Friday, February 16, 2018

MP Safaa Al-Hashim – “Expats are opportunistic bacteria”

MP Safaa Al-Hashim – “Expats are opportunistic bacteria”

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15: MP Safaa Al-Hashim continued her attacks on expatriates at Wednesday’s parliamentary session through the discussion of recommendations contained in 26 reports of the parliamentary committees concerning traffic congestion, environmental pollution, fish demise and others, reports Al-Seyassah daily.

Al-Hashim jettisoned deliberation of the parliamentary committee reports on the protection of public funds as regards investigating the sale of companies, shell deal, KGL Company violations, and encroachment on state property. Instead, she focused her contributions on expatriates.

The lawmaker declared that all problems stated in the committee reports were due to the unusual population density. She noted traffic congestion in the country is caused by the abnormal population structure and large number of expatriates compared to citizens.

She continued to describe expatriates as opportunistic bacteria, saying the number of vehicles doubles the population. She reiterated that expatriates have been causing accidents that claim the lives of Kuwaiti children.

She lamented 571,000 driver’s licenses were issued to Kuwaitis compared to 657,000 for expatriates. “Why do the expatriates refuse to use air conditioned public buses and taxis,” she retorted.


--- End ---

Ok, so I am personally insulted. I’m now being told – by a member of the Kuwaiti Government – that I am “opportunistic bacteria”.  Yes me.  I am an expat.  She must be referring to me.  Or to my friends.  Or to people who live and work in our community.

Once again, this racist, xenophobic person is adding to the divisions in the country when our dear Amir has stated emphatically over time that he wishes unification for Kuwait and all people living here.   I agree with him!  Unify Kuwait and many of the problems work themselves out. Divide it and stagnate.  Then why are MP Al-Hashim’s tirades being tolerate at the top levels of Government?

The term “expatriate” refers to anyone living and working outside their home country.  She has used the term over and over again.  I see no division of the term into categories.  And I am shocked by some well-meaning expats who have come out and said on social media, “I think what she was referring to was domestic helpers (or laborers, or etc..)”  It doesn’t matter what others think she’s referring to:  her statement is in lump form:  Expatriates.  We are a collective virus by her chosen words.

This group includes anyone wishing to come to Kuwait to do business/trade here.  Foreign trade delegations are exempt from being expats because they are only TRYING to become expats in Kuwait; to do business.  To promote the economies of both their country AND Kuwait's.    But once they are here, like all major companies who have expat employees living in Kuwait, those employees are now labeled as “opportunistic bacteria.”  Those engineers building new refineries:  Bacteria.  Doctors:  Bacteria.  Lawyers:  Bacteria.  Educators:  Bacteria.  

Who is bringing the bacteria to Kuwait?  Well… Kuwait is.  There is one side that is saying, “Welcome, expats!  You help our economy.  You help our education and medical systems.  You are welcome here.”  And then there is the MP that is trying to expel the very same people brought in to assist the country;  Oh, and while insulting them at the very same time.

Yes I am angry! 

I helped in the liberation of Kuwait only to be called a “bacteria.”  The “cause of accidents that kill Kuwaiti children.”  Personally, I’ve never killed a Kuwaiti child by car or any other means.  Although I have been put in the hospital after a Kuwaiti (under the influence of drugs and chasing a young woman at high speed with his truck) collided with my car.  I’ve tried to do right by my second home every day for the 22 years I’ve lived in Kuwait (and added to the economy by purchasing Kuwaiti products and services from Kuwaitis).

From my perspective, this MP is doing more harm to Kuwait than me (an expat) has ever done.

Ms. Al-Hashim:  Work on cleaning up public transportation before condemning others trying to get to work!    Get on a bus anonymously and travel around Kuwait.  Get a perspective!!!  It’s not clean.  It’s not safe.  Expats aren’t your problem.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Animal Rights Article in Arab Times - Feb 7, 2018

All life matters – ‘OUR PLANET … THEIRS TOO’
Feb 7, 2018
By Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud
Special to the Arab Times

The newly-established Kuwait Liberal Society held its first official event, an expertly-organised and well-attended seminar on animal rights titled “Our Planet, Theirs Too.” Held in the KLS headquarters in Shuhada, the seminar was a powerful and impassioned plea to local authorities to remedy the dismal situation of stray animals that are suffering and dying on the streets of Kuwait every day.

