Category Archives: Investigative Bloggerism

Being a woman sucks…

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not degrading, i’m empathizing!

It sucks being a woman trying to join a gym in Kuwait – for example, if you haven’t noticed, there are gyms on *ALMOST* every street corner in Kuwait. Some are what I refer to as “sweat lodges”, an underground haven for muscle-bound monstrosities where an annual membership can run you as low as KD35 (FOR TWO PEOPLE!).

As you can probably guess, these sweat lodges are exclusively “male-only”.

Said sweat lodges are not the norm, so consider that as just “Extra info”.

Mosey on to Kuwait-gyms.com (link) and you find that an annual membership for a male-only gym can be purchased for as little as 150KD a year.

Women, on the other hand, are dealt the short end of the stick. According to the latest population statistics (yes this took a fair bit of searching coz I like to be thorough with my articles – here), women represent around 38% of the population of Kuwait, and due to this “minority representation”, they are charged an extra KD 100 for their gym memberships, where they start at 250KD.

What makes matters worse is that not all “decent” gyms are represented on kuwait-gyms. I personally know of a male gym that runs you 120KD a year that isn’t on the list. The point this, these “off-sheet” gyms are also few and far between for women, if not entirely non-existent.

The pink tax… It’s real.

Sorry ladies.

#Howto #Kuwait – Check whether someone is in Kuwait or Abroad

It has been a long time since our last post, a lot has happened since then; I’ve run several races, gone several places and enjoyed the addition of a new member to our Family (more on that, and him, later).

Off the bat, THIS IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION WEBSITE! What we do here is offer our opinion on certain things, that should not be taken seriously! Now that that is out of the way, let’s get down to it.

Kuwait is a business center – people here are either studying or working, or the grey area in between. Often times, we find ourselves wanting to know more, and the official way to get that information is long and tedious.

How can you tell if someone is in Kuwait or abroad? Suppose you have someone on your sponsorship and they ran away, if they commit any crime, it’s on your head, if they are abroad, it may be difficult to cancel their residency unless you know they are in the country.

So how do you do it? If you ask the people in charge, they’ll say you need to send a mandoub to some Ministry to get a statement of movement of the person, which requires time, lots of it.

Simply, you use this following trick:

(for the following trick you will require the civil ID number of the person in question)

Step 1:

Go to the MOI website (where you check for your driving licence fines)

Step 2:

Click on e-services link

Step 3:

Click on “Violation and Fees Payment Gateway” (link – may not work directly, you’ll need to follow the steps above)

Step 4:

click on “traffic” and enter the CID of the person in question, regardless of whether they drive or not.

Proceed with the search, this will be useful for one piece of information only; the unified number.

Copy it, and click on “new searc” (or go back to step 3, but this time, click on “immigration” for the search (not traffic like step 4)

Step 5:

Enter the number you copied into the search window.

Step 6:

For the next act, you will need someone that reads Arabic, or use Google translate (translate the writing in green). There are three options; either there will be a sentence written stating that “the person is clean” (this means they are IN the country), or “the person is outside the country”, or “the person has the following residency fines”.

And there you have it, you can now tell who is where, and proceed accordingly.

Award for Most racist bank in Kuwait goes to @BankBoubyan

The world of banking is quite fickle; in Kuwait, it is extremely fickle. As an employee, you cannot receive a salary without having a bank account, so everyone is aware of every banks requirements.

As an NBK Customer, I quite enjoy their services, their locations and most importantly their online banking.

That being said I like to live by the advice of Warren Buffett, “Do not spend then save, save then spend”, I do so by having a secondary bank account to which I transfer monthly savings in order to prevent myself (or my wife) from spending them. I usually opt for savings accounts to see a meager return on these savings.

I’ve tried several banks in Kuwait, most notably The Commercial Bank, Gulf Bank and Ahli United Bank.

Never have I ever in my life been told that I need “Branch Manager Permission” to open a savings account, except at Boubyan Bank. Their reasoning? It is only for Kuwaiti’s.

Now this is not my first rodeo, I checked the banks website to find the following:

Not only are they racist but sexist too, Males only?

Granted, their premium account is geared for Kuwaiti’s only. It says so right there in black and white in the conditions. However the page for the savings account simply states the following:

racist bank 2

Do my eyes deceive me or does that clearly read “individuals only” as in not corporations/companies?

When I visited the branch and was informed of this, I thought for sure the employee must be joking, but the serious look on his face made it apparent he’d never laughed a day in his life, and so I gave their customer service a call only to be informed that yes, it is also only for Kuwaitis and that it is up to the Branch Manager to decide.

