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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Arab Times Fail: What WERE they doing?

We live in the 21st century. Surprise, surprise. I, like most of my internet-savvy counterparts, like to get my news online, it saves alot of time, and ink-stained fingers.

HOWEVER, I am starting to get sick of the Arab Times and their bogus crime reports in Kuwait.

Most recent example:
KUWAIT CITY, Aug 9: A Lebanese man and his girlfriend, whose identity has not been disclosed, have been arrested and referred to a police station for making love in public, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.

The daily quoting security sources, the couple was caught red-handed kissing inside their car. The car was parked near a building in Salwa and the couple was making love under the cover of darkness.

According to the police the lovers were partly naked. The incident was reported to the police by a Kuwaiti man who saw suspicious movements inside the vehicle.

Now, which is it, making love, or kissing? Both acts will get you the same punishment, but it is interesting to know which is which.

Another thing I don’t get is why the paper sees it fit to disclose the nationalities, as opposed to pseudonym names, when reporting on crime in Kuwait?

Is the Arab Times advocating bias and stereotyping? Lebanese will be caught making love in public, Egyptians will be caught stealing, Sri-Lankan maids will commit suicide, Syrians will be caught begging in Ramadan etc etc.

This is not news, this is pure, unadulterated BS.

Brings to mind the casse of the people in Dubai who were also caught “in the act” in their vehicle, but proceeded to win the case against them by claiming that their car is their domicile, and the officer had no right to approach it.

C’est La Vie.

Changes & Woe- Step 1: GCC Business Visa

2010 was a year of change for me. I started a new job, in a career that is completely new to me, 180 degree change, and for the past 8 months I have been learning the ropes.


Internal Audit is my game, as defined by the IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors), Internal Auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.

In short, we are glorified critics-come-revolutionists, whose purpose is to see how a process is done and compare it to how it should be done, or improve it. Jacks of All Trades.

Now, my first assignment is coming up, an audit in a GCC country. I am very excited as it is the fruition of the months of training, however, now comes the bureaucracy apparent of Saudi Arabia.

I am an accountant by qualification, that is what is written on my Visa, a 4 year degree. Upon visiting the office in-charge of issuing Visas, I was informed that unless it says manager on my Visa, I need more documentation from our office in the other country. To demonstrate, the guy @ the Visa office gave me a sheet and asked me to get one similar. The sheet was made out to a person whose profession is, literally, and I quote “Table Setter” (Sofraji).

‘Nuff Said. 

Step one, gathering intel, check.

Update on Nicholas Warner – Destitute in Dubai released

on BBC:

As of August 16, there was a bright ray of sunshine in Nicholas Warner’s otherwise desolate life.

Living in a park and public places, dependent on the donations of others for 12 weeks, he was finally able to break free of the grips of his unfortunate situation and leave the Emirates, With help from locals and an expat sponsor, he obtained the release of his passport from the authorities.

Locals, as well as European and Indian expats offered him legal assistance, places to stay and money to help pay off his debt.

One group managed to find a way to get his passport released by the Dubai judicial system by paying about £8,000 directly to the courts, circumventing the bank.

After checking the passport was free of any travel bans, they bought him a flight back to England.

He says “I won’t be coming back to Dubai.”

Security Guards or Hired Thugs? Tale of Abuse in Kuwait

I’m collecting all the thoughts I previously shared on the internet and grouping them into my blog for ease-of-reference. This incident happened to me 2 years ago, I got in touch with the people at Jarir to file a formal complaint, and tried to reach the man in charge of Hawalli Park, emails lead to nothing, I got a single response and that was that.

A colleague of mine faced a similar incident afterward. He was @ TSC Salmiya a while ago, and the guard outside refused to let him enter, also dressed in national dress. One thing lead to another, guard said “I will whipe the floor with you”,  then assaulted my colleague, who wears glasses, shattering said glasses in his eyes. A complaint was filed but the office told him to drop the charges, guard was a “bedoun” and they feared retaliation on my colleague as a response. The charge was dropped.