Among the KLS members welcoming the guests were President Eman Hayat, members in the Media and Membership Committee Fatimah Al Hasawi and Hamad Al Saeed, and Co-founder Dr Ibrahim Dashti. KLS was officially licensed as a non-profit organisation by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor in December 2017. According to the President, the group works “to strengthen the pillars of a civil state inspired by the principles and values of liberalism consistent with the constitution of Kuwait that promotes the spirit of freedom, justice, and equality.”

Among the group’s goals is to pay attention to ethics and morality of the society, regardless of religion, sect, gender, or ethnicity. They aim to create a civil society based on morality, dominated by human love and giving, where the individual is committed to the ethics of respect for others and the appreciation of public freedoms in accordance with the law.

Fatimah Al Hasawi explained that the group of Kuwaiti men and women chose to hold a seminar on animal rights for their first event in order to promote equal rights for all creatures to live peacefully together on earth. “We want to take a stand for animals. How can we be a civilised society if we do not show mercy towards helpless animals? They all have souls, just as we do.”

The program began with a graphic video made by the KLS team Fatimah Al Hasawi, Anwar Dashti, and Mohammed Al Sebaee. It was filmed on the streets of Kuwait and at the infamous Friday Market, where animals are sold in inhumane conditions, crammed into tiny cages without shelter from the heat or cold, often without food or water. It includes shocking scenes of horribly sick and terribly injured animals, some of them dragging themselves along with crushed limbs after being run over. The team also filmed dead kittens and puppies that had casually been discarded. The heartbreaking images were accompanied by simple captions: “I can’t speak for myself. You are my voice.” “We can’t walk away. Please help us help them.”

“We cried a lot during the filming of this video,” Fatimah recalled.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening Hamad Al Saeed introduced the first guest speaker, Tamara Hayat, an animal rights activist, volunteer with PAWS Kuwait, and an employee at Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice. Asking her to respond to what she had just seen in the video, she replied, “The problem is that animals are too often seen as something that can just be thrown away at whim. And when animals are run over on the road, people may feel pity for an instant, but they usually don’t do anything to help them. We need to change the way that animals are perceived.”

Hamad asked her to comment on a video on the PAWS instagram @paws_kuwait showing dogs and cats at the PAWS shelter. “The shelter is housed on private land that is rented by PAWS. It is not subsidized. The volunteers work hard to provide the animals with a warm, safe place to live, and they depend entirely on donations to pay the rent, workers’ salaries, food, medical care, etc. Expenses are very high and raising enough money is a constant struggle.”

Tamara asked the audience, “How many of you have been criticized for helping animals? And how many get criticized because ‘there are people in more need that you should prioritize’?’” A show of hands made it clear that these are indeed common remarks.

Tamara said that her response is to point out that she works in a children’s hospice, and that she makes time to help people and animals. “I assure you, it’s not even about choosing animals over humans. If you choose to help people in Rohingya, people will criticize you and say, ‘Why aren’t you helping people in Syria?’ In fact, it’s not about putting one group over another. If you manage your time right, you can help in more ways than one.

“It’s not a coincidence that people who believe in the pillars of humanitarianism are willing to help more than just one population group,” she continued. “A quote I like that best reflects this idea, by James Keller, states, ‘A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.’ Empathy is a skill, and it is our duty as a community to do everything in our power to foster that skill and allow people and especially children to learn and strengthen it. This will change the fate of not only animals in Kuwait, but the members of the community.”

Tamara went on to discuss the need for the animal rights movement to urgently move forward in Kuwait. She spoke of the ethical, humanitarian, and religious reasons that support the humane treatment of animals. “But it’s not just about the animals,” she stated. “It’s about Kuwait’s youth, education, children’s development and society’s understanding that all beings experience pain and suffering. We can help alleviate that suffering if we work hard, and work together.”

Tamara pointed out that countless studies have proven that abuse towards animals is correlated with violence against people, giving alarming examples and statistics. Cases of children who abuse animals should also be a red flag. This type of behavior indicates there is a problem with their mental health that needs to be addressed, before their aggression becomes worse and is directed towards people, as has been the case among students in the US who carried out deadly shootings in schools. Among the common characteristics of all these students was the practice of abusing animals.
“Thank God we haven’t yet had any school shootings in Kuwait, but we do have cases of violence, so let’s work to prevent such cases before they become a reality,” she said.

