Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The psychological toll of the constant threat of deportation

"Deportation" has become the new buzzword among lawmakers in Kuwait. You're not cool if you can't create a law that says that someone is going to get deported these days.   You can be deported for barbecuing, for partying, for various traffic offenses, for various visa offenses... the list goes on and on and there seems to be a new deportation law coming out every week.

I've been depressed for a year.  I guess I didn't realize how bad it has affected me until I took steps back to look at what is going on in my life.  Ok, there are other incidents which have led to my feeling down, but every week, I worry about something else.

Now, it is walking my dog.

Every day when I finish work, I go home, get my dog, and take him out for a walk.  One he became large (he's a German Shepherd), I stopped walking him in my neighborhood and at our local walking track to avoid the possibility of scaring, startling, upsetting anyone who fears big dogs.  (Other large breed dog owners in my neighborhood continue to walk their dogs at the track.)  I put my dog in my car, and usually drive several miles from my house to Engifa or the beach close to it.  I thought I was being considerate.

A law has just been put into effect stating that large breed "dangerous" dogs can not be walked on beaches or in public areas.  So my drive will be longer.  Now, I am going to have to take my dog somewhere to a desert so that he can have decent exercise.  How am I going to accomplish this in a sports car?  I am going to have to buy a 4x4.

Why?  Because instead of deporting me, they will do the unthinkable:  take my dog.  (and do what with him and who will determine that? Who knows because these new laws are vague and seemingly subjective.). You see, Kuwait still sees pets as "things" as material.  To SOME of us, our pets are our family members.  My older dog has been with me for 18 years; through wars and troubles and boyfriends and jobs.  My big boy is still basically a puppy. I don't have family in Kuwait;  my pets ARE my family.  And like my human family, IF anyone tried to harm them or take them from me, I would unleash a level  of crazy unheard of in several centuries of history.

I've been in Kuwait for 18 years.  I didn't come to Kuwait for money.  I came because I loved Kuwait (even before I arrived here).   That was then.  This recent Kuwait is depressing and almost intolerable.  While I am grateful for a great job and other benefits of living in Kuwait, it is depressing.  Sometimes you can't feel how oppressive it is until you leave.

When you are trying to live your life in peace and contentment, how is that accomplished when you have a sword  constantly dangling above your head?

Life is too short.

Now, some of you readers have commented that I'm stupid and I should know by now that none of this is ever going to be enforced and blah blah blah....  Ok fine, but I believe those people commenting were probably not foreigners living in Kuwait.  Kuwaitis don't have to worry about being kicked out (well, that's not true, but it would take a lot more and it is a totally different subject all together).  Kuwaitis aren't going to lay in bed at night thinking about what MIGHT happen because you broke the latest recent-most-stupid-law.  Some people don't do that - I do.  I worry.  I think worst-case-scenario first and then I can go back from there.

I know I'm lucky.  I know I'm from a country that has preferential treatment in Kuwait.  I have Kuwaiti friends that I could call on (but I rarely rarely do).  But I still worry about it.  Probably because I love Kuwait and consider it home.  So the mere threat of all this deportation stuff is damaging.  It's negative.  It's bad.  And if I'm feeling this way; how are others who are less fortunate feeling?  Sorry, but a threat is a threat and there is no way to look at it as a positive/pleasant experience.  It is bullying - and on a national level.


This is a perspective blog:  MY perspective. How I feel.  I'm not the frickin voice of my people.  I can only add my voice.  You don't have to like it, but you don't have to read it either.  I'm not blogging out of a need for additional readers to collect advertising fees.  I don't give a rats smelly ass about stats.  I blog because I enjoy it.  I tell it like I see it.  Quite a few people have commented on MY blog lately using quite negative and even insulting language to express their dislike of MY perspective.  To which I say (as I have said before and will say again):  NO ONE is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to read this.  If you dislike, disagree with, or just get pissed off with what I have to say:  stopfuckingreading it.  Create your own blog.  Vent your opinion there. I'm not Fox f-ing news.  I'm the author of a teeny weeny little blog in a teeny weeny little country writing about my teeny weeny view of things.  That's it.  There is no conspiracy.  I think I will stop allowing comments for a while because I CHOOSE not to partake in other people's negativity.  The drama is destructive to my chi and that, my friends, is no f-ing way to start a new year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I Met Oprah... almost

(Photo Credit:  Q8 All In One Blog)

I rode back on a flight to the States with Caroline Hodge, the Oprah impersonator who gained so much attention, innocently shopping at The Avenues.  Ms. Hodge is a flight attendant and also works as a look-alike.  I asked her if she was at The Avenues Mall the other day.  She kind of rolled her eyes and said, "Were you there?"  I said, "No, but I read about it on the internet."  She later stopped by and I asked her how it was.  She said, "Well, I get paid to be an impersonator, but these people were like Oh My God."  She didn't elaborate, leading to my own speculation as to weather or not she was mobbed or asked for too many autographs or what.  I was flying Xanax Air and fell back into my coma right after our brief exchange.  I should have asked for more details.  Really nice lady.

I don't even remember much about my conversation with my really handsome flight attendant friend, Ghassan.  (You know I had to be out of it!)  Such a nice guy. (Did I mention that he was totally good looking too?)

No one else on the plane seemed to remark that they were being served by Oprah; even though her name tag said, "Oprah" on it.  Maybe people were being polite?  Maybe they thought there were hidden cameras somewhere and we were all about to be surprised with new cars?  Dunno.   THAT would have been cool.

Merry Christmas, Oprah Hodge.  It was lovely to have had the pleasure of your acquaintance.


If Oprah WINFREY reads this, here is my wish:  Would you kindly open a school for Bedoun children in Kuwait?  Bedoun means that they have no nationality. There are roughly 100,000 Bedoun people in Kuwait.   Kuwait doesn't recognize them of citizens and many can not enter school or get educations because they have no documentation.  Thank you.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

In The States for Christmas

I always go home at Christmas to be with my family.  This time, I was seriously in need of a break and an attitude adjustment.  I've been wound really tight lately and it was time for a refresher.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas (where ever you are!) and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015.  2014 was kind of a bitch.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grass Roots Organizations Dedicated to the Betterment of Kuwait

Check these out.  There are probably others (and if you know of any grass-roots Kuwait betterment sites, organizations, or accounts, please write to me, so I can post about them).

Unfortunately, Q8NEEDSYOU only posts in Arabic, 
making it frustrating for others who would like to make a difference in Kuwait.

Publicly tackling the issue of discrimination in Kuwait

The Real Issue

By Abd Al-Rahman Alyan
Editor-in-Chief, Kuwait Times

It bemuses me how a country that’s a pioneer of democracy in the region could be clouded with discrimination. Let’s stop acting like everything is rosy and deny the fact that there are ridiculous rules being passed that are discriminating and not thought through in Kuwait. Every time I hear discriminating ideas about stopping expats from driving or having hospital hours for Kuwaitis and other hours for expats or this for Kuwaitis and that for expats, I am outraged. I can’t help but wonder why we are then outraged when another country takes a decision to protect its people’s rights such as the Indian Embassy fiasco that has become the talk of the town.

