Tag Archives: Gulf

Killed over a Selfie by a Gulf National in Dubai…

From humble upbringing, to tragic end. That is the tale of Mahendran Yadav, the managing director of Emirates Homes Real Estate Brokers, who was tragically struck down (some say unintentionally) by a Gulf National in Dubai after a row erupted between them whereby the former was taking pictures with friends that the latter believed to be inclusive of him and his fiancee. Taking matters into his own hands after complaining to the hotel restaurant staff where they were and seeing no cessation of selfies, he confronted the group and the events which ensued resulted in the death of one of them.

Over a selfie.

Imagine.

What is worse are the comments left by some people on the article (here) and I quote:

“Right to take photograph at a public place is relative and not an absolute one. The hotel restaurant is not exclusive domain of anyone where one could take photographs in spite of objections of others using the restaurant. The victim should have been civilized enough to understand this especially that he was a real estate broker, he should have shown shown some manners. This does not mean the attacker had the right to kill him; but the victim brought it upon himself by refusing to accept request to stop taking photographs.”

“Though the loss of a life is very unfortunate, it’s extremely provoking to take a pic of someone, especially a lady, without consent & more so to refuse when asked to stop. Hotel managements need to inform their guests.”

“The assaulter however if he had a problem he could’ve changed tables or asked his fianc�e to give her back to the camera instead of showing off his muscles on Yadav. I once in Dubai was with a friend in the Atlantis hotel, we ordered dinner, which was so well presented so I took a photo of my plate, the flash was on. Another gulf national next to me started acting funny and he clearly didn’t like it that my camera flash went off and he had a young wife or daughter I guess. Being from the Gulf myself I apologized to him, ,showed him that my photo didn’t have him and that I’m already loyal to mine own not to ogle his wife. 5 years on, I feel bitter that he had this sense of entitlement to express his opinion on my actions.”

When did it become OK to descend to barbarianism over a photograph? When it is crystal clear that the picture taken does not derive its focus entirely on you, it should be no hassle to either get up and move to another table or simply remain silent.

I have yet to add this to the list of complaints I receive in public, from anyone, but rest assured should it ever arise my response would not be to refrain from taking pictures, but to request the requester to get off their high horse and slap them with the realization that they in fact did not marry Helen of Troy.

I am sure a search on Google would paint a more harrowing picture as to how many lives were lost unnecessarily as a result of macho bravado over a picture.

The victim had arrived in Dubai and was employed as a driver before he worked his way up the ladder and made his fortune as a real estate broker, heading up the Emirates Homes Real Estate Brokers firm since 2003.

And now his obituary will read, “killed over a selfie by a Gulf National in Dubai“.

“Maid” in Kuwait – Adding Insult to Injury

Since the dawn of time, families have requested the help of others in taking care of things around the house, cooking, cleaning, raising the children etc.

These hired helpers, domestic workers, were referred to as Maids, which is a short-form of maiden, which also means an unmarried girl.

It is not wrong to rely on others for help; lives today are different than yesteryear and in the days of yore. However, it is very common to read that the most prevalent form of abuse in the GCC region is the abuse of domestic workers; from over-work, underpay, abuse and rape to murder, and everything in between.

That is besides the point I am here to make; it has been brought up again and again in media all over the world and yet it persists, all over the world. The point I am looking at here is their clothing.

for illustrative purposes only

for illustrative purposes only

Certain jobs dictate/require a uniform; security, police, construction, nurses, engineering etc. however, domestic help doesNOT.

I drive by BBS every day on my way to work, I see a gathering of maids waiting across the street for the driver to make his way around the roundabout so they can get back in the car. Some are dressed casually, you would not know they were maids, whilst others are dressed as above.

What is the point of this? With other jobs, uniforms are worn for shifts, periods of time and then are taken off when the people punch out. Whereas maids remain all day in their clothing as they are at the beck and call of their “sponsors”, especially live-in maids. Do they lose their identity and become as they are dressed, day in day out, monotonous and robotic? Blended into the background?