Law in Kuwait, favors the nationals, not the expats.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

What happened to me on Saturday is something out of an action thriller. It was a hate crime. I was assaulted at an amusement park called Hawalli Park by the security officers there. The story I have sent out to various local new agencies, I shall add it here as well.

You must be asking yourself, What is the global issue of this? I had to endure racial slurs which hurt more than the actual beating. “Working class” citizens here live in fear of the police, who only show Kuwaiti/ GCC/ Foreign nationals any shred of decency. They call me Egyptian like it’s an insult. I have had to tolerate their uncivil manner since high school. Unfortunately, a majority of Kuwaiti citizens are taught at an early age to look down upon others; they see us as invaders, even though we work here legally, and their government more than compensates their salary as compared to a foreign national.

The grim reality we live in is as follows: Had my situation escalated to requiring the police to intervene, they would have done exactly as the first offending security guard hinted — taken me and my brother into custody, shaved our heads, beat us up, and kept us locked up for two days, no justice, no statement. Just the word of a bored security guard because he is a national.

Human Rights need to be informed of the vicious maltreatment of foreigners here. Let us not consider the plight of the Bangladeshi workers, whose struggles I am sure you are aware of, and the fact that they are being deported now.

My story is as follows:

I am a resident of Hawalli. I was out walking with my younger brother, and we decided to visit Hawalli Park, more specifically Al-Jarir Bookstore. If you are not familiar with the park, it has three entrances: one on the main road, one on the side near the parking lot, and one in the back, the farthest of the three. Being “bachelors,” we were denied entrance through Gate A, the closest from our walking path, and even Gate B, and told to go to Gate C. I was extremely agitated.

Let us analyze this situation please: All gates lead to the same park — there are no familial areas/bachelor areas. However, the rule is enforced by the guards dressed in national clothes. Guards, that you shall come to see, are no more than petty thugs without a shred of decency or training.

I walked to Gate C, extremely agitated. As I was walking in, I was accosted by one of the guards in an unfriendly manner and yelled at him. That was a mistake on my part, but it was a result of having to walk three times across the length of the park just to walk into a bookstore.

The guard got into my face and started yelling back. I explained the situation: I had walked across three sides to get to an entrance, and he was denying me entrance? I am no common criminal. He then orders me to leave; I stubbornly refuse. He calls his “superior” or “raba” who comes and listens to the situation and sides with the guard, and also tells me to leave. By then, the first guard’s language is starting to turn foul, so I claimed I was leaving of my own accord.

As we walked away, and were in the parking lot, three guards were following us, insulting and taunting. I paid them no heed and kept on my way; they rush by my side, now joined by some other “national” felons whom they invited to join in on the fun. I was unceremoniously grabbed by my collar and lead back into the park area and dragged to a back room, with my brother in tow. Three of the guards assaulted me and tore my T-shirt. I was brutalised and sustained scratches and injuries to my neck.

They were then “asked” to cease-and-desist and we were lead to an office where an older man asked for our IDs and started with the whole “we will turn you over to the police” routine (I failed to mention that the age of my assailants was roughly late 20s/early 30s). I spoke to him and explained the situation, and told him I was out of line. What else could I do?

I was then asked to go and apologise to the first offender, who took it as a personal insult upon his person that someone like me, a non-national, could dare talk back to him. He started a racial slur from when we were in the senior man’s office, saying I claimed I was this and I could do whatever I wanted. Those words never left my mouth; I may be proud but I am not ignorant.

He kept the verbal abuse going, saying how he didn’t accept our apology, how he is a national and above us, how he wants us to be transferred to the police department, where they would shave our heads and beat us as they did, and keep us there for two days; how he was really a police officer and could charge both of us with fines worth 1,000 KD for assaulting him. He then accepted and spoke through his walkie-talkie. We went back to the senior, who had accosted my brother’s ID (I did not have mine on me at the time). He then proceeded to order me to sign an affidavit that I can no longer enter Hawalli Park, and that the guards had every right to act the way they did.

