Sunday, June 30, 2013

Buy citizenship

CNN Online just published a list of countries in the world where you can buy citizenship.  Cool.

World's overlooked countries to buy second citizenship, residency

The tropical Caribbean island country of St. Kitts and Nevis has the world's longest-running citizenship-by-investment program. For $250,000, you get a second passport with access to nearly 130 countries. Another perk: no personal income tax.

For just $100,000 you can gain citizenship by investment to the Commonwealth of Dominica, also in the Caribbean Ocean. The country has just 73,000 people. Passport holders have visa-free access to about 85 countries.

Those interested in buying citizenship through investment should keep watch on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The government could make it legal as early as the summer of 2013.

In Europe, Austria is the only country where citizenship by investment is possible, says Henley & Partners. 

In Hong Kong, citizenship by investment is not a possibility, but residency by investment is. With a $1.3 million investment, you can enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the world and heavily-subsidized, well-regarded public health care.

Singapore has its Global Investor Program where applicants can invest $2 million for permanent residency. Citizenship is possible after two years. 

Australia launched the Significant Investor Visa program in November 2012. The scheme targets high-worth individuals and asks for $4.7 million in investment. After four years, holders can apply for permanent residency. Citizenship is also possible. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

You go, girl!

Lebanese wife thrahes her husband for flirting with her friend
Kuwait Times
Kuwait: A married couple was released from the Maidan Hawally police station Monday after the wife signed a document promising not to physically assault her husband again in the future. The Lebanese man had earlier approached the police and handed over a medical diagnosis report reflecting several bruises on his body. The man filed a complaint against his wife saying that the bruises were a result of her physical assaults.

The Lebanese woman was summoned for investigations, during which she confirmed that she hit her husband after her friend told her that he had flirted with her. The case was resolved when the man agreed to drop the charges once the wife signed the document; which she did only after he promised not to flirt with any of her friends again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kuwaiti Serial Rapist Arrested

Arab Times, 26 June

Kuwaiti Nabbed For Raping Many ‘Home Alone’ Women


Police have arrested a Kuwaiti criminal for sneaking into the homes of women and raping them after ensuring there was no male in the house, reports Al-Rai daily.  The arrest came after several Kuwaitis filed complaints with the Salwa Police Station accusing the man of sneaking into their homes and raping their wives.  The victims are believed to be three Kuwaitis, a Syrian and a Briton. They identified the suspect from pictures shown by police. After the man was taken into custody police records showed he was wanted by law in connection with drugs cases.

Anywhere else in the world, they would be stressing the severity of the crime and that it was committed by a SERIAL RAPIST (that means, in a series of similar crimes).  They write the article as matter-of-factly as it was about someone breaking into homes and stealing satellite dishes.  WTF!  

If someone were committing similar violent crimes in the same neighborhood, why wouldn't the police publicize it to warn others?  (Well okay... it took them months of child rapes before they publicized the Hawalli Monster cases...)   FIVE women were raped IN THEIR HOMES in SALWA.  Why does this country continue to take major violent crimes against women as if they are something inconsequential and minor?  

And this is very poorly written.  Who cares if there were no males in the house?  The women could have been single or elderly or whatever.  They were home invasions and rapes.  Did it matter to the story that "several Kuwaitis filed complaints"?  Wow.  "Complaints".   It makes it sound as if there is a noise disturbance.  Who cares what nationality of people filed the cases?  Does it make a difference that they were Kuwaiti?  What if they had been any other nationality?  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Advice to Western Companies Seeking Sponsorship in Kuwait

You can read a previous post about a recent case where a Western company, GLS, had employees who were "held captive on bases" because of a contract dispute with their sponsor. [They weren't literally held captive, but I believe they chose to stay there because  if they left the camps (because we don't have "bases" in Kuwait), they would be jailed and deported.]  I have heard that these employees are being assisted in leaving.  The sponsor company has asked GLS for $20 Million to transfer the employees, but that is kind of a mute point when the employees have been deported/have to leave the country (and are blacklisted).  The employees went through Hell (I believe unnecessarily) and now GLS' reputation is tainted globally through the media.

Although I don't know much about the case directly, what I believe the underlying cause was is a lack of understanding of Kuwaiti laws.  I think the company, GLS, perhaps connected with a company that they didn't know that much about and then (perhaps - and I'm only speculating)  didn't provide enough information to their employees - or provided inappropriate information.

Here is my advice to any Western company seeking a sponsor (or sponsorS) in Kuwait.  And by the by:  You don't need to commit to ONE sponsor company exclusively for all your employees in Kuwait.  Large companies working in Kuwait are catching on to this.  You can work with several and if one isn't doing the job for  you, stop using them later.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Risk management.

Do your homework!  Due diligence!!!  Just because a sponsor company has a member of the royal family attached to it somehow does NOT mean that they are ethical and/or will get your job done.  (OMG -  the stories!!!)  That affiliation sounds like a great selling point, but get references, check around.  Check the reputation of the person or people you are dealing with regardless of who they are.

Sometimes, Littleshittycompany LLC has an Egyptian mandoob (government liaison for the company/gopher/expediter)  who is actually doing all their work for them, is beloved at ministries, and has kept Littleshittycompany LLC's reputation in check for the past 25 years by having tea with the big boys in government offices.  These guys git 'er done here.  If a company has fired a succession of mandoobs, move on/look elsewhere.  The mandoob is the key to successful completion of all the paperwork.  And employees, never ever underestimate the power of your sponsor company's mandoob.  Bake them some damn cookies.  Buy their kid a gift.  Do whatever it takes to suck up.  Need something done?  You gotta scratch some backs.