Outlining other measures that should be implemented, Tamara spoke about the need to ratify the GCC law against cruelty to animals so that it can become effective in Kuwait; holding widespread awareness campaigns to educate lawmakers, police, and the public about this important issue; and cracking down on dog fighting, a cruel and bloody practice popular throughout the world, and unfortunately, also in Kuwait.

“Pets are often stolen and used as dog fighting bait. Large amounts of money are bet at these barbaric events. Some people regard dog fighting as entertainment and even bring their children along, which is obviously very harmful to young minds,” she said.

Other important needs are strict laws on importing pets and regulating pet breeding and the standards of pet stores. “Did you know that the Friday Market does not have a license to sell pets? They are only licensed to sell feed, cages, and accessories. Most of the animals in the Friday Market are there because they were dumped by people who don’t want them anymore. They keep them there and expect to be paid once they’re sold. What happens when the animal dies due to the terrible conditions and infectious, not to mention lethal diseases that are prevalent there?” she remarked.

“We need a proper animal control department that is transparent in its procedures and must be properly regulated,” she continued. “It’s absolutely wonderful that there are so many groups in Kuwait rescuing animals and finding them homes, and getting them treated at the vets. But on behalf of every group I’d like to say that having Kuwait rely on these groups is unsustainable. It is incredibly taxing on these people’s personal lives and finances, and has a high rate of burn out. Unfortunately, as of now it is the only help available. Kuwait needs a reliable and dependable animal control department that does not resort to rat poison as the only solution. Within this department there needs to be veterinary care and a regulated government-sponsored shelter.”

Concluding her comprehensive speech, Tamara also emphasized the need for animal welfare education in the classroom and more platforms such as the Kuwait Liberals Society event. She thanked the KLS for bringing together people of different backgrounds that can provide insight into how to help with this important issue in different ways.

Next, Hamad introduced Timi Cissna, another animal rights activist with experience in rescuing and training animals and working with animals and autistic children. Hamad asked Timi about the common belief that having animals in the home can contribute to children developing allergies and other illnesses. Timi replied that in fact the opposite is true, and that children who grow up with animals usually develop a stronger immune system. “Personally speaking, I have always had all sorts of different animals all my life, and I’m as healthy as can be,” she said with a smile.

Timi said that her goal is to educate people about the countless number of stray animals suffering on the streets of Kuwait. “These animals, many of which have been abandoned by their owners, are helpless because they are not accustomed to living on the streets. Each and every animal lover here in Kuwait can lend a helping hand by protecting these animals and providing them with homes and shelter before they fall into the hands of individuals like the cruel people that my friend Tamara described.”

Timi mentioned various reasons why adopting a pet is much better than buying one. “First and foremost, you are saving a life. That’s something that will provide you with a sense of fulfillment that you may not be able to experience any other way. Many of these animals have experienced horrific circumstances and will provide you with unconditional love and loyalty for giving them a safe home.
“By adopting such animals, you are helping with the problem of the overpopulation of dogs and cats on the streets, and you are also helping the local animal groups and shelters, because they are all overwhelmed with unwanted animals,” she continued. “Providing medical help for all these animals is not always possible because the medical expenses are so high.”

Timi also spoke about some of the benefits experienced by pet owners, such as reduced stress and anxiety and a healthier lifestyle. “Kuwait has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. All dogs need exercise, so when you own a dog you are more likely to go and get the exercise that not only your dog needs but that is good for you too.”

Timi cited a study done by Loyola University in the US that found that patients who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery often need significantly less pain medication than those who do not, because when patients feel less anxiety due to the presence of their pet, they also feel less pain. Other studies have proven that animals can help people recover from traumatic events and that owning a pet has even been directly correspondent with decreased suicide rates. “Caring for another being gives one a sense of purpose and motivates them to get up and start their day every morning,” she explained.

In the United States and many other countries, animals are used to help sick and disabled people perform tasks they are not capable of performing by themselves, Timi said.  Common examples of service dogs are guide dogs to assist the blind and visually impaired, dogs that help people with impaired hearing, mobility assistant dogs, and psychiatric service dogs. Timi spoke of her own experience using her nine-year old rescued dog Nala to help children suffering from autism.
“My friend Laila and I took Nala to the autism center where she entertained and socialised with the autistic patients. It was one of the coolest experiences ever,” she said, her face lighting up at the memory. “The kids were so happy, they had the biggest smiles on their faces, and Nala just loved being with them. The kids really responded to Nala’s completely nonjudgmental and unconditional love.