Lately the Indian Embassy has put into effect a decision that was taken by the Indian government to protect the rights of its citizens by asking sponsors in the Gulf to pay a guarantee of KD 720 ($2500) for each female Indian domestic worker in an attempt to protect their rights. As a result several members of Parliament have shown their outrage at the decision and are pressuring the government to take counter measures.

It is understandable when the many decent Kuwaiti families are upset over this decision but they should ask why the Indian government is taking such measures.

Let’s review some of the reasons that could have caused this: It’s a shameful fact that Asian workers are looked down upon by many and mistreated by some in Kuwait. Just look at how Asian domestics are herded like sheep at the airport by Immigration officers who talk to them like slaves or shout abusive remarks at them simply because they didn’t understand instructions. It is a fact that many domestics cannot quit their job and work for someone else unless their sponsor allows it as if they are slaves who have to be bought from their sponsor.

Sponsors are not all angels despite their nationality and yes they do take advantage of the sponsorship laws by threatening to call the police on their domestic workers and deporting them – especially visa traders. It is a fact that some employers abuse and do not pay their domestics their full wage and then when it all gets too much for the domestic and runs away, he or she becomes an illegal fugitive and has to be arrested and deported with no pay or indemnities for the period they have served. I urge the many decent Kuwaiti families to be outraged towards the lack of labor laws to protect the rights of such people who are only trying to make a decent living for their families.

Our religion did not teach us to discriminate and there was never a Holy Quran for expats and another for locals. So why are so many of our laws discriminatory yet deemed natural by our lawmakers? Since when does one person need a university degree to drive just because he is an expat? As a matter of fact I don’t even understand why many things in Kuwait can only be done by someone who has a university degree such as licensing a real estate company or a classifieds publication etc. It seems very hypocritical when many of our lawmakers are not university graduates and hold much more important roles in our society than a real estate agent.

Speaking of hypocrisy the government is always seeking to decrease the number of expat workers in Kuwait in an attempt to create more opportunities for our home grown talents, but then they create so many regulations to trap them in the country such as having to pay all their traffic fines before they are allowed to travel or having to pay KD10 per day fine for each day after their visa expires. If an expat is fired or if he has escaped for not getting paid, he finds himself in a situation where he has no money to pay and he is trapped in a country where he can’t legally get another job to pay or leave. It is an impossible situation to get out.

If you want to decrease the number of expats in the country it would be an idea to allow them to leave and only place ban on someone who is charged with a real criminal offense.

These are the issues and it’s time we dealt with them. Sometimes the truth hurts, but we have to face it.


I LOVE that article.  

I believe I met the author's grandfather many years ago at an embassy reception.  We were both standing alone by the buffet and struck up a conversation.   I didn't know who he was at the time; just a kind older gentleman, but I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation I had with him and walked away with a smile (probably with something stuck in my teeth because I'm always unknowingly embarrassing myself ) and a lifted spirit.   It was only later, when I looked at the business card I had quickly shuffled into my handbag that I knew that he was the founder and patriarch of The Kuwait Times.  God rest his soul. I am sure that he is missed by many.

Ok, back to the story....

What I find amusing in a sad and pathetic way is how many Kuwaitis are commenting on my posts, offended/insulted that I would infer that they are racist or sectarian; and that indeed foreigners are the root of all social problems in Kuwait.  Then, they go on to "justify" the reasons why they're so great and others are not.  BINGO!  That's exactly it.  My point has been validated.  Arrogance and entitlement.  Not, of course, attributes held by everyone, but the attitude is becoming more acceptable and pervasive; not only in discussion, but much more obviously through Kuwait law.

I was shocked about 10 years ago when I came across a website/blog/forum (can't remember) called, "Kuwait for Kuwaitis".  It was a novel approach back then - foreigner bashing - and not one that I personally held as "true Kuwaiti".  I still firmly believe in the tenants of Kuwaiti kindness and generosity to all.  I think many have lost their identity - maybe since the Gulf War or shortly thereafter?  Not sure.  I remember walking through Mubarakia in 1997 with my mother.  Kuwait was still on a high from being liberated and there was an attitude of gratitude (pardon the rhyme).  As we walked along, two elderly Kuwaiti women stopped and asked if they could take their photo with us, "Ashan Amreeka" (for America).  They were so kind and I still have the photo of that day.

Sadly, the notion of foreigner bashing has seemed to take hold and those sweet  moments are few and far between.   There are many opinions now of foreigner vs Kuwaiti; like some kind of weird Mortal Kombat game being played here.  I've noticed a tremendous difference - mostly the looks.  Where once people were happy to see me, now they're looking at me like an unwelcomed visitor.  (This happens pretty often.  There aren't as many "friendly" moments that counteract the unwelcoming ones, unfortunately.  ... and I can only make statements about my personal experiences.)  I try to smile at everyone, even in traffic.  

So anyhoooooo.... while everyone is enthralled in blaming and bashing others, what's happening behind-the-scenes?  Divide and conquer.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lion Kills Housemaid in Home

Kuwait Times:

KUWAIT: A Filipina maid was attacked, bitten and parts of her eaten by a lion kept at home by a citizen, who was taken in for questioning. The woman was reportedly attacked a few days earlier by the wild animal, illegally kept as a pet, and was taken to the hospital. She was treated and released, but later died as a result of her injuries. Another person, thought to be the driver of the household, was feeding the lion when it reportedly escaped and attacked the maid. The lion was among several wild animals at the house, said security sources, adding that the man was refusing to hand over the animals to the zoo. Keeping wild animals including lions, tiger cubs, cheetahs and other exotic pets has grown in popularity in Kuwait and is often used by young men as a tool for ‘flirting’. There have been numerous reports of sightings of lions or other dangerous wild cats in Kuwaiti residential areas within the last year


The blame ultimately goes to the lawmakers who still allow wild animals to be kept in Kuwait. To those who don't enforce the law.  And along the way - the owner of the animal.  someone needs to go to prison.

The mentality here is that the woman is "just a maid". Sad sad sad.  A human who was the daughter, wife, sister mother of someone.  Until one of these wild animals actually kills a Kuwaiti child, no law enforcement will take place.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The new voices of Kuwait eager for change

I mentioned this article by Justin Vela of The National in UAE on my post How the Economy of Kuwait Correlates to Foreigners: Anonymous 6:12.  But, I think it is relevant enough to have it's own post.  Interesting perspective by young people in Kuwait.  And the mention of selling products from home via Instagram and the internet is very true.

The new voices of Kuwait eager for change

The National  Source LINK HERE

KUWAIT CITY, 9 December 2014.   In a complex region such as the Middle East, it is a startling, simple inquiry for a young person to make.

“Why wait Kuwait?” Nada Faris, a Kuwaiti writer, implores the audience at a slam poetry competition.