And people please:  Verify, verify, verify!  Ask for important items to determine if a company is on the up-and-up/legit:

  • A current Kuwait business license (it will be in Arabic.  Establish a prior relationship with a translator.)
  • References from current or former sponsored companies (POC current/active e-mail addresses so that you can contact them yourselves.  Do not rely on their "outstanding references")
  • Financial statements - 3 years back or more.  Audited by a big 4 company?
  • Who is the authorized signatory and is he/she in Kuwait often?  Ask for a copy of the authorized signatory letter (Arabic).  (Note that the authorized signatory should be the ONLY person signing contracts/official documents with your foreign company - no one else.   Otherwise, the document may not be legal.)
  • Insurance:  DBA Insurance (or knowledge of how to obtain it).  Private healthcare (who do they deal with - ask to see several options).
  • Ask if they have the ability to "Open files"/sponsor X number of employees under Article 18 visas. 
  • Ability to assist in obtaining drivers licenses in Kuwait
  • Ask for certification (in writing) that no other company they have sponsored in X years has filed court cases against them. 
  • Ask if they have any branches outside of Kuwait (may help you if you need to litigate later).
  • Additionals:  Accommodations:  ask to see where they will be housing employees (or referring employees for housing).  Transportation:  What types of vehicles?  How old?  Does the sponsor company have any established relationships in order to offer your employees discounts? (Ok, now you are just messin' with them!)
  • Name(s) of company mandoobs.  How many years in service to the company.
  • (Probably more that I can't think of right now and feel free to chime in on comments.)

I was asked (by a sponsoring company) to complete a  due diligence questionnaire for a Western company (ok, I'll just say it - it was Honeywell)  to fill out before they would even consider working with them.  Those guys have it together.  That's the way you do it.  Send it out to several/many potential sponsoring companies and ask them to attach the above.  If they are professional, they'll be able to complete it.  If not, move on.

The sponsor company WILL be taking your money.  That's how they are in business.  They need to PROVE to you that they are worthy BEFORE you start doing business with them; not just when you need them to expedite a drivers license or (God forbid) when you have to take them to court for something.  The sponsor company WILL be responsible for the well-being of your employees while in Kuwait.  This is a very important role.  Why take chances?

And Western companies please - before you even think about doing business in Kuwait - Begin and maintain a good relationship with a Kuwaiti commercial lawyer/firm.  There are many. Some are ABA registered.  Have them draft/review your sponsorship agreement.  Put them on retainer so that if you need to ask questions (or have them write letters to your sponsor company to keep them in line) they are at your disposal.  Know your rights and the rights of your employees under the laws of Kuwait.  If you were in the US or Europe, you wouldn't play around with the laws or employee obligations; why would  you do it in a foreign company where there is so much more risk?

Which sponsoring company in Kuwait do I recommend right now?  Defcon Support ( is run by an American who sponsors companies in Kuwait. (Note that in order to sponsor people in Kuwait, the company must be owned 51% by a Kuwaiti and I don't know who his Kuwaiti partner is.)  Se habla English and have good contacts with the American/Western community in Kuwait as well as Western embassies.

Western Employees:  
You should ask the company you are going to work for if they have done their homework.  Ask, in writing, if the employing company has done due diligence on the sponsor company.  Ask for DETAILS of the sponsor company (name, name of executives, website, etc.).  God forbid you should need it later, but you might.  How many Westerners have I asked, 'So, who is your sponsor?'  "I dunno."  Or - if they do know:  'What is the name of the owner/principal?'  "I dunno.  I don't remember.  Al something."  No! No! No!  Bad employee!  Are you crazy??  Sponsor means you are under their control for the duration of your time in Kuwait.

Lemme break it down to reach a certain target audience:
It is like staying at someone's house in another state/city/country.  You don't know Flana (your Kuwaiti sponsor company) very well, but she's invited  you and your friend, Bob, (your employer)  to come on over.  Sounds good:  You like to travel and see new things and the price is right.   You don't know who Flana is  or what her address is.  You just don't bother with the details because hey - it's all good.  Flana seems nice.  You hop on a plane..... Then....  You're staying at Flanas and go out for a while and can't remember how to get back to her house  in a taxi. You don't have her address or last name.   Once you finally get back there, Flana has wigged out and locked the door.  She's acting all weird and has just gone pompei and put all your stuff out on the lawn after taking the money from your wallet! WTF!   (Betcha didn't see THAT comin'.)  What's up with Flana?  Who is this person?   Forget that Bob is staying there too.  Bob's not going to help you get back home. Bob didn't know Flana any better than you did when you decided to go visit.  (He was just looking at you with that same big stupid grin on his face when he thought he was getting a comfortable ride.) Bob is in the same dilemma and doesn't  know what's going on either.  You're both screwed because you haven't done your homework.  (Did you ask someone about Flana's recent problems with the law or that she has a mental disorder?)  Didn't your mother ever tell you to keep a quarter and taxi fare in your pocket just in case?  Did you listen?

Here's your quarter and taxi fare:
Do you have a Kuwaiti lawyer who is going to help you? Do you know how to find one should something happen?   Learn about where you are going (and how to get back).  You can't just rely on the embassy to help you out.  That's your responsibility.  The embassy has a listing of lawyers, but are they going to take your case?    What if one day you stop receiving your paycheck?  Whatchagonnado?  Plan in advance.  Make friends.  Establish contacts.

People - know your rights.  Download the Kuwait labor law.  You're an adult.  Act like one. (Both employers and employees.)   Don't just fly off without a plan.