The idea of domestic worker uniforms was back in the days of slavery as a form of ownership. Slavery has been abolished, or so we are lead to believe. What purpose does the uniform serve, that normal clothing cannot? Almost all uniforms are disgusting shades of oh-hell-no I would be hesitant to place on anything, much less another human being.

It is bad enough these people are away from their families for prolonged periods of time, earning meager wages that despite being more than they would at home are not enough to guarantee a life of comfort. It is adding insult to injury to force them to parade around in disgusting shades of purple, green and brown.

There is only one maid outfit that should ever be worn; and all the guys understand where I am coming from. Other than that, laissez faire. 

Dear Kuwait – Stop Rubber Necking

We have all been there; you are driving home from work, you’re tired, you’re excited, you want to get home as fast as possible to see where you will likely end up; the couch or the outside.

Suddenly, the route you take 300-something days a year is gridlocked. You start dozing off in your car, you wonder what could the reason possibly be.

As you get closer you realize – there is an accident. On the other side of the road.

Everyone is slowing down to watch.

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And blog/ tweet/ insta the insanity to their friends/ followers.

Kuwait-crash-feb-2007

Everyone suddenly becomes a roving reporter on the scene. Lets face the facts, we all did it once, or twice. Or always. With the invention of the smart phone, and 4G LTE internet, we are quick to post vids/ images live on the scene.

Asides from causing a huge traffic jam, rubber necking – the act of gawking at something, can have disastrous consequences:

A cleaner who was cleaning the scene of a traffic accident lost his leg after being hit by a motorbike on Shaikh Zayed Road, while a policeman responding to a road accident near Arabian Ranches died when he was struck by a driver while getting out of his vehicle. Investigations revealed that the driver was looking at the accident and did not see the police officer. (link)

The UK is one of the first countries to hit back against this negative trend by taking legal action against rubber necking motorists who will be charged with either driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. (link)

It is time for Kuwait to step up and do the same; forget asking the MOI to do something about it – take an initiative and do the following:

a) Stop doing it yourself – stop taking out your phone at crashes to take pictures.

b) Tell your friends on Facebook, and your Followers on Instagram/Twitter, who post such pictures not to do so, as the consequences can be disastrous.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

PS We don’t mean this rubber neckin’:

We support this wholeheartedly!

Your name impacts your hireability in the Gulf

We’ve heard of favoritism, nepotism and sexism, but have you ever heard of Namism?

we did not just make this s*it up

we did not just make this s*it up

Case in point, Bayt.com; one of the strongest online recruitment websites in the region, send a periodic email entitled “How visible were you to employers in the last two weeks?” which includes the following table:

namism

 

I can almost imagine the conversation:

Manager: HR! We need an employee… no, I don’t care about their qualifications, skills or years of experience… no not even where they are located, just get me someone called AYMAN ASAP!

PS my name is Ayman.

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.

Lebanon Misunderstood

Ask anyone in the MENA region what Lebanon is most famous for, and the obvious answers after labneh tabouleh will always be: plastic surgery.

Tell me

In a country where it is rumored that most girl’s sweet 16 gifts are all expenses paid trips to the plastic surgeon, many a tale have been fabricated regarding the prominence of plastic surgery in Lebanon.

As it turns out, the true leader in plastic surgery in the region is not Lebanon at all; they did not even make the cut of top 10 most surgically enhanced countries in the world.

In this region, it is Iran, with rhinoplasty the surgery of choice, 37, 423 Iranians underwent nose surgery in 2013 alone.

Take a look at these statistics (link):

Capture

The countries were ranked based on the total number of procedures done during the year 2013, we added an extra flavor by showing the percentage of the total population that undergoes plastic surgery (both men and women).

As you can see, The US & Brazil hold their same positions as #1 & #2 respectively.

All in all, South America is the most surgically enhanced continent in the world, with a 50% representation in the top 10 list.

