Arab Times out of touch with Social Media

Social media has surpassed all expectation from being a pass-time in its early days to an effective marketing tool and business strategy this day in age.

However, Arab Times needs to teach its writers to differentiate between “Twitter” and “Blogging”.

Twitter is a platform that allows for expression in 140 characters or less.

Blogging is a platform that allows for all to become bonafide journalists.

arab times

(link)

The origin of “Running an errand” in Kuwait

How many can claim to have a hobby that does all the following:
1) keeps them fit and healthy.
2) is done both in groups or solo.
3) can be done anytime, anywhere.
4) helps complete errands.

Show of hands.

that’s right. All runners.

This past saturday I had to take my car to the service center for the 40K service (expensive as hell but hopefully worth it). This seemingly simple errand irked me in a variety of ways. You see previously I would take my car to the service center during my lunch break as I worked in Shuwaikh and was within walking distance of the place. Since 2010 when I first purchased the car, I had been within walking distance of the center – serving in two different jobs btw (2010 – 2013, 2013-2014).

Anyhoo, as I now call Kuwait City my domicile for work, I had to go on a weekend. And early too, coz the service center gets packed pretty quickly.

How would I return from the SC? My first thought was I would not (pause for dramatic effect)…

In that I would spend the time around the place like at City Center or something. But, they opened at 9, I was there at 7:45AM and the kicker was the service was expected to last all the way till 4PM.

I called up a dear friend and asked her, say, want to run in the morning from Shuwaikh to Hawally?

She agreed!

Initially I had envisioned the run back to be a mere 6-7KM affair, tops.

As we are practicing for the 642 half marathon next saturday however, that would not slide with her, and she requested we push a little harder and opt for 13 miles.

I cannot say no to that!

So we started off at the service center, ran to the KPC building at the end of the Gulf road, and proceeded to run all the way down to the 3rd Ring Road including a refreshing run through the early morning sprinklers on the Gulf road as well as in insane run down the middle of the Gulf Road (sans the traffic ofcourse, we are not THAT crazy!)

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We called it quits 3KM out from home and enjoyed a brisk walk. By the time I got home it was 10AM, and I was waiting car-less till 4 apparently.

I got the call at 1:30PM that my car was ready, initially I had planned to take my bike there, but as I thought about it, running was so much less of a hassle! So again, I donned a different pair of shoes and went at it:

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The exact distance from my house to the SC was 10KM.

And that is the exact definition of “Running an errand” and the origin of the phrase :D

#642Marathon Review @extremesportskw @q8sportevents

Yesterday marked the first Marathon to be run officially (or unofficially) in Kuwait, and by god it was a game changer.

From the beginning, the 642 Marathon was the first to offer distances to suit everyone’s running appetite, with 5, 10, half and full marathon runs, everyone was bound to find a distance suitable to them.

It served as a refreshing change to start form Souq Sharq, as opposed to all the other races starting in Salmiya; mainly Marina Mall, although there was that one time RunQ8 had their inaugural first 10K in 2010 from the scientific center.

I had signed up for the half marathon, my wife for the 5K, and several friends for the 42.

There in lay the problem; the 42, the supposed crowning achievement of the 642 marathon, was a debauchery from the get-go.

Initially slated for the runners to begin at 7:30AM for the marathon and 8:30AM for all the rest, the marathon was delayed to start with all the others. This caused a problem in the space-time continuum in that a 5K takes an average of 30 mins, a 10K takes 60, a 21K takes 2 hours and a 42K takes 4hours, meaning the marathon folks would be running until 12:30PM, when the sun is at its highest point and the heat unbearable, even in these calming winter days. Also, the winners of the previous races would have to wait for the marathons to complete for the awards ceremony to take place.

Second, the organizers did an amazing thing in closing off the entire road side, as opposed to a single lane, for the runners to run in. This should have been utilized to its full potential by having people use all three lanes to separate the to and fro runners groups. This was not done and caused a problem initially at the first turn around from Mubarakiya onward and then the turnaround where the runners were put back on the Gulf road.

Third, as everyone is embracing the growing trend of tracking their runs to become more efficient, everyone is using GPS. GPS requires clear view of the sky to work properly. The run inside Mubarakiya albeit a lot fun, was a dead zone for GPS and several watches, phones etc. lost signal, throwing all runners paces off.

Fourth, the loop arounds that the marathon runners had to do were extremely boring and lacked what every marathon should contain, engaging scenery and a one shot activity with minimal turn arounds.

Feast your eyes on the Dubai Marathon map for 2014:

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The 642 marathon had the runners doing a loop at 12KM (with the 21) then again near the start, then again at chilis (like rats in a maze) to finally run back to the finish line.

Fifth, the sharp turn at the top of the bridge. The finish line should have been placed in front of Souq Sharq, to make the final dash towards the finish line a straight line.