Monday, June 24, 2013

BAM - Another Parliament

The latest newest newest new parliament has been dissolved and there is now a "one man (actually "person") one vote" law.  I agree with the law.  I think that's what it should be.  However, the way the governorates/voting districts are divided/populated does give an advantage to pro-Government voters and it could be that Kuwait will later look into re-division.

So... Here's what I don't get....

If there is what some call an unfair advantage, why would the opposition want to boycott yet another parliamentary election?  What is the point in that?  They will never be able to affect change in anything.  They will never be able to table this issue because ... hey... they're not there.

Isn't this kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face?

So far, the news has been kind of sketchy about boycott on or boycott off.  I don't think anyone thought this far.  Yup, the word "planning" isn't very popular around these parts.  I'm trying to keep up with the Kuwaiti news (no, not the newspapers or TV, but "Telephone, telefax, tell-a-Kuwaiti." - the best way to keep informed here).

Whutup, Kuwait?

Super Moon

How do you feel about changing your Facebook status under the relationship section?  A friend of mine got married a few years ago and all our mutual friends were giving him grief because he hadn’t changed his relationship to “married.”  So, I thought about changing my relationship status and I actually did – for about an hour – until my friend, Auditgirl,  started sending me frantic messages, “What are you DOING?!  How many times have I told you that there are bad people out there with hot eyes?!  Take it down!”, followed by her usual, “Are you mad at me, habibti?”  She’s so sweet and well-intentioned ... and right.  So I immediately took it down. 

Mr. Clean was so happy to see our new status (Mashallah Mashallah) publicized that he called me to thank me.  Slow your roll, baby, not yet.  Too many hot eyes.

I don’t know how much I can say on the blog now without jinxing myself and my relationship.  I’ll just keep the details under wraps for a while.

I haven’t felt like leaving my house lately (toooo freakin hot!)  in my free time, so rather than poppin in a work-out DVD (Hip Hop Abs is still my favourite – Sean T!!!), I’ve started baking.  Yeah, that’s right.  Me.  I made the fam a big box of assorted cookies the week before Mr. Clean got back to Kuwait:  Brownies, coconut-chocolate (“Eagle brand magic cookies” – look them up, soooo good), apricot Czech cookies, and Toll House.  I ran out of butter by the time I got to the Toll House and had to substitute Greek yogurt – which actually went over better than the ones I made with butter.  I really didn’t sample much myself, believe it or not.  It was just a time-filler.
I know – fasssssscinating, right?  Yeah.  Ok.  Snore.

Last night, we drove down to the Saudi border to see Super Moon.  I’ve been getting all these stupid Instagram and Twitter and Facebook messages advertising/glorifying Super Moon.  SUPER MOON!!!  How could I miss that event?  So, we went for a drive out of the city.  Just kept driving.  I had never been down that road before (290 in Nuwaiseeb).  I recognized the mosque because that's where Bunny's Maxima ended up something like 4 months after they stole it from outside his house. We ended up driving up on the fence that divides Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  It is a long, chain link fence with barbed wire on the top.  If anybody ever wanted to infiltrate Saudi Arabia (or Kuwait), it would not be difficult.  It was kind of cool because it was yet another piece of Kuwait that I hadn’t explored before.  There are two (what appear to be) gate houses on either side of the road.  Someone has written in Arabic, “Djinnis live here.”  Mr. Clean is so superstitious that he starts with the “owwwdibillah”s.  I giggle and wish I had my laser pointer to really freak him out.    I want to go back there during the day and take photos (maybe not too close to the fence – I don’t know if that’s allowed).  There were also some cool-looking chalets down there; one in particular with a tower that was all lit up.  Kind of out of place on the landscape, but very cool.  So were the gerbils running across the road and into the desert.  I loves me some gerbils.

Anyhoo, so with the exception of people driving like hywanat (animals) as usual during this time of the month, no one would even have noted that it was a full moon.  It wasn’t that exceptional.  Just another full moon.  Maybe a little brighter, but ... eh... not so much.  At least I had a lovely drive with Mr. Clean and a nice talk.

Stella and my Irish Cousin are here visiting.  I love it when they’re around.  We’re such a happy mixed-bag family.  I lie in bed in the morning thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t get out of bed and then think, ‘Oh (expletive).  Stella is here.  (She’s still my boss.)  I better get my (expletive) out of bed and go to work pronto.’ And then when I finally do get my (expletive) up and go to the kitchen where she has always got a pot of coffee ready for me (because she’s a Type A and rises at Dawn’s crack), she looks at me and says, “Do we really have to go to work?”  Gotta love it. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contract dispute leaves 100 Americans stranded on US Army bases

Someone sent me the link to this on my Facebook site this morning.  It is the first I've heard of it.  Some companies are REALLY lowering the bar on unethical behavior.  OMG.  I hope that folks in the US are equally as "hospitable" should the company owners ever venture to the US....

Captive in Kuwait: Contract dispute leaves 100 Americans stranded on US Army bases
Published June 18, 2013

At least 100 American citizens have been trapped for months on two U.S. bases inside Kuwait after local police unjustly issued warrants for their arrest, a U.S. defense contractor told

Most of the Americans were working as Arabic translators for Global Linguist Solutions, which ended a lucrative deal with its sponsoring Kuwaiti subcontractor, Al Shora International General Trading & Contracting and signed on with another company. Sources told Al Shora's managing director is the sister-in-law of the Kuwaiti prime minister.