 

bean

#DontMarryFromTheSouth

I think that much like you can get a credit rating from Banks to find out how someone’s credit score is, the same should be true for hospitals. It should be a prerequisite for women (and men) to get a clearance form from the Ministry of Health that they are “Genuine”.

You know, so that this does not happen (link).

Representing @RunQ8Official in Bahrain!

Make no mistake – runners know how to have fun, whenever, wherever!
A recent business trip to Bahrain – the growing country made me decide to have an impromptu run dressed in my favorite running garb.
This past weekend the Q8FootSoldiers left our mark on Bahrain, running from Exhibition St. (Holiday Inn Express) all the way to the Bahrain Fort (and subsequently staging a hostile running takeover)!

DSC_1007

this one is for you RunQ8!

Initially, I had planned to run around the whole country (which is put at around 55KM, just in excess of a marathon). However, this plan never made it to fruition as I was later informed that Bahrain was not an island as I previously understood, but a series of interconnected islands via highways. However, having run the length of the Gulf Road in Kuwait numerous times, I believed myself to be no stranger to a little highway excursion.

How wrong I was.

At first I planned my trip meticulously – I used Google maps to estimate the walking distance from my hotel to the Fort. It was placed at 9.1KM i.e. a 45 moderate paced run for me. I used the GPS on my S3 on my arm to track my run via Nike+Running and followed the Google Maps route on my Xperia Z2 in my hand (as I was running without 3G, I had to stick to the plan or risk getting lost in the streets of Bahrain).

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The route as proposed by Google Maps

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The final route + several wrong turns

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a slightly larger map for scale to show the Coast-to-Coast run

The first 3K of the run were very entertaining, Google Maps had plotted an interesting route that took me through residential areas and made me see things I otherwise would not have seen had I not decided to run. Old busy streets and cobbled roads with people walking in every direction forcing me to have to dart amongst them to navigate safely.

It was when I turned onto the King Faisal Expressway (I think) that I had my first detour, despite Google asking me to go straight down, I was unable to comply due to the presence of a military checkpoint (and not a soul in sight other than military personnel). I thought, I can navigate around them, and ran through the market on the left side amongst giant 18 wheelers carrying produce for said market. Most of it stank to high heaven, including the fish market and a few bins full of rotting food.

DSC_1062

sunset at the Fort

When I saw that there was no way around the military, I decided to ask them what to do/ where to go. The lone military personnel available, at the sight of me approaching, reached for his rifle and stood to his full height, dwarfing me before him. He did not speak Arabic, or English for that matter, and I had the hardest time asking him how do I get to the fort, which he heard as palace.
I ran back down the side of the road again and towards a pedestrian bridge, crossing it to run along the other side, then joining onto the King Faisal Express on the right shoulder in the emergency lane. Google maps, despite the absence of a connection, continued to show me as a dot moving towards the destination, with a nifty count-down timer for distance. (people really should make an app that guides you to a run depending on your desired distance).
Again, I lost my bearing at the Ahli United Bank office and kept going back to my map and zooming out to find the blue road I was meant to be on.
Much of the land I was running on later was reclaimed land, as evidenced by the shells I found on the ground beneath me. Slowly but surely, I came to the Fort, finally!

wpid-dsc_1008.jpg

The Fort Has Fallen

The destination was definitely worth the journey, and in the end I had added an extra 3KM.

The run back was also an adventure, as I was short on fuel having only had breakfast in the early morning at the hotel and having decided to turn back at 5:00PM as the sun had begun its descent, the cold winds began to blow.

DSC_1070

The Bahrain Sky Line

All in all, it was a very rewarding experience to run bearing the crest of something that came from Kuwait. If only for next year we can get running shirts that clearly distinguish us as residents of Kuwait.

Maybe? Who knows 🙂

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#Kuwait no longer a Paradise for Expats

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

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

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

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

Rent is Rising, rising, rising…

ExplodingThermometer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fat-cat-

 

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

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

download

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

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

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

Warning, NSFW:

Kuwait: More than the Land of Sand & Camels?