Nada, 28, is hardly well-known in Kuwait. Yet the poem, which uses Kuwait’s past as a way to examine the present, poses a question asked by many young people.

Kuwaitis in their 20s and 30s say their aspirations are impeded by economic and political challenges, despite the potential they see in the country, and they are eager for changes that will let their generation flourish.

At the same time, society does not fully recognise their unique blend of identities, which represent a new type of multiculturalism.

It is an issue common among youths in many Arabian Gulf states.

Someone who speaks English more fluently than Arabic, for example, risks being called a “McChicken”.

“We need to talk about events from a new angle,” says Nada, on the need to stop using “outdated language” when talking about her generation.

For this group, the struggle is not about money but how to move Kuwait into a new era.

Ahmed, 30, considers the main issue to be bureaucratic dysfunction, and what materialises compared with what was promised.

In 2008, he co-founded a property website, which failed after a seven-month wait for licences and permits.

He partly blames this on “a lack of regulation and the manner in which the market thrives on a lack of transparency”.

Ahmed’s next idea was to establish a “multi-concept store” with a co-working space, boutique, gallery, and cafe in one location. It was the kind of trendy place that might be found in New York or Istanbul, but that had yet to arrive in Kuwait City.

He hoped to pitch the idea to a state fund for small and medium-sized businesses but the fund was shut down to make way for a new US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) SME fund that has yet to materialise.
Now, Ahmed works for his family firm, and also learns code in order to develop a mobile phone application.

“You have people selling stuff on Instagram out of their homes,” he says.

“They want to see an alternative. The economy is getting it done informally because bureaucracy is a problem.”

More thoughtful than angry, he describes how young acquaintances returned to Kuwait after living overseas filled with aspirations. There was the country’s wealth, along with its beaches, a demand for luxury real estate and space to build. There were people with ideas and a desire to develop the country.

This combination usually leads to innovation and prosperity. But, Ahmed says, they soon hit roadblocks and become discouraged.

His friend Alia, 27, was an intern at a Silicon Valley incubator for business start-ups. She came home aiming to become a bridge between Kuwait and the California technology centre.

“I felt we needed to come back to Kuwait and teach them about start-ups,” she says.

But how this can succeed is unclear with so little room for young people in business.

“It’s very frustrating,” Alia says.

Stylish, multilingual, educated internationally, and obsessed with innovation, these young Kuwaitis are outpacing the social landscape of their country.

The combination of a talent for business, globalisation, and the country’s unique heritage has produced a new identity that Nada says makes the “rigid binary” used to describe Kuwaiti society as obsolete.

She uses the term “Anglowaiti” to describe Kuwaitis that live in the country and speak mainly in English.

“Traditionalists pretend that Anglowaitis are westernised, which they are not,” says Nada.
“They are natural outcomes of Kuwait’s infrastructure.”

Society needs a new vocabulary to debate identity, she says “I argue that today’s digitally networked societies require new phrases, new words, new ways of debating identity that do not depend on the East, West, Arabic, traditional English, westernised dichotomies of the past, because they do not address the struggles that humanity will face in the future.”

With extremists such as ISIL in neighbouring Iraq, the issue is all the more acute.

It is “not an option not to stand up for what you believe in”, she says. “It’s not an option to pick one or the other”.

The governments that look to the past have produced extremists and given the world “horrendous regimes and distorted views of religion”, Nada says.

Introducing ideas to society after the Arab Spring, which brought chaos to so many states and with it, a crackdown on dissent, is not going to be easy.

Young people took part in the social activism and street protests that led to the resignation of prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah in 2011.

Even if the momentum of the protests – with liberals, Islamists and youth groups on the streets – has faded, Dhari Al Rujaib, 27, says the demonstrations joined together people from different backgrounds.

Between issues of citizenship, the lack of housing, and government subsidies facing cuts, there is still enough tension that, Dhari says, But the protests were not universally praised by government critics. A Kuwaiti woman in her 20s, who asked not to be identified, says she is frustrated by the country’s bureaucracy, lack of transparency and lagging efforts to tackle corruption, yet she did not attend the protests.

“I was concerned as a young woman,” she says. “I didn’t know who would be there, who would run it. I didn’t want to represent something that did not represent my wishes for the country.”
For her, Kuwait’s 2012-2013 National Youth Project had been an opportunity for young people to highlight what actions they believed needed to be taken to achieve their vision for Kuwait’s future.
The motto of the project was “Kuwait Listens”. A range of civil society groups and NGOs nominated 55 young people between 18 and 30 to study different issues, and to devise ways of improving the country.

The group produced a final document of recommendations for the government. She attended its presentation, and described the recommendations as not “reinventing the wheel”.But almost no action was taken, despite the public display of reaching out to young people.

There might have been some discussions about opening school football fields to the public at night – one of the recommendations – but little else.

“I did not have high expectations but don’t hold this and pretend it means anything,” she says.
For all the demand for change there is little agreement on how it should happen.

Hind, 30, who has her own company, is more interested in focusing on Kuwait’s potential. She says the country is an amazing market, with a “crazy demand for mobile data”.

Many young people in Kuwait have two mobile phones, with one data plan for home and another for work.

The market for Arabic-language products has not yet been fully explored, and the potential of Islamic finance not fully tapped.

One innovation she wants to see is a data-driven “smart mosque” that offers community news on high-tech screens.

Alia and Ahmed are also making inroads with a business start-up incubator and co-working space that they hope will help to develop Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, although the question of how companies will be funded remains.

Nada is also looking beyond politics. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t believe in this generation’s capacity to make change,” she says.

Inspiration for her poem Why Wait Kuwait came after surfing various social networks on her computer. She found people arguing, protesting, and being “contradictory”.

The essence of the poem fell onto paper quickly. Over the next few weeks, she polished it, eventually performing in front of an audience and winning second place in a slam poetry competition in April.

“So I’m just wondering
Why we’re waiting,
And what we’re all waiting for
Before we realize the stakes are more
Than our egos,
More than mere discomfort,
It’s loss of everything we stand for, live for,
Wake up in the morning for — so
Why wait Kuwait, until
We learn what wars are made of?”

I Love Kuwait (and my list of favorite things about Kuwait)

Photo Credit:  "I Love Q8" by Stylish Designs on Deviant Art
(very creative!)

Perhaps I should change it up a little today.  Do I complain a lot?  My mother says, “I didn’t think I was complaining. I thought I was giving my perspective.” Maybe my perspective seems a weeeee bit negative (especially when I need to get on vacation and have an attitude adjustment)? 

Here's some stuff that I LOVE about Kuwait (free association – in no particular order).   

