Category Archives: arab world

Where to find Kuw-pons in Kuwait

The concept of “coupon cutting” is foreign to Kuwait, however, the practice of obtaining coupons is much easier than you think.

I for one am plagued with the conundrum of – I want to buy, but I don’t want to pay that price. Especially when it comes to food. As a child I always wondered why on earth a pizza costs so much, even though the components are so cheap. Until I understood overhead and cost allocation (much later on in life). When I learnt of Goodwill (not the charity, or the movie, rather the intangible asset) I flipped – we’re being charged extra because a restaurant is famous?!

Well guess what? Coupons are in fact available in Kuwait – and much easier to attain than the manual labor intensive process of coupon cutting! All you need to do is head on over to Sheeel.com and voila! Almost a new deal every day, specifically gastrointestinal!

Now, fair warning – MAKE SURE YOU READ THE TERMS! Some restaurants require advance reservation if you are to use coupons, others do not deliver to all areas of Kuwait, the rest might not have Dine-in facilities. Some restrict the number of coupons you can use per visit.

All-in-all, it is a good way to enjoy a great meal at a fraction of the cost.

What’s not to love?

Instagram – The Selfish Kid on the Social Playground

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Once upon a time, I remember waking up and suddenly finding a flood of “memes” on my Facebook page.

Soon after, all social media seemed to integrate, with overlaps all over the cyberverse. Click a link on Facebook and it transfers you to Twitter, and vice versa. And then there was Instagram.

And people thought it was good. Share pictures, write essays, use hashtags. It was a golden age.

Until we realize that Instagram is a very, very, very selfish app.

Unlike its peers, Instagram, or Insta as the cool kids are calling it these days, does not allow you to embed links, anywhere, except on your profile as “your website”, you try to enter a link in the description or comments on a photo, nothing happens. No blue font, no blue underline, seriously, it’s like someone killed the Smurfs.

Ergo, this leads me to conclude that in terms of a call-to-action app, Insta is thoroughly lacking.

Case-in-point, I am attempting to organize an event for next year, I did my due diligence, gathered data, created a registration survey, people signed up when asked via email or Facebook, however, on Insta, despite several reposts and “likes” on those reposts, nothing materialized in terms of new registrants for the event (free) or even likes on the events FB page.

The most people are willing to do on Insta is double tap the screen, other than that, it’s an instant waste of time.

For more information on our event, please click here

We are a group of socially active global citizens in Kuwait hoping to raise the awareness of the masses to embrace a more active lifestyle, and hopefully inspire them to in turn motivate others to take the “Sustainable Youth Pledge”, a document that will be circulated soon representing a promise from you to yourself to become more physically active, and what better time than at the turn of the New Year, Resolution season?!

This is our project, which will culminate in a never-been-done-before kind of run in Kuwait. The timing of which will hopefully be within the first quarter of 2016.
So sign up to participate in our campaign to raise awareness regarding the link between Mental & Physical health, community integration and fostering of global citizenry. Spaces are limited, sign up now!

To take part, please click here

News before the News – Predicting Tomorrow’s headlines

Let’s face the facts; the internet has taken ambiguity out of our daily routines. Where once we would wait patiently for the newspaper to arrive on our doorstep, or diligently whilst the intro theme played for the news at 11, nowadays it takes no more effort than a simple click to be bombarded with news from every nook and cranny of the world.

However; it is becoming a prevailing trend to find news articles leaked from Facebook. Videos tend to pop up on our newsfeeds without our consent, either viewed/shared/tagged by our friends, which leads to you either a) watching the video or b) reading the title and making a mental note of it or c) reading peoples comments.

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Now it seems that Facebook has become precognitive of tomorrow’s headlines, whereby today’s posts/videos are tomorrows news. Allow me to explain with the following examples:

1) The story of the cat stuck in the wall at a metro station in Cairo was shared (and re-shared) on Facebook several times. I read the news, felt bad for the cat, and moved on. At first I questioned the source, wondering how a cat can be trapped for 5 years. It made no logical sense.

