Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kuwait Cost of Living - 2017

I follow "Kuwait Expats Lifestyle" on Facebook and they mentioned a cost of living list for Kuwait for 2017.  I disagree with many of the prices.  I think they are below the averages here - especially if you take into account the lowest prices will be in co-operatives - which have higher prices than those listed.

What do you think?  Check it out on Expatistan HERE. 

I did my own back in the day when I had more free time on my hands.  These days, I really don't.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Model Weddings

Wedding Hostesses provided by www.mrs-show.ae

I responded to a post on Facebook from a woman in Kuwait looking for Western model-looking women to hostess/waitress at weddings in Kuwait part-time.  I immediately thought that this will be a trend that will catch on in Kuwait; especially with the elite.  It is the female equivalent of having a British butler, if nothing else for a conversation piece for those who have attended.

I've been to many Kuwaiti weddings in the past 22 years. Most of the servers are from the Philippines. This was literally the first time I've heard of anything like this in Kuwait.  But it made sense.

I see it as diversification.  Wouldn't it be racist to assume only one nationality or a group of people from only one area of the world could accomplish the task of being a wedding attendant?  If people are qualified and want to do the job, why not?

On the Facebook post thread, some of the comments were by people (women!) completely opposed to having "models" at weddings (and keep in mind that Kuwaiti weddings are segregated, so women would cater to women).  The opposition seemed to be towards attractive models. The main theme was that this is "far from Kuwaiti culture."  Why?  Because its new?  It isn't as if the bride was importing male Chippendale strippers to serve food to female participants.  But even if they were, it is up to the wedding participants (bride/groom/family) to determine what they want to do at their own private venue.  They could ask for circus freaks if that's what they wanted.

Are other women insecure of beautiful women?  Aren't weddings - especially Middle Eastern weddings - full of beautiful women; women who have spent most of the day getting more beautiful at salons?  Would women be insecure of beautiful foreign women at Kuwaiti weddings because maybe (and I'm just throwing it out there) lovely models would take some of the limelight from the potential mother-in-laws, there to scope for potential mates for their sons?

Ironically (as I've found many timing situations in Kuwait to be), immediately after I responded to the post, a friend in Dubai who owns an event management company (www.mrs-show.ae)  contacted me because her company was booked for a Kuwaiti wedding with Western models and two had backed out at the last minute.  She was desperate to fill size 4 uniforms (which were black jackets/skirts) with beautiful, tall, slender women (and no - I in no way make the cut).  I made some calls but it is sketchy when you call all your friends the night before a weekend asking, "Yo, Flan, I need 2 beautiful girls.  Can you help?"  But my friends know - I've asked for stranger things, so now they kind of bear with me till the end of the conversation before they laugh.

If I were the bride, I would like to see beauty (and professionalism) at my wedding.  Because I'm weird, I would even put them in fairy costumes, complete with wings (covered-up version of a Victoria's Secret fashion show?) and ask them to flutter about the room, with me being the bride fairy princess.... Yeah.... it could happen....

Of the weddings that I've attended, the women of the families usually escort ladies to seats.  But they get busy, don't they?  The next line of assistance are the waitresses in uniform and for the most part, they are not professional and can't answer questions.  I would assume that professional wedding ushers would be trained and competent in their jobs.  And they would probably even assist with a courteous smile.

In addition, the models (hostesses, ushers - whatever you would like to call them) get paid for these (all-female) events.  Its a chance for them to make extra money. It is really no different than having spokes models at a car show or grand opening of a jewelry store. Or a flight attendant.   What's the big deal?  Sexist?  Perhaps. But we're talking about a wedding, not an arbitration or financial summit.  Not like the wedding guests are going to form a panel on climate change and pose interview questions to the hostesses.

And why western women and why bring them in from a place like Dubai?  Well, they are not party crashers.  They're not going to go out and talk about what happened behind closed wedding venue doors - no potential for gossip - especially if many Westerners don't understand Arabic that well and if they are brought in from somewhere else, they probably won't know anyone else in the country.  Its an interesting aspect.  Kuwait is a small country.  Everybody talks.

I can see this becoming a trend at upscale weddings. Many new things are controversial at first.  I'm grabbing my popcorn and watching to see how this plays out.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sign the petition to Ask Qatar Airways to Help Large Breed Animal Owners and Rescues

When Lufthansa stops flying directly from Frankfurt to Doha next month, humans aren't the only ones who will be affected. It's now going to be more expensive to fly large dogs out of Qatar.

To prevent pets from being dumped when their owners leave the country from good, five local groups are now asking Qatar Airways to change that. 
     - VZW Rescue Salukis Middle East -RSME (on Facebook)

Animal rescue organisations in Qatar come together to lobby Qatar Airways

The recent airline changes to Hamad International Airport has left pet lovers and animal rescue organisations in a huge predicament. With no other major airline allowing medium-to-large sized dogs to fly to or from Doha, current pet owners residing in Qatar, families with pets looking to relocate, and rescuers and animal lovers who dedicate their time and efforts toward animal welfare, find themselves left with no desirable options due to airline pet travel restrictions.

Until March this year, there were a few options to export larger dogs (>22 kilograms) from the country. KLM was the dog rescue lifeline for these larger dogs as they had a very generous upper limit and they allowed three dogs as accompanied baggage. Accompanied baggage, as opposed to cargo, is significantly cheaper. Qatar Airways only allows dogs that weigh under 32 kilograms; this includes the crate which normally weighs between 10-12 kilograms. (Some of the popular breeds - Huskies, German Shepherds, Salukis, and ‘Doha Specials’ - weigh an average of 20-30 kilograms as adults.) Qatar Airways is also double the price of KLM and Lufthansa.