Fog in the desert (OMG!)
The desert 
The sea
Sea Turtles
True Kuwaiti old-school hospitality
The taste of chicken in Kuwait (way different). 
The taste of cucumbers in Kuwait (ditto). 
The veggie souq
Cheap car insurance.  Cheap (for now) gas. 
Shawarmas.  (Shut up, I’m hungry!)
Kuwaiti emergency services guys in uniform (OMG)
Sunsets in Kuwait
Bedouin friends
My goats
Affordable healthcare
No taxes
Guys in dishtasha with misbah and a nice pen and nice cologne
Seeing guys in dishtasha in cars (because I look for them when I’m in the US!)
Kuwaiti fashion (not that I would wear a lot of it, but because it is unique)
Hearing the call to prayer
The smell of the desert after rain or in the Spring
Iranian bread (still hungry)
Kuwaiti cuisine (all of it – without exception – ok, maybe one or two dishes I don’t like)
Home delivery
KDD – Chocolate milk and juice boxes
Kuwait Towers (aka "The Balls of Kuwait" and true to Kuwaiti form - there are 3, not just 2)
Fresh fruit juice shops (still hungry)
Kuwaiti architecture
Mutlaa Ridge
Chickens in residential neighborhoods
Availability of cheap mechanics
Kuwaiti weddings
Kuwaiti parties (not because I particularly like partying, but because they fascinate me)
Perfume and cologne in Kuwait
Bedouin weavings
Souq shaabi (basement discount markets)
Cheap movers ("half lorey guys")
Shoe repair everywhere
The fact that you can get so much stuff over-the-counter at pharmacies
BIDETS!!!  Water hoses in bathrooms (oh snap!  Those should top my list)
Lights on houses when a family member gets married
Salons everywhere
At-home salons
Variety of international foods
Variety of make-up
Old Kuwaiti men who are just happy to see/talk to everyone
The shoe souq
Opportunities I couldn't have in my own country (like writing for newspapers and magazines)
Young creative Kuwaitis - positive change
Ramadan TV serials
Ramadan food (yes, still....)
Being invited for iftar meals
Kout Mall and the fountains
Boating on the sea on flat water
Barbecuing in the desert
Kuwaiti furniture fashion
Flying into Kuwait at night and seeing lights in the desert
Area north of Kabd where they go to train falcons
Clean beaches (not the dirty ones)
The islands of Kuwait
Little fish at sunset
Qaroh at sunset and the pink oily film on the water
Perfume and bkhoor shops
Those round butter cookie things (don't know the name and yes I'm still hungry)
Butcher shops that marinade meat
Driving down the Gulf Road in the morning (because it's beautiful)
Watermelon Men (those guys who sell watermelons on the side of the road)
Dhub and braisi lizards
Arfaj (national flower of Kuwait)
Phosphorescent algae under the moon on Um Al Moradem
Sitting in sea water that is warm enough to make you feel like you're in a giant bath
HUGE Kuwaiti shrimp
The fish market
The Kuwaiti laugh (it's unique to Kuwait)
Kuwaiti humor and the ability to laugh at the foibles

So this is the abbreviated version.  There's more, but this is it for now.  Hope that all sounds positive!

I do.  I do. I do. I do. I do.  I do. I do. I do. I do.  I do. I do. I do. I do.  I really do.

And in case I haven't said it lately (at least out loud or in writing), "Thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity to see this country, to live here, and to see things in a different perspective (mine)."

Monday, December 08, 2014

How the Economy of Kuwait Correlates to Foreigners: Anonymous 6:12

So I have a very long-winded response to someone who commented on the 5-year Residency Bill post below.  (And thank you for commenting, Anonymous 6:12, because it got me thinking a lot.) My response is far too long to place in the comments section, so I am posting his/her comment first, followed by my response.  S

Anonymous said...

The proposal will only affect low-skilled migrant workers with an inadequate level of education and poor literacy rate.

Kuwait is not trying to emulate the economies of UAE and Qatar. The UAE and Qatar do not have sustainable economies. Expats are 90% of the populations of UAE and Qatar. Qataris and Emiratis work in the public sector more than Kuwaitis work in the public sector. Do you have any idea how unsustainable that is?

Kuwait is not the UAE/Qatar and any comparison between those countries is invalid for the following reasons:

1. 60% of Kuwait's population is Arab (including Arab expats). Kuwait's population has always been predominantly Arab in its composition whereas most people in the UAE and Qatar are non-Arabs (South Asian migrant workers).

2. Kuwait has suffered from extensive terrorist attacks and war. The UAE and Qatar were never victims of terrorism and war. In the 1980s, many terror groups bombed various part sof Kuwait, hijacked Kuwaiti planes, kidnapped Al-Sabah sheikhs and attempted to assassinate Emir Jaber via suicide bombings. Then in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and obliterated Kuwait's infrastructure. Kuwait's infrastructure megaprojects were postponed for 10 years until Saddam's fall because what's the point in building amazing infrastructure if it's going to get bombed by Iraq again? Saddam threatened to invade Kuwait many times up until his death.

3. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Kuwait was the most developed and most advanced country in the Gulf region and Middle East. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Kuwaitis were usually 40% of the total population. Right now, Kuwaitis are only 30% of the total population and Kuwait is deteriorating. This means that an increase in expat population is not positively correlated to Kuwait's development, it only makes things worse because Kuwait City was not built to accommodate 4 million people. Kuwait City is overpopulated. The rapid rise in the expat population was not meant to happen, it happened because of the recent Arab Spring and illegal visa trafficking. Emiratis and Qataris have always been 10%-15% of their country's total populations. Kuwaitis are usually 40% of the total population.

4. Kuwait's economy is structured differently from the economies of the UAE and Qatar - and that's a good thing. Kuwait's economy has always been structured differently from the economies of the UAE and Qatar, before the Gulf War Kuwait was making great strides in economic diversification. Everything went downhill after the Gulf War but Kuwait is currently experiencing a renewed period of growth and the projects market is rapidly rising.

December 7, 2014 at 6:12 PM

First, I thought this was very well-written.

But next:  I haven’t seen or heard anything that states that this bill refers to low-paid and/or uneducated workers.  From everything I have heard, it applies to all – including people in professional jobs that are long-term residents of Kuwait.  If you could help clarify this point and cite references, I would really appreciate it because honestly, it would set my mind at ease; and most likely keep me for looking at houses during my Christmas vacation in the States.  I would rather be drinking eggnog, kicking back with my family in front of the fire.

Ok, here goes my incredibly long-winded reply:

While I agree with you in some ways (yes, Kuwait has been the target of terrorist attacks and an invasion), I disagree in others.

The US (and other countries, but I’m American so let me give you a few examples from my own country) has had several very large terrorist attacks in history (a presidential assassination, several other attempts..), but American people (which were all formerly foreigners from other countries, unless they are native American Indians) have UNITED numerous times throughout history and rebuilt and become stronger.    After Pearl Harbor - no problem rebuilding and strengthening the economy after a war that depleted most resources. Americans united for a cause.   US after 9/11 - again, rebuilt and it didn't affect our economy. It unified people into a common cause that many Americans were willing to fight and give their lives for.  (Regardless if you believe that the war was about oil or not, people I knew believed in doing the right thing and were willing to sacrifice for it).