“As you can see, there are countless benefits of owning a pet, but the reality is that there are large numbers of dogs and cats on the streets that will never have anyone to care for them,” summarised Timi. “We have shelters and rescue groups that can help you find your fluffy new best friend. Let’s be the change these deserving animals need.”

The second half of the seminar brought Maha Al Khatib and Sara Al Awadhi from Kareq8 to the stage. Kareq8 is a volunteer animal rescue, rehabilitation, and education organisation. The animals that are rescued by the group are kept in foster homes until they are adopted either locally or abroad. Maha and Sara spoke about the challenges facing the group and echoed some of Tamara and Timi’s frustrations and concerns.

Like other animal activists, members of Kareq8 also sometimes face criticism for concentrating their efforts on helping animals. “People tell us we need to solve the human rights issues first, but let’s be realistic, all the human rights issues will never be solved, so we need to work on both fronts,” Sara stated. “Besides, we have to take into account the fact that animals have no voice. If humans are in trouble, at least they can make themselves understood, unlike animals. In addition, we have the Red Crescent Society and many other well-organised and well-funded groups in Kuwait that are working to help people.”

It was pointed out that most of the animal welfare groups have a very limited number of volunteers. “We are only about fifteen members in Kareq8, and around five of those are very young, so we urgently need more committed volunteers,” Maha added. “We are not a government agency, we don’t get paid for this, we are all just volunteers with jobs and families who give our time to rescue animals.”

“Sometimes people call us and report an animal in a remote location, and we do our best to go there and pick it up and take it to the vet,” said Sara. “These private vets are very expensive, but we have no alternative. Every day there are sick and injured animals that urgently need our help, but sometimes our hands are tied because of a lack of funds. We need help, we can’t help them all just by ourselves. We also need more foster homes. When a person finishes their treatment in the hospital, they go home, but where does a stray animal go?”

“We get some really shocking cases of animal abuse,” continued Maha. “They are often so bad we can’t post them on our Instagram. If parents don’t teach their kids that hurting animals is not ok, then there is something seriously wrong. We also need to do more work in the schools and educate children on this issue.”

The Kareq8 volunteers also lamented the lack of effective animal welfare laws, the deplorable conditions at the Friday Market where sick and dead animals are simply thrown in the trash, and the fact that there are no mobile rescue vans for animals, and no help for animals from the government.
A lively discussion and question and answer session took place after each segment of the seminar. Dr Ibrahim Dashti spoke strongly and convincingly of the urgent need to take action for animals. “Why is nothing official being done to help animals? Each one of them is a soul. Where is our government, the Environmental Protection Agency, our politicians, our members of parliament, our religious leaders, public figures like actors, celebrities, and sportspeople? Why is there no public outcry? Except for these small groups of volunteers that are struggling on their own, I don’t see anyone doing anything to help. In this country we have an overabundance of shopping malls, coffee shops, and restaurants, but where is the government animal shelter?”

Lynn Whyte, the founder of Second Chance Charity, was another member of the audience with strong feelings on the subject of the plight of stray animals in Kuwait.

“I work with many animal rescue teams, mostly expats, gathering donations of pet food and essentials for rescued animals and also helping with vet bills. I have a lot of concerns regarding animal welfare in Kuwait. I see many problems on all levels and I’m hoping this meeting tonight will help raise more awareness, but more importantly I hope that the Kuwaiti government will realise the importance of education and protection of animal welfare. As an animal lover and Muslim I hope we can work together promoting Islamic values of the rights of animals.

“It’s time for Kuwait to act, just talking is not enough any more. There are resources here, land, manpower, and money. Let Kuwait be known for its fair treatment of these poor animals, not shame for its neglect,” she said. “Let Kuwait act on the abusers and educate the negligent. It’s time to start to care.”

The discussion continued, with KLS President Eman Hayat promising to schedule a meeting to follow up on animal welfare issues, particularly in regard to lobbying for the ratification of the GCC law for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Judging from the strong opinions of the audience and the large turnout, the issue of animal welfare in Kuwait should indeed be taken seriously by the government.