Sixth, no energy gels were provided before the 12K mark.

Seventh, the roads were opened to cars at the second ring road at 11:30AM with runners still on them.

And finally, as a person that was injured and bleeding through my shoes at the finish line, I found the medical preparedness of the volunteers to be thoroughly lacking as I had to walk back and forth from the finish line to the registration tent and back before someone came and provided me with band aids.

Other than that, the race was perfect. The availability of water and sports drinks for runners was spot on, the booths were all very helpful and the overall atmosphere was encompassing of the bond between sports-folks, that of congratulatory admiration. Many a hi-5 and thumbs up were shared between crossing runners, proof that we may be competing on the asphalt, but we are all united in our quest for better health and wellness.

Definitely looking forward to the next 642 sponsored run, in hopes that they will take the constructive criticism provided by the runners into consideration.

Police checkpoints in Kuwait – a guide to Suiting Up!

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Its 4PM and you have finally left the office and started heading home, you notice that the traffic on your favorite street is slightly more congested than usual, you drive up and find the familiar red-&-blue police car lights flashing in unison at the bend, just out of eye reach.

You fumble and grumble and remember that you might have possibly forgotten to take your wallet with you on the way home.

And then you start to panic.

This is what usually happens when people are crossing a police checkpoint, however, sometimes you get off the hook very easily, and no it is not that women are not stopped, BS.

Here are a few tricks to staying on the right side of Misha’al Qanoun (Johnny Law’s Kuwaiti cousin):

1) DO NOT PANIC! This is easier said than done, yesterday I changed direction 4 times when leaving my house because I left my wallet at home and there was a checkpoint, even though last week I had sailed through one on the way home from work with ease because I knew I had my papers on me. Ever notice how anyone caught doing something illegal (i.e. at the airport, bringing in contraband) is described as looking “confused”? Confusion is panic.

2) Most cars pulled over at the checkpoints are either:

a) Old and likely to be viewed as a pollution menace.

b) New but driven by shady looking drivers (alas, judging books by their covers is routinely done, it is no secret).

3) For old cars, there is really not much you can do, try being well dressed? Sometimes a guy in a suit can get away with things.

4) For new cars with shady looking drivers, again, try wearing a suit. It works wonders.

So yes, what we are basically trying to say in a nutshell is:

suit-up-wallpaper

Suit up Kuwait!

And try to look innocent, yeah?

@SouqKuwait in-App purchase rip off

Is Souq.com purposefully deceiving its customers?

All companies fazed by the touch-screen phase must embrace it or face being phased out – OAQ (Original Aymz Quote – Patented!)

However, it rarely is as it appears to be.

At first it sounded like a very impressive marketing scheme to promote the use of the App by Souq.com

Mobile Madness Mondays, 10% off of all purchases made on Monday through the App. sounds great right?

Initially, it took 3 or 4 tries to get the code correct, as the following error message occurred:

 

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So, after wasting time trying to do the order again, then contacting them via their email address (in the morning at 10AM and receiving a response at 3PM) I finally got the coupon code to work.

Now if you follow Souq you will know that since October 22nd they have added a delivery charge of 1KD for all cash-on-delivery orders, thereby forcing their customers to opt for the K-NET payment, fast, hassle-free, and saves you a fils for those pesky 0.999 offers.

So one would believe that being in Kuwait, a K-NET payment option would be available, thereby giving people the opportunity to pay the exact amount. Right?

Wrong:

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No K-NET payment on their App.

If you opt to pay COD you pay an extra 1KD, eliminating the benefit of the 10% discount. If you pay via Mastercard, you pay an extra 150Fils. Not a big deal but still reducing the margin of your discount; the discount is effectively 7.69%, thereby deceiving the customer.

Bad form Souq.com, bad form indeed.

Kuwait’s Busy Schedule & The Upcoming @RunQ8Official 10KM!

Kuwait is a small country, so small we rarely get to enjoy good outdoor events except when the weather becomes humanly tolerable. So why is it, dear organizers of such events, that in the nice window of opportunity from Early October to April, can we not find a unique day in which to call our own, and space out our events in order to ensure everyone, everywhere can attend everything should they so choose?

I am talking about the 25th of October 2014 (last saturday), two sports events were slated for that date:

1) The Flying Start Triathlon

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I noticed on some websites it has been dubbed the McDonald’s Flying Start Triathlon??

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You might as well have Jack Daniel’s sponsoring the next AA meeting!

However, I digress…

2) The bi-annual Radisson Blu 3K fun run… which has now become saturated with young runners who run on the international scale.

Please organizers, we get very few events in the Kuwait Calendar, please take the proper cautionary measures to ensure these mixups do not happen as we very rarely have sports events in Kuwait (weather permitting) and would definitely love to try EVERYTHING AVAILABLE!