Yes, Kuwait started rebuilding after 2003 when Saddam was ousted, but it has been a slow, cumbersome, and frustrating process with a distinct lack of emphasis on urban planning:  Very large buildings and skyscrapers are still being built without regulations for underground parking, for example. Traffic circles – that add to the traffic problem – have been replaced by more traffic circles.  There is no safe, clean public transportation.  There are no HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes on the highways.  Problems are TALKED ABOUT but rarely resolved.  Rather than fixing, people blame others.

The people of Kuwait are not unified. That was lost around the time of the Invasion.  Without national unity and pride, not much is going to be accomplished by the citizens.  (People don’t TALK about the Invasion of Kuwait.  Kuwaiti children are not taught about it in school – there is nothing to UNIFY them for a cause.)   You don’t hear most Americans say, “I’m Irish” or “I’m Polish” or “I’m Indian” or “I’m Bangladeshi”.  Because of the unity and the rights that the country has offered them, they state, “I’m American.”  In Kuwait, what is it, “Bedu” “Hather” “Shiite” “Sunni”…  There are divisions within Kuwaiti society themselves.  And almost every public address in Kuwait stresses Unity (but laws – like this one - are not being drafted to reflect that). 

Now there are potential terror threats to Kuwait (ISIS/DAESH) and rather than unifying people together to fight against it, very little is said in the national media.  Unite and do something about it.

If people LOVE Kuwait (as I do), allow them to love the country and be at peace here.  I would love to buy property here.  Allow foreigners (many who consider themselves adopted Kuwaitis as I do)  to stay and do good for the country.  Allow them to bring their families and be proud to be (at least) a resident of Kuwait.  What is the difference between me and a low-paid worker who has resided here for many years (as long as that person is not held here through indentured servitude)?  Wouldn’t it be possible for that person to love Kuwait as much as I do?

Your point #3 is mute as Kuwait could have chosen to continue on the same path of PROGRESS. And during those years (60-early 80’s), alcohol was legal in Kuwait and there was actually a tourist industry in the country. Boosting the economy – and foreigners were welcome. 

Let’s not forget that the economy of Kuwait was largely built on trade with foreigners.  In fact, the national currency of Kuwait was previously the Indian Rupee.  Foreigners were welcomed then (and there was actually a level of hospitality and goodwill) and get this - the economy did well.  Foreigners helped Kuwaitis find oil.  Imagine that.  Low-paid workers worked in the oilfields and even assisted in putting out fires started by Saddam.  

There is so much PRIDE in what foreigners have accomplished here.  And why not cultivate that pride and unity to develop Kuwait's economy?

As for Kuwait's megaprojects being halted for 10 years until Saddam was out of power:  That just isn't true because most of those megaprojects were developed only within the past 10 years.  And most are still stagnant.

6:12 said, "The rapid rise in the expat population was not meant to happen, it happened because of the recent Arab Spring and illegal visa trafficking."  Mmmmm... no.  The rise in the expat population has blossomed since 2003, when people felt it was safe again to return to Kuwait.  Kuwait was witnessing an economic boom - not only because Kuwaitis were re-investing in their own country, but because there were very large military contracts in Kuwait.  In order to accommodate the massive influx of Western expats, real estate developers built more apartments (and depended on labor to do that).  Large real estate projects started and most of the skyline of Kuwait today developed between 2003 and 2006.  Who worked on those projects?  Foreign labor.  Sevice and commodity industries also did well.   I certainly don't believe that the Arab Spring had anything to do with it and I think that illegal visa trafficking had only a minimal affect on how many foreigners came to Kuwait.  People (of all classes) came here because Kuwait was re-opened for business after the threat of Saddam no longer loomed and Kuwait sprung up from 5 story buildings to 50.

6:12 stated, "This means that an increase in expat population is not positively correlated to Kuwait's development, it only makes things worse because Kuwait City was not built to accommodate 4 million people.  Kuwait City is overpopulated. "  Well, you got me there, because most cities globally are expanding.  Kuwait is not alone.  If real estate prices were regulated in Kuwait, perhaps Kuwaitis could afford to buy homes further away from the city (which only makes up an area of 1/3 of the country).  If every Kuwaiti household had to pay minimum wage for a driver and maid, it would limit the number of cars on the roads and/or foreigners.   If proper labor housing areas were established then Kuwait City would not be overpopulated.  (Seems like there is a whole lot of desert out there.) Again, this relates to urban planning, not a problem of foreigners in the country.  You don't blame the worker if he's not being properly managed.  Blame the management.

6:12, you also stated that,  "Qataris and Emiratis work in the public sector more than Kuwaitis work in the public sector. Do you have any idea how unsustainable that is?"  I disagree.  (From my personal experience), both Qataris and Emiratis working in the public sector  have a work ethic and develop their countries - side-by-side, if I might add with who?  Foreigners.  However, your thought process validates my next paragraph.

Of note is that everything you have stated that is positive to the Kuwaiti economy was in the past. That's just it - in.the.past. Nothing now. No amount of foreigners is going to change the complacent mindset. No amount of foreigners are going to ruin the economy (many other countries are melting pots of cultures, religions, races and classes just as Kuwait is now, so I don't find your argument valid).  It is a mindset.  An attitude.  It is pervasive here:  IF many Kuwaitis chose to work hard with a dedicated work ethic (like their forefathers who were fisherman, pearl divers, tradesmen and herders) in their own country (instead of investing outside – like in Dubai, for example!), Kuwait would flourish with Kuwaiti manpower. I don't see that happening in the near future.  (And I admit that I am making a broad, sweeping generalization, but I don’t see the unity).  The young study overseas only to come back to limited possibilities.  Try to open a business - AS a young Kuwaiti person without wastah.  Further,  the difficulties Kuwaitis face in the private sector are much worse than their Qatari and UAE neighbors.  Many just fall into the same mindset because “that’s the way it is.”  

If you don’t like “the way it is” – change it.

There is indeed a little change:  Kuwaitis are moving to the US, buying property, adding to our economy.  Welcome, friends!  We’ll make it easy for you to invest and hey – even get a driver’s license without a university degree!  Within a few years, they’re calling themselves, “American”.  Imagine that!

(Sidebar:  I have noticed within even the past 5 years, however, that there are many more grass-roots volunteer groups started by and working with young Kuwaitis to make change.  Outstanding!)

6:12, while I think some of your theories are nice - in theory - they have only been put to practice in.the.past. Kuwait is stagnant. No implementation. No enforcement. No desire to make it better.  And if there is a desire to make it better, committees are formed to TALK about it and then THINK about it and nothing is accomplished.  And you are correct – that is indeed quite different than the economies of Qatar and UAE:  They act.  They also "maintain" (which seems to be a word foreign to Kuwait - if you will).  Even when new projects are implemented (ok, so we have had a few new roads, new road expansions, etc.), within a few years, you notice how dilapidated they become because no one maintains them.  Go to any public area in Kuwait and look around.  You can quite literally say in many areas of the country, "Kuwait is crumbling".  

And I do agree with you 100% that Kuwait’s economy IS different from UAE and Qatar:  there is much more corruption in Kuwait.  It goes back to a lack of unified enforcement and equal justice under the law.  But, alas,  that is an entirely different subject. 

