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.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

K'S PATH: The First and Only Official Animal Shelter in Kuwait. Congratulations!

K'S PATH given official recognition
November 20, 2014

Kuwaiti authorities have granted legal status to the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat, affirming the approach towards protecting all living creatures of various species. 
Aisha Al-Humaidhi, the society chairperson, affirmed the necessity of protecting animals, their habitat and guiding human beings to be kind to these living creatures. She was speaking during a ceremony, held late on Wednesday, marking the society's official proclamation. The society "has reaped the fruits of its success that has been made since nine years ago and it was posible through diligent work," she said, mentioning the Association's diverse activities, namely holding workshops aimed at educating the public about theresponsibility of hosting an animal as well as providing refuge for any animals in need for care.

Citizens who have animals or pets regularly seek the Society's advice and guidance. It has given refuge for various animals including horses, runs a center for wildlife rehabilitation, animals' reserves, deals with stray animals, environmental cleanliness and relevant education.

For her part, the society deputy chairperson, Sheikha Fatma Mubarak Al-Sabah, expressed gratitude to all people who have backed the national association, affirming the resolve to exert further efforts "to serve our dear Kuwait which deserves to be a minaret for humanity and progress." The society organizes campaigns to clean the Kuwaiti beaches, preserves various species on land and at the sea.
Elaborating, Sheikha Fatma said the society also deals with smuggled animals to ensure that the relevant law is applied in this regard, monitors cruel treatment of the animals and seeks to improve the habitat for settled and migrating animals, namely birds.

Moreover, it is seeking to secure refuge for farm animals that have been discarded or subjected to cruel treatment, in addition to launching the first women program to deal with stray animals, educate adults about farm animals, food resources, marine environmental protection, migrating birds and horses' stables. 


This has been a long time in the making and a huge accomplishment for all involved.  I can't even tell you how many animals I've rescued and taken to K'S PATH.  They are my go-to emergency source for strays and abused animals and have never turned down a call for help - at all hours of the day and night.  This has included John rushing out to dart and rescue feral puppies living in an on-ramp of a busy highway, and advice from Ayesha on how my friend may be able to re-home (you can't actually) an aggressive baboon (don't buy wild animals!).  

Way-back-when, when K'S PATH was a fledgling organization under the name of "Animal Friends", I met Ayesha and her husband, John.  In those early days, I went to Ayesha's home to drop off a stray kitten.  I was welcomed by approximately 5 very friendly and well-fed dogs (and that was only in their front hall!)  At one point, they even fostered a baby hyena in their home.  No creature was left behind.

K'S PATH was started by a desire to do something for the animals of Kuwait by Ayesha and John (the "dynamic duo" of the Kuwait animal world).  They had the vision and everything else has fallen into place (God has a plan for everything).  The land for K'S PATH was donated by Ayesha's father.  The shelter has never had to move or been forced out; throughout the years they have been stable and have only increased their mission towards helping animals.   The creatures under their care are well fed and well cared for by a small army of trained volunteers. They have become a community educator on animal care and rights, and regularly speak out on the environment.

Although petite in stature, Ayesha has more strength than most of the men I've ever come across (and I include many of the toughest military people I have ever worked with).  The only time I have ever seen her look "small" was after the shelter fire.  I think I actually hugged her (and I'm not a huggy person) because she looked so frail and distraught.  Animal lives were lost that day, but strength of character and strength of the community was set in a determined line to get them where they are today.

It was actually hard for me to recognize any of the people in this photo because I have never seen any of them in formal attire; they are usually working with animals; or making a brief appearance before going out to work with animals; or going home to take care of animals.  They have all been on call 24/7 regardless of their personal sacrifice (and quite frankly, I don't believe any of them has ever seen it as a "sacrifice").

Unfortunately, something as seemingly-simple as opening a business in Kuwait can take years. Trying to open a legally-licensed animal shelter is a long, frustrating and tedious undertaking.  Unless you own land and are backed by people of influence who can orchestrate actual change in the country, there is little chance that you will ever be able to obtain legal status.  K'S PATH has been blessed by the generosity of others - in terms of dedication, generosity of spirit, land and material items, hard work and outright fortitude of character of all those involved.  

It has taken almost a decade for K'S PATH to obtain legal status in Kuwait.  It is now the ONLY legally-recognized animal shelter in Kuwait - and the first to be officially recognized as an animal shelter in Kuwait.  

I have referred to Ayesha and John because I have met them/know them along their journey.  I only met Sheikha Fatma once briefly and admired her as she was so down-to-Earth.  Wearing a K'S PATH tee shirt and with her hair up in a pony tail, she just introduced herself as, "Fatma".  I've heard that she has been a huge help to the shelter over the years.    She's one of those people who puts hands-on work behind a cause she believes in.  There are many volunteers, friends, and people who work for and with K'S PATH that I'll probably never meet, but I am so glad that they are out there. Congratulations to you all.  I really look forward to seeing where you are in another 10 years!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Look what Shabu (Crystal Meth) Can Do For You

Notice the lack of teeth, people, and the gaping wound....

Before and after crystal meth

Some people in Kuwait believe"Shabu" (in local dialect or crystal meth as we know it in the US) is being brought from outside Kuwait.  It is not. The ingredients for making it are already here in Kuwait.  It is cooked. It is cheap.   If you smell some weird chemical smell, it may be your neighbors in their own meth lab.  It is a HORRIBLE mind-altering drug that does awful things to your body. Educate your kids.  It's not a joke.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I hurt someone I care about

I hurt someone I like a lot this weekend.  Not meaning to, but I did.  I rarely hurt people and when I do - and know about it - I can't stop obsessing about it.

I met 2 friends during the summer (2 men who have known each other for a long time).  We all have German Shepherds.    We all became friends, but it was apparent that I liked one of them (I'll call him Coast Guard because that's his job) more than the other one (I'm going to call him 650).  CG wasn't sending me any signals.  I asked 650 about him numerous times (which I'm sure he passed along).  I sent CG messages through Instagram.  No responses except once when he sent me a message, "I miss you."   I was about to give up.

But then, 650 invited me to go visit them - and I did with The Romanian (that's right - we've been friends again for a while).    CG was there and he acted interested in me.  He acted happy to see me.  But he never gave me his number or anything (650 did). CG was cold to say the least, but I got a few little smoke signals, so I thought there might be a chance.  (I'm generally clueless these days so who knows - I may be missing things.)

Then I thought maybe he was married.  Or has a girlfriend.  Or married and has a girlfriend.  Dunno.  I didn't know 650 well enough to ask him either.

650 liked my friend and he was direct about it.  She has a boyfriend, so it was off.

