would motivate me...I dunno.  If you can get me to lose weight, I will keep a running journal (with promotion for your club/spa).  Bring it on.

I couldn't be a housewife.  I would buy a moomoo and stop bathing completely.  I would gain 400lbs (but become a great cook).  No one would respect me; not even myself.

Dayam, I had so many things I was going to do during this holiday. What happened?  I need more TIME.  Oh, I did manage to get Desert Dawg's teeth cleaned.  Cost for her teeth cleaning:  80KD.  Cost for my teeth cleaning:  Around 25.  I also got her hair cut.  She's set. I'm not.  I need a manicure and my roots done.  Pathetic!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Human Trafficking in Kuwait: An "exaggeration"? Yeh!

Kinda ironic that I saw both of these within minutes of each other.

Some Domestic Workers Harm Country’s Reputation: Al-Enezi

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 10: A senior labor official in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor criticized an American report which accused Kuwait of human trafficking, saying “the allegations were based on information posted on blogs and articles published in some newspapers,” reports Al-Seyassah daily.  (DG Comment:  Unlike official Kuwaiti agencies, statistical information on Kuwait IS actually gathered by other organizations.  Aint that a thang! .. but wait... HOW many years has Kuwait been reported for the same thing?)

Hadi Al-Enezi, supervisor of labor relations department in the ministry, said some domestic workers harm Kuwait’s reputation by exaggerating the level of abuses they were subjected to. (Reader Expataussiegal says:  "I wonder what level of abuse he finds acceptable?")  

He said the ministry set the combating of human trafficking as one of its strategic goals and added that it will take several measures to eradicate the root causes of the problem.   

(DG Comment:  BS!  How long have they been saying that?  I keep hearing the same songs played over and over and over.)

Al-Enezi stressed that most labor problems, particularly those of domestic workers are related to delays in paying wages, differences in traditions and the environment, and the inability to get along with the host family. He said the domestic labor administration is working on a proposal which will oblige sponsors to deposit workers’ salaries in local banks or to sign receipt or salary transfer receipts in languages understood by the workers.

Non-Compete Clauses in Kuwait

I heard that a certain US defense contractor (which is losing employees fast these days) wasn't "allowing" their employees to attend a recent (3 letter company that begins with an eye) job fair held last weekend at the Hilton; that representatives of that organization actually contacted representatives of (the 3 letter company) and told them that they were "not allowed" to hire their employees.

Funny that.

Did you know that non-competes are ILLEGAL in Kuwait?

The only binding law in Kuwaiti court for employees is the Kuwait Labor Law.  Kuwaiti courts don't recognize non-competes.  No one can stop you from working anywhere in Kuwait.

For example, if one defense contractor attempts to stop you from going to work for another defense contractor, you (and your colleagues) have a case.  A nice class action case if you wanted to go there.

Again, I don't understand why people just don't GO to talk to a local lawyer.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

USG Contracting Fraud Task Force in Kuwait

Looky looky at what I found. (Baby, where were you 8 years ago when I needed you the most?)  These fliers are being distributed at Arifjan.  Do YOU have a dirty little contracting secret you would like to share... ;)

Unfortunately, they don't have a local number but it is great to know that these folks are out there, The Defenders of Evil.

Kamal Sultan had to go all the way to US Federal Court in Atlanta before anyone would take notice of practices at (that big warehousing company to the North which is currently disbarred).. maybe the fliers will do more to help on the ground in Kuwait.  What are your thoughts?

15 November:  Someone just sent me this one below.

US Contractors and Kuwait Residency Discussion

I commented on American Girl's blog post in reference to US Contractors in Kuwait and thought I would post my comment here as well.

I have a friend who works for a US company, "supposedly" with no Kuwait "presence".  He is only getting 2 weeks vacation per year - which is illegal as per Kuwait Labor Law -- but so is a 60 hour work week - will he get OT?  I mean, he "agreed" to it while in the US - why be a prima donna, right?  But wait... dude also has a Kuwait residency visa.  Uh oh!  That means that the company does indeed have a "presence" in Kuwait.  They have chosen to "partner" with a Kuwaiti company to provide sponsorship to their employees.  They have a legal partnership agreement and the employer's US employees reside in Kuwait in the local economy.