When the contract ended Feb. 17, Al Shora refused to transfer the employees' visas to the new Kuwaiti subcontractor and falsely accused the Americans of being "runaways and absconders," according to Charles Tolleson, president of Global Linguist Solutions. His company has barred workers from leaving the bases since May 31 to protect them from arrest and imprisonment. 

"We don’t see any hope. We’re dealing with a corrupt company in Kuwait that has fabricated charges against us."  - American citizen trapped on U.S. base in Kuwait.  "My biggest concern is the safety and security of my employees in Kuwait," he said. 

One of the employees, who contacted Tuesday morning from Camp Buehring, said, "If we leave the base, we could be arrested by the Kuwaiti authorities, jailed or deported."

"We cannot see the doctor even for an emergency," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. "Everybody here is under stress because a lot of us here need to go home. Our families are worried about us. We need to see our kids... We don’t see any hope. We’re dealing with a corrupt company in Kuwait that has fabricated charges against us."

She said the Al Shora's managing director "cancelled all of our visas here, so we became illegal."
Camp Buehring is in the Kuwaiti desert, about 25 miles south of the Iraqi border. Other employees of Global Linguistics are similarly stuck at Camp Arifjan, another U.S. Army base inside Kuwait.

Al Shora is demanding $22 million from Global Linguistics in order to transfer the employees' visas to the new company, Kuwaiti Resources House, sources said. Under Kuwaiti law, foreigners cannot work in the country unless they are under the sponsorship of a private Kuwaiti company. 

After his company re-bid its contract several months ago and opted to chose the new Kuwaiti company, "Al Shora basically embarked on a campaign to destroy my company," Tolleson said.

"There’s no contract dispute. I don’t even have a contract with them anymore," he said of Al Shora. "If a sponsor is no longer a sponsor, they are required to simply transfer [the visas] to the new sponsor. This happens all the time. They won’t do that, and that violates the terms of their former contract."

A representative from the Kuwaiti prime minister's office said he was not aware of the situation.  "This is the first time I heard about this," the representative, who declined to give his name, told "This kind of behavior has never happened."

He had no comment when asked if the Al Shora's managing director was related to Kuwaiti Prime Minister Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah

Tolleson said that when he approached the U.S. military about the situation, "I was told this is my problem."
The office for the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait referred all inquiries on the matter to the U.S. State Department.

“The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is aware of the commercial dispute involving a Department of Defense contractor and a local Kuwaiti company," Beth Gosselin, as a State Department spokeswoman, told "That dispute has had an impact on a number of private U.S. citizens working in Kuwait. 
"The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities," Gosselin added. "The U.S. Embassy is working with the private U.S. citizens and is providing them with appropriate consular assistance. The Embassy continues to monitor the situation closely and is encouraging an immediate resolution to this difficult issue."

At least three of the linguists reportedly spent seven days in a crowded, filthy jail after being caught outside their base. Majdi Abdulghani was detained by police May 9, as he prepared to board a plane on an approved trip to Jordan to visit his sick mother, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported.  He spent seven days in jail before being flown back to the U.S., according to the newspaper.  

People "without" - in Pictures

Just re-posting the posts.  Worth a look

This morning I found this post on Mark’s blog over at 248am and had to share it.
The pictures were taken by renowned Photographer Greg Constantine who started working on his project ‘Nowhere People’ in 2005. The series currently featured at focuses on the Stateless (bidoon) of Kuwait. I’m hoping the brilliant work by Greg will help to bring more international attention to their cause and the gross violation of human rights.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thank you, envious B!

Here is a little diddy for a certain stalker.  Goes a little some'in like this:   Thank you for teaching me about life; about being gracious and kind and grateful and positive.  Because if there weren't people from the opposite end of that spectrum, I (we all) would never know what amazing blessings we have been given by God.

Thank you, Mr. Clean, for pointing out that I am blessed.  Without this particular, seemingly-bad course of events that took place a few months ago, I never would have met you and valued you for who you are and the happiness (Mashallah!) you have brought to my life.  

Mr. Clean's tagline on Instagram is, "I like all things in my life."  He's just that kind of guy:  Positive.

If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?

(I changed the name of the post after Stormser had that quote on Instagram and I thought it was appropriate.  Thanks, girl!)

I just met with a media group who put all previous "marketeers" to shame.  It was like a breath of fresh air:  One guy.  No gimmicks.  Not a "Yes" man.  No BS.  Just succinct, direct, sincere business.  (Harps playing.)  He had a firm, business-like handshake.  Maintained direct eye contact with the person speaking.  Kept it real the whole time. Totally commanded confidence.  Love it!

I would love to post the name of the company, but he is very intelligent and probably scours the net for reviews and he would immediately recognize the Desert Girl alter ego.  (If you do happen to be that smart that you are reading this right now, I will promote the heck out of your company just from that one meeting!  You go, boyyyyy.)

I am really impressed.  (And, as we all know, I'm usually a negative sourpuss, so this kind of compliment is rare.)

Yesterday, I had a different sort of meeting.  "Yes we construct aluminum stands.   Yes we do social media. Yes we do...."  (Ok, do I have to tell you the nationality of the car mechanic/brain surgeon/rocket scientist/marketing guru?)  Sigh.