Think about it. This is a SAVINGS ACCOUNT. They are effectively telling you, your money is no good to us, based on where you come from.

What is the logic behind this? God knows.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this post is the writers own personal opinion and no other. This website does not offer any form of advice to anyone. It is simply a means for the author to write their personal view on their day-to-day dealings. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. mybloogle.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Male Molestation in Kuwait

I’ve been debating writing this over and over in my head since its occurrence last night, so here goes:

Yesterday I was out walking with my wife and her sisters. My first and foremost thought was I need to police dog them and keep circling them to keep em safe. Little did I realize I would be the one in need of protection.

A trip intended for Sports Direct on Tunis St. took an unexpected detour across the street. The ladies were getting their shopping on, and as I was in the market for a new pair of running shoes, I left them behind, crossed the street to Sports Direct, looked around, left and sat outside on their pavement waiting for the ladies to finish.

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As I was flipping through my phone to keep myself entertained, I noted a pair of feet walking in front of me, they stopped, and turned towards me. I looked up and there was a portly man, balding, glasses, 5 O’clock shadow, green shirt, black jeans. He asked me where Al Bahar Center was.

Being the helpful person I am, I stood up and pointed to the big blue letters reading “AL BAHAR CENTER” down the street, clear as day, and said “see those blue lights? That is Al Bahar Center”. What happened next was, discomforting.

You know that hand gesture where you pull at your imaginary goatee? Arabic sign language for “I will show you later”, or “patience, I will pay you back soon”? Imagine that, but instead of pulling down you’re pulling outward, and instead of your chin its your chest area.

He then walked away and I spent a good 20-30 seconds wondering what the heck just happened. This stranger came up to me, asked for directions, when I pointed him the right way, he responds by groping my chest? As a man, I kept trying to figure out if I misread it, or why on earth it would happen.

I eyed the queer fellow down the street and saw him stop yet another stranger, and again ask for directions! I saw the hapless man also turn to the side and point toward Al Bahar Center, and this time, the creep just rubbed his arm up and down.

I walked up to the second person he asked for directions and asked him, did that guy ask you for Al Bahar Center? He said yes. I asked did he also touch you? He said yes, the guy seemed confused and out of his mind.

My greatest concern was what if he happens upon a group of children on the street? Scanning down towards him I noted that, given the lateness of the hour on a school nights, the streets were devoid of children. I discussed the matter further with the second direction giver and decided the direction seeker must be troubled. With nothing left to do, I turned around and left.

Now at this point, you are either having a jolly laugh at this predicament, or wondering what is with the exaggeration. Few might actually see my concern here.

What was I supposed to do?

 

What do Syrians really want?

Since the start of 2011, the Arab World has been thrown into catastrophe as a result of the “Arab Spring”. What started in Tunis as a protest for dignity inspired a chain of events that led to the toppling of governments. But mostly, it resulted in Anarchy.

Libya, Yemen and Syria all followed the Arab Spring steps, all are now left without a semblance of government. War torn countries that have caused the deaths of thousands and the displacement of millions.

Tragedy is not new to these scenes. Victims of all ages have been documented in this conflict. The most recent seems to be the straw which broke the camel’s back as it has resulted in a tumultuous turn of events.

But is it really for the better?

What do the Syrian people really want?

Lets look at the facts:

Since the start of the conflict, many Syrians were forced to flee their homes, uproot from the ancestral grounds, and relocate elsewhere. At the time, they moved to Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The GCC countries did not accept any refugees, in fact most enacted laws to prevent their entry. But that is another tale for another time.

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Not everyone that relocated to these countries is doing so because they want to. However, it is a way to survive and live, and most of these countries have accepted the Syrian refugees into society. Of course not all are fortunate, some live in squalor whilst others live in luxury. The UN and various other organizations around the world are raising money for the refugees, but that is never going to be enough to guarantee them a life like the one they left behind.

Recently however, the tides in Europe have changed, and the certain EU countries are now accepting refugees. Whereas some would see this as a blessing, I see it as a disaster. I will explain why in two points:

The first point; the most recent tragedy that for all intents and purposes was the trigger for the EU to open its doors – the death of Aylan Kurdi. The tragic story has brought tears to the eyes of millions, which is strange because children have been dying in this conflict since 2011, but non garnered a more critical response that this. The point being, the father of Aylan Kurdi lost both sons and his wife as they tried to make their way from Turkey to Greece to go on to Germany (which stated that they are ready to receive 800,000 refugees, in addition to Austria). The fact they had made it to Turkey, were no longer in the dangerous, war-torn area they once were. Now pardon me for being blunt, but rational thought would dictate you stay put and make a life in the first safe haven you reach. Sadly that was not the case, as everyone is under the guise that Europe is the promised land and they would risk life and limb to get to its shores.