Get a copy of the Kuwait Residency Law.  Read it.

Anyone who has a Kuwaiti residency is bound by Kuwait law.  You reside in the country; you obey the laws of the country.  (On the flip side, it would be like sending Kuwaitis to the US and expecting them to abide by Kuwaiti and not US HR laws.  How long would that last?  Oh, but wait... the US enforces laws....)  The USG pays the bills to US contractors, but they have lots of contractors all over the world from different countries - and those contractors must abide by local laws.  There are lots of USG contractors in Kuwait - Kuwaiti companies working in the Kuwaiti economy.   ALL  employees under a Kuwaiti residency visa (RESIDE in Kuwait) are subject to Kuwait Labor Law.

If you move to another STATE in the US, you have to learn the State law.  Why is it that people move to a foreign country and don't know their rights - or challenge them?  Je ne get it pas.

Your offer letter from  your company IS your employment contract in Kuwait.  Anyone who has a Kuwait residency must have it through a Kuwaiti sponsor.  RETAIN COPIES all paperwork in Arabic that you sign (don't sign if they don't give you a copy).  (Would you sign anything else - anywhere else - if you didn't know what it was or know what it states?)   There is a paper in Arabic ("ethayn al amel" - work permit) that you will be asked to sign to obtain your residency that goes to the Ministry of Labor that lists all the information for your contract:  Job description, duration of contract, salary, sponsor, etc.  If you end up suing as an employee, it will be your evidence.  SAVE IT.  Save all paperwork your employer gives you relevant to your contract and pay.

Employing contract companies (defense contractors)  may be confused (or chose to be confused).

This is only an example and not true to my knowledge:  ASC and their employees were sponsored by Kuwaiti company,  HRK.  If ASC chose not to give an employee their entitlement of 30 days vacation, the employee could sue; but sue who?  Not ASC.  The employee would sue the party sponsoring them; HRK.  HRK would have to square it with ASC.

Kuwaiti Labor Law supersedes any other agreements you have signed and will choose whichever stipulation is the most advantageous TO THE EMPLOYEE.  ANY employee can file a complaint (through a lawyer or by themselves) at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (in the area where the company/sponsor has a physical address).  (The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor - also known as "Shaoun" - can also be a useful place to receive advice if you don't want to go to a lawyer, but be ready for a little confusion and running around.)   The company may receive a fine and may be punished by having their "file closed"; meaning that they are not able to obtain any additional visas for employees.

What an employer relates to employees (and HR managers) may be their interpretation of the law (and/or how they may "adjust" it) but if you do go to a lawyer, you will find that employers/employees are bound to the Kuwait Labor Law.  (You can also file a complaint with the US military.)  (No slight to HR managers, but) HR managers are paid employees of your employer and are often advised by their employers and their legal team.  They're not independent parties.  Lawyers are.

Please don't take my word for it.  God know's - I'm blonde and I'm not an attorney or HR professional.  Ask a lawyer - talk is cheap in Kuwait. :)  Most often, the lawyer will not ask you to pay for a consultation.  Chose a lawyer who is affiliated with a US firm and knows Kuwait Labor Law.  American Girl is correct that there are many listed on the US Embassy's website.

Now, an employee may have to sue in Kuwait, via a Kuwaiti lawyer, to obtain/challenge the rights, but they'll eventually get the entitlements.  If you don't want to stick around to see the case through, you can opt to sign a power of attorney with your lawyer and have your entitlement forwarded to you later (in another country).

Often, employees who "rock the boat" (also known as "challenge their employers on their legal rights") are conveniently whisked away via an airline ticket home.  You may not know the real deal of what happened to your colleague(s).  Do an online search of court cases against your potential new employer (and their sponsor).  Is there a pattern of similar behavior on the part of your employer?  Are they just "getting away with it" at employee expense?