I sent CG a message and told him I missed him.  I got nothing back.  I called him once and he answered and said he was busy and would call me back, but never did.  I was pretty sure I should give up and move on.

This weekend, I called 650 and he invited me to go see him.  I had my dog with me and I was only planning to stop by for a little while.    I didn't call CG because 1) I was perturbed about the paragraph above and B) It was the weekend and CG and 650 are usually together.  I assumed he would be there.  He wasn't.

Yeah ... uh oh.

We sat and talked and 650 said that he called CG, but CG didn't answer.  (Hmmm... hinky....)  About an hour later, CG called and 650 asked him to come over.  CG was supposed to come, but then 650 told him I was there and he said he changed his mind and was going home.

650 asked me how I felt about CG and I told him that I really hadn't stopped thinking about the guy:  I liked him a lot, but I thought he was married (650:  No, never been married) or had a girlfriend (650: No) or didn't like me (650:  He really likes you, but he's kind of shy and has never talked to a foreign woman before...  He went on to say a LOT of nice things about his friend...)

This all sounds so high school, doesn't it?  Like someone should be passing notes back and forth, right?  No, my friends, welcome to Kuwait....

So, I sent CG a bunch of text messages.  I professed my "like" for him.  I told him that I couldn't stop thinking about him and hoped that he felt the same way.  His response:  "Don't call me again."

CG (46 years old) was upset that I was with 650.  And I guess he had the right to be upset because 650 was putting the moves on me (lit some candles and put on Mariah Carey... ick).  And maybe CG knows his friend.... (I hate these games and it seems like guys here play it against each other to see who can "get" the girl.)

Ok, bygones. Nobody is "getting" me.  I'm staying away from Bad-News-650.  If he would do that to his friend, he's no friend to anyone.

I hate having people be hurt or upset because of me.  I sent GC a little gift with a note.  That's all I can do.  If we are meant to be friends (or more), I'll find out down the road.  I'm just really sorry that I hurt his feelings.

Goat Love Story

I had a very eventful weekend.  The big news is that I was gifted 2 more goats.  I have known Rashed for a long time, but I never knew he "liked" me.  You know - kinda crushin on me.

Well, Rashed gave me my 2nd goat, Nina (formerly "Nacho" but it just didn't suit her).  Nina was meant to be a companion/"wife" to Paco, my first goat.  I believe that Nina is too young to have kids. Rashed told me she isn't and should have conceived by now.

So, he said he was going to "replace" Nina with another female goat.  Uh uh!  I don't "replace" pets.  Besides, Paco is totally smitten with Nina.  They "hug" each other (he puts his neck over her neck) and they cuddle.  They're so cute together and it has taken months of his efforts to get her to love him.  She can't be "replaced".

I told Rashed in no uncertain terms!

So, he insisted on bringing me another female goat; but then thought harder and came up with the idea that perhaps it isn't Nina's fault that she hasn't become pregnant yet, but Paco's.  Oh noooo you di'in't!  My Paco is all man!  Rashed then insisted that he bring me 2 more goats;  instead of one female goat, he would bring me a male and a female.

Nina is jealous!  Meak-meager little slight of a goat; she keeps head-butting the female away from Paco.  And the little male goat just quivers in the corner.  They are both really young.  Paco seems happy, however.  I'm glad about that.  They'll all get used to each other in time and learn to be a goat family, I'm sure.  God help me if no one gets pregnant, however.  I'm pretty sure that Rashed will come to the rescue with more goats.

So, I'm officially a goat farmer now.  When/if anyone does have babies, please write to me if you would like a pet goat.  They're super-cute and very smart.

Ok, so back to Rashed. He's one of my "brother", Hmood's, good friends.  I've seen Rashed many times over the years.  He's a nice guy, but most of the time, I don't pay attention and miss signals (aka "clueless").  Perhaps goat-gifting should have been a big clue.  I dunno... some girls get diamonds.  Some girls get trips or cars or even candle-lit dinners.  I am unique (you know it by now, don't ya?)  I get goats.

Hmood finally told me.  I was like, 'Oh my God!  All he had to do was to buy me a hamburger from McDonald's!'  (Not goat meat...)  So this weekend, Rashed finally invited me to lunch and it was lovely.  He continued to sit a respectable 4' away from me (that will probably last another year or so... sigh).  We went to have lunch with his friends who have apparently heard all about me (where was I?!)  Nice people.  Nice lunch.  Good start.

Kuwait Scrambles To Curb Spread Of Crystal Meth: ‘Shabu’ Spreading Like Wildfire

Finally, I see something in the newspaper about this epidemic in Kuwait.