I ask you, where is the fairness in all of this? These security guards are supposed to protect us, however they acted no less than a bunch of hooligans and thugs, with little to no respect for the human being. When I asked why we cannot walk through any of the gates as they all lead into the same area, I was answered with an abrupt “keifi.” (arabic for word meaning “because I feel like it”)

My story portrays the ill training and ill respect of these guards. What if some person with a mental disorder were to have acted in an unruly manner? Would he also be dragged and beaten up? Where is the sense in that? What happened to me was uncalled for; I had already turned my back and walked away, only to have to endure further taunting from the initial perpetrator.

I would very much like to hear from you on this matter, as I feel I have let my brother down in this. He did nothing and was also assaulted. These shenanigans should not be tolerated.

What do women want?

I wrote this for http://kuwaitexposed.wordpress.com/ I’m a romantic @ heart and disbelieved the fact that that website should be used merely to spread the vice and evil that is apparent in mankind, all around the world.

(if only life were that simple, freak accident in the bathroom and BOOM!
You can read women’s thoughts)

Mankind has been plagued with attempting to answer this question. It has in fact, gained more popularity than, “what is the meaning of life?”

I have been battling this conundrum for a very long time, and have to say, I am as clueless, if not more so, now, than when I first embarked upon this impossible quest.

My first finding: despite the macho bravado, guys are afraid of rejection. It is in our genes (not jeans!). I came across a delightful anecdote that explains this; lets go back one, two, maybe a couple of million years ago, when cavemen roamed the earth. Back then, the groups that the cavemen lived in had plenty of men, and few women. The men were hunters, gatherers, and more importantly, continuity providers! They had to get the women’s attention. If poor Fred (as in Flintstone) attempted to talk to Wilma, and got rejected, for whatever reason, Wilma would tell Betty, Betty would tell Roxie, and so on and so on (moral of the story: women talk.). All the women in the clan would shun Fred for his oafishness, which could be through no fault of his own except that Wilma was not in the mood, and as a result, Fred’s “Line” will be forever lost, because he made one mistake.

What do women want?

I represent the dying breed of decent gentlemen. Those who pull out chairs, and whip up compliments in the blink of an eye. Caring, providing etc. you know the type. A true romantic at heart, a poet even. Love settlers, in that we look for that one-in-a-million person and stick with her through thick and thin.

I used to be under the impression (and you can blame romantic comedies for this), that women “dug” the sensitive guy. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying sensitive as in chick flick and tear box, I just mean caring, loving etc.

You know the type; think Mathew Broderick in addicted to love, that’s me.

Now, you have the current ordeal of America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock, a decent woman, everyone can attest to that, BUT, she’s married to.. Jesse James. Who used to be married to, a porn-star, who bore him children.

What happened here? What is it about the, for lack of a better term, bad guys, that attracts women? Whatever happened to the proverb “nice guys finish last”?

All those self-help books about how to meet women; they all stress one point (yes, I read a few online) be casual, flirty, funny and, i forget the fourth.

Let me stress at this point that I have few problems approaching “strange” women and starting up a conversation. I do however go through an extensive thought process before-hand. But, I do have success stories. And none revolved around what was being preached in those books.

Its not in me to insult a girl, even playfully. It goes against my nature. I cannot understand how the bad guy appeal trumps the good guy for real.

Again, it is a really confusing issue. You talk to a girl, you have to think about when to call her back, you cannot call back insistently or else you’ll be seen as needy and that is a turn-off. But isn’t it human nature, to have that desire, to love and be loved? Why do I constantly have to consider what to do, what not to do, what she thinks I should do, what she really wants me to do. ARGH!

Why has love turned into a bureaucratic government building decorated in red-tape and jargon?