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The second point; we all see the world through the eyes of our profession. As an internal auditor, my view is that everything that is currently being done is SHORT TERM. In the short term yes, it is possible to relocate Syrians from conflict zones to other areas, to give them the basic guarantee of a roof over their head and the promise that they will not wake up to find a barrel bomb has fallen on them, to give them the most basic necessity for life; safety. However, as we stated earlier, you can never give them a life similar to what they had before. Medical students that had not graduated cannot hope to get back into medicine. Doctors that have graduated cannot practice without equivalency. The language barrier alone will hamper thousands from achieving careers similar to what they had.

An Egyptian telecom tycoon offered to buy an island for the refugees. But all the island represents is safety, not a future. Their future is in their home country, and the farther they go, the longer they stay, the less likely they ever are to return.

Do you think for a minute that if the problems in Syria were resolved, that anyone that sought asylum in the EU or the West would return?

Upstream prevention vs. downstream correction. All that is being done now is correction, however the influx of asylum seeks will remain. To put the point in numbers, in 2013 the population of Syria was documented as 22.85 million. 800,000 are being allowed into the EU now, about 4 Million have moved to neighboring countries, that leaves 18.05 Million still in Syria. Where will they go? Who will take them?

Keep in mind that migrants are not only from Syria; they are showing up from all over Africa as well, so take the numbers above and multiply them.

Everyone is ecstatic now about how Germany and Austria are receiving the refugees. I am being a bit more skeptical and wondering how the welcome will be 2, 3, 5, 12 months down the line, when the migrants are settled. The pool of resources available to the UN is not infinite, whereas the waves of asylum seekers will continue to crash upon the shores of all countries where they will be welcomed.

So to answer our own question, what do Syrians want? They don’t want anything, they need their country back. And until that happens, the throngs of asylum seekers will increase; more countries will take them in, from as far as Venezuela to Japan, but in the end, they will keep coming.

The views expressed in this piece are my own, some are based on fact, some are based on perception, we apologize if any are offended.

Spotting Phone Spammers – a Quick how to @ZainKuwait @AlMullaExchange

There are two kinds of people in this world; those who work honestly, and those who honestly are not working.

The latter tend to overshadow the former, and lead to such things as the get-rich quick and pyramid i.e. ponzie schemes.

As the saying goes, a fool and his money are quickly separated, and the easiest way to get a fool to part ways with his money is with the promise of more money.

There is a number in the UAE, I cannot recall it exactly, that calls you in Kuwait and claims to be from Zain, stating that you have won KD 20,000. They then give you a number to call in Kuwait to claim your prize.

This number called my dad, and he asked me to investigate.

To do so, I simply plugged the number into TruCaller, and voila, it was listed as “Scam Kuwait Dubai”.

Apparently what happens is the person will ask you to go to Al Mulla Exchange and transfer an amount to an account as “processing fees”, then you get nothing.

If you ask me, Zain and Al-Mulla should definitely go public and say that they are not affiliated with this scammer, who incidently is using an Ooredoo line.

Kardastrophe – Why do we empower imbeciles like @khloekardashian?

The world craze of “following faux-lebrities” i.e the following of people without an ounce of talent or brains by people without an ounce of sense has taken a sharp turn (upward) since the invention of social media.

At the high of this tidal wave or tomfoolery is the latest sensation – Khloe Kardashian, whose number of faux-pa’s over the past few months has been staggering to say the least, earning her a top spot in “faux-lebrity f*ckup”.

Firstly we begin with Exhibit A – the Khloe Kardashian “Diet”, which entails no exercise or clean eating, unless you consider cleaning your food with windex to be clean eating. The diet consists of her eating what she can, then spraying the rest with window cleaner so as to prevent herself from eating more. Not only did she believe this “fad” to be something that can catch on, she goes and spreads news about it, with the entire world coming together to inform little Ms. My-Only-Claim-To-Fame-Is-My-Sisters-Porno-&-My-Dads-Vagina that half the world is living in hunger whilst she deliberately poisons food. Hey, how about wrapping it up “to go” and giving it to a homeless person on the street? Would that not be a better diet? (link)

Next up on her trail of blunder-dom is a bit closer to home, specifically the Arab World, whereby she posts a photo on instagram with her “Arabian Prince” with the caption “‘Happy halloween! We getting Arab money tonight,”, in addition to a not-so-savory comment about her “beau-sheikh”:

kardashian stupidity

(link)

The latest two are again in our neighborhood, specifically the UAE, and they have to do with:

a) Her posting a picture in a niqqab(link)

which in all honesty, is not so offensive as people are making it out to be – ergo we’re on the fence about this one.

b) Her selfie with endangered animals (link)

which should be viewed as both her fault as well as shed light on the exotic animal industry thriving in the region. Blame the root of the problem, not the outcome.