Kuwait Scrambles To Curb Spread Of Crystal Meth
‘Shabu’ Spreading Like Wildfire
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 14: Methamphetamine, also known as Crystal Meth has been spreading throughout the country like wildfire, authorities are scrambling to curb the rapid spread, and Parliament is doing what it has to do from its part. Criminal lawyers and officials from the government affirm that cases of crystal meth, locally known as “shabu,” has already clawed its way into the lives of the youth, posing a great threat to their lives and the lives of the people around them.
For this reason, the constitutional union bloc organized a seminar at its headquarters in South Surra Wednesday night. Under the theme “Shabu ... an imminent danger,” the seminar lamented the reasons behind its recent spread, symptoms and other important information that the public ought to know about the drug, through speeches from concerned experts.
Dr Hassan Al-Musawi, a well known psychologist and education specialist was first of the speakers to assert that the recent spread of crystal meth cases is due to the lack of awareness, and the improper manner of addressing the addict, in addition to numerous other factors.
He asserted that we have to look at the issue from a bigger perspective, and for the general public to stop looking down on parents with children that are addicted to some sort of drug, for the sole reason that it is not constructive in any way.
Dr Hassan also pointed out that the inconsistency in governmental surveys regarding the number of youth addicted to crystal meth is also an issue, for the number given by the ministry of interior differs from the number given by let’s say the ministry of education, which has ran a survey in schools asking them if they have tried crystal meth and how many times.
In the ministry’s point of view, a student that has honestly answered and wrote “a have tried it once,” is counted as an addict which is a big mistake in his opinion. Based on his experience in dealing with drug addicts, from teenagers to young men in their 30s, with parents that are on the brink of giving up of them, Dr Hassan noted that whenever he asks the question “what made you start taking drugs,” they almost always answer the same way “what doesn’t make us do it.” In most cases, drug addicts usually suffer from some sort of depression, they feel that the world is against them, they have no guidance, they feel lost, Dr Hassan further clarified that “we cannot place the whole blame on the addict, for there are many factors that has contributed to his problem.” Dr Hassan explained that spreading awareness among the youth is not going to be affective enough if the parents are not educated on the matter as well, urging parents and families to learn the behaviors and symptoms that might lead to drug consumption, or indicate that they have started taking drugs, for the reason that it is a vital factor in safeguarding the youth from drug addiction. When it comes to governmental authorities and the general public, Dr Hassan stated that it is not helpful when authorities treat individuals with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or an addict as some sort of degenerate, or parents and families giving up and accepting that this is their punishment from God. “We should not be quick to judge,” affirmed Dr Hassan as he explained that there are numerous factors that have lead to this issue that we are unaware of, that is why we need to pin point the issue and resolve it from the source, or else it is just a matter of time before they spiral out of control.
Before concluding, Dr Hassan stated that there is much to do with regard to combating drug addiction, and we are all in it together, families, the public, the authorities and the law, which he noted includes unnecessary provisions like preventing a rehabilitated addict from acquiring a job before five years of being “clean.” Disagreeing with Dr Hassan, Abdullah Al-Sanad, a prominent criminal lawyer stated that the Kuwaiti law is by no means at fault or flawed, as it is solid in terms of protecting the public from narcotics and the issues it entails, pointing out that the fault is at the enforcement of the law itself.
He added according to the Kuwaiti law, a drug dealer is sentenced to death if he was to be proven guilty, but since enforcement is poor, the time spent between the sentence and its execution can span out to 4 years, pointing out that by that time, the public has already forgotten about it, which negates half the reason of a capital punishment, which is “setting an example.” Abdullah went on to express his grief on the fact that this class A drug is now easily attainable by 15 year olds, and when asked “why are you doing this to yourself?” they simply reply with “i want to escape reality.” In his opinion, all this can easily be avoided if the public is well informed, stressing that the Kuwaiti youth are generally bright and full of life, therefore getting caught in this web of addiction must be from an exterior element.
He says this because of a case he handled recently, where he asked a straight A student who became an addict of crystal meth for the reason behind his consumption, and was answered with “I was told that it would ease me up.” “The poor boy did not know what crystal meth was,” stated Abdullah as he asserted that a continuous campaign on crystal meth awareness is vital in preventing such cases.
To further assert his point, Abdullah shared the story of one of the first drug dealers caught distributing crystal meth.
He said that during those days, “shabu” was not recognized as a narcotic at the ministry of interior, prompting the dealer to import the substance and start his network in the country. He was later caught, but was confident enough to answer the Kuwaiti Drug Enforcement Authority when he was asked what it is he is distributing.
Considering the authority did not know what “shabu” was at the time, and it was not registered in their books, they resorted to blood testing, which came back showing that the person has Methamphetamine in his blood stream, a drug that is recognized and punishable by death in case of distribution.
On his turn, Abdulrahman Al-Saleem an experienced pharmacist and a member of the board of directors at the Kuwaiti Pharmacists Association, asserted that Methamphetamine is considered one of the top ten most dangerous drugs, just next to Heroin and Cocaine. Abdulrahman revealed that the majority of the substance if not all of it, that is being distributed in the country is not imported from outside the country, but rather being produced inside.
And this is mainly because “producing Methamphetamine is as easy as baking a cake,” as long as you have the ingredients which can be bought from pharmacies and general stores, and have the equipment for the procedure, you can make it. He also lamented the fact that the country does not recognize the capability of rehabilitation centers in cleaning up an addict, leaving parents with no other choice but to send their addicted children to psychologists, which in his opinion is not an affective measure.
On the other hand, Ahmed Al- Hunayan, an expert in computers and IT shed light on another phenomenon that has been spreading recently. He referred to what is now known “digital drugs” which is basically “binaural beats.” He explained that binaural beats is an audio file that one can download and listen to, via headphones for the purpose of going into a trance and experience a “high” similar to what you experience when you consume drugs like crystal meth. Although the affects are only on a mental level, the danger lies on how this product is being marketed.
As Ahmed pointed out that the term “digital drug” is a commercial term for binaural beats, in order to make it more appealing to the youth. He further explained that websites that allow you to download these files in exchange for a low fee categorize the audio files according to the type of “high” one will experience if listened to.
For example, if you want the “high” of crystal meth you download a specific file, if you want Marijuana, you download another. Youth who find their way into these kind of websites, download the file, and experience the high, will only wonder how the real drug feels like, which might lead them to purchasing the actual drug.

Of note is that this article is full of spelling and punctuation mistakes.  Spell check, dudes.  Whutup?
And I'm sorry, but the use of Shabu/meth is NOT limited to the young in Kuwait.  Older people are using too.  The whole country seems to be tweaking.  The stuff costs less than alcohol.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hey - what's that weird blob out in the water?

Well, that's red tide, honey....

Photo:  Times Kuwait

The Environment Public Authority is monitoring status of the recently-formed red tide spots off the Kuwaiti coast, EPA said on Monday.
Mohammad Al-Enezi, EPA's acting director general, told KUNA the authority has been following up on this renewed phenomenon since last Saturday, when the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fish Resources, filed reports confirming location of red spots floating at various locations in the territorial sea waters.
Special teams have scooped up some samples for analysis, he said, affirming capacity to "cope with such emergency situations."
The red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) when it is caused by a few species of dinoflagellates and the bloom takes on a red or brown color.
Red tides are events in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, resulting in coloration of the surface water. It is usually found in coastal areas.
(Where there is pollution...)

Why do these algae accumulate?  Pollution like sewage, runoff, and chemicals. Fracking.   Dumping, etc.  Then what happens?  The algae grows.  There is less oxygen in the water. The fish die.  We have a stinky, nasty mess on the beaches and no one goes fishin.  Don't eat that!  Sushi?  Hmmmmm.... and

Beople!  Know what you're swimming in, please.

In 2001, tonnes of fish washed up in the Bay of Kuwait.  It was NAS-teh.  I lived in Salmiya and couldn't open my windows for months - and the stench INSIDE my apartment with the AC on was unbearable also.  The whole seaside smelled like rotting fish for months.  It was the same deal.  I wrote several documentary scripts for KTV during that time on the fish kill (transcripts were posted on Hilalya's blog HERE  if you are interested).  

I hope we're not in for more disgustingness soon.  I can't even get out to camp in the desert. Where to go?

Shelter Opening for Abused Domestic Workers in Kuwait

This is the new 500-bed domestic worker shelter.  (Diggin' the architecture and the use of windows and light... I feel comfortable and safe just looking at it....emmmm..... Just the kind of place I would want to run to in the middle of the night if someone was beating the crap out of me.  And easy to find with signage in my native language...)