I want to fall in love again, I do not know how to go about it. Everything is a test (Collin Farrell- The Recruit). Is that right? Is everything a test? Do I always have to think of the scenario i.e. wall-post on fb, does she want me to reply immediately? Or privately? Should I make it sound like I don’t care? Or compliment her somehow? Or just ignore her completely? Should I talk to her friends and not her, should I msg her? what, what, WHAT?

And I’m not old btw, cannot claim a generation gap, I’m still in my early twenties and hoping to find someone similarly aged. But, the question is; how?

Another question is how to go about doing this in Kuwait, but thats another tale, for another time.

Do I have to change my ways, adapt to what is the current fad, insult the girl, ignore her, treat her badly, and she’ll fall in love with you madly? Or do I stick to who I am, play the game I am comfortable with, and hope to find a hopeless romantic, like myself?

Ladies, gentlemen, your feedback would be much appreciated. What do women want, why do bad guys get the glory, what can the good guys do?

Pedestrians & Cyclists – The Waging War

This incident happened 3 years ago, a humorous anecdote to share:

Since the dawn of time… man has always strived to achieve the ultimate comfort in distance travelling. at first, Og & Thar walked happily together, frolicking in the sun, and ran away from dinosaurs together.. then Og had to go and create the wheel, and get all the cave-gals whilst Thar watched in envy, lost in his dust.

a millennia later.. the same battle wages still, heed my tale of pain and humility..

i learnt to ride bikes back in 93, (taught myself, figures), 14 years! and u know the saying, “its like riding a bicycle..”

i took a hiatus from the pedals during my highschool days, then vehemently redonned my biking shorts and started again.

now, i have had a clean record… of sorts. my only major accident came when i was cycling past a pedestrian bridge, and thought it would be cool to ride down the steps.. it was not. I ended up sprawled on the sidewalk having gained more acceleration than I could handle at the time, and hitting the wrong brake (front wheel, do the maths!)

As i was cycling toward oncoming traffic the signal turned red, so i felt it would be… cool (theres that damn word again!) to ride inbetween the two lines of cars waiting at the traffic light. Lo and behold i was gaining speed when all the sudden i see a man step in from behind a jeep.. he never saw me coming 😛 he never had to, he is walking across a one way street and the traffic light was red, he had absolutely no reason to look to his left!

BAM! collision!!!

we’re both sprawled on the floor, i would have given anything to be the guy in the car that we bumped into lookin out the window, it had to look hilarious!

my injuries were minor, a broken pinky, a bumped knee, a scraped elbow.. its the bruises my inner pride that are unrepairable.. the other guy just looked daggers at me, said something, got up and walked away. I wheeled off into the night before he changed his mind..

let that be a lesson to you! for i am both pedestrian street jogger and night cyclist! so i am unbiased in this! Cyclists, keep it on the pavement! Pedestrians, no matter what road you are on.. the cardinal rule of thumb remains ALWAYS LOOK BOTH WAYS!

Disneyland sued over Hijab Discrimination

Shame on you Mickey..

Can the world not see how the hijab is a symbol of modesty? I’m guessing if she showed up half naked showing deep cleavage, that would conform with the so called “Disney look”.

Newsflash, Arabs do not dress like Princess Jasmine Disney-folk, get with the times!

Although, its not merely a Disney phenomena. Lots of employers, even as far-flung as here in the Middle East, will not assign veiled women to work in the fore-front. Why that is the case in Arab countries baffles me.

Like I said before, I just don’t understand the duality of accepting a woman who parades around in clothes ill-fitting for a toddler, much less a grown adult, and frowning upon Muslim women who are covered up?

from Zawya:

LOS ANGELES (AFP)–A Muslim woman is suing Disneyland, accusing Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS) California theme park of discrimination for telling her she couldn’t serve customers if she chose to wear a headscarf.



Imane Boudlal, 26, asked her employers at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel several months ago whether they would permit her to wear a headcovering while working as a hostess, a spokeswoman for a worker’s union said.