No later than a few short weeks did an article in a newspaper, a verified source of info, confirm that the cat was rescued from its underground prison (link)

2) A few days ago a video made its way around social media of airline employees at Saudi Airport in Riyadh mishandling passenger’s luggage, tossing it unceremoniously onto the conveyor belt behind the scenes.

Lo and behold, the following article stating that the employees have been fired (link).

Now this is both a good and a bad thing; it is good in that the news has taken on a dynamic form whereby stories that arise on the fly are quickly dealt with.

However, it is bad in that journalists no longer need to scour the streets looking for a scoop, they need only log onto Facebook.

This can be viewed as the natural progression of printed media.

I digress.

NES Gala 2015 – a 13 year trip down Memory Lane

If someone were to tell me, 13 years ago (17 if you take it from the start date of my journey to high-school) that I would be sitting in the hall of the New English School watching my relative perform on stage, I would have taken you to the school nurse for possibly ingesting hallucinogens.

Last night, I had the opportunity to take a much needed, self-reflective trip to NES to watch the talents of 2015 capture the collective attention of the audience through the masterful handling of their instruments.

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Walking through the gates, my heart skipped a beat. It is amazing how so much time could have passed and yet so little has changed. Upon initial passage, the first change is that the seating area on the left is now occupied by rows of lockers, and the water fountains on the right were “replaced” of sorts by one HUGE water fountain, built-in.

The hall from the first staircase, which I remember vividly as the examination hall, has either shrunk or my tired eyes no longer remember it – 13 years ago it seemed as though it were massive – stretching 20 students in all directions from the middle.. I still recall how during one exam my table was squeaking, and how Mr. Straney propped it up with blue tack.

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Everyone stood for the playing of the national anthem, afterwhich the students took to the stage for their renditions of pieces made famous throughout history. As I looked casually to my left I spotted a familiar nikon camera behind a white mane and beard. To say that my eyes bulged at the sight would be an understatement; my jaw dropped and I was literally flabbergasted. Could it be, Mr. Johnson? The Biology teacher from 17 years ago? My relative confirmed this, and my expression changed to that of awe; for how little things had changed.

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It seems that when English schools began trickling into Kuwait, there was a meeting of all of the Heads in which they agreed that the four houses in any school would follow the Google Chrome color scheme (which leads me to believe that time travelers walk amongst us since Google, much less Google Chrome, did not exist back then in the 19-God-Knows-When) of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue (stated in the order of the limerick – R(ed)oy O(range)f Y(ellow)ork G(reen)ave B(lue)attle I(ndigo)n V(iolet)ain). Each school was given the autonomy to name the houses as they please; The English School decided to go by naming them after famous castles in the UK – Windsor (my house), Balmoral, Buckingham and Sandringham which if memory serves followed the following color scheme – Green, Red, Blue and Yellow. We moved to NES and suddenly the houses were named after Kuwaiti Islands – which was very confusing indeed! Now they have taken on a further metamorphosis, to what I can only assume is cooler islands (without reverting to Google for clarification).

[editors note: old habit got the best of me, and I Googled the 4 houses only to realize its still the islands of Kuwait but with different names – most likely Greek]

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The program was simply amazing with plenty a mirthful anecdote interjected to keep the mood light and jovial. The music was a delightful harmony of classic and modern, with songs that predate me as well as those that were released recently (fortunately I could sing along to a few – like Yesterday and All of Me although the first was a bit off which can be attributed to the intended pianist not making an appearance).

Given the number of ukeleles present, as well as guitars, it would seem pertinent to assume that they were being handed out to students as they entered school premises. The rest, their talent, being up to them.

The idea of requesting students to mentor other, younger students was by far one of the best things I heard that day, so much so I wished it were true 17 years ago, maybe it would have plucked the musical string within.

All in all, it was a truly delightful experience.

To Hate a #Muslim #ChapelHillShooting #MuslimLivesMatter

Antisemitism: The intense dislike for and prejudice against Jewish people. Brought about around the time of the holocaust, and ever since used as a yard stick for any action that displeases Israel – Sweden recognizes Palestine, Antisemitic; Helen Thomas tells Israel to get out of Palestine – Antisemitic, anyone acknowledges the senseless murder en masse of the Palestinians, Antisemitic.