What I see Kuwait doing is blaming rather than uniting.  As the saying goes,  “divide and conquer.”  Well, stagnation is conquering while the divisions within Kuwait progress.  

That's the way I see it.

10 December - Hey check out this cool article (that appeared in a UAE paper) on young Kuwaitis who want change.  Just when I was on a rant!  

The new voices of Kuwait eager for change

The National, December 9, 2014

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Do they want everyone to leave? Kuwait 5-Year Residency Bill About to Move Forward

So, I came to work today and related the story of being kicked off a beach by (very nice/polite) Kuwaiti policemen and he told me about a draft law that looks like it is about to be passed.  It has already passed a committee, so it is on it's way to becoming law...

The law would limit the residence of expats living in Kuwait to 5 years; and it would be retroactive with no exceptions.

My mother will be really happy to hear this news as she's been trying to get me to move back to the States for the past 17 and a half years (roughly 6 months after I arrived here).

The finance company that holds the lien on my car will not be so happy and I hope that Kuwait Airport has intentions to build a bigger parking lot when 1/3 of the country leaves.

How are they going to implement this?  There are a lot of laws coming up now and they're not talking about how they're going to implement them.  Who will be asked to leave first?  Professionals? Housekeepers?  People who were born in Kuwait?  This is gonna git interesting.

So is Kuwait now some exclusive club that only people, Article 1, inside the gate are entitled to membership to?  It seems that it is headed that way, doesn't it?

How will this affect the Bedoun population?  How will "they" ship them out of Kuwait?  Cargo ship? Maybe in Conex containers?  Where will they go?

Oh, and let's talk a wee bit about the economy.  What is going to happen to all the pigeon-hole apartments they've built around the country (that are going for huge rents)?  Who is going to live in those?  What about consumer goods and service providers?  What will happen to those businesses?

It is sad and it seems to be getting worse.

Has Kuwait learned nothing from countries like Qatar and UAE?  Sure, they can emulate some of their architecture, but obviously nothing of their economies.  Qatar and UAE are trying to invite foreign investment.  Kuwait is trying to deter it.  It is almost like the national slogan should be, "We don't want you here."

They pretty much wanted us here in 1990-91.  I remember that.  What happened to that hospitality?

Articles in the news about the residency cap:

Kuwait Times:  MP Proposes 5-Year Cap
Gulf News:  Kuwait 5-year expat residency cap a step nearer
Legal Panel Clears Bill
5-Year Residency Proposal to Hit Banks and Real Estate Sectors Hard

Kicked off the beach (another beach, no pink tent)

Yesterday, I was walking my dog at the beach next to Enjifa (the public area across the street from Salwa 12).  It wasn't at Enjifa, but adjacent.  The reason I take my dog walking on a deserted beach is so that people won't be frightened by him in crowded areas.  I also enjoy the solitude.

It was a LOVELY evening.  When I first arrived, there were a group of guys in the distance, taking photos on the beach.  They left and I walked down and saw a few Kuwaiti youngsters around.  Basically, I was alone with The Big Dog (on a lead, so he wouldn't scare anyone, trying to play with them.  Trying to be a good canine citizen...).

I walked him for a while and decided to sit down and watch the birds over the water as the sun set.  It was lovely.  The same group of Kuwaiti youngsters came over to ask me about the dog and basically seemed very happy to make my acquaintance.  "I want to go to America..."  It was so sweet and one of the girls added me on Instagram.  I made fast friends. They left and went back to one of those huge houses on the beach.

I was there for a few more minutes when I heard from behind me, "Excuse me!  Excuse me!"  and it turned out to be a Ministry of Interior police patrol.  Although extremely polite (to both me and the dog), they told me that I was not allowed to be there.  It was very disturbing.  In 18 years in Kuwait, I have never been told to leave anywhere by anyone.  And here I was, alone, on a beach with no signs to the contrary stating that I couldn't be there, being asked to leave by police.  I frequent that beach all the time.  Other people do too - families, people walking their dogs.

They told me that they had received a call that I had been sitting there for a while (I was watching the SUNSET!) and  that I was too close to The Emir's home (approximately 1 mile down the road).  Again, I found the whole thing shocking and disturbing.  (And if their logic applies, then both Enjifa and Bidaa restaurant areas should be closed/patrons asked to leave.)

The whole reason I was alone with my dog was because I didn't want any more negative human interaction. I have had far enough of that lately and I just wanted to be alone.  Lately, I have intentionally alienated myself from everyone trying to cut down the noise.  I'm tired and I guess it has hit the "depression" mark.  I'm not even answering calls anymore.  But the one thing I really do enjoy is being out with my dog.  Until this happened yesterday.

I was really upset by it and immediately went home, got into my PJs, ordered a pizza and went to bed.  But not before calling a Kuwaiti friend...

He told me Kuwait is on a security alert.  "Don't you remember when we were sitting in the tent and Abood's boss called him and told him to come to duty?"  Oh yeah.  I remember Abood was pissed (both the Briddish and the American definition).  The security forces have received information that Kuwait may be sabotaged in some way.  They also found 2 Kuwaiti policemen were members of ISIS/DAESH this past week.

Ok, so I felt better after that (and the entire pizza... and desert...), but I was still traumatized.

For information on the security alert in Kuwait, see:

Kuwaiti Police Officers Fired
Threats of Sabotage (Arab Times), 6 December

Now, this doesn't mean that people should be flocking to the airport in fear;  just cautious as always. I don't know if you heard or not, but in 1990 (not so long ago), Kuwait was invaded by a neighboring country to the North.  A lot of people died. Others were tortured.  Women were raped.  Corpses were either hung or left in front of homes where they lived so that they would be a message to others.  This kind of stuff has a way of making people cautious and maybe a little alarmist.  And that's a good thing:  So that really heinous stuff like that doesn't happen again.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Friends on the Beach: The Pink Tent Story

Sometimes you just need to be alone for a while to re-charge.  Some very stupid things have been going on with me lately that have made me reflect on a particular situation and see it from a different perspective.  It is all kind of melancholy and deep and the kind of situation that I don't wish to linger, but that has.    It has been kind of pervasive lately and I'm looking forward to better things to come - and soon, I hope.

Last night, I took my big dawg down to the beach behind The Village.  It is a very large, very quiet, very clean beach and there is usually no one around.  Sometimes I just want to walk my dog in peace without people coming up and wanting to take selfies with him, or women shreeking and running to get away.  This beach is the perfect place (the only pitfall is having to drive through traffic to get there and back).

Last night, there wasn't quite a full moon, but it was still giving off light and the water was flat and still.  There were a few couples on the beach, quietly talking.  No one else was around.  The lights from the houses on the shore were dim and there was no sound.  Perfect for clearing my head.