He brought along his lovely assistant, Pink Lips.  That's all I saw when she walked in.  There were like 2 miles of parallel pink lips.  Somebody made a whole lot of money selling collagen that day.  Pink Lips sized me up and decided she didn't like me.  Is it my blondeness?  Whatever it was, she didn't like. (BTW - me=customer, you=seller.)  She talked OVER me and immediately started arguing. Then she brought up the fact that she's from Tunisia and speaks French (oh no she di' int!):  Yes, she whipped out her French; Dropped dat Frenchbomb.  OMG.  "Oui, je suis de Tunis. Je parle Francais... yada yada blah blah bil Francais...."   (Who CARES?  Are you there for a date or for a meeting?  WTF.) I didn't like Pink Lips very much.  Maybe she didn't like it either when I asked her questions about their client list and how they would handle our account.  You know....  the kind of "driving" questions that you actually need answers to during a meeting (Bring answers.  Not pink lips.).  Am I being bitchy again?  Hmmmm.  (Check this out, little girls.)

Je suis Desert Girl.  Je suis de Virginia.  Parle le pigeon Latin....

Both that company's e-mails and their (get this) website are full of grammar and spelling mistakes.  Why would we want to play with them?  Why, I ask you?  Why?

Oh sorry.  Did my negative sourpuss side come out again?

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A wonderful day in the neighborhood.  Won't you be my neighbor?

.... I've had too much sugar.  Somebody give me my Ritalin.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers Day Up in Heaven, Dad

I miss you, Dad, and I still go to the phone to call you or remember to bring you back a little gift from Kuwait.  I'm thinking of you today. Happy fathers day.  I love you.

I miss my daddy link from 2006.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Novel Coronavirus Called "MERS-CoV" in the Arabian Peninsula

Everybody in my office has been coughing, hacking and spewing.  I've had to do some research for a required pandemic plan for our office (as IF researching FAR clauses isn't bad enough.... OMG).  So, it got me to thinking about this new flu.  I was pretty sick in Dubai last month.  One never knows...

What the Center for Disease Control in the US has to say (as of today):

Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
Updated: June 11, 2013

What Is the Current Situation?

Cases of respiratory illness caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been identified in multiple countries. MERS-CoV was previously called "novel coronavirus." For more information, see CDC’s MERS website.

For more information, see the World Health Organization (WHO).
CDC does not recommend that anyone change their travel plans because of these cases of MERS. CDC recommends that US travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula*monitor their health and see a doctor right away if they develop fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath. They should tell the doctor about their recent travel.  

What Is a Coronavirus?

oronaviruses are a cause of the common cold. A coronavirus also was the cause of the severe respiratory illness called SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). SARS caused a global epidemic in 2003, but there have not been any known cases of SARS since 2004. MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused SARS.

What Is Known About MERS-CoV?

MERS-CoV is different from any other coronavirus that has been previously found in people. Symptoms of MERS have included fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CDC is working with the World Health Organization and other partners to understand the public health risks from this virus.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves?

Taking these everyday actions can help prevent the spread of germs and protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses:

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use analcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact with sick people.
Be sure you are up-to-date with all of your shots, and if possible, see your healthcare provider at least 4–6 weeks before travel to get any additional shots. Visit CDC’s Travelers' Health website for more information on healthy travel.
 If you are sick
Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash.
Avoid contact with other people to keep from infecting them.

When Should Someone See a Health Care Provider?

You should see a health care provider if you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula*. You should tell the health care provider about your recent travel.

Clinician Information:

Health care providers should be alert to patients who develop severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., requiring hospitalization) within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula* or neighboring countries, excluding those who transited at airports.
Consider other more common causes of respiratory illness, such as influenza.
Evaluate patients using CDC’s case definitions and guidance
Immediately report patients with unexplained respiratory illness and who meet CDC’s criteria for “patient under investigation” to CDC through the state or local health department.
Consider evaluating patients for MERS-CoV infection who:
·         Develop severe acute lower respiratory illness of known etiology within 14 days after traveling from the Arabian Peninsula,* but who do not respond to appropriate therapy
·         Develop severe acute lower respiratory illness who are close contacts of a symptomatic traveler who developed fever and acute respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from the Arabian Peninsula.*
See additional recommendations and guidance on CDC’s MERS website.
Contact your state or local health department if you have any questions.

*Countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What happens at the airport when you're caught with booze

(This was a not-so-funny April Fools Day joke)

So, I'm not going to reveal the identity of the person that this happened to (at her request), but she thought people might be interested in knowing what happens to you when you are caught bringing in booze to Kuwait.  I've done it myself over the years.  My Kuwaiti friends do it.  Other expat friends do it.  It is kinda like having sex out of wedlock:  It is illegal here, but please don't try to tell me that no one is doing it.... just sayin....

Getting caught (and it has happened to me several times) depends on different factors:  If the staff is new, if the airport is busy/lots of flights, or - if they just don't feel like paying attention.  Guess girlfriend just had bad luck.

Here is what my reader had to say:

Dear Desert Girl,
Last night I was caught with a few water bottles of alcohol in my suitcase coming into Kuwait Airport.  It wasn’t my first time over the years being caught.  Usually, the customs reps just take it off you and  you leave.  This time, there seemed to be a quite young, quite new customs rep at the counter (“Lucky 13”).  They no longer put their names on their uniforms, so that no wastah can help.  I guess young 13 was trying to catch a dangerous criminal.

He took the alcohol from me and placed it under the counter.  Then took my passport and put it in his back pocket.  Without any gloves, he proceeded to go through my bag (dirty underwear and all).  He asked me if I had anything else.  I said I didn’t.  Then, he x-rayed my bag a second time and asked to go through my handbag and my laptop bag.  Again, without gloves.  I started to feel creepy and violated.  I didn’t like the thought of someone elses’ hands touching my items.  Likewise, he didn’t know what I had in my bags and he it was obvious he was touching worn clothing.  He didn’t use hand sanitizer.  It was all very disgusting.