But when no reply was forthcoming, she decided to don the headscarf anyway, timing her decision with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said Leigh Shelton, a spokesman for the UNITE HERE Local 11 union.


“Disney told Boudlal that if she wanted to work as a hostess she had to remove her hijab because it did not comply with the ‘Disney Look,'” Shelton said in a statement.


“Disney further advised Boudlal that if she refused to remove her hijab, she could either work a back-of-the-house position where any customers wouldn’t see her, or else go home.”


“Their offer to put me in the back is humiliating,” she said in a statement. “They’re saying because I’m Arab, because I’m Moroccan, because I’m Muslim, they don’t want to see me in the front.”


The local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group, said it had sent a letter to Disney demanding that the company accommodate Boudlal.


“There is no justification for Disney’s refusal to allow Ms. Boudlal to wear her headscarf at work,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi, deputy executive director and staff attorney at the group.


“To say that her headscarf would somehow impact guests is not only insulting to her, but is deeply offensive to the thousands of Muslims who open up their pocketbooks at Disney parks and resorts every year,” Qazi added in a statement.

So in a way, this would make Mickey Mouse a pervert, would it not?

Bypass the Block- How to make Nymgo work

Farewell to Qualitynet’s stranglehold on what content may or may not be viewed in Kuwait.

Ladies and Gentlemen, where there is a will, there is a way.

And indeed, there is a way to bypass the heinous block imposed upon VoIP by persons who seek only to thicken their wallets at the expense of the working class.

I stand before you today, having just paid for my Nymgo service two days ago, and already I am happily calling and sending messages as if nothing were wrong.

The exact method cannot be revealed here for fear of having this blog blocked for antiestablishmentarianism (ALWAYS wanted to use that word in a sentence!)

Let it not end there, with this method (completely free ofcourse, the best things in life are free) not only are you free to make your nymgo payments, but the term “Blocked by Qualitynet” will be a thing of the past.

I believe not in restrictions, we are human beings with sound and right minds, it should be our choice whether or not to view a site based on its content. It should not be dictated to us. Give us the freedom to make a choice!
 
Hence, to be privy to this knowledge, Follow Me, and I will lead us to the Promised Land beyond the Proxy!
 
(afterward, I will email you the scoop, and the instructions are dead simple)
 
As a minor gratitude for your taking the time to read this, allow me to share another method to bypass certain proxies, through a lovely website found here.

The name may seem vulgar, but do not shy away from it, judge not a book by its cover. It is how I still download torrents from our wonderful brethren in Sweden, ThePirateBay.org, who unlike Mininova, did not fold or bow down to the will of “The Man” and cease their P2P file-sharing.

A little piece of information about Third Party Browsing, it is not secure, so it is not advisable, although it is possible, to make payments through them. Unless you see an S in HTTPS, and not HTTP (Hyper Text Transmission Protocol), do not make any payments!

So, the question now is, what are you waiting for?

UAE Not the Land of Opportunity

Since the dawn of the 21st century, the UAE has catapulted itself to the top of the list of travel destinations for visitors and job-seekers alike.

Boasting to become the latest hub of economic, social and cultural diversity, the UAE has moved leaps and bounds in its efforts to distinguish itself from its Gulf peers.

A host nation for a myriad of cultural events, as well as sports, and hospitality, the UAE is now the place to be in the Gulf.

Or is it?

About a month ago, the BBC reported on Nicholas Warner; Destitute in Dubai. His story may seem familiar, a true riches to rags tale, a British expat with a prestigious job in Dubai, whose fall from grace was accentuated by the fact that he took out an overly large loan from a bank, went on holiday, returned to find himself barred from travel, having been labelled a “debt skipper’, a potential threat to the banks interests. After that, it all snowballed, the loan he took kept accruing interest, he lost his job, his house etc. and has been sleeping on the ground behind a hedge in Dubai Creek.

A recent survey claims that 85% of UAE expats are in deep debt (here).

Borrowers take out ‘crazy’ amounts compared with moderate salary earnings, according to financial experts.