And, for the love of God - find OUT who your sponsor is!   They are effectively your middle-man.   Who owns the company?  Are they ethical?  Are they providing the proper representation and/or advice to the company you work for in Kuwait?  How long does it take to get your residency visa?  30-90 days MAX.  Just because a sponsor is a "big company" doesn't mean that they're good.  It could just mean that they made their money being bad.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Human Trafficking

Ms. Sparky (www.mssparky.com) has an interesting post on human trafficking...

by federal overseas contractors is widespread and never punished,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), the top Democrat on the panel. “Not a single case of human trafficking, sexual assault, wage theft or related crimes has been prosecuted by the Department of Justice, and only a single case has even been referred for prosecution by the Department of Defense. Neither the Army and Air Force Exchange Service nor any other component of DoD or the State Department has suspended or debarred a single federal contractor for human trafficking, even though such abuses are routine.”
~Joe Davidson, Washington Post, November 2, 2011

Read the full story HERE.

I know it is going on.  You (if you do contracting in Kuwait - and elsewhere for that matter) know that it is going on.  It is rampant.  Yet why does the USG still turn a blind eye?

It's real simple, investigators:  Do a spot check (with no notice) of worker's accommodations.  How many people are living in ONE room? Where are their passports being kept?  (Usually NEVER with the worker, but with the employer, which is against the law in moth countries including Kuwait).  How often do they get vacations?  Ask to see records.  .....But alas, that is way down the road because large contractors can bid much cheaper by using what amounts to slaves.

Where are the whistle blower hotline numbers or (anonymous) E-mails posted?  I'm American and would have a hard time blowing the whistle when/if I knew there were corrupt practices going on; what about TCN's?  The ones I've met are scared to death of the reprecussions.  The easiest way to talk to the appropriate people is if you work on a base/camp and can go direct to the source.  What about the people in the offices off-post - who probably know the most about what is going on inside the offices of defense contractors?  Who do they contact?  EIGHT years on in Kuwait, it is still not easy to tell anyone (or know where to begin) if something bad is going on.  Those of us who have known/do know have gotten tired trying to figure it all out.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Salon Picks - Update 2011

I just updated my Salon Picks Post of 2009 to include my new favorites.  Check it out HERE.

Please feel free to write to me with your own favorites and/or comments.

Guys, sorry, but I'm a chick and therefore know not about where to go to get a men's haircut in Kuwait.  Maybe you can write to Mark at 2:48am. :) 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Defense Contracting and Logistics in Kuwait

I have updated a list of logistics companies and defense contractors doing business in Kuwait. I try to keep it as current as possible.  In the past, I have asked both the embassy and the American Business Council for this type of information; neither one has ever been able to provide a list.  In fact, I have repeatedly been told by the American Business Council that they are "not a clearing house for information".  Fasssssssssssscinating.  They won't even give fellow members copies of their membership listings showing other members.  How very conveeeeeeeeeenient for the few board members who have access to the listing... but I digress...

There is a niche market in Kuwait if anyone wants to pursue it as a business.  I would be a customer.  On my wish list is a booklet of information specific to this segment of the market in Kuwait:  Defense and Logistics.  I would like to see the booklet list companies, past and present contract awards, company information (contacts, websites, history in the region, etc.)  Every company I have worked for in contracting in Kuwait has asked me to compile this type of information.  Many job-seekers in Kuwait (and many coming from outside Kuwait) want it.  You don't need to go to a publishing house: you can build the book yourself. Include advertising - especially from companies who want to do business in the industry or with US Military. 

From a recent story in the New York Times, the US plans to be in the region for a while (U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq). A similar story was in the Arab Times a few days ago.  There is a 50-year lease on Camp Arifjan (and - the US military in Kuwait ONLY has "camps" not "bases" - they have not been turned into permanent missions YET.)  There WILL be a railway linking GCC/Middle Eastern countries.  The logistics business in the region isn't going anywhere.

None of this is classified information or of a secret nature.  If you scour the internet, you can determine what companies are doing in Kuwait/the region.  You just have to spend a LOT of time doing research.  Since I've done it, and I'm a believer in the power of shared information, I'm publishing it. Now, some of these companies don't have a physical presence in Kuwait, and they may not have current contracts in Kuwait; however, they either have had an interest or they are looking at business in Kuwait. If you have any to add, give me a holler at amerab@gmail.com.