Concluding the successful event, MC Hamad Al Saeed gave a brief speech that summed up KLS sentiments. “Every day we take it for granted that we live in homes and we demand that hospitals take care of us, and we are given medicines that protect us from all kinds of diseases. But let’s put our human selfishness aside and remember that even the smallest creatures on this planet need to live with health and safety. Therefore we demand that free and humanely-run animal shelters and clinics be established. God gifted this land with the power of wealth to sustain us. Animals are the wealth that balance the earth and are an integral part of this land. Therefore, just as we care for human beings, we have to care for them.”

--- End ---

Claudia is a wonderful person and has worked with PAWS in helping animals.  The sheer amount of abuse and torture that rescuers face on a daily basis in Kuwait has many stressed to the point that they just can't go on.  I hope more people will be pioneers in the fight to end animal abuse in Kuwait.

Monday, February 05, 2018

(Didn't I say this?) Departure of expatriates seriously affects real estate market

Departure of expatriates seriously affects real estate market: Ghanem
Arab Times, 02/03/18
Kuwaitization policy, hike in service charges blamed

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 3: Secretary of Kuwait Real Estate Association Qais Al-Ghanem affirmed that the real estate market in the country has been seriously affected by the departure of expatriates, indicating that they had warned about this crisis last year, reports Al-Rai daily.

He said he is expecting the trend of expatriates’ departure to increase in June 2018, as they are either searching for better opportunities in other destinations or choosing to return to their countries of origin. Al-Ghanem explained that the recent pressures imposed on expatriates resulted in a large number of vacant flats especially in the investment residential sector.

The Kuwaitization policy, which is aimed at terminating the contracts of expatriates in the public sector and increasing the charges of services offered to them, and the announcement about a new tax system have contributed to the crisis.

A large number of expatriates are considering sending their families back to their countries of origin but keeping their residency valid, and choosing to stay in Kuwait as bachelors.

This trend will further worsen the current situation of the real estate sector. He said he is expecting the rents to drop after the decisions concerning expatriates are announced.

Al-Ghanem indicated that this crisis has not only negatively impacted the real estate sector but it has also badly affected the economic circulation, affirming that the real estate sector is one of the basic pillars of the economy.

---  End ---

What they’re not saying is how expats are being treated in the country within the past 2 years.  The expats with expertise and higher salaries aren’t going to care about price hikes.  And many of us aren’t working in jobs where nationalizing our specific job categories/positions is an issue. 
Why would I want to leave Kuwait?  Because there is no longer JOY in the country.  Joy has left the building.  Why would I want to stay in a country where I’m not happy?  What about QUALITY OF LIFE?   All the talk is about they don’t want expats here, so why not leave to where it is happier?  More freedom?  Less checkpoints and ID checks and polarization?  Less pollution?  Less road congestion and construction? Less animal abuse?

All the talk is about “unifying the country” but there is no unity.  That’s gone. The barn door was left open and all the horses ran out.  If you really want to unify the country, squash the key lawmakers who are dividing the country.  Get rid of all the negativity and bashing of all kinds (dividing not only expats from the community, but the division of Kuwaitis as well).   Make Kuwait INCLUSIVE again rather than EXCLUSIVE.  It’s not a club.  And if it were, what would the membership stats look like?  Why join? 

Sheeeeeet, half the time you can’t even tell what activities are going on in the country because  1) there are no advertisements and 2) if there are ads, they are only in Arabic; excluding a majority of the population.

I received an e-mail from a reader and we had a discussion about how newcomers view Kuwait vs how those of us who have lived here for a few decades feel.  From what I see, newcomers who will be staying maybe 1-2 years see Kuwait as an adventure; a place to take in and get out of.  For those of us who have lived here a long time, it gets to you after a while and everything just accumulates.   He said, “And of works splendidly as anyone can tolerate that behavior (DG: expat bashing) for a day or a week or a month, but when you are living in a place year after year or (like you) decade after decade, it starts to wear you down, and eventually you just decide to leave...which is what you are saying is happening: some people are forced to leave under deportation orders, but more people are just getting tired of the aggressive and rude behavior that is prevalent, and they are saying "Thanks but no thanks, I'll go elsewhere."  Yup.  That pretty much sums it up.

Ok, so I’m going to get the usual, “Stop bashing Kuwait.”  Point taken.  However, I wouldn’t have stayed in Kuwait as long as I have if I didn’t love it.  I just immensely dislike what is happening NOW to Kuwait.  It isn’t the same as it was even 10 years ago.  And yes, I’m just an expat voicing my (personal expat) opinion, but ask a Kuwaiti and see if the answer is any different.  Are they happy?  Are you happy?  What can be done to make it better/turn it around?