Okey dokey - This is a step in the right direction.  But I'm just wondering if a domestic worker (maid, driver, etc.) can just show up there 24/7 and ask for help - or if they have to (for example) wait until the morning, go to their embassy, wait for someone to help them and fill out a report, and then go.  What do they have to do to get in?

Baby Steps…

Runaway maids reluctant to use Govt facility (2013)

Human Rights Watch (2010)
 “While the Kuwaiti government currently maintains a 50-bed shelter for domestic workers, only embassies can refer workers there, and only after the police have cleared them of all charges, meaning that women typically wait long periods in their embassy shelters before reaching the government facility. When Human Rights Watch visited the facility, it was operating under capacity, despite the pressing need for shelter hundreds of domestic workers face, and overcrowding at embassy shelters.”

2006 Plans for Domestic Worker Shelter in Kuwait

Wikipedia – Migrant Workers in Kuwait

“In September 2007, Kuwait opened a temporary shelter to house runaway maids until their disputes with employers are resolved.”

Kuwait Security Probes Bid To Recruit Bedoun For ISIS/DAESH

Security Probes Bid To Recruit Bedoun For DAESH
‘Suffering’ Used As Hook

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 11: Kuwaiti security authorities are monitoring and investigating some suspicious attempts being made in the country to recruit a large number of Bedoun youths into DAESH in Iraq and Syria, reports Al-Shahed daily quoting security sources.
They revealed that the suspects are using a number of websites to incite the Bedoun youths to become fighters for the Islamic State (IS) or the so-called DAESH, by exploiting their financial and humanitarian sufferings.
They explained that the State Security forces have received information about an instigator who has been playing a pivotal role in this regard and preparing interested Bedoun men as a prelude to helping them leave Kuwait via air and sea ports to join the DAESH camps in Iraq and Syria.
The sources praised the efforts being exerted by the officers of State Security Department for tracking down the supporters of DAESH and thwarting their plans externally and internally based on a unique security strategy.
Again, people without hope turn to desperation.  And then they become vulnerable – especially young people (and some that are NOT ALLOWED EDUCATION).  What do "they" think is going to happen?  Nothing?  The Bedoon situation is becoming increasingly alarming and a breeding ground for ISIS/DAESH and other crazies to come in and offer a seemingly better solution (or any solution).

These particular crazies aren’t going to be the only group trying to exploit the suffering.  The situation is a time bomb – and it is an internal one at that.
Sad, sad, sad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Operation Hope's Esther's Attic (Buy from this thrift shop and help the poor in Kuwait)

Operation Hope-Esther's Attic open for Business
(Re-post from Crazy in Kuwait - thank you!)

Operation Hope- Esther's Attic is open again for the winter season. Come join us every Saturday from 8-11 am and shop away. All proceeds go back to the community we serve.

Our winter warmth campaign has started, volunteers hand out winter warmth bags containing warm thermals, gloves, socks and a hat to keep the street cleaners and less fortunate warm this year when the temperatures drop and they are left out in the cold.

You can check out their FB for information and updates as well as information on volunteering for those interested.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dogdom Kuwait - My Introduction

I had been hearing about Dogdom and a guy named "Khalid" on Facebook and through fellow dog lovers in Kuwait.  I had the opportunity to meet him several months ago during the kick-off meeting for the creation of the Kuwait Kennel Club.  There was a room full of breeders, trainers, and people like me, who generally connect the dots between all.

I had a chance to introduce my new friend, Khalid, to Gill Pirow, a South African dog trainer who is working through Animal Care.  They have similar philosophies regarding dog socialization and training.  I also had the opportunity to introduce Khalid to my friend, Angel, from Dogs Spa Hotel.  Like-minded people with like-minded techniques and a great love of animals.

I walked away from the meeting knowing a little more about Khalid and eager to learn more about how he deals with dogs; since everything I had felt was good energy.  

While away on vacation, I left my dog, Mikey, at Dogs Spa Hotel (which I wrote about previously).  Mikey had the opportunity to socialize with other same-breed dogs; and I learned that Khalid and his golden retriever, Phoebe, had visited one day and got to play with Mikey and the gang (Angel actually sent me a video while I was in the States).

I've seen Khalid a few times here and there (mostly at PetZone which is where his Dogdom group is in partnership with and meets for dog instruction and socialization).  He's usually surrounded by a bunch of people; many big, burly large-breed-dog owners who seem to be hanging on every word Khalid has to say about how to handle their dogs.

This past week, I was very concerned because Mikey had been acting aggressively during a beach gathering for the Kennel Club (mostly large breed dogs, but some small). He barked constantly for 2 hours and was very aggressive to another German Shepherd; a workline female who belongs to my friend and who Mikey has played with.  

LucyFur is generally very aggressive (evil - Lucifer) towards Mikey at the farm and they usually spend about 10 minutes in what appears to be a fierce dog battle with teeth bared and foaming at the mouth.  However, there is never any hard biting and skin has never been broken.  After the 10 minutes, they play like litter mates.  I have heard that this is the norm with many workline German Shepherds.  Mikey is a less-aggressive showline German Shepherd (bred for looks and not heavy work) and he could easily learn the aggression by watching.

At the gathering, I wondered if Mikey was seeking revenge on LucyFur as she was not in her territory.  She was acting very timid and was afraid of the larger dogs; not at all her normal self at the farm.  She was out of her element and has not been socialized.  Mikey initiated this time and struck out at her several times.  I was genuinely concerned (and embarrassed in front of all the other well-behaved-dog owners)

I called Khalid and told him the entire story.  His response was NOT at all what I expected.  "I should work with Lucy to socialize her."  I said, "Why?  Mikey was aggressive and a bigfatbully!"  Khalid went on to explain that as a pack, dogs would always turn on the weakest; especially when Lucy displayed fear; and Mikey was accustomed to her being strong and dominant. He was confused and didn't like it at all.  It was my "aha" doggy moment.  "Mikey was behaving normally, as he should have.  Lucy was not."

Wallah fascinating.

It was interesting because people I knew on the beach that day asked me several times, "Why is he so pissed off?"  He genuinely was having a bad day.  Now I get it.

After Mikey went to obedience school, I have been searching for more training for him.  I have learned that Khalid holds 3-month courses of socialization and behavior.  Their meetings are structured and owners are given exercises to go through with the dogs.  You fill out a membership card at PetZone, pay a fee, and  you can attend the courses (and be invited to the Dogdom beach gatherings - also structured).  

I haven't owned a big dog in many years.  I think I've forgotten some of the language.  I'm looking forward to being re-taught at some of the Dogdom classes!  I'll let you know how it goes.