By the way, if you would like to find out what companies have been disbarred/banned from USG contracting(and there may be a few on my list), you can check it out by searching on Excluded Parties List System at http://www.epls.gov/ or the CCR search site at https://www.bpn.gov/CCRSearch/results.aspx.  Do a search for Kuwait.  It's fasssssscinating! 

Get a Mammogram

I had a mammogram and sonogram last night at International Clinic.  It came back normal (according to them) - with a little fluid cyst that I am going to get a second opinion on just incase. 

One of my American friends recently went to IC and they found something that they told her she shouldn't worry about either; it turned out to be stage 1 cancer.  She went to the States to be treated and is fine now; they caught it early enough.

My friend, Nanda, was diagnosed with breast cancer here in Kuwait not too long ago.  She had treatment here, then in her home country in Brazil.  I guess they didn't catch it in time.  She passed away and we all miss her so much.  In her last days, she told everyone she met to go have a mammogram.

So, I think everybody should. If you are not a woman, you have a mother, sisters, wife, friends who are - tell them that they should.  It is survivable if you catch it early enough.  If not, cancer is a terrible disease that affects everyone around the patient. 

I had a mammogram done at Mowasat hospital about 3 years ago.  It was really comprehensive; with the x-rays, they gave me a typed, signed report of their findings. 

Maybe some of you have had better experiences at other hospitals or clinics around Kuwait and I would appreciate it if you would let me know so I can post about it so other women know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mo' Keratin

So while I was in Virginia, I got another keratin treatment.  I checked prices online and most were cheaper than Kuwait - AND I figured that they'd have better ventillation systems. WRONG.

I had a Coppola treatment done at Elizabeth Arden Red Door - which is usually extreeeeeemely expensive, but I had it done for $340.  Where they get cha is with the extras - trim, products, etc.

They, like everywhere I've been in Kuwait, had no special ventallation system.  I asked for a fan. She turned on a hair dryer.  I'm like no - a FAN.  My eyes stung.

It was a good treatment though.  But, the products that I bought at Strands here (Acai Brazilian Blowout shampoo and conditioner) seemed to be making my hair fall out, so I stopped using it.  I'm using other non-sulfur, non-sodium shampoo and conditioners.

I discovered how the Brazilian BJ's people get away with claiming they are formaldehyde free:  the products dont' contain formaldehyde at over the top levels; however, when mixed together is when it happens.  So I've been told with no verification of that anywhere.

I also made another discovery:  some companies are now offering keratin treatments in over the counter supplies.  I bought this one at CVS for $16.  It is supposed to last for 30 days.  There are others that are more expensive and last longer.  Ya know what - for the amount of time that this stuff is seeming to last in my hair (about 8 weeks regardless of what brand), I think $16 is a good deal.  I haven't tried it yet - maybe when the Coppola runs out.

So anyhoo, just thought I would pass that along.

Ever wonder why people can't say what they mean in Kuwait?

... I guess I am still having glue-sniff moments...

I read this online the other day and I thought - ohmahgawd!  This is why so many people here have such a hard time being direct and saying what's really on their mind.  I think Kuwait is having an identity crisis in many ways.  It makes sense that a collective society that has been trying to be more individualistic would have difficulting saying it like it is.

Excerpts from the article:

Individualists prefer clarity in their conversations to communicate more effectively and come in general directly to the point like the Finns and Americans are doing.  (I met a Finnish woman once who I wanted to punch in the face.  TALK about saying what’s on your mind – totally inappropriate!)
An exception here are Germans who indeed are an individualistic culture but their communication style is different.  (That might be more like Kuwait.)

Collectivists:  In China it is out of question to disagree with someone’s opinion in public. You will do that in a more private and personal atmosphere to protect a person from the “loss of face”. In collectivistic cultures a direct confrontation will be always avoided. Expressions or phrases are used which describe a disagreement or negative statement instead of saying no. Saying no would mean to destroy the harmony in the group.  (AHA!!!  Ergo "Inshallah".)