The survey, carried out by the International Swiss Debt Management (ISDM) Consultancy, also ranks residents from India and Philippines as the highest in terms of total debt. Pakistani and South African nationals follow.

It is not unusual to meet a Filipino with a salary of Dh15,000 and over Dh250,000 in debt.

The reason for this behaviour has been the salary raises over the past years encouraging employees to borrow more as banks raised the stakes accordingly.

Individuals, even on low salaries of Dh6,000, were able to get eight credit cards from different banks, including platinum, and max them out.

Coupled with this ugly phenomena, UAE wage rises are the lowest in the Gulf Region (here), resulting in a truly ugly concoction whereby the debt laden will continue to fall deeper and deeper into the pit of debt.

There are two terms to consider when looking at salary and wage rises. Real & Nominal. Your nominal wage rise and salary would be the absolute currency amount, whereas the real wage rise considers factors such as inflation (rising prices). Suppose an employee received a wage rise of Dh1,000, on paper that sounds good, however, at the same time, due to inflation, prices have rise by 20%, and their rent has doubled. In essence, it is as if they never received an wage rise.

Real salaries in the UAE, or salaries adjusted for changes in consumer prices, will rise 0.84 percent next year, the lowest increase in the Gulf.

In terms of real salary increases, Saudi Arabia came out on top, with the average salary rising by 50 % over 10 years. 
 
Kuwait should see the biggest salary rise in the Middle East, as non executive salaries are projected to rise by 3.6 percent in real terms.

Working in Kuwait is a smart choice, it may not be as open as the UAE, yet it is not as restrictive as Saudi Arabia. The promise of financial security outweighs the lack of cultural enlightenment.

Mall Joggers: The Latest Trend

Saturday evening the company I work for had an Iftar gathering.

Quick review of the restaurant: FYI, lack of selection in buffet, only 7 or so dishes, repeated on other side. The lasagna was amazing, the service top-notch, each table already receiving its salads and deserts. Also, there was no desert menu, i.e. no tiramisu (the bane of my existence). The other good thing is we were able to book a table on very short notice, as opposed to Burj Al-Hamam, who cancelled our reservation without informing us to “make room” for other guests. Apparently, Kuwaitization is not just in the public sector, its in the restaurants as well, but that is another tale, for another time. I digress.
Upon finishing our meal, and heading our separate ways, I decided to go with a colleague for a brisk walk in Mouhalab Center, the ship-shaped mall in Hawally.

We circled each floor twice or so, then moved to the top most floor, the one with all the spas, dental clinics, and health shops. I had never been up there myself. Hence my amazement at this sighting.

People were actually showing up, ladies in particular, dressed in walking gear, sneakers, tracksuits et all, to walk around! They came in throngs, not just one or two, meaning that it was a regular pass-time. I was there in my formal wear, so I could just as easily have been shopping/ eating.

If you refer to my previous posts, you will know that I am a health-junkie, I jog a weekly route of 12KM, having tried all times of day (yes, even 12pm) and finally settling on 5am on saturday mornings. Physics has taught us that, to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Now, my theory is as follows, when we walk, or jog, or perform any exercise in hopes to shed a few pounds and get toned, we exert an effort, that effort which heats up the body, producing sweat and burning calories.

Walking around in a controlled temperature environment, walking, not running, will not serve a purpose, correct? Stop me if I am wrong. I am all for exercise, and people breaking the dreaded spell of the couch potato syndrome and actually getting out of the house to walk. But doesn’t walking around the mall, even if its for exercise, defeat the purpose of exercise?

I have also been told that this is not a rare occurence, but a growing trend, even far-hitting places such as The Avenues have their fair share of female walkers.

Side note: I am looking for a “running-mate” so-to-speak, someone who enjoys jogging as much as I do, to join me in a jog from the Kuwait towers to the Scientific center, a distance of 14KM I am told, yet I believe it might be more!

Any takers?

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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