Kudos to the grass-roots organizations that are popping up around Kuwait, doing the job that others SHOULD be doing to help bring good back:  the lone environmentalists on social media.  Organizations like Coexist, LOYAC, AWARE and TIES trying to bridge gaps. Second Chance and Operation Hope giving to the less fortunate in Kuwait.  And all the small, unfunded animal rights groups that go out diligently day after day rescuing animals that are tortured or injured or dumped on the streets.  (There are many more to add to this list.) It is a constant battle. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Philippines bans Filipinos from Travel to Kuwait

One of my dear friend, American Girl in Kuwait, posted the following today and it mirrors my sentiments about Kuwait.  More needs to be done and unfortunately, it is taking foreign governments to draw the line.

She wrote:

If there's anything I learned while living in Kuwait, it's that change doesn't happen overnight. Or, even over decades. Sometimes it takes action outside of their control to force that change. Which is exactly what the Philippines has done; forced change. Bravo!
"Kuwait will always be a second home for me and will always have a special place in my heart. But serious changes need to take place in terms of human rights and animal rights. When an entire country can have a reputation for being cruel to people and animals, something is fundamentally wrong.
Fortunately, among some of the worst, are some of the best. There are people who step up and take on the issues head-on. They work tirelessly to make changes in Kuwait which is anything but easy.
Yeah, it's a little unfortunate someone has to write an op-ed telling people to be kind to those of different nationalities, but I applaud her for doing so."

This was in reaction to not only the ban, but to an article in the Kuwait Times, by a Kuwaiti woman; forward-thinking Nejoud Al-Yagout.  

The full story can be found here:

I agree.  I think it has been a long time coming.  If Kuwaiti women were being raped and tortured in a specific country, they would immediately stop Kuwaiti women (and most likely men) from travelling there.  Over the decades that I've been in Kuwait, more cases are being prosecuted, but it isn't enough if it has become a culture of abuse.  It is common.  The stories continue and it is almost systematic.  The Philippines Embassy in Kuwait has become an abused women's shelter.  It can't be allowed to continue.

From the Arab Times today, "Kuwait Expresses Regret, Bewilderment...."  Oh yes.  It is shocking and surprising.  Emmmm.....

Well, Safa, you should be really happy about this!  Mabrook, boyfriend!  You wanted more expats out of the country and now you can wash your own dishes and clean your own toilets.  I'm so happy for your win.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Kuwaiti Women in the Military

Grilling threat if women called to arms – Our identity a red line, warns MP

Arab Times

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 18: MP Mohammad Hayef Al- Mutairi has threatened to grill Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad if women are allowed to enter the military.

On his Twitter account, Al-Mutairi asserted: “Our identity is a red line that nobody should cross. We do not accept alienation of our society. Women have no place in military institutions. They had earlier been allowed to play a minimal role such as inspecting women at the borders and places frequented by women, taking into account their privacy as Muslims.”

--- End ---

Guess what, MP, Mutairi:  You should educate yourself on Kuwaiti women's role in the Gulf War of 90 and 91.  KUWAITI WOMEN FOUGHT IN COMBAT in 1990 and 1991. (And I can name names if you want a list.)   They lived in the battlefield along men.  They fought for their country next to men.  Their rank was given to them by the KUWAITI GOVERNMENT as Sergeant - making the same pay rate as men who had worked themselves up the ranks in the Kuwaiti military.    They were trained by the Americans and they helped liberate Kuwait.  But you won't find that fact in any history book anywhere in Kuwait because of small-minded people who keep it from public knowledge. 

Know your own history - or at least learn from those who have first-hand knowledge of it!  There is nothing about your so-called "identity" that keeps women from protecting their country, their families, and their lives.  It is honorable and should be treated as such!

Duterte aint playin' - I'm just sayin'....


Arab Times

MANILA, Philippines, Jan 18, (AP): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Thursday to impose a total ban on sending workers to Kuwait because of sexual abuses that have forced some Filipino women to kill themselves.

Duterte said he wanted Filipino officials to hold talks with Kuwait and tell them the abuses are unacceptable and that the Philippines may ban Filipinos from working there unless the abuses end.
“I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders but they have to do something about this because many Filipinas will commit suicide,” Duterte said in a speech at the launching of a Manila bank for Filipinos abroad.