Speaking of which, runners rejoice! we are counting down to Nov 29th for the Annual RunQ8 charity run!

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Unlike other organizers, this event is strictly for Charity, so you’re registration fees are going to a good cause. In addition, you get what you paid for and then some in terms of excellent administration and participation! So what are you waiting for? Go and register NOW (link).

Carrefour Kuwait amazing customer service

cereales-carrefour-crunchy-muesli-4-noix_4441413_3560070262649

If you the consumer do not voice your concern through the appropriate channels, service will never evolve to fit your needs.

We grow up thinking our voice is inconsequential when it comes to the corporate cogs of capital markets. That could not be farther from the truth.

I am a lover of Carrefour Breakfast Cereal. It is chronicled on both mybloogle (here) and my Instagram. Their crunchy muesli is a piece of heaven, and I always start my morning with it.

For the past few months (since Summer), supply of this ambrosia has been halted. Week after week I run to the Cereal aisle with hope in my eyes, only to have it crushed to dust when I notice the shelves are empty.

I took this matter to Carrefour Kuwait’s website. No sooner had I sent them an irate email did I receive a call the next day from their manager, apologizing for the unavailability of the crunchy muesli and informing me that the box is getting redesigned to include Arabic information on the packaging, hence the delay.

And so we wait, in eager anticipation, for the return of the Chosen Cereal.

Thank you Carrefour Kuwait for making a customer feel heard.

PS since my friends have heard of my plight for the one cereal, they too have become interested in tasting this magical treat!

Irrefutable proof that #Kuwait traffic is caused by Schools

Correlation and causation; eerily similar yet at times quite distinct… except today!

Yesterday as many of you are aware was Islamic New Year (happy new year!), given that the holiday fell on a saturday, it was not reimbursed to even government & banking employees, who enjoy the most public vacation days in comparison to their working counterparts.

HOWEVER, certain schools (like Bayan Bilingual School in Hawally) were given the day off, why? God knows. This is a blessing in disguise for employees, as today of all days, the route to get OUT of Hawally by passing by BBS was cut short by 30 minutes, due to the absence of bumper-to-bumper traffic caused by the parents of children insisting they park in the middle of the road and walk their children to their desks.

Damn you BBS, damn you morning traffic.

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All schools should have drop-off zones that are located a fair distance away from the school (i.e. 1KM) where special lanes/ barriers allow the children to walk unhindered to the school. You would be combating childhood obesity by giving the children a nice early morning exercise to get their blood pumping and their brain thinking, whilst also making traffic much less.

Win-win for all.

So why is this not being done?

Stomp! Kuwait – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

Results may vary!

(Warning: May Contain Spoilers!)
What do a banana peel, a matchbox and a plastic bag have in common?
In case you have not heard, on the radio or through social media, Eventmania, as is expected of them given their current track record of putting Kuwait on the entertainment map, dazzled the people of Kuwait by bringing them the spectacular theatrical show known as Stomp, percussionists with an attitude and imagination, to our local ice-skating rink!

The performance is unique in that it provides melody and tunes from common items that we see and pass by every day not once ever stopping to consider their potential for musical performance. It is a perfect blend of synchronization, improvisation and above all imagination. Stomp transcends all linguistic barriers as audiences are transfixed with the movements and melodies with little interruptions of verbal communication, save the occasional grunt as passed down from our neanderthal ancestors.

The show transcends what anyone would imagine when going to a “musical”. To the keen observer, Stomp is not merely a musical performance; it is a theatrical piece complete with a jester and cleverly placed innuendo that will leave many squealing in delight as to having “gotten it”.

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At a casual glance, the performers appear to be your every-day average Tom, Dick, Harry & Henrietta, ranging in size and grace from the agile-yet-obese, the scrawny and the limber to the chiseled physique that may have just gone a few rounds with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a wrestling ring. It is their command of their bodies and instruments that bewitches you, as anything placed between their fingers is instantly transformed into a musical instrument. Anything, including but not limited to the aforementioned banana peel, matchbox and plastic bag.

One would think that running two shows a night for 5 nights would bring an element of monotony into the acts. That could not be farther from the truth; with a total of 12 performers, 8 take to the stage per show. Each show is quite different than the other, with improv involving the spectators that is sure to leave you clapping like a performing seal at sea world. Stomp never grows stale, as is evident by the fire in the eyes of the performers as they effortlessly execute what undoubtedly has taken them many years of endless practice to perfect. The show is synchronized with the precision of an army drill sergeant, as every twist and turn finds the performers coming face-to-face with each other, landing their poles, broom sticks, trash can lids, basketballs and paint pails in harmonious synchonicity together.