It was once said in the Gulf region that Kuwait represents the past, Dubai represents the present and Qatar represents the future.

Being an expat that has lived their entire life in Kuwait, I resented that statement, until just recently when I realized just how true that statement was; hear me out before jumping down my throat (and please save the “if you don’t like it leave” speech or say something more original).

When people say, “let’s go visit Dubai!” what usually comes next after that sentence? They have:

– Burj Khalifa

– YAS Island

– Sky Diving

– In-door skiing

– Various sports events/ concerts

Dubai Then & Now

Dubai

Dubai Then & Now

Dubai

Dubai Then & Now

Dubai

What about Qatar? Slowly but surely its list of activities is growing as well, all though Qatar is choosing the path of monopolizing sports/ arts in the region. What makes Qatar different than Kuwait is that its Corniche has been taken over by restaurants at every corner! You can still enjoy a long walk on the pavement by the sea and not have your view obstructed by Golden Arches or Winking Colonels, or a restaurant named “Penguin” that strangely enough neither caters to nor serves their aforementioned namesake!

Qatar

Now ask yourself this; when people think “lets go to Kuwait!”, what comes next? What have we got to impress them?

It will come as no surprise to everyone that has been living in Kuwait for a prolonged period of time that very little commercialization has taken place in Kuwait over the past decade.

The only thing expats dream of doing in Kuwait is going to the desert, and having a camel back ride. I’ve checked. And maybe Souq Mubarakiya as well, however it has lost its touch of antiquity as of the latest expansions – it is no longer what it once was a few years ago – a cultural equivalent of a trip down memory lane.

The malls that are popping up all over Kuwait, including the many extensions of the Avenues, 360, the Promenade (or whatever it is called on the Fifth Ring Road), the Plaza (or whatever it is called on the Third Ring Road) are not what people visit (or stay in) the country for; malls can be found anywhere, and all they offer is the same exact shops selling the same exact goods in a different location.

The list of activities to do in Kuwait is dwindling; there are only so many times you can do certain things before they become monotonous.

Just recently Oman hosted its inaugural ultramarathon in its desert, a 165KM affair over a 6 day period. Kuwait has vast expanses of desert, why is such an event not hosted here?

It is not Kuwait’s fault, I blame the media. Take for example Al-Hamra Tower; from an architectural perspective, the tower incorporates never-before-used designs whereby all the offices are shaded as a result of the curvature of the tower. This was mentioned in a documentary on the Discovery Channel; however it has not been mentioned again since. Now the only thing synonymous with the Tower is Grand Cinema (and maybe Elevation Burger, Versace Cafe etc.). Anything that has a slight chance of creating a media pull is not covered well enough in international media.

In over 20 years, Kuwait should have more to offer than malls and Retail Therapy.

Maybe Kuwait can take the offensive when it comes to television; Kuwaiti shows are highly regarded in the region. Maybe Kuwait can become the Hollywood of the Gulf, or Gullywood?

That’s two ideas to move forward; use them and give me credit (and royalties).

“People will turn gay in #Saudi if Female drive ban is lifted” Cleric says

Correlations are a fickle equation. Remembering mathematics from highschool and statistics in university, correlation is the effect of one variable (x) on another variable (y). A high positive correlation gives a positive relationship between x and y, for example the hotter the weather, the more water you drink.

A negative correlation however, means that two items have absolutely no effect on one another, say for example…

(link)

Saudi Arabia

A few excerpts:

The report warns that allowing women to drive would ‘provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce’.

Within ten years of the ban being lifted, the report’s authors claim, there would be ‘no more virgins’ in the Islamic kingdom.

And it pointed out ‘moral decline’ could already be seen in other Muslim countries where women are allowed to drive.

Their report assessed the possible impact of repealing the ban in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed behind the wheel.

So your homework class is to decide whether there is a positive or negative correlation between the aforementioned factors. And please, try to be as objective as possible.

Some Day

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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