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Yearly Archives: 2014

Punishable by Deportation

The following offences have been deemed punishable by Deportation, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene:

in fair verona

1) Passing by a local Veronian and not offering praise and exaltation befitting of their generosity in allowing you onto their land.

How dare you? Kneel before Zod!

How dare you? Kneel before Zod!

2) Dilly-dallying in the streets and not having a clear and concise objective whilst outside your home.

You are a Visual Pollutant.


(watch at 0:27)

3) Eating in public. Any food, whether your own ethnic garbage or store brought. Eat in your own hole, vermin.

no eating

4) Sitting on the sidewalk.

Unless your kaboos is paying for the right to sit atop our holy ground, be on your way.

no sitting

5) Standing in public.

Crouch down and crawl with your belly to the ground like the snake that you are.

no standing

6) Driving your rickety old POS infront of a Veronian, effectively preventing them from reaching their destination on time by a crucial 3-4 seconds.

no driving

7) Talking in public, in your native tongue. Keep that devil speak for your country, swine.

no talking

8) Looking both ways before crossing the street. If a Veronian wants to run you over, it is their right. It is their country.

No-Jaywalking

9) NOT looking both ways before crossing the street.

How dare you tarnish the Veronians car (still on installments) with your filth?

animal crossing

10) Not smoking at the No Smoking areas. Buy a pack of cigarettes and puff like a madman to provide cover to Veronians smoking around you, take the fall for them. It is the reason why you are here.

yes smoking

 

And finally, any expat caught using the word “Deportation”,,, shall be deported.

Immigration Fraud – Know the Deal-eo

It is not uncommon for expats in any region of the world to look for offers of immigration to the West, for a better life for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, there are those that choose to make their living by preying on the less internet savvy and attempting to defraud them of their hard earned income.

The company is Canada Visa Experts, you can find their website by searching for them on Google, I will not generate traffic for them by posting their link here.

Last night I received a call from them that lasted over an hour from an international number. Firstly, that is no indication of truthfulness, as it is very easy through VoIP apps to call from one country and make it appear as tho you are calling from another.

It started off pleasantly at first, dear sir, you submitted your number to our website X years ago, please tell us more about yourself, Canadialand is looking for young professionals such as yourself, etc. etc. etc.

It seemed routine. I was cautious, as I had a chance to again use my work skills in the real world (Internal Auditors FTW!)

Then they start luring me in with the following bait line, please give us the first 6-digits of your credit card so we can check if it is accepted.

So far, so good, with any payment online, there are always different levels of security. No one can do anything with only 6 digits of your credit card, except check which bank its issued from. In order to swipe your money, they need the following info:

1) Full number on your credit card (First line of Defense)

2) Full name as it appears on the credit card (Second line of Defense)

3) Expiry date on the Credit Card (Third line of Defense)

4) CVV Number (Last line of Defense)

Without all 4 of the above, no one can steal your money.

So, back to our story.

The first “Agent”, her name was Eva (as in Mendes) Stark (as in Winterfell) spent a lot of time buttering me up and telling me I was needed, my profession was needed, checking my background, my wife’s profession, complimenting my English etc. she explained that I would be signed up to their website, but in order for them to process my application with their lawyers, Shubal – licence #R419239 and Barak (as in Obama) – licence #R407551 (see? Audit! I asked for verification of their lawyers as well as their office, which she told me was not a practice in Canada, despite it being a practice for Australia) they needed a payment of $1,710 or KD501.

When I refused to give my credit card info, I was transferred to her “manager”, Amanda Jones. Again, buttering up and really being very coy in stressing that it is not about the money, and how they wanted to help me have a better life, and how I am talented etc. etc.

I kept asking for more time to read up on them, as previously I was contacted several time by WWCIS, another fraudulent company that has set up shop right here in Kuwait too! A quick search shows streams of negative reviews from people that paid money and got squat. That is when she got even more persistent, citing that the registration window could close at any moment.

Authors note: the only TRUE immigration experts are Global Visas.