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But what is it called to hate a Muslim? To have prejudice and negativity towards them for the actions of deranged individuals, that share no sentiments to the religion which they claim they represent?

American Sniper, Hate, Anger, Anti-Muslim, Hollywood

The backlash of American Sniper

Will anything be done against those that take to Twitter to post negativity on Muslims? Highly doubtful.

We are in the wake of the cold-blooded murder that took place in Chapel Hill. The media is calling it as it is; a “Man” who killed three Muslims.

Chapel Hill, Murder, Anti-muslim, Hick

Firstly, I do not believe that there can be any comparison between what happened in France and what happened yesterday. The murderer did not commit the crime in the name of his “Anti-religion”, it will merely be labelled a hate-crime, whereas the terrorists in France were bragging almost as if they wish for it to be held against them, that this is for religion etc. etc.

Those in France had labeled themselves as terrorists by their own hand, not that of the media.

Make no mistake, the actions of this deranged individual are deplorable. The media should not attempt to insult our intelligence by insinuating this arose over a dispute regarding parking.

Hicks described himself as an atheist on Facebook and posted regular images and text condemning all religions. Police said he handed himself in last night.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning (local time), Chapel Hill Police said that a preliminary investigation suggested the crime was “motivated by an ongoing neighbour dispute over parking”. (link)

This is not the same as Charlie Hebdo. However, the reaction SHOULD be the same. This was a hate-crime. 3 individuals in the prime of their lives gunned down senselessly by a cowardly savage who will most likely claim temporary insanity and be released in a few years time.

He killed them with his own weapon, which he will defend under the Second Amendment.

The First Amendment defends their rights to publicly state outright that they hate Muslims and all religions.

It is funny how the First Amendment is thrown out of the window when the word “Antisemitic” is used.

Holocaust_Remembrance_Day

The point here being when a Muslim is killed it is seen as normal; millions have died in Burma (link) and the media does not bat an eye towards that; no, they have ice bucket challenges and Nigerian girls being kidnapped to worry about, cartoons demeaning to Muslims and clever hashtags popping up to support them, and terrorists in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Syria etc. to report on, what is the death of a few million Muslims?

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(I dare you to search for the images of the atrocities being committed in Burma – warning, they are not for the faint of heart, and they are ongoing).

If the Muslim world were unified in way as to direct the media’s attention on the atrocities being committed against Muslims, maybe then there would be a semblance of net neutrality.

If there were a word that can be touted to mean discrimination and murder of Muslims, that was thrown about on the internet, maybe then a there would be net neutrality.

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For now, What is it called to hate a Muslim?

Sadly, the answer is – Normal.

Whatever that word may be, that should be what to call the tragic murder in Chapel Hills.

FIFA warns Qatar about Outsourced Team

If you can’t train ’em, buy ’em.

That is the moto by which Qatar lives and breathes; outsourcing its competitive requirements to stars from other countries.

A player is contracted to come play for Qatar; whether it be Football, Handball, Basketball etc.

Said player is then given a “sports-port” a sports-passport, becoming honorary Qatari citizens in order to represent Qatar on the international arena.

Firstly, Qatar offers to host the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship.

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Second, Qatar brings an All-Star Squad that managed to place in second, according to Wikipedia:

France won the final against Qatar 25–22 to win their fifth title,[3] a first in handball history while Qatar won their first ever medal. (link)

Here is the said dream-team:

QAT

A very Mediterranean looking team, wait till you read their names:

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A quick rundown of the Arabic names of the players (common sense really) :

Hassan Mabrouk (born 29 July 1982) is an Egyptian-Qatari handball player (Egypt)

Abdulla Al-Karbi (born 10 June 1990) is a UAE-born Qatari handball player (UAE)

Kamalaldin Mallash (born 1 January 1992) is a Syrian-born Qatari handball player (Syria)

Youssef Benali (born 28 May 1987) is a Tunisian-Qatari handball player (Tunis)

Hamad Madadi (born 7 July 1988) is an Iranian-born Qatari handball player (Iran)

Hadi Hamdoon (born 5 February 1992) is a Qatari handball player (Qatar)

Mahmoud Hassab Alla (born 22 November 1986) is an Egyptian-Qatari handball player (Egypt)

Ameen Zakkar (born 15 June 1994) is a Syrian-born Qatari handball player (Syria)

The others are from Montenegro, France, Cuba, Bosnia & Spain.