“We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months. It’s always in Kuwait,” Duterte said, without providing details. Discussing the problem with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently, Duterte said: “My advice is, we talk to them, state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore. Either we impose a total ban or we can have this corrected.”

More than 250,000 Filipinos work in the Arab nation. The Philippines is a major labor exporter with about a tenth of more than 100 million Filipinos working abroad. The earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades. Workers endure the threat of abuses, including rape, in some countries to be able to send money home and keep their children in school. But with their parents working abroad, some children end up being sexually abused or become drug addicts, Duterte said, explaining his anger over drug dealers.

Thousands of mostly poor suspects have been killed in Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs since he took power in 2016, alarming Western governments and human rights groups. Duterte has denied he condones extrajudicial killings although he has openly threatened drug dealers with death for years.


Personally, I wouldn't want to be caught in this guy's cross hairs.  

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Blowing smoke on real estate in Kuwait

Al-Melham rules out possibility of crisis affecting Kuwait real-estate due to expats
Arab Times

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 8: CEO of Blue Print Shareholding Company Meshal Al-Melham ruled out the possibility of a crisis affecting the real-estate sector in Kuwait due to the recent decisions related to expatriates, reports Al-Rai daily. He said the market will adapt to the consequences quickly, affirming that the matter is related to demographic reform and not expulsion of expatriates.

Al-Melham reiterated that the market will be able to adjust to the reduced number of expatriates, indicating that trade and investment movement in the real estate sector has declined recently due to worries over the increased water and electricity tariffs. He revealed that the recent fall in the prices of houses is part of the process of correcting the path following a period of unjustified hike in the real-estate prices, affirming that this is the way the real estate sector corrects its mistakes.

Al-Melham explained that there are two reasons behind Kuwaiti citizens’ tendency to buy real estate properties overseas. The first reason is personal. Since some citizens often travel to certain countries for studies or medical treatments there, they choose to buy real estate there.
--- end ----

Ha ha ha.  Keep bullshitting the population into believing everything is juuuust fine. The real deal is that expats (the kind with money) are leaving Kuwait in DROVES and there is a glut of empty apartments.  Prices are dropping due to supply and demand:  There is an over supply and decrease in demand.  Simple logic. 

A note on “bachelor accommodations”:  IF any company is on a US military contract and is supplying labor to those contracts, Army auditors are going out with MEASURING TAPES to check apartment sizes and number of occupants living there.  If the company is in violation, they lose the contract.  But of course, that is just a warning for those corrupt companies who are on US contracts; has nothing to do with laborers working on stuff like infrastructure projects.  Slave quarters for those guys aren’t regulated.

And why are more Kuwaitis buying property overseas?  Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock and/or don’t listen to the news, there has been major instability in the region within past months.  Kuwaitis are feeling itchy again.  It’s that little thing that keeps you up at night:  “Are my kids going to be ok here?  Am I going to be ok here?  What’s going to happen with Iran, Saudi Arabia, the local market… more more more….”

So here’s my thought to lawmakers and “big thinkers” out there:  Stop blaming expats for your issues.  The blame game is cultural to Kuwait.  Think outside the box:  Perhaps make Kuwait a more attractive place for expats to invest in by (get this) not blaming expats.  Maybe become a little more welcoming to investors and high worth individuals who would WANT to live/invest in Kuwait and would also pay the types of rents backward-thinking landlords are demanding.  Stop with the stupid laws like deporting people for traffic offenses.  Make QUALITY OF LIFE a priority to all people living in Kuwait.

That’s my 2 fils on the subject.

(I’m not allowing comments on this post, haters.  Find another way to bash this expat.)

Mic drop.

Friday, January 05, 2018

"Draft laws ready to resolve the bedoon issue"

Every few years, the parliament makes a statement about naturalizing 4000 stateless (no-nationality people - many of whom have been born in Kuwait or have generations of family members born in Kuwait for as long as the the country has been an official country).  They're called, "Bedoon" meaning "without" in Arabic - a shorter version of "bedoon jinseeya" or "without nationality." Not to be confused with Bedouin.

Anyways, today's Kuwait Times:

Such BS.  They bring it up  They drop it.  I was particularly chuffed about the idea to give all Bedoon citizenship to the Comoros Islands nation.  (Yeah....ok.....)