I even threw a curve ball by saying I did not have the full amount on my credit card as it was near its limit (I make it a general rule never to let my credit exceed my income). This answer rang the bell of deceit as loud and clear as the bells of Notre Dame; if the full amount is not there, we will take half, if that is not there, we will take quarter, and you can settle later.

WARNING WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! DANGER!

By the end, she agreed to give me one hour (after talking for an hour) to read up on them. I was very clear in telling her I wanted to read people’s reviews on them.

Of course at the time, I was sitting across from my wife, in the Avenues, at Pot Belly, attempting to have dinner. So I did not search properly.

Got home, took a shower, received a call STRAIGHT after I got out (as if they could sense me), again, she asked for the details, telling me she could not process without receiving, dodging the question of how much money does the entire process take etc.

In the end, she agreed to send me reading material and asked me to call if I wanted to continue.

I googled them with due diligence, and came upon this (link), as well as a Facebook page dedicated to ousting them as Fraudsters, even citing the same MO (modus operandi) of escalating to managers to get your credit card details.

Capture

The Facebook page does not work.

What is worse, the site is worth $303,000+, meaning it generates quite a bit of traffic.

Even tho something seems legitimate, it is often found to be not so.

Please do not fall for scams, no matter how lucrative they might seem.

New Years Eve 2015: Kuwait Vs. UAE

Now a staple in the calendar of the UAE, the celebrations to ring in the new year 2015 have their own website (link).

This city’s distinctive combination of phenomenal modern fineries and rich culture makes it the perfect place to celebrate just about anything at all. You can count on New Years Eve 2015 in Dubai being spectacular, even outshining Sydney, Australia’s NYE events.

The biggest celebration in the city will take place in downtown Dubai, where crowds of locals and visitors alike will gather to greet in the New Year. This free event starts at 8:00pm with a variety of fun events going on in the streets until midnight and the fireworks extravaganza. The NYE activities will include a variety of fun entertainment from live music performances to a vast array of additional entertainment.

Kuwait (link):

Capture

In addition, UAE is extending invites to the Stars for its NYE festivities. The guest list is said to include names such as American singer and actress Selena Gomez and model Kendall Jenner (half-sister of Kim Kardashian), models Gigi Hadid, Patricia Vandervliet and Devon Windsor; Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell and singer Cody Simpson. It is rumoured that Khloe Kardashian is also on the invite list to attend. (link)

Instead of banning parties, regulate them! Kuwait put on a SPECTACULAR fireworks show in 2012, earning it a spot in the Guinness World Records with biggest firework show in the world (50th Anniversary constitution of Kuwait ):

All people want are fireworks, something to usher in the New Year with a sense of hope.

Why must it be criminalized as “Western Debauchery”?

@SouqKuwait shifts costs to Customers

How do business get ahead and report their numbers “in the black” on their financial statements? Legally, they attempt to cut costs or increase revenues. In this case, Souq.com is shifting part of the burden of the cost onto us, the Customers, as well as increasing their revenues by charging us for previously free services.

It first started out with their COD fees (Cash-on-delivery) of KD1 per delivery, meaning if you are buying goods from multiple suppliers, you could very well find your delivery costs in excess of the value of the goods provided. You might not think this matters, however, all of the sudden for 1,000 shipments a month (estimated), there is an extra KD1,000 out of thin air. That is increasing revenues.

When it comes time for payment, you are provided a few options, most notably K-NET and Credit Cards (Mastercard, Visa etc).

Capture

K-NET is a DEBIT CARD meaning you have a positive balance from which you pay for goods and services, i.e. they money is YOURS.

Credit cards are negative balance, meaning you are spending money you do not have at the moment. Banks charge fees for credit cards as they are effectively lending you the money.

Whenever you pay at a store, banks charge said stores a fee for collecting money on their behalf (POS – Point-Of-Sale), that fee is (or was as I used to be an accountant in 2007) 0.5% on K-NET and 2% for Mastercard/VISA (2.5% for American Express).