So out of a squad of 17 strong, only 1 boasts ACTUAL QATARI DESCENT. That’s less than 6%.

The last time this many different nationalities met was at the U.N.

Sepp Blatter, chief Poncho at FIFA, has warned against such shenanigans when Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022 (link).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has warned Qatar against putting together a team of imported players for the 2022 World Cup. Blatter described Qatar’s team in the recent Men’s Handball World Championship as an “absurdity”.

“The nation of 2.2 million faces the huge challenge of forming a competitive national football team by 2022. However, this cannot be achieved by quickly naturalising players because unlike the IHF, FIFA does not allow this,” said Blatter.

Unfortunately Mr. Blatter you are incorrect in your statement; Qatar does NOT have a population of 2.2Million, it was 2.1Million as of January 2014, of which 14% are Citizens, that is only 296,296 (seriously, the actual number is 2,116,400 total). Meaning slim pickings.

This is reminiscent of “The one with Joey’s Porsche”:

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I’ll leave the how to your imagination.

Comparison of Public holidays Across the region for 2015

Let’s face it, unless you are a teacher, you live for public holidays – the days of the year where you are paid to stay at home, without reducing your leave balance at work.

Who has the most days? Who has the least?

SPOILER: Lebanon (22) & Saudi Arabia (9).

Here are the holidays for the countries in the region (thank you Gulftalent.com):

1) UAE – 10 days.

UAE Does not have compensatory days off like Kuwait, whereby if a public holiday lands on a Friday it is compensated by giving Sunday off. Saturdays are not compensated.

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2) Saudi Arabia – 9 days.

No comment.

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3) Oman – 15 days.

Not bad, but O-who again?

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4) Qatar – 10 days.

No compensatory days off.

Independence & National days this year, both same day, both a Friday. STBU if you’re in Qatar.

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5) Bahrain – 13 days.

Unlucky. But quite good.

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6) Kuwait – 12 days.

Say it isn’t so!

 

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7) Egypt – 17 days.

Go Egypt!! Why isn’t January 25 a public holiday yet?!

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8) Lebanon – 22 days.

Apologies for the tiny screenie, could not fit it all in. No. 1 by a long shot!

 

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9) Jordan – 19 days.

Last but certainly not the least, 2nd in terms of total days off.

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And here you can find an article comparing the Arab World to the rest of the World (India leads in that department).

Kuwait to Expats – GTFO

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It’s kind of like having that annoying friend over who refuses to heed your queues and leave, so you’re sitting there yawning, looking at the clock, your watch, your mobile phone, repeating the time out loud etc. and they’re going on and on about the world economy and how the pigeon that lands on their kitchen window is spying on them.

So you just turn off the lights, open the door, grab your broom and start swinging it wildly in the air.

And that is the summation of what is currently going on.

We’ve talked about it till we turned blue in the face, we will continue hearing others talk about it till they turn blue in the face, we’ll eventually get to a point where we look like an Eiffel65 video.

Make no mistake, this is the same MO as adopted in 2013 to cull the expat flow and bring the population within tolerable limits. Kuwait has a total population of 3,823,728; 30% locals and 70% expatriates. The current 2017 population forecast is 4,523,798.

Remember this (link)?

“The strategy envisages bringing down the total number of expatriate workers to only one million in 10 years,” 

قال رسول الله : اتقوا دعوة المظلوم وإن كان كافراً؛ فإنها ليس بينها وبين الله حجاب

“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!

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Stop the phub before the phub stops you from living.

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.

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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.

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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.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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