If you're interested in the Dogdom program, contact:  Khalid Al-Qassem, Canine Behaviour Consultant, mobile:  55508891 or 555556654, e-mail:, and Instagram:  dogdomkuwait.  
Or stop by PetZone in Rai and ask.

Give a dog a bone? No, give him a job says Khalid Al-Qassem of Dogdom Kuwait

The article below appeared in Bazaar Magazine in June of 2014.  It will serve as the introduction to my 2nd post on Dogdom.  (Reprinting with their permission.)

Khalid ad Phoebe, Service Canine
Photo:  Hanilens Photography Studio

It started in August 2013 when 4-year-old Aisha was attacked by a pack of dogs while on the beach in Khiran.  Her father, Mohamed Al-Mulla told Al-Rai Daily that it had been an enjoyable afternoon at the chalet until he heard the shrill scream of his little girl.  He rushed to her aid and found six stray dogs had bitten off her ear, maimed her face and dragged her across the beach. Later, a group of amateur snipers made headlines when, according to K’s Path Kuwait, they killed more than 80 stray dogs in retaliation to the attack.
Khalid Al-Qassem, a dog owner for more than 35 years was shocked at the brutal incident. He toldbazaar it wasn’t the snipers or the dogs that he was angry about.
“They [the six dogs] must have belonged to people at some point. If not then the parents belonged to someone who didn’t get them neutered or speyed,” he said. “Think of it as the cost we are now facing because of the irresponsible dog ownership implanted in this country over 30 years.”
According to Al-Qassem, there are currently more than 200 adoptable dogs in Kuwait, with many more strays on the street. Owners may discard their pets when they move away from Kuwait, or, more often, find dog ownership to be more of a hassle then expected and discard their pets. So, Al-Qassem put his corporate career in Human Resources on hiatus and decided to combine his skills with dog knowledge and philosophy to start Dogdom.
Dogdom is defined as the “world of dogs and dog enthusiasts,” in the Webster dictionary, and Al-Qassem is definitely an enthusiast. His new rehabilitation service aims to reintegrate dogs into the families they belong to, or the pack, and it has just as much to do with humans as it does with the dogs themselves.
“Our whole problem is that any issue from the dog is not caused by the dog,” he said. “Dogs do fine in the wild. Wolves have a magnificent sense of community, and bonding, their relationship is amazing. So it’s always humans that mess up the dog.”
His solution? Don’t give a dog a bone, give him a job, he says. Dogs by nature are pack animals, and are either leaders or submissive members of the pack. Specific actions define the leader: he eats first, walks in front, passes through narrow openings first and demands actions. But, being the leader is stressful for the dog and they become more territorial, experience anxiety disorder when one of the pack (you and everyone in the house) leaves and feels a general sense of responsibility for all the tasks in the house.
So how do you give your dog a job? According to Al-Qassem it starts from the moment you decide you want to add a canine to your family. He has developed a 9 point puppy test that he explains in his lectures at Petzone and with individual clients in their homes. At Dogdom he takes on clients looking for a puppy and helps them with the assessment.  First he visits them at their home to understand the environment the dog will be living in and observes the family schedule.  He sits with his clients and has them consider why they want a dog, and what it will add to their lives.
“You want to lose some weight?” he said. “Get a dog whose energy level matches yours and lifestyle matches yours in terms of size and spending. We pick the right dog and you have a running partner for the next ten years whether you want to run or not.”
Whether you are looking for an exercise buddy, home protection or therapy dog, make that the dog’s focus and you will find he barks and jumps up on your buddies less. They are patient animals that are more than happy to be submissive to the leader of the pack, otherwise known as their owners.
Sometimes dog ownership goes very wrong, and this is when Al-Qassem’s specialty truly comes into play.  Recently he was asked to help a client with a raging mix of Rottweiler German Shepherd. The dog was dangerous and difficult, and had bit a little girl just days before. When Al-Qassem arrived he found the collar was digging into its skin and they had kept him locked in the cage for the past week out of fear.
Al-Qassem did dominance exercise with the dog the first day, but left him in the cage. He went back for five days and finally placed him on the leash for a walk.  At first he was fine, and engaged in the pack activity, until he stopped to pee. Since the dog was not neutered he needed to mark his space. However, as the pack leader Al-Qassem couldn’t let him do that, so he tugged on the leash and the dog attacked.
“It was gruesome but even then you can’t stop the fight,” he said. “Then I started confronting this dog. I’m still bleeding but I cant lose. I’ve got him on a loose leash, and I loop the leash so it controls his head.  Every time I yank he is just going for my arm again and I’m still bleeding.  The minute I arch back he’s back at it growling.”
Eventually, Al-Qassem recommended the dog be put down, because it could not become a productive member of any pack due to its extreme aggression. While killing a dog is not the ideal solution to most problems, it is a difficult decision he must be able to make when attempting to rehabilitate a dog.
“That’s the price we are paying,” he said. “I’ve dealt with places here and societies that are putting dogs and animals above human needs. That’s wrong. We are doing this with a sense of humanity. This dog was a danger to society and it is our responsibility as humanitarians to put the dog down.”

To see how well Al-Qassem’s programs and training works, one only needs to look down to Al-Qassem’s side.  There, a beautiful mid-sized golden retriever will probably be sitting or standing quietly. Phoebe is Al-Qassem’s partner in Dogdom, and her job is to assist with rehabilitation, and she follows her pack leader to the letter. It’s Al-Qassem’s job to help your dog do the same.

Kuwaiti Bedoons (No-Nationality) now to become African???

Wikipedia:  The Comoro Islands or Comoros form an archipelago of volcanic islands situated off the south-east coast of Africa, to the east of Mozambique and north-west of Madagascar.
So now my Bedoon friends (friends who have NO nationality and are not able to obtain birth certificates for their children)  are now African?  What does their culture, their history, their decent have to do with Comoros?  Nothing.  They're Arab.  Many have proven DNA links to Kuwaiti family members.  

WTF.  I woke up in a foul mood mood this morning and it now just got 1,000 times worse.  This is yet another ridiculous ploy to cover up the Bedoon issue.  Grant those deserving citizenship!
There was a scheme years ago in the 1980's - a deal that some lawmaker set up where Bedoon were supposed to go to an office and apply for citizenship.  Turned out to be to another African country.  Some were duped into believing that it would be beneficial... until countries like the UK denied entry visas for visitors (and other reasons) and stated that the passports were illegal and had been "purchased."  Benifits to Bedoon?  ZERO.

Who is making money off these deals?

So what are they going to do - round up the Bedoon, put them on trucks and force them to go to the NEW Comoro Islands embassy for processing?