As the lights dimmed and the performers began to, as their name suggests, stomp their way into our hearts, I found myself wondering initially whether they were stomp-syncing, as my then frail senses were not ready for what was about to occur. Throughout the performance, you will find yourself constantly straining your neck in a feeble to attempt to discern “where did that sound come from?” as your senses are bombarded from left, right, above and below. The transitions between sets were flawless, the lights syncing perfectly with the show (save for the annoying green “EXIT” sign near the entrance, far from the stage yet still an eye-sore).

Stomp engulfs you in that it starts off slowly, gaining momentum into a climactic euphoria of sights and sounds that has the audience spell bound and tapping their feet (not just the people in the front row who had to do this regularly to prevent their feet from freezing as a result of the ice below!) and once again bringing the audience down to a rolling stop.

Stomp with Ayman and Shrouk

We have it on good authority that half the profits taken home by the performers are spent on Aspirin and ear-plugs!

After the production is over you will find yourself overwhelmed with a feeling of euphoric bliss, like all the parts of the puzzle that is life have fallen together into a brilliant masterpiece and that you are part of it. You will find yourself snapping your fingers and tapping your feet, desperate to get your hands on anything so that the world can hear your latent inner-talent of making music from garbage. You will rush to get your hands on a basketball, a newspaper, a discarded plastic bottle or even a shopping cart at the supermarket to begin your musical journey.

Please don’t.

Thank you Eventmania for continuing to rise to the challenge and bring a taste of global culture to our desert oasis.

For more info (link)

#Kuwait no longer a Paradise for Expats

Long, long ago, in a classroom far, far away (Salmiya) there stood a teacher who attempted to explain to his students why expats (such as himself and themselves) choose to relocate to the Desert Oasis known as Kuwait.

“It is for 3 letter word ending with X, and it is NOT the first thing you think of!”

With these pearls of wisdom, we are continuously reminded of why we are (correction, were) happy here as expats – TAX free income. Now granted some countries’ residents  are required to pay tax if they earn a certain amount per year, however for the rest of the working stiffs, our incomes remain tax free.

Sadly, however, our incomes are no longer that safe:

Rent is Rising, rising, rising…

ExplodingThermometer

One of the first lessons we learn in Business School is that price is downward inflexible, meaning the age-old adage of “what comes up must come down” is incorrect when it comes to $$.

As stated in the Arab Times (link) in an article eloquently titled “Hell Of Rent Irons Hits Both Expats, Citizen”:

As per recent statistics, there are about 405 buildings, 3,407 villas, 5 palaces, 435 houses, 899 chalets and 2,206 traditional houses that are vacant and can meet the current demand.

the irrationality in charging KD 350 rent for a small apartment with one bedroom and a living room and KD 1,000 for a house in a residential area. The landlords explained that the increase in rents is due to the high cost of building materials.

 tenants stressed the lack of proper justification for increasing the rents without any increase in their salaries, revealing that they spend more than half of their salaries to pay the monthly rents.

“Paying the monthly rents has become a nightmare for the breadwinners, irrespective of whether they are Kuwaiti citizens or expatriates. If this problem of increasing rents continues, expatriates may have to go back to their motherland with their families, and citizens may have to start living in tents”.

The tenants expressed their shock about landlords charging almost KD 500 for apartments with two or three bedrooms and a living room in Hawally, Jabriya, Salmiya and Salwa.

They urged the concerned authorities to intervene in this matter and put an end to this phenomenon before expatriates are forced to take the decision of either leaving the country with their families or sending only their families to their country, which however will transform Kuwait into a country of bachelors.

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

However, exorbitant rents only serve to line the pockets of corporate fat-cats.

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The main problem is not merely that he rents are high, it is that the spaces offered are not reflective of the amount being requested. Growing up in Kuwait in the 1990’s, spaces were lavish and rents were relatively low, with a 2-bedroom apartment going for 100KD a month. Granted the AC was split units and not central, but that did not matter as the rent went hand in hand with the salaries at the time.

In addition, the increase in rent does not go hand-in-hand with an increase in salary, meaning your salary grows at a much slower rate than the expenses around you:

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One of the major increases in rent happened when rent allowance for citizens was increased (link) causing building owners to retrospectively increase their rents to accommodate the increased spending power of citizens.  As you can see, it is a vicious circle – due to the law of scarcity in Economics materials today cost more than they did last year as they are finite resources. The government decides to increase rent allowance for citizens, and the market decides to also increase their prices (downsides of Capitalism and consumer-driven demand).

Expats do not get rent allowance. The price increase is unilateral on all. 35-50% of salaries is going on a monthly basis for the necessity of shelter.

Can you imagine what Kuwait would look like if the breadwinners decide to send their families back home and move in with their friends, turning Kuwait (as stated above) into a giant Bachelor pad?

Warning, NSFW:

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August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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