Lufthansa was then only remaining option. They weren’t nearly as generous as KLM, with a smaller allowance, size-wise (no giant crates), and only allowing three dogs in total onto any one flight. However, dog rescuers and animal exporters had to suffice with this and continued juggling to get their larger size dogs out with this airline.  Now, as Lufthansa will cancel their Doha flights from October 27, large dogs will not be able to leave Qatar as excess baggage.

Alison Caldwell, Co-Founder of Paws Rescue Qatar commented: “As it stands now, no dogs over 22 kilograms will be able to leave this country as excess baggage. The repercussions are utterly devastating. They are devastating not only for rescuers, but for those who have their own large breed dogs in Qatar and want to leave with them. Rather than budgeting roughly 2,500 QAR for a dog to fly excess baggage, they’re now going to have to shell out +/- 20,000 QAR.” (US$5,300/KD1,600).

“With an epidemic of dumped animals as it is, Qatar will likely now see more of them than ever before. For dog rescuers, raising the money needed to get dogs to their forever homes is difficult enough with excess baggage costs, so raising ten times that amount is just not possible. In the end, it is the dogs who will suffer immeasurably – a total injustice for innocent beings that are only in the dire situations they find themselves because of humans in the first place.”

Qatar Airways is a world-class, award winning airline, its services consistently supersede all others and its endeavour to be the best has made it the exceptional airline it is today.

Qatar Airways has not just proven to be invaluable to those living and working in Qatar, it has fast become a fierce competitor and necessity for those travelling around the globe.

Qatar itself welcomes millions of employees from around the world. It offers a safe and wholesome alternative to those seeking greater comfort and success in their lives and careers. It has embraced so many families that it is home to many expatriates and animals are some of our most beloved family members.

Qatar does its best to pass laws and regulations to better accomplish full animal rights.
As a nation of majority expatriates, we bring our pets with us when we relocate, and we take our pets with us when we leave.

Like every nation there is always a need for rescue groups; there are hundreds of animals awaiting homes, animals of all shapes and sizes.  Qatar has provided full support and encouragement to rescue organisations around the country; rescues that have been very successful in the rehabilitation and relocation of animals around the world. This has proven possible due to the tremendous support from the nation and its love for animals. Now that other airlines that allowed larger pets to travel as excess baggage are discontinuing their services from Doha, families, animal lovers and rescue organisations in Qatar face a harsh dilemma.

For an airline that is already the number one choice for so many people, rescue organisations are urging Qatar Airways to expand their invaluable service and update its excess baggage pet travelling policies while still remaining affordable.
Source: ILQ News 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Kuwait's landmarks of childhood disappear By Nawara Fattahova

Below is an article on a subject I have thought of often - especially driving around Salmiya.  Kuwait is changing fast and many of our old landmarks have disappeared.  It's unfortunate, but a sign of "progress."  Personally, I liked the old, laid-back Kuwait of yester-year (and by that, I mean even 10-15 years ago).  Even before that, I remember the gender-divided restaurants (which were FUN because they actually had more flirt-appeal).  Bachelors sat on one side and families on the other.  I remember buying a shawarma for 250 fils!   And families with kids had plenty of places to go. But now it seems like the country that was referred to as "kid-friendly" is loosing many of the kid-friendly places.  

Like the trees in Kuwait, places are being chopped-down, but not replaced.

Good article, Nawara!  You stated what a lot of us are thinking.

Kuwait's landmarks of childhood disappear
By Nawara Fattahova
Kuwait Times

It's a sad feeling not being able to go to places we used to enjoy visiting when we were kids.  Change is a part of life, but when the change removes most or all of your favorite entertainment places and stores, it hurts.  The trend started by demolishing Showbiz, the most popular entertainment park in Kuwait during the 1970s and 1980s, before Entertainment City was built in Doha. The place also housed a mini­zoo, pony rides and other attractions. Green Hill opposite Showbiz disappeared much earlier.

Then came the demolition of one of the two complexes of the old Salmiya Souq on Salem Al-Mubarak Street. This complex had many of my favorite shops including Waleed Toys, Family Bookshop, Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor, Hardees fast food and many others. Ten years after it was razed, a new building is being built and the entire street will change in the future to become a promenade where cars will be banned.  At least the complex on the opposite side is still standing, so some childhood memories are alive, although the popular toy store disappeared after the liberation in 1991.

The drive-in cinemas, which were not available anywhere else in the region, were also demolished. The main one on the Sixth Ring Road was replaced with 360 Mall. The other smaller one was in Ahmadi. Many other cinemas disappeared too, including Salmiya Cinema next to the post office and Abdulhussein Abdulredha Theatre, AI-Hamra Cinema that used to be in the place of the AI-Hamra Tower, and Garnata Cinema in Khaitan, which has been replaced by a mall.

Last year, Entertainment City, which was the first and largest of its kind in the GCC when it was built in 1984, was closed for maintenance. Rumors swirled that it would reopen after a few months, but this didn't happen.  Some unofficial reports said that it will be demolished completely and rebuilt and may reopen in 2021.

The other popular entertainment park was Shaab Park on Gulf Road. This park suddenly shut down last month due to a dispute over its license and some other legal issues.  It seems it will surely be gone, and visitors of this park have lost the many rides, ice skating rink, roller blading, pony riding and the only bungee jumping place in Kuwait.

Children now can only play in small entertainment areas in some malls that are not attractive to teenagers and young people.  Or they can go to public parks, which many find boring and unsuitable to visit in this hot weather. Where wiII their childhood memories of Kuwait be created?