This means that when you shop at any store and pay them 10KD for example, the bank collects a fee of 50fils for K-NET payment, so the company effectively sold you the goods for KD9.950, or 200fils for Credit cards meaning net KD9.8.

It is for this reason that when you go shopping at a small store they often refuse to accept Credit Cards, as it costs them more and reduces their profit. Or, some of the more savvy shop owners insist on charging you more, whether or not this is legal is beyond my capacity.

Companies agree to pay this money to banks in order to facilitate easier/quicker collections from customers, imagine the tediousness of being asked to pay cash for everything, not to mention the security risk of carrying all that cash. The risk is also borne by the company as it would have to take the appropriate measures to protect that cash during its transit from its tills to the banks.

So, what is Souq.com doing?

If you select to pay via Credit Card, they are charging you more. Based on my last purchase, it is about 0.8% i.e. cutting costs.

Whereas if you go to their competitors; anyone who facilitates online payment and delivery in Kuwait (like maybe Blink.com.kw), you will find that you are not charged more for Credit Card payments.

Bad form Souq.com

The Beauty that Remains

Loss is universal, it is the true language we all understand. It is the thing we do not think about yet always fear. It resides in the recesses of our mind, pouncing forth at times to bring your life into perspective. As the year 2014 slowly comes to an end, waning from existence into the annals of time, it is imperative to review this one concept above all: Loss is universal.

Say your friend is getting married, or your neighbor just got a new car, or you just got a new job. People can share your happiness but not understand it as it may never happen for them; however, when it comes to dealing with loss, in the back of our minds we all know it is merely a matter of time. The collective grief felt over the loss of a dear friend’s loved one reminds us that life is fleeting. We try to choke out words of comfort knowing that none exist. We try to keep foreboding thoughts at bay, despite knowing it is the ultimate eventuality.

 How often we wish there were a way, to waive a magic wand and make all bad feelings go away.

Whether they be anger, envy, jealousy or loss,

a magical answer we have yet to come across.

It is unfortunate that we are born to this earth with so much potential, and yet the only thing promised to us is not fame or fortune, health or well being, freedom nor slavery; the sad truth is that the only thing promised in life is death. Much like a car’s value immediately depreciates the moment its wheels touch the street, so to do we depreciate from the moment we are born.

The only comfort to be drawn is that in the infinite wisdom that is humanity, we are given a tool with which to cope. It is our namesake in the Arabic language. Mankind is called انسان (insaan), which stems from the verb نسيان (nesyan) which means to forget. Make no mistake we never forget our loved ones, they always remain in our thoughts, however we forget the pain of their loss, slowly, surely, daily.

e1259e7b7b37a88487d76746f94b379a

In Loving Memory of everyone we have lost.

beauty remains

“Phub” You, Man!

The English Language, much to its chagrin, is compelled to embrace to its linguistic bosom all the idiocies of future generations, from twerking to tweeting, and everything in between.

twerking it @ellen gorgleripsnort

Now a new portmanteau has risen over the horizon, which perfectly categorizes the negative phenomena of lack of human interaction aka Phubbing, or Phone Snubbing.

The Next Generation Ladies & Gents

The Next Generation Ladies & Gents

This phenomena has caused so much hype that even The prominent Kuwaiti female activist, Shei-kha Intisar Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah has taken up the call-to-arms to combat against it (link).

excerpt:

Since emergence of the smart phones in 2005, people throughout the world have become much more connected, however, some people who depend heavily on these devices have lost face-to-face conversation and communication skills, Sheikha Intisar said in a statement, underlining some motives that have nudged her to launch “Al-Nuwair campaign,” aimed at discouraging smart phone users from snubbing their friends, associates and loved ones.

Her anti-phubbing campaign is demonstrated at Kuwait’s top landmark mall, the Avenues, called “Al-Nuwair campaign,” scheduled to proceed till Dec 28th.