The entire time, he directed bad looks my way and scowled.  He told me to follow him to the little security room.  “Come!”  Like calling a dog.

When I got into the security room, there were two other men there.  (I immediately handed them my civil ID.)  Only one spoke English.  He asked me in not a friendly manner why I had brought the alcohol into the country as I should “know better.”  I responded, “to drink it, of course.”  Rotund, sweaty, and very excited Lucky 13 told the men that I had hid the alcohol in my make-up bag (as if this was something unusual).  I said, “What should I have done with it?  Place it on top of the suitcase?”  The senior rep tapped on the table and said, “This is a case. This is a case.”  I said, “Ok, file a case. What else can I do?” I told him I had measured exactly 1.5 litres in volume – that is all I was carrying.  Then I started sending SMSs to my Kuwaiti lawyer (who never responded as he was probably at his chalet with his friends drinking).

The senior gent took a copy of my passport and my civil ID card.  He asked me to sign a paper.  I honestly didn’t think they could make a case with only 1.5 litres of alcohol.  I had heard about the papers people are sometimes asked to sign where you agree never to do it again.  I expected either.  What I was asked to sign was only a paper saying that my suitcase was being returned to me with all my items inside.  (A luggage receipt!)  Then they said I could go.

The purpose of the drama seemed more to intimidate and instil fear than to create a legal problem.  I know that I broke the law, but I am obviously not a hardened criminal and there is no need for people to be unkind or act uncivilized.  They might do with customer service training.

The entire ordeal lasted approximately 20 minutes.

Once again - I missed one of the biggest parties EVAH: Honda Alghanim Launch

It was unfortunate that I found out about Alghanim's Honda launch party held last night  at the skating rink on such short notice.  I had made plans to travel to Dubai, so I couldn't make it. 

I received an invitation as a blogger that started out:  "Dear beloved blogger, I'm  the Digital Account Manager for Honda Kuwait ...."  So nice to be thought of every now and then by kind people in marketing.  Mr. W is from a marketing firm that I did business with a looooong time ago, Impact & Echo.  They do good work.  This marketing tactic was no exception.  I am just sorry that I received the invitation so late otherwise I could have done a better job at promoting them (and planning to go to the party and see my fav singer).  

I LOVE Hussein Jasmi. He has such a unique voice and I really enjoy his music.  He sings "Wagif" and I lose it. :)  Fat or thin, I'm a fan.  Some people you can look at and their "light"/personality just shows through.  I believe that he is one of those genuinely nice guys.

La Senza went and said it was phenominal.  She loves Jasmi more than I do (one of those crazed fans).  I was sure that she had received an invitation too; and she had.  She just wasn't planning to go as it was yet another product launch.  Then I told her who would be there. 

(Photo Credit:  La Senza)

Other performances last night included Asimo robot show,  The visual symphony show,  The Kuwaiti “3arda,” the Japanese “Taiko” show and more.  I am REALLY sorry that I missed it.  (Just remember me later for other shows, Mr. W, and I promise to help you promote.

I have a feeling that Alghanim is going to do an outstanding job at marketing Honda.  Honda should be doing much better in the market than they are.  They have a good, safe, reasonably priced product and there should be more of them on the road.  I've owned one, as well as many of the members of my family.

Kuwait: Scary Movie

Reprint from The Arab Times
Current situation of expats in Kuwait similar to scary movie ‘Phenomenon’ instills fear

KUWAIT CITY, June 9: It is similar to a scary movie if we describe the current situation of the expatriates living in Kuwait. Like all countries, Kuwait has the right to reduce the number of foreign workers or rather get rid of expatriates, but the question is why foreigners are not given the chance to leave the country. For instance, singles could be given three months and six months for those with families since their children could be in school at the time of deportation, reports Al-Seyassah daily.

Expatriates who have come to Kuwait to work and earn a living fully realize that almighty God exists and He alone makes provisions (sustenance) whether in Kuwait or in any other country.

Sustenance or rather the daily bread is a blessing from the skies, which corroborates the words of Allah in Qu’ran chapter 51 verse 20, which states “And in the heavens is your provisions and whatever you are promised”.

Amid the ongoing security campaigns conducted by personnel of the Interior Ministry pursuing expatriates who have violated residency and labor laws-with the recent active campaigns against traffic violators, there is another phenomenon that has become visible in terms of infringement against human rights which, to say the least, instills fear in the hearts of expatriates working here in Kuwait.

According to report, an Asian expatriate wearing clothes that are usually for indoors had come out to throw garbage in front of his home. He was arrested by police and taken to deportation center, even though the Asian was screaming on top of his voice he holds valid residence visa. Three days later, he called his wife and family telling them he had arrived in India.

In another incident, groups of expatriate workers who left their vehicles at a place in Farwaniya for the purpose of selling them were rounded up by officers of the Interior Ministry who accused them of illegal gathering. They were deported.

Also, a policeman entered a public transport (bus) to check the passengers for valid residence permits and discovered one of the passengers was holding a driving license. The officer collected the license and cut it into two and destroyed it, notwithstanding the victim could have boarded the bus after taking his car to the garage for maintenance.

Another expatriate doctor in his car with his wife were demanded to prove they are married due to the fact that the wife’s residency was under a company’s name and not the doctor’s.

Elsewhere, the personal car of one expatriate was impounded while he was accompanying his ailing father to the hospital. According to the police, the car which is 2010 model was producing smoke, so the expatriate was forced to board a taxi to take his elderly father to hospital.

I have heard from Indian friends that they have started random checks of civil IDs which have included children. And that children are being deported to "next flight out." Meaning that children with no ID outside their homes from one city in India may be dropped off in another city. Without money or family or clothing.