In the distance, I saw what appeared to be a tent with little fairy lights.  Since we were walking in that direction (to be honest, since I was being pulled in that direction by the big dog), I decided to keep going to take a look at whatever it was.  As I got closer, it was indeed a tent (more of one of those pagoda shade types you can buy anywhere) decorated with shiny ribbons flowing in the breeze, and pink LED lights, which gave off a glow that was reflected on the water.  Inside, there were a few young Kuwaiti girls sitting on low sofas over carpets.

I complimented them on their beautiful tent and what a great eye someone must have had to design it the way that they did - and in that particular spot. They said that they were having a gathering of friends for one of their birthdays.  They had decorated the tent themselves.  As we chatted, more young Kuwaitis came up in cars that slowly started to arrive, and they invited me to stay.  (Mike would have made quick waste of it all, so I declined and continued our walk.)

But I thought to myself, what a great thing to do for a friend.  What wonderful people they must be and how kind they were to invite a stranger to sit with them.  I found myself wishing for friends like that; the kind that would just call me to meet and gather somewhere on a beach or in the desert.  No OTT gifts or entertainment; just being together in a beautifully thought-out setting.

I always say that I believe that God sends you messages - especially when you need them.  There they were - on the beach in a pink tent under a semi-full moon.  Just letting me know that there are a lot of good people out there who care about others.  Even when you don't always see them; they're there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Early Bird: Doesn't always get the worm, unfortunately

Life in Kuwait Blog reported on a story (that another blog had posted) about The Early Bird restaurants (Life in Kuwait link HERE).  I am very sorry to hear about it.

Here's a little advice to people planning to open a business in Kuwait with a great idea you have:    you really need to be careful about who you enter into business with in Kuwait.  Even if  your "friend" says, "Sure, you can use my name to open your business.  No problem.  Just on paper...."  Beware.

Don't try to write your own contract.  Get yourself (and not together with your partner, but your own) a good lawyer who can advise you of your rights within a contract.

In my personal opinion, it is worthwhile to select a well-known Kuwaiti lawyer who your Kuwaiti business partner would fear, should anything go wrong.  For example, a well-known Kuwaiti lawyer would most likely discuss the case within an influential diwaniya (where other law-makers are present).  The name of the game in Kuwait is "face" and saving "face".  Lawyer Flan Al-Flan with a hotmail address working out of Jleeb is not going to be able to get you the same outcome as Lawyer Flan Al-Flan working out of some prestigious downtown office and going to a diwaniya in Shuwaikh, with an email address and a website that reflects their partnership with an international firm.  Sorry, but it's true.  What is your ROI going to be?  (It is just like getting a pre-nup.  Don't be a dumbass.  "... but I looooooved her/him.....")  Plan ahead.  Do your homework.  Add the legal fees into your business plan if you have to.

Ok, back to Early Bird (and I don't know what kind of lawyer or contract, if any, she has):
This is the story of an American woman who built a breakfast restaurant from the ground up into a chain with several locations.  It has been popular with expats and Kuwaitis both for years. And further, has set a trend for other mainly breakfast restaurants in Kuwait to follow (as we all know -there are MANY around Kuwait now).

You want to believe in the goodness of people.  You want to believe that the people you consider friends can be trusted.  And then, you sign a contract with them, start a business.  They get 51% ownership by law in Kuwait.  Many agree to be "silent" partners; that is, of course, until the business becomes "big name" and is generating big profits.  (And I'm an equal-opportunity complainer:  This has been known to happen to Kuwaitis with Kuwaiti partners as well.  This has happened to family members in the States - not just in Kuwait.  It happens.)

Going into business with someone (anyone/anywhere)  is like entering a legally-binding marriage.  It's all romance and roses until - God forbid - somebody flips.  Then, you're driving by YOUR bigass house, looking at YOUR former bigass car, with that X still living there while you're in your little shitbox going back to your apartment...

And in Kuwait, consider this, my foreign friends:  The dreaded travel ban.  Your Kuwaiti partner might just decide to slap one of those on you. So you're stuck.  What do you do?  They've got your business/income and you can't go anywhere.  Think ahead.  Having the Honorable Flan Al-Flan, Esq. on speed dial comes in reeeeeeally handy at times like these.

Some links potential business owners might find helpful:

The Embassy of the US in Kuwait:  Investment Climate; Openness to Foreign Investment
How a Foreign Entity Can Do Business in Kuwait

As for our friend at The Early Bird:  I hope/pray/wish that the outcome for her is good.  I hope she is a fighter and someone will take up her cause (for the sake of all decent, breakfast-loving people everywhere!)

There are several businesses that I refuse to patronize on ethics:  The Early Bird is the latest.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Seashells Resort

I recently went to a private American Thanksgiving event at the Seashells Resort in Julai'ia (formerly the Kempinski Hotel).  It is a beautiful property (on the sea, stretching inland) with walkways and orange walled villas with water features and foliage.  I've been to many events there over the years and it is always a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere (and very nice open-aired cafe).

I've got to say, they NAILED the food for T-day.  Stuffing was light and fluffy; real sweet potatoes; Brussels Sprouts; corn bread (ok, it was close, but still not quite there...),  real gravy.... really good/authentic staple foods; turkey cooked to perfection. NO stuffing log!  Yippee.  And real cranberries in the cranberry sauce!  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least; and so were the other guests in attendance..

So, I walked (at that point, "waddled" after an enormous plate full) over to thank the F&B Manager, Mike Soubhieh.  I had met him on previous occasions, but usually mess up simple names like his.  (Next year, I'll remember.)  I complimented him and told him,  'Not to be insulting, but my dog's name is Mike.'  Without skipping a beat, he said, "Are you Desert Girl?!"  (Confused, I thought for a moment that I was still under the spell of the food-coma I was in.)  But he called me out....  I usually don't 'fess up to the alter-ego, but I made him promise not to tell anyone, confirming his suspicion.

What a small world and the wonder of those little ironies that make it all so interesting!

Mike (the F&B Manager, not the dog...) said that he had read my post about Thanksgiving the day before and had sent his kitchen staff out in search of ingredients, starting at 5am; going to multiple stores in search of items I had written in the post.   He said that he wished that I had posted it 2 weeks earlier.   I was really humbled by the honor - and it came as a gift; one of those ones you hold onto and remember for a long time to come.

It is always fascinating to me to discover that someone has read my blog.  I guess that at this point, it probably shouldn't, but it still does.  And it still comes to me as a blessing from above:  Life is about a series of connecting dots, and its always somewhat ironic how and when they are drawn together. We're all on the web of life, and what you do over there somehow connects and vibrates to the edges on the other side in ways you can't comprehend.  It was one of those times.

So, to these latest dot connections:   I'm sending a special shout-out to Mike and Chef Bassel (who had to work extra hard because of my post - sorry, dude!) and lovely Sales Manager, Alia.  They are always super-nice.

I feel like I owe them, since I first posted about how Godawful the service was (years ago) at the Seashells, things have really changed a lot under the current management.

Beyond the above, Seashells staff members on all levels SMILE and say "good afternoon" or "good morning".  Imagine THAT!  Even the ones who look like they might not at first glance surprise you.  The guy who was sweeping the stairs stopped what he was doing and turned around to greet me with a smile.  That is a lot different from the tongue-lashing I got from a manager there years ago.  That just makes me happy.