The very fact that her actions are making such reverberations around the world is proof that we have lost the will to read into “real news” and instead pamper ourselves with faux-news.

Here is hoping to see the day when media-outlets stop giving airtime to airheaded wannabes who add no value to humanity, instead continue to remind us that celebrity is a gift bestowed upon the untalented with reckless abandon.

And the real hypocrisy is that I am writing about this…

Slow week.

Happy Sunday.

Over & Out.

Dear MP’s of Kuwait: A Solution for Kuwait’s Expat/ Traffic Crisis

For the past few months, expats in Kuwait have been living in fear. Understandably so, when day by day the list of crimes punishable by banishment grows. Those that have made a living here, set up roots and have little or no affiliation with their country of origin save their passports are living on edge.

These individuals have given to Kuwaiti society and continue to do so. Granted, those that commit crimes should rightfully be deported; however deportation should not be the magic word to solve the population crisis.

Make no mistake, the reason behind the slew of deportations is as was mentioned earlier, to rectify the Gulf State’s population imbalance whereby residents outnumber citizens 2:1.

Further, due to this imbalance, strains have been placed upon the transport system, which causes further segregation against expats in terms of who is eligible for a driver’s licence and who is not, despite the current public transport system not being sufficient to get expats to forgo cars and use.

So the question now becomes, how do we appease all parties?

1) IF the problem lies with the resident:citizen ratio, simply make residents citizens.

Passport_of_Kuwait

Make residents citizens without the rights of their pure citizen counterparts; No voting, no election to office, no land, lesser loan privileges, housing allowance etc. Structure it so that there are criteria for naturalization i.e. time spent in Kuwait (>20 years), clean record (no major violations during stay in Kuwait), minimum salary requirement and then of course an amount to be paid for the process after achieving all of the aforementioned steps. Structure it in such a way that it is equal opportunity, provided a score of X/Y is achieved. If Canada can do it, why not Kuwait?

Most expats in Kuwait that are earning an honest living want nothing more than to continue doing just that; earning an honest living. Most are here not by choice but by decision, they were born here, their parents work here, they now also work here, making Kuwait home. They may or may not travel back home, some may not ever have been to their country of origin.

If deserving expats are nationalized, that would shift the imbalance to the citizens favor, without negatively affecting the workforce available. On the contrary, it would see citizens in all levels of corporation.

World powers are suffering from stagnant populations where better healthcare has extended life expectancy, and better education has delayed marital age as well as reduced number of children (also a result of rising costs). Kuwait is no stranger to this. This solution works two fold in tackling that as well.

2) FOR the traffic problem, simply put – cover the majority of major roads with tarp similar to school playgrounds (for the grueling summer sun) and give expats incentives to ride motor cycles.

Just imagine I had a designer who would change the colors of this bike to represent the Kuwaiti Flag

Just imagine I had a designer who would change the colors of this bike to represent the Kuwaiti Flag

The reason we request tarp covering the roads is because during the Summer months (i.e. 90% of the Kuwaiti Calendar) the temperatures are unbearable.

Convert emergency lanes to motorbike lanes and encourage expats to use motorcycles instead. In many a developed country, and developing as well, motorcycles are touted over cars for their lesser fuel consumption and reduced traffic. I cite Italy and India as examples of this, from personal experience.

This would even reduce people’s dependency on fuel, meaning you could raise the prices if you so choose. Plus, it would also solve the current parking pandemic felt allover the country in expat-populated areas.

Although, for families with Children, a driving licence should be issued in order to guarantee the safety of the children; many a time I have seen a father transporting not 1, not 2, but all 3 of his children on the back of his motorcycle, in gridlocked traffic no less!

At first glance this can be seen as a joke, but if you really think about it, it makes for a very good solution to resolve both problems with minimal damage.

I am sure this idea is not as far fetched as the “Bring-in-European-Males-For-Our-Spinsters-&-European-Concubines-For-Our-Males”. (link)

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.

@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

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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