I heard that a woman walked downstairs in her night clothes to take her child out to school transportation (without her civil ID).  She was immediately deported.

Is this rumor? Is it true?
If it is true, where are the international organizations????

And how about this:  Instead of ruining the lives of innocents, how about bi-annual amnesty periods where people are allowed to LEAVE?  Many people actually want to, but can't.  Let them go if you want people out of your country.  Seems simple, right?

.... I seem to recall stories of Iraqis doing similar things to Kuwaitis in 1990-91... the victims become the victimizers....

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Deportation - Seriously? You think that's going to work???

I have my own take on the recent deportations of expats in the country because of traffic violations.

Have I been worried about it for myself?  Yes I have.  What if I leave the house ONE time without my drivers license?  What happens if, for example, I go through a red light because there is a truck tailgating behind me?  Will I even be able to put my Kuwait affairs in order before I'm jailed and sent home?  What about my dog?  What about my car loan?  Yes, I think about all this stuff.

Right now, the Kuwait Ministry of Interior is deporting as many people as they possibly can for traffic violations to "resolve the traffic problem."  I personally do NOT believe that this will resolve Kuwait's traffic problems in the slightest.

Deporting people isn't going to make anything better.  There will always be another crop of drivers entering the country who will not be properly trained before getting on Kuwait's roads.  Why?  Because Kuwait continues to hire from poverty-sricken countries where the "drivers" ask for very little money for salaries and hey - have probably never owned a vehicle of their own back in their home country (and yes folks - these are the SAME people who are driving  your children around). 

Yes I believe that people who are re-offenders of serious traffic crimes should be heavily fined or banned from driving, but what about those of us who make genuine mistakes at some point AND who CONTRIBUTE to the advancement and prosperity of this society? (And many who even fought for this country.)  Are you going to put everyone into the same category?

The PROBLEM is that there are too many cars on the road. The ANSWER is mass transportation: Safe, dependable, clean, affordable transportation for the masses. Look at Dubai - WOW. And - not every family needs 3 drivers and 6 cars to transport kids to and from school: regulate a country-mandated school bus system (again - safe, dependable and clean for the kids). Regulate. Enforce laws.  Educate the population.

I emplore the decision makers to visit Dubai and take the metro.  (And I know Kuwait "has plans" to build a metro, but if you have lived in Kuwait for more than 6 months, you'll know that "planning" doesn't equate to "doing.") 

Kuwait is an exclusive country, not an inclusive one.  There is a very callous mentality towards allowing people into Kuwait, and for making it friendly for them to stay there.  Dubai is of quite a different mentality:  Set the infrastructure, lay down the law and enforce it, and then allow people to help you make your country flourish.

I feel sad for Kuwait.  There is so much untapped potential just beyond the veil.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

DO SOMETHING this summer! Learn how to dive at Al Boom Dive Center

This is a special shout out to my friends at Alboom Dive Center.  I have known one of the instructors for 30 years (I'm 29).  He was learning to dive then and Americans taught him how.  Now he teaches Americans (and others) how to dive.  Why didn't he ever teach me?  Because I'm a bigfatchicken.

Do something this summer.  Learn how to dive.  Explore Kuwait's amazing sealife.  Doooooo IT!


Since summer has started, many people in Kuwait like to have activities to do, but they do not know what those activities are. Alboom Marine Dive Center family would like to be a part in helping people to decide about that activity they are looking for. We offer scuba diving courses under the umbrella of the National association of Underwater Instructors “NAUI”. Most of the youth with the ages between 17 and 25 are looking for those activities and adventures to occupy their time and have fun as well. Alboom Marine Dive Center has a very long history in the marine life in Kuwait, especially in scuba diving since we are the NAUI service center in the Middle East. Established in 1987, Al Boom Marine is the largest diving school in the state of Kuwait. Our diving school has trained & certified more than 20,000 divers in different fields. 

We are NAUI’s official service center in the Middle East and we offer diving courses in Arabic and in English as well.  (Female Instructors are available for women.)

Al Boom Marine offers a full range of NAUI diving and snorkeling courses from beginner to Instructor level. We are focusing on student learning, skills development, and divers’ safety. All of the Instructors in Alboom Marine Dive Center are internationally certified and also qualified to teach the NAUI scuba diving courses.

What we would like to offer for you is scuba diving courses under the training regulations of NAUI. This offer will give the you the opportunity of a life time to discover the underwater life in Kuwait while training and worldwide after getting certified.

We hope to hear from you soon regarding our offer. And remember always NAUI’s saying “Dive safety through education”.

Alboom Marine Dive Center Family
Tel : 965-4830570 /4830474 /4834831
Fax : 965-4838293
website :

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Bangin a blog post - BAM

I haven't written in a while because things have been going well and I don't want the Evil Stalkers (not you good/nice stalkers AKA "followers", but the hatahs who only wish people ill) to give me the stink eye. Mashallah, Mashallah, Mashallah - anti-stink-eye, anti-stink-eye.

Why is it that people just can't wish others well?  Why can't we get along? Why can't we jsut look at the other person and say, "Wow!  Isn't that great that he/she has that?  How good for them.  I wish them the best of luck with that."  But, as I have been reminded recently by several Messengers, many people just don't do that and their funky form of negative energy and disenchantment permeates the goodness.  Emotional vampires that suck the positive energy right outa ya.

I say BE GONE!!!  (Hissing noise.)