I HATE this....

MP Hits ‘Comoros’ Bid To Paper-Over Bedoun Issue
Lawmaker Warns Government Would Collapse
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 9: Director of Citizenship Department Major General Mazen Al-Jarrah’s call to send Bedouns to Comoro Islands is a very serious issue, says MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan. The lawmaker warned that if this plan is implemented, it will lead to bitter repercussions such as the collapse of the entire government. He pointed out Al-Jarrah’s statement seems to confirm that the government was lying when it said majority of Bedouns have other nationalities, so they should be considered illegal immigrants. He argued if the government’s claim is true, it would have repatriated these people rather than sending them to Comoros.
The stateless people would be granted “special applications for Comoros’ economic citizenship,” al-Jarrah told Al-Jarida daily. Those who accept the offer would be given free residence permits in Kuwait, in addition to a series of incentives like free education and healthcare and the right to employment, Jarrah was quoted as saying.  (Don't believe the hype, I'm just sayin...)
The process would start as soon as an embassy for Comoros is opened in Kuwait in the coming months. More than 110,000 stateless people were born and raised in Kuwait and claim the right to citizenship in the country.
The Kuwaiti government, which describes them as illegal residents, says only 34,000 qualify for consideration for citizenship. The rest are considered natives of other countries who either emigrated to Kuwait after the discovery of oil five decades ago or were born to these migrants. In the past three years, Bedouns have held demonstrations to demand citizenship and other basic rights, and police have dispersed them using force, arresting hundreds who are on trial for illegal protests and assaulting police.
A Kuwaiti lawmaker in April proposed to send stateless people convicted of breaching public security and protesting to a camp he suggested should be built in the desert. Comoros is an archipelago state located off eastern Africa and is a member of the Arab League. Al-Duwaisan stressed the need for a stronglyworded response from the lawmakers to Al- Jarrah, including forwarding questions to HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak to know if the Central System for Remedying the Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIR) is affiliated to the Cabinet or the Ministry of Interior.
He also wants to know the truth about the alleged plan to send Bedouns to Comoro Islands, date of drafting this plan, body which met officials of Comoros to discuss the issue, details of the agreement between the parties if any, legality of such action and whether it is in line with international treaties or not. He asked if Al-Jarrah made the call as an official in charge of the issue although the CSRSIR has been tasked to address the problems of Bedouns.

He alleged the Bedoon issue is not part of the priorities of the current Parliament, accusing some people of using the issue to gain popularity and to serve electoral interests. He intends to present questions to the prime minister and minister of interior in this regard. He and other MPs will soon discuss the possibility of requesting for the formation of an investigative committee or submit a grilling request on this issue. He then urged his fellow MPs in the Human Rights Committee to prioritize the issue if they are really keen on protecting human rights and rejecting injustice.


Other Stories:

Kuwait Times, Govt to Offer Bedoons Comoros Citizenship - MP Slams Move, Says Lawmakers were Misled

Ok, but because I am "cheeky," I have started sending requests to my Bedoon friends to invite me to "their country" to do some fishing and relax next to the sea (that is, of course, if there is no coup attempt that week...)

One of the Comoros Islands

Sorry, but I can't imagine a bunch of Bedoon guys dropped off on a tropical island. That would be like "Dr. Samhan" in reverse.  They would probably immediately open a sheesha cafe. And where would you buy banak?  Eeek.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Tours of Kuwait

See Kuwait through the eyes of Kuwaitis...

Back in 2011, I first posted (HERE and HERE) about my friends at Morqab Tours.  They do guided tours of Kuwait and accept requests for "off the beaten path" types of adventures (like searching for filming locations, etc.).  They are very flexible and have reasonable prices.

They just invited me to their farm this weekend to thank me for all the referrals that have been made through this blog over the past few years.   They’re such kind, decent people and I am so happy to promote their business – especially since everyone I have ever met who have taken their tours (including my visiting mother, my friends' visiting mothers, and new friends to Kuwait), have absolutely raved about how wonderful they are.  They are guided tours BY Kuwaitis with a LOVE of Kuwait.  You will get the real flavor of the country and it's culture from these people (literally - sometimes as guests walk along through the old souq's, the tour guides will stop to talk to friends they know and vendors will say, "try this...")

The weather is perfect, most people are still in town and haven’t left for any holidays left.  Consider taking a tour of Kuwait.  Even if  you have lived here for a long time, you may experience new things by looking at it from someone else’s perspective.

(Morqab Tours pricing may have changed -  as the flier above is dated)


Phone:  (965) 6510-0772

(NOTE:  This is not a paid advertisement.  They cook me dinner and I get to hear stories.  That's about it!  I just really like them)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Camping War Begins

My tent, 2 years ago, Zoor Area

Hate to say "I told you so" but I said it on my FB account - this is gonna git ugly.

The Municipality is taking away a Kuwaiti cultural activity that has gone on for generations and dates back to Bedouin tribes roaming the desert.  The Municipality have made deposits so high that some families can't afford to pay.  Other families are upset because the land size limits them only to the ability to set up camp for one or two families, so that extended families can't camp together (again, breaking a tradition).

People are mad.  I'm one of them.  Many of my friends (including my own group of seasonal camping buddies) have decided that it is all too much.  We are sticking to the farm this year. I want to be in my tent!!!  The Government has found yet another way to create more bureaucracy, paperwork, and tedium.   300KD for land rent, 50KD non-refundable deposit, permits and signage required, land limit of 1,000 meters, limitations on what types of bathrooms and plumbing you can set up.  And, worst of all, some guy deciding where you can to camp.  That translates to wastah and wealthy people being able to rent plots of land and then re-rent at higher prices.

My Tent (background) last winter

Seriously, are they TRYING to push people out of the country?  Where else do you go?  Are people supposed to just set up tents along the Gulf Road to enjoy the weather?  This sucks.  I think you'll notice a lot less camps this year.  PATHETIC

THANK YOU, KUWAIT TIMES FOR FOLLOWING THIS STORY!!!  And corruption?  Oh gee, now there is a shocker....