If you ever have an event, consider calling them.  I'm now sure that they will do whatever it takes to make your event a positive experience.  If you are out for a drive on the weekend, you can go visit their coffee shop or restaurants.  Take 30 or 40 down to exit 245 and bang a right at the T.  It will be down about 3 miles on the left.  It's about a 30-45 minute drive (depending on how fast you drive).

Trip Advisor Reviews HERE

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving at The Southern, Mahboula

Take some stress out of the holiday season and gather 'round our table this Thanksgiving weekend! Enjoy our turkey dinner with all the trimmings, your favorite holiday desserts and a complimentary appetizer, all made from scratch! 

It's first come, first serve on Thursday and Friday from 6 pm - 10 pm.
Location: Mahboula [exit 210] block 1, street 10 

Hours: 2 pm - 11 pm +965 98949799

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging: Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thank you fall for reading my blog
for the past 10 years!

A lot has changed in Kuwait since 2004.  A lot has changed to me personally since 2004.  I can't believe it has been an entire decade! Where does the time go?

It seems like just yesterday I started the blog as a way to vent my frustration.... wait a minute.... I'm still doing it...

As of today, I have accumulated 1,466,316 page views and have written (or plagiarized from the media and commented on)  1,573 posts.   I'm not much into stats, but that seems pretty cool.

For a decade, I have not accepted paid advertising nor taken any money for posting material.   I still try to keep it all real.  When other bloggers have moved on, tired of the novelty, stopped blogging, or just sold out to Tha Man for cash;   I'm still here, giving my honest perspective on life as I see it in Kuwait.

I hope I have helped you all in some small way.  I hope I have promoted Kuwait in an honest and practical manner.

So to all of you who have hung around with me (or have moved on to other steps on your journey in other corners of the world and are just visiting through the internet), I would like to sincerely thank you for your kindness, your support, and your friendship.  I never thought The DG blog would take on the life it has, or that I would make so many friends or learn so much from other people's insights to the same picture.  I'm truly blessed because of you all.

Thanksgiving in Kuwait - New US Ambassador to Kuwait

Like everything else in Kuwait, Thanksgiving is different...

I have a lot of friends who host their own Thanksgiving dinners/lunches (and thank you all for the ZERO invitations I received this year, by the way - you KNOW who you are).  Most people somehow wrangle a big turkey from the PX at Arifjan (because for the past 3-4 years, most grocery stores haven't stocked the big ones.  If you know of anyplace that has them now, please send me a message ( or comment, so I can post info here.  I never thought I would be a conspiracy person (and would scoff at my dad, God rest his soul) but I have conspiracy theories on just about everything these days, including why there are not big turkeys in Kuwait.

I'm off track again.  Damn energy drinks!

So anyhoo, I went to the US Embassy for the American Business Council's annual Thanksgiving event.

I will first talk about our very humble and down-to-Earth new Ambassador and his wife (Ambassador Douglas Silliman and his wife, Catherine).  I heard one speech several weeks ago given by Ambassador Silliman and he didn't sound stuffy or like he was reading off a card.  He made good eye contact with people and ad-libbed with humor.  I liked him. (I also liked the new staff who all seem to be equally humble and approachable and are no longer the same crowd of entitled 12-year-olds as in previous postings.)    While I was at the T-day event at the Embassy, he and Mrs. Silliman walked in.  Since they are somewhat new to people in the community (arrived in August), a lot of people don't know who they are.  Mrs. Silliman walked alone through the crowd.  She introduced herself, "Hi... I'm Catherine."  I overheard people asking her, "Do you work at the embassy?"  She just responded with, "I live here...."

I love approachable people.  It makes life so much easier.  Especially when they are representing my country in Kuwait.  What a great first impression I got!  I talked briefly about dogs with Catherine (she too has an aging dog) and vet services in Kuwait.  She had also lived in Rhode Island (how many of us can there be?!)  ... before she had to move on to  the next guest.  Lovely woman and I hope to have the opportunity to talk more to her in the future.

This just gives me something else to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week!  Thank you for gracing us.

Ok so I'm writing about Thanksgiving, right?  The T-day event at the Embassy was catered by the Hilton.  Prior to this holiday, it was catered by The Crowne Plaza.  I have also had Thanksgiving meals either catered by or directly served at other hotels.  Unfortunately, it is all the same, sad story and I'm here to tell you why.  These kitchens NEED AMERICAN CHEF CONSULTANTS during this holiday.  You can not have a French (or French-style) chef preparing an American T-day meal. Why?  Because AMERICANS DO NOT LIKE STUFFING LOG (which just looks something obscene), or cranberry SOUP (not sauce, nothing gelled - but sauce like you would pour over ice cream).  No no no.  There are also no noodles involved in T-day.  Or Asian salad.

I've been in Kuwait for 18 years.  I can count on 3 fingers how many providers of Thanksgiving meals actually get it right.  I know, I should just be thankful and stop complaining, right?  If I didn't complain, where would my blog be, I axe you?

Hilton had canapes of what they called apple, pecan and pumpkin pie.  Squash and honey (which they labeled "sweet potatoes and honey").  The log.  The sauce.  Sigh....  They did, however, do a good job on the turkey.  The gravy - not so much.  

I know that  America is a melting pot of different cultures, traditions, religions, and foods brought from all corners of the world.  But... there are kind of standards (staples if you will):

  • Turkey 
  • Stuffing (also known as "dressing".  loose, not in a roll.  Usually cooked inside the turkey.  I like corn bread stuffing.)  (Sample recipe HERE)
  • Gravy (made with drippings from the turkey and NO food coloring) (Sample recipe HERE)
  • Corn bread (Sample recipe HERE)
  • Green beans 
  • Cranberry sauce (many die-hard fans will only eat canned.  I like loose berries) (Sample recipe HERE)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes (a lot of people like little marshmallows on top) (Sample recipe HERE)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Pies:  Pumpkin, Pecan, Apple.  NOT cut into 2" squares.

The Sultan Center usually offers a take-away dinner that includes many of the above.  The Radisson Hotel also just sent me a flier that appears to be acceptable.

I'm going to the Association of the US Army event this week and I hope that there will be some of my favorites above.  I just don't understand why these chefs can't look up recipes on the internet instead of trying to create their own renditions.  I've tried to make their lives easier (above).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'm thankful that you read my blog/following my drama. I'm thankful to be blessed with a wonderful family and friends who are kind, compassionate, and supportive.  I'm thankful for my health and for affordable medical care.   I'm thankful  for my job and everything that it has allowed me to do (I'm thankful that our business owner finds joy in watching crazy people.)  I'm thankful for my pets who I couldn't live without and who have eased any minor discomforts I've had.  I'm thankful for the beautiful desert and sea in Kuwait and for allowing me to be here under the sun.  I'm thankful to be able to attend these events, make new friends and say hello to old ones.