Sorry, I was out in the 47 degree C temperature today and I'm a little discombobulated.  Which, by the by, I do not understand Metric at all because I believe that if you switch over to Metric, you are just unpatriotic.  I do know, however, that It was hotterThanShitHot today. Oh, I just checked and it is 113 degrees F right now (down from 47C which is 116F - I had to Google it).  When someone said to me in February, "Hey Desert Girl, why are you buying a black car with black interior?  Don't you know that it is going to be really hot in the summer?" I was like (in my usual fashion), 'I don't care.  I want it.'  Em.... I think I get what they were talking about now.  I burnt my backside today at the embassy.  Crispy Critter, I am.  (US Embassy - why can't you invest in covered parking for visitors?  Dudes!) 

I didn't want to buy a leather sofa in Kuwait and I should have remembered my reasoning (although not quite the same) when I bought the car.  Have you ever tried to get up off a leather sofa when your neked and it is hotterThanShitHot?  Yeah, then you would understand...

So anyhoo, back to my story....

I've also not been blog-abouting lately because I've been (get this shit) BUSY lately.  I know... right? Me. 

We moved our office from Disease (Dhajeej) to a huge, glass highrise building downtown.  At first, the thought scared the bejezus out of me, but then we moved in and the views are so amazing and it is so high-class that I'm not even sweating the fact that we have no evacuation plan or fire emergency plan and that having had previously worked for a "construction" company, I know that the rules can be bent a bit (as well as the walls, the plans, etc.) in Kuwait.  (Code?  We don't need no stinkin CODE!)    Noooo, but it is just really pretty....   (blonde!)   Now I'm up here singin the song to The Jeffersons ("We're movin on up....") and looking out at Gotham City.  It's faaaaaabulous.

I hated working in Disease.  If  you ever want to work somewhere where you can't walk to your car (even if you have underground parking) without men staring at your butt (yes, even if you are a man); move your office to Disease.  And just getting there is FUN!  I mean, 6th Ring Road is just a treat in the morning with all the trucks and little cars that, not unlike little dogs, are much more aggressive and think that they are bigger.


So, I am changing "A"s name on the blog to "Mr. Clean."  That's what I call him at home anyways.  He can wash a fork 5 times before eating off it (whereas I can just pick one up off the floor, brush it off, and move on).  He's also got the most impeccable table manners of anyone on this continent.  I get the feeling that he might not "enjoy" my table manners so much.... I get The Look. 

MC's got me into Habits like buying Comfort so the towels smell good.  Habits - I tellya!  What's that all about?  Plus, I am doing stuff like (I'm not proud of this).... baking, cooking meals, shopping for him.  WTF!  Me?  Bake?  Unheard of.  Well ok, I think I may have done that before during The Honeymoon Period.  Maybe that's jsut what this is.  Dunno.  Why is it that 99.9% of Arabs believe that all American women bake?  Is it all our commercials on OSN and all the cooking shows?  Yeah, most of us can bake - out of a BOX.  My friend, Naz, and his family thought for years that I made the Best Brownies in the World. That's right.  I did.  With Ms. Crocker's help. 

Did you know that Sultan Center sells both brownie AND cupcake mixes that come in a shake-and-pour container?  Holy SNAP!  Alls you have to do is add water, shake, and bake.  I tried the brownies - not so good, but they'll do in an Emergency.

MC's mom is sending me covered dishes, so I feel that I should reciprocate and send her baked goods.  It all started when I went to have lunch at their house (MASHALLAH) with the fam and I ate so much that it hurt and then I was craving some more of their food by 11:00 at night and there was none.  I complained to MC and bada BING - covered dishes appeared!  Who KNEW!

Let me get away from the issue of food for a moment because I'm hungry and Johnny Rockets and their milkshakes are in very close proximity and I could be tempted by my djinnis....

My friends who had their farm confiscated a few weeks ago have just found a place up in The Kingdom of Kabd and I'll be back on track with Group Therapy soon.  Mr. Clean doesn't like Kabd, but he'll go for me.  He likes the Group.  Group likes him.  Besides, Kabd is where you find the best watermellons.  (Even though I have found some really really good ones lately in Rumaithiya MASHALLAH). 

Sorry, but I'm feelin the stankeye and I'm going to keep MASHALLAH-ing until I feel it no more.  (Bitch please!!!)


Stella and her Fella stayed with me for a few days and it felt like being home with family.  I love having them around.  Some people are just positive and easy to be with.  Happy happy.

(Back to food) While they were here, I ate junk food like a mofo and I thoroughly regret it now.  My mother called the other night and said, "What's that noise?"  I said, 'Oh, I'm eating chips.'  and she said (sucking in the air in exasperation), "I THOUGHT you were OFF the chips!" (Like being "off the pipe.)  Yeah, I had a relapse.  Someone call Betty Ford!  It was a small bag of the Chips of My Demise:   Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips.  Someday, they'll find me dead with a Johnny Rockets' Orange Creamsicle milkshake in one hand and a bag of those chili chips in the other.  Then my mother will say, "I tried to get her off the chip...."

You think that I'm crazy? - Get this, my dog has doggy alzheimers (dogzheimers).  She gets confused.  She tries to bite me at inappropriate times. She growls when I go to give her a hug.  (Or perhaps.... I just annoy her?)  She's so mean.  One of my friends came over a while back and said, "Why don't you sell her and get a younger dog?"  WTF!  Why don't you sell one of your kids and get a younger one?  What would happen to Desert Dawg?  She's almost 17.  Who would want her bony, mean doggy butt?  That's a horrible thing to say.  To SOME of us, pets are for life and are family members.  I worry about her.  She's still my baby.\

So... a long weekend coming up.  Whatchall doin?