"Reserved" Signage
Photo:  Kuwait Times

Corruption Over Camping Spots at Kuwait Municipality  (LINK)
Kuwait Times by  Nawara Fattahova
6 November, 2014

KUWAIT: A Municipality employee involved in the allotment of desert spots for camping is selling them for thousands of dinars, according to several  Kuwaitis  who  had  to  pay  the  civil  servant  in  order  to  be granted  those  campsites.  The  muftah  (the  key  person)  allegedly reserved several spots for himself, his family, friends and even his domestic servants when the camping season opened. He then began to sell these reservations to citizens looking to set up their camps in prime locations.
Kuwait’s  camping  season  runs  from  November  till  March  and  is popular with both locals and expatriates. Thousands of camps are set up, mostly in Ahmadi, Farwaniya and Jahra governorates in selected desert areas overseen by the Municipal Council.
Under a new system by the Municipality that aims to organize the camping  season  and  help  protect  the  environment,  campers  must now register for a designated spot and pay a fee of KD 50 plus a KD 300  deposit.   Using  GPS  coordinates   and  an  online  registration system, the Municipality invited would-be campers to apply for a campsite.
But according  to several  campers  that  Kuwait  Times  spoke  with  in various camping areas around Kuwait, at least one Municipality supervisor is withholding the best spots for sale on the desert camp black market. “When I tried to book my location for a camp online on the  website  of  the  Municipality,  I  was  shocked  that  all  the  good strategic  locations  were  gone,”  explained  Yousef.  “I later  found  out
that a supervisor at the Ahmadi branch of the Municipality has booked the places for himself and registered them in the names of his family members and friends. This guy is selling these places for up to KD 2,000,” he told Kuwait Times.
“We thought of preparing a petition, but when we filed a complaint at the Municipality, nobody listened. They said everyone wants the most popular locations, although we have been camping there every year. Furthermore, the locations on their system are wrong, as I applied for a location in Julaia, and the system gave me a location in Mina Abdullah. The new system sucks, and hasn’t brought any benefits at all,” he stated.
Another camper explained that the Municipality’s new system has essentially created the conditions for a black market in popular camping sites by creating  artificial  limitations  and  demand.  “The  new  regulation  changed  the  national  tradition  of  camping  into  a  business  for  many  people.  The Municipality is involved in this, and their staff are reserving good locations for their friends who are selling them for high amounts starting from KD 500 up to KD 2,000,” said Jassem, who also paid extra for his spot. “Social media and various websites are full of ads by people offering to sell a camp with a permit or just the site,” he pointed out.
The locations differ in price. “Officially, the payment is the same for all locations in all governorates, which is a KD 50 fee and a KD 300 deposit that will be returned at the end of the camping season. But practically, people are selling their sites for different prices depending on the demanded areas. Even the KD 350 officially paid to the Municipality is considered a high amount for some people, especially 17- or 18-year-old students, so many of them won’t be camping this year,” Jassem added.
Abu Ahmad, another Kuwaiti camper, confirmed that he paid the Municipality employee for a good camp location. “I was obliged to pay KD 1,100 to get a camp near a location to the one I typically camp at every year for the last 20 years. The Municipality is corrupt, but when I went to file a complaint, they told me that I don’t have any evidence as there is nothing registered in the name of this corrupt employee, who registered the locations in the name of his friends and relatives. So I was not able to accuse him as I can’t officially prove it,” he stated.
He mentioned other what he called the exploitation of the system. “Besides the corruption of this employee and maybe other employees, there is the fact that somebody will get profit or interest from the deposits and fees paid by people. Imagine how many people paid the KD 350, and this money will be in some account for five months. So who will get the profits of this?” wondered Abu Ahmad.
He also complained of the space given by the Municipality. “They gave us only 1,000 square meters, which is only enough to set up camp for one family or two small families. We also have to keep space between the camps and we may not find two adjacent locations for each other, while during previous years, four or five families used to camp together in one location, which is not possible anymore,” he concluded.

UnSuperMom - You make a very valid point; and one that I was going to include in the post, but forgot to:  Campgrounds.  It makes sense for the ecology of the country and at the same time, the Government (and concessioners)  can make money.

I have proposed this idea to friends in other countries in the Gulf; especially in Oman where seaside property is still very inexpensive (and, BTW, can be purchased by Bidoon people).  With more people in the GCC buying campers (caravans), it is a good business for destination travellers (camp sites, for example, along a route to Oman; in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE) and families can take GCC vacations in their campers with the amenities of "home".

Creating a campsite is a good ROI:  The main price is the land.  You can rent out space to vendors (like movies, little shops, etc) and create electricity connections and waste dump areas.  Charge by the night and space size.

The only problem with this (for me, in Kuwait) is that I like the open space.  I don't want to be with other people. I want to be far away with only the sound of the wind and maybe a few passing camels.  I don't like "urban-style" camping with buggies and noise and parties.  I seek the peace, smell, solitude, and feel that you can only get, unique to Kuwait.

This is ALL I want to see and hear

Worse-come-to-worst this year, I'll take my tent, put it up somewhere remote, and remove after the weekend.  Sad, but if it comes to that, a Desert Girl's gotta do what a Desert Girl's gotta do.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Addiction Seminar: November 10

Smoking, drugs, alcohol or any other habitual activities can turn into addictions that negatively affect our lives and those of our loved ones. Often addicts do not recognize these signs or are in denial and need help to overcome these habits.

Recognizing a need for “Breaking the Chains of Addiction”, the Indian Women’s Association is organizing a seminar that addresses these issues under the Reach for Health initiative.

Join us on Monday, 10th November, 2014 from 5 – 8 pm at the Gulf University for Science and Technology (Auditorium W6-500) where leading experts will speak about the causes, prevention and cures for common addictions.

Topics include:

From Addiction to Recovery … the possible Journey
Dr. Adel Zayed
Psychiatrist & Head of Addiction Center, Kuwait Center for Psychological Health
Director, Kuwait Psychiatry Board

Addiction: Not Just a Bad Habit

Jason R. Sullivan, MA
Career Services and Wellness
Mental Health Counselor

Addictions 3X3X3

William Schuilenberg
Therapist, Soor Center

The seminar is open to all and completely free of charge. To book your seat, email or call 24898680.