It has reached critical point whereby people have resorted to snubbing calls in favor of messages in order to minimize their interaction with a human via their audio chords even further! Worse, when someone is coming over to visit they announce their presence at your doorstep not by ringing the doorbell, but by sending you a message on Whatsapp!

Phub

 

Stop the phub before the phub stops you from living.

Fining expats with “Invalid” Passports in Kuwait

The expat populace is currently abuzz with the latest woes to befall them; the imposition of a fine for all those with “invalid” passports. (link)

From what I could gather from the screams of the legal department in my company, this rule imposes a fine of a minimum of KD300 and maximum of KD 600 for all those whose documents are deemed “Invalid” meaning, their passports had expired, and been legally extended by their embassies, and their residencies are all a-ok, however the problem is that the passport has “technically” expired, and the residency exceeds the passport. Does this make sense to you?

Excerpts:

Acting Director General of Residency Visa Affairs at the Ministry of Interior Major General Talal Marafie affirmed that the government is not ready to back down on the decision to implement appropriate law by enforcing fines on the expatriates violating law that stipulates update of their passports and transfer of residence from old passports to new passports.

He explained the implementation of law number 121/1959 that stipulates quick update of data by expatriates is the only way to avoid violating Article 24 of the law.

The law stipulates a maximum of three months jail term with a minimum fine of KD 300 and maximum fine of KD600, he added. He affirmed that the ministry has yet to apply any new law, noting it only activated the automation system between various concerned authorities and the Interior Ministry. He reiterated the automation system will automatically discover the violation and disrupt the transactions of the violator, and prevent him from traveling until the fine is paid. 

KD 21,000 has been collected so far from the “violators”, according to unknown sources citing anonymity.

Now, take for example the current status of the People of Syria. If one of their passports “expires” whilst they are abroad, they refer to their embassy, which gives them one of two options:

1) Extend the passport by way of an official stamp on a page within the passport.

2) Apply for a new passport; bearing in mind that the passport has to be issued by the country.

The gist of it is even if the person in question has a valid residency, the fact that their passport expired and has been extended is now causing a problem in Kuwait, and they shall be fined accordingly.

What does this mean for expats in Kuwait, who are already struggling to keep up with the rising costs and the looming increase in petrol prices predicted for 2015?

 

Chaos.

Teachers & Private Tuition – Betterment or Blackmail in Kuwait?

Teachers are the unsung heroes of our lives. They are there from the start of our educational journey as the vanguards of the new generation, instilling in them a lot more than they are paid for in terms of life lessons and academia.

There is however a point where the scale tips and teachers go from bettering students to bettering themselves.

The Minister of Education in Kuwait has vowed to dismiss all teachers found to be giving private tuition in their spare time as a way to deter this phenomena from occurring (link).

Private Tuition

Why?

It should come as no surprise that economies around the world are not doing so well. Living costs are rising at a much higher rate than average incomes, forcing new parents to feel a tight pinch when it comes to education, which is every child’s god given right.

Now, given the rising costs, which affect everyone, institutions and persons alike, everyone seeks to better their income someway. Schools do so by hiking up their tuition fees to astronomical rates, as well as pressuring teachers by putting more heads in classes in order to garner even more money.

down down merry go round

A teacher is paid to do their job, which is to teach. Now they have a growing class and of course there will be instances where students in those classes will feel neglected or lack attention.

The other more nefarious side of the coin however, which begot the MoE’s ban on private tuition, is that teachers willingly do not teach in class, dropping hints to students that if they wish to learn, they should sign up for private tuition. Which, going back to the first point of supplementing income, is their means of coping with the rising cost of living.

more often than not, teachers end up making more from private tuition than they do from their actual job.

Unlike other professions, moonlighting as a teacher is easy. You do your same exact job except with a much smaller audience. All other variables remain the same.

This is a serious cause for concern because of the following reasons:

1) Lack of yard stick in class to measure the teachers progress with their wards; the students.

2) Ready availability of customers (in the form of students) for the teacher to supplement their income through.

3) Ready availability of material for the teacher to use in private.

Private tuition is such a lucrative market that some teachers even have waiting lists!

raking it in

As a former student of the system in Kuwait, our teachers encouraged us to take tuition with other teachers in order to go through the syllabus quicker. That being said, not all tuition is given with the profit motive as the driving factor; I had one Geography teacher, Mr. Ian Irving (God bless him wherever he is) who initially gave me one tuition, at a lower rate than the rest of his compatriots, only to ask me instead to visit his class during a double study period I had, thereby saving me the money as well as educating me in a class environment.

I only took tuition when I was preparing for my IGCSE’s, nowadays however, tuition is rampant in the earlier years, begetting the question of what exactly is being taught in class.

Private tuition becomes an issue when the teacher fails their duty to teach in class; which is their job for which they are paid, in order to force parents to book private lessons for their children should they hope for them to succeed.

And that is the worst type of blackmail there is, bartering with a child’s future and their education to supplement their income.

blackmail

Of course nothing is definitively black or white, and every case is undoubtedly different and complex and not clear cut. However, the issue of private tuition is something that requires more analysis.

Do not watch The Hobbit @CinescapeQ8 in IMAX-3D

If Arabic is not your strong suit, then I suggest you think twice before going to watch The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies, in IMAX-3D.

Reason being? You will have a very hard time understanding what is going on, unless of course you speak fluent Orcish and Elvish.

There are a few scenes, almost every scene with Orcs, where there is dialogue between the foul beasts in their common tongue, which is only translated into Arabic. This is extremely annoying and a huge oversight by Cinescape, for not everyone in Kuwait can read and understand Arabic. Moreover, the IMAX-3D viewing is beyond stupendously amazing, with the screen literally coming to life before you. It seems a pity to lose out on the full experience by leaving the theater wondering what was said in certain scenes.

If you opt for the 2D viewing, you will get subtitles in Arabic, French and English for the non-English scenes.

On a different note, I cannot be the journey is over. It seems like only yesterday we were clambering into movie theaters in anticipation of the Lord of The Rings. It was yesterday, a decade and longer ago, in 2001, when the Fellowship of the Ring came out.

We leave you now with the official theme to Battle of the Five Armies, sung by none other than that familiar face from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Billy Boyd, aka Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin.

What now, Draco?
Without you…
what do we do?
Where do we turn?
To the stars, Bowen.
To the stars

– Dragon Heart 1996

Qatar’s proposed “Tower of Death” Tribute to fallen Migrant Workers

In a move that is definitely the brain-child of a twisted Engineer, Architecture collective 1Week1Project has proposed the development of a bleak-looking memorial building to mark the number of migrant workers who have died in Qatar building the infrastructure for the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022. (link)

As you might have heard, Qatar has not been having a very smooth ride towards its aspirations to host the 2022 World Cup. Before the allegations of bribery, the news of unsafe and inhumane working conditions that the laborers building the city are subjected to, which is highlighted in this video, took center stage:

The proposed idea to build a “Tower of Death” for the fallen migrant workers, as a “Tribute” is preposterous at best!

tower of death

If I were a visual artist, I would have turned the color of this tower into the Qatar Flag, however as I am a writer, please try to read this and envision that

The proposal by 1Week1Project, which is based in France and Chile, has advocated building a towering structure made of giant stones, one for each dead worker, who make up 400 of the approximately 1,000 deaths.

A crane is planned to be placed at the top of the structure, which will add more stones to the tower as more deaths occur in the run up to the start of the tournament in 2022.

The whole idea seems insanely morbid and vile. The higher up the tower goes, the more deaths there have been. What kind of “tribute” is that? Who would look at that tower and feel anything but contempt for the backers of such projects who put zero value to the lives of their workers?

Would it not be a better idea to direct all the money earmarked for this Tower of Death towards a fund benefiting the families of the deceased migrant workers? Just a thought perhaps? The families of the deceased will never travel to Qatar to look up at this tower, smile, shed a lone tear, feel that their loved ones death was a sacrifice for the greater good, turn around and board a plane back to their country.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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