Kuwait's Poor Children

December 10, 2013, 1:14 pm
By Ricky Laxa

You see them approach cars and offer to sell perfume sprays, pack of face towels, boxes of tissues and fun toys for kids. As young as six years old, these street children reflect the frustrations of not being able to sell their products at the end of the night; while remaining potential victims to road accidents and ensnared to commit aggravated crimes. The Times spoke to these children and, in return for purchasing their items, learned about their frustrations and simple wishes in life.
Musaad, who is ten years old, lives with his two brothers and four sisters in Andalus. His father died of cancer few years back and left them in the care of their mother. He stopped going to school last year, not because, the family could not afford to send him to school, but because they had no interest in academics. Musaad spends his time in the streets of Andalus, hangs out at friends’ houses and hardly eats in a day; not unless his friends would treat him to a sandwich or a meal.
Musaad lamented that his mother is often out of the house and stays with her aunt leaving them hungry and unattended. Musaad’s friends introduced him to man called Hamad, who distributes pirated CDs to sell in the Friday market, Musaad earns 250 fils for every 3 CDs he can sell and in between he steals from other shops in the same place.
Musaad sells whatever he steals outside the grounds of Friday market in order to avoid getting caught by the local authorities. Clad in dirty disdasha and worn out slippers, Musaad makes the Friday market his personal playground and moneyearning place. Similarly, Hamoud is twelve years old, and has never attended school; his mother and father have been divorced for the past five years.
Hamoud lives with his brother who is married and out of job. At an early age, Hamoud started working with his brother for a 100-fils shop in Rigga, he used to clean the shop before it opened and earned small amount of KD 75 in a month. This was sufficient for him to buy what he wanted and somehow, feed himself for a month. Their mother left him and his two brothers and sister to the custody of their father, who got re-married. For sometime Hamoud and his sister used to receive monthly financial support from their father but eventually, due to the influence of his stepmother, they were forced to live on their own and support themselves.
The monthly financial assistance stopped and their father refused to see them. Hamoud no longer works for the 100-fils shop because he was accused of stealing things from the shop. Hamoud sighed that he did not steal anything but was wrongly accused by the owner of the shop.
Hamoud and his brother now peddle perfume sprays in Messilah and Salmiyah daily to earn small amount to support them. “At times I envy my friends for having a family to live with; I hope I still have my mother and father to provide support. Everyday is difficult for us, we have a six year old brother who often gets sick, I want to buy many things but I don’t have the money, people think that I beg in the street, they offer money but I give them perfume spray in exchange.
I never take money from people,” said Hamoud. Six years old Fadhel could be the youngest peddler one can see along the streets of Salmiyah. Fadhel used to accompany his brother in Souk Salmiyah to sell pirated CDs and videotapes and just like Musaad; they earn 250 fils for every 3 CDs they sell.
To add to the income, they would sell perfume sprays. Fadhel wishes to become a doctor someday and own his own play station. Fadhel hardly talked during his interview, but one can notice the hardships this kid is going though. When asked if he is not afraid of getting into accidents because of the rushing cars, Fahdel replied with a smile.
Fadhel, Musaad, and Hamoud are just among the increasing number of street children with no proper legal status in Kuwait. The heat of the sun, hunger, danger of being hit by cars, belittled, and the disappointment of not able to sell and earn at least a one dinar in a day, are just some of anguishes these kids go through every day.
“Blaming the parents for such irresponsible acts would not be enough; local authorities should somehow apprehend these parents for not meeting their duties,” said mother of five children Mariam Al- Khaldi.
“I believe because the parents marry at early age, education on parenthood is insufficient and traditional pre-arranged marriages are prevalent in the society. Statistics show that divorce cases have increased this year and would most likely increase the following year. Infidelity, domestic violence and lack of financial support are the common reasons why divorces happen in the country and in between such battle are the children who suffer.
Social welfare department, humane organizations and societies and local authorities should implement a revised set of laws to protect the rights of these children,” commented a psychotherapist. The two-hour interview concluded with The Times offering to take them home and, as promised, purchased the items they peddled. They got off from the car, bade goodbye and disappeared into the night.
What remained was stories of survival learned from these children. For every item bought from these children and given out to friends will be a reminiscing story about them that must be told and questions asked as to why there were poor children in such a rich country?

The story below ran in the Kuwait Times on October 15, 2014, and was followed up by a report (LINK HERE).  If the Government continues to create generations of hopeless, desperate people, it will only negatively affect Government and society later.  Why aren't they thinking??

Has there been any update to this story?

Related Stories:

Parents of 700 Bedoun kids Denied Education stage Sit-In
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 26: The parents of about 700 elementary Bedoun pupils, who were deprived of education due to non-availability of birth certificates or official documents required for registration in schools, organized a humanitarian protest inside the Ministry of Education premises on Sunday. Organizers of the protest disclosed the number of children deprived of their right to education will reach 3,000 if those in other levels were added to the elementary pupils.
They argued that education is not only a constitutional and legal right as stated in international charters, but it is also a humanitarian and religious right in line with Islamic tenets. They claimed whoever deprives children of the right to education is committing a crime.
According to member of Bedoun Elementary Education (Katatib) Ahmad Al-Khalifi, the Central System for Remedying Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIR) is trying to exploit the political situation in the country to mount pressure on this segment by denying their children the right to education. He asserted these children have become victims of the system. He said the system destroyed the Bedoun parents for several years, so the next step now is to destroy their children by denying them the right to education and regularize their status.

He demanded civil society organizations to make a clear stand on this issue. He added that 70 percent of military personnel who participated in wars to defend the country are Bedouns. He also urged the Ministry of Education to defy the decision by allowing Bedoun children to enroll in public schools.

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 25: Kuwait Society for Human Rights has urged Ministry of Education and Central System for Remedying Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIRS) to cancel the decision to ban ‘Bedoun’ children from early education, as it violates one of the most basic humanitarian principles endorsed by all religions, laws and human rights, reports Al-Rai daily. In its statement, the society insisted that the right to education is one of the basic rights that have been warranted by all the national laws, covenants, and international and regional agreements.
According to Article 26 of the International Declaration for Human Rights, which was issued by the United Nations’ General Assembly on December 10, 1948, it is stated that every person has the right to education and primary education must be free. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of which Kuwait is a signatory and had not expressed any reservations when signing the pledge, also specifies this right. Article 13 stipulates, “The State parties to the present covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall endorse the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The society stressed in its statement that, “The decision to ban Bedoun children from early education is against Article 13 of the international covenant and also against the human values that were part of the Kuwaiti society. Such decisions tarnish the international reputation of the country. Kuwait will present its second Human Rights report in January next year. Therefore, it is important for the report to reflect development in terms of human rights.”
What would you do if these were your children?  
If you had thought, since the last time school was in session, that your children would be going to a particular school. You buy their school clothes, their supplies... you're all ready to go.  And then, you are not allowed to register your kids.  What are your alternatives?  Have you looked at private school tuition fees in Kuwait lately?  I don't think I could afford to put a kid into school on my salary - and I make a good one.  What about Bedoon parents (some of whom are not allowed to hold regular jobs - think of those guys on the traffic circle selling beans....)?  They certainly can't afford it.  What do you do?  What do the kids do?  This decision is HORRIFIC for the country!
If private schools cared about children in this community, cared about religion or the benefits of education, they would be HUMANITARIAN and allow some form of scholarship programs to these kids!  It shouldn't be about greed!

For a full listing of (2013) private school fees, see Crazy in Kuwait blog link HERE.