Amazon sells a very good book called, " Kuwait: The Bedoons of Kuwait "Citizens Without Citizenship" It was written by a group of people from Human Rights Watch.  The book (written in 1995) also mentions the governments "plans" to naturalize 4000 Bedoons per year. How many have actually been naturalized since then?

(I don't know who came up with the original plan for 4,000... why not 5,000?  Who knows.)

But don't take my word for it:   Plenty of objective organizations have come to Kuwait to document the issue.  Like Refugees International and others.

I will get comments from people saying that Bedoon are all Iraqis who came here seeking a better life (in their words "trying to get money") during or following the invasion.  "What do you know?  You're just a foreigner!?"  'Yo homey, what do you know,  you're just 26.'  I will happily delete those comments from youngsters who have a one-sided view and should read more/listen less in their diwaniya or from bigots who infect more bigots.

Let the entire country of Kuwait do the DNA test!  DO IT.  Find out where you're all really from!  I dare ya.  23andme can tell you for $99.  And Kuwait being a port for centuries, I'm guessing it's not going to all be what you thought.

I also urge foreign embassy workers to look into this issue.  Don't take the word/perspective of one group of people - educate yourselves.  Maybe even talk to some Bedoon people and learn first-hand of their experiences.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Law: You can be jailed for criticizing Kuwait

Ok, I don't how what the scale on "criticizing" is.  Can you criticize people?  Environment?  What?  The Kuwait constitution states

"Article 36:  Freedom of opinion and of scientific research shall be guaranteed. Every person shall have the right to express and propagate his opinion .verbally, in writing or otherwise, in accordance with the conditions and procedures specified by law"

So I guess the last part now applies to this new law, but how is it quantified?

Kuwait was built on diversity and different perspectives.  People didn't drop from the sky or pop up from the sand; they came here from different places.  They made it a country full of nomadic herders, pearl divers, traders, fishermen.  Now, people have different trades, but they are coming from different places with different backgrounds and different perspectives and calling it home.

I've lived in Kuwait for 22 years.  I wouldn't have stayed if I didn't love it. I wouldn't have moved here for a lower-paying job (true story).   Actually, I wouldn't have made Kuwait my priority in 1990 and 91. I wouldn't have helped Kuwaiti friends - then or now.  Prior to coming here, I was pretty vocal about how much I like Kuwait and promoting it to others.  My family got a little tired of hearing me talk about it.  Kuwait has been second home to me for a very long time.  I left my family, a job, my friends, my possessions, to come here in 1996 because I fell in love with this country.

But... like my first home... no place is without issues.  If you can't talk about issues and have it termed as "criticism" how does anyone address them?  How do different perspectives help a country in bettering itself?  

Some might add that that isn't my job.  Or yours.  Or any other individuals.  But individuals make up a country.  

"If you hate it so much, go home."  

Who says that you have to hate an entire country to hate specific things that are happening in it?  I hate pollution.  I hate it in the US. I hate it in Kuwait. I hate animal abuse.  I hate violence.  I hate poverty.  I hate hunger.  I hate homelessness or unfairness or or or....  Is that criticism or a voice to educate others on what is happening and how to resolve it?

No country, no person, no thing is perfect.  To what extent is "criticism"?

I wish I could dish the real truth on this blog

The problem I face now is that so many people know who I am and I'm:

Afraid of hurting peoples feelings
Afraid of pissing people off (customers or job-related people)
Afraid of being deported for even an iota of the stuff that I know and could really get me in trouble.

This is my peeve for the moment and I will keep it very general:

So let me just say that I wish I could talk about how undiplomatic and outright rude some of my customers are.  (This is light stuff so whatever.)  I work with kind, decent, and professional people with families.  They really care about the quality of their work and they look for ways to improve - without receiving any big deal appreciation or accolades.  They just do their jobs the right way because it is the right thing to do.  For this, they get threatened, shouted at, scolded, and demeaned.  Yes of course, our management team defends them, but then we as a company get the same treatment.  It isn't fair.  It isn't kind and it is the type of behavior that I wouldn't ever THINK (in regular life) that would be commensurate to the stature of their offices. 

We have been threatened for several years, "We are going to go to a competitor."  Ok.  Business is business.  They are entitled to do or go where ever they want.  But threats?  Stop treating good people like they are sub-human and  haven't done their best to help.  I sit in front of them.  I watch them.  There are a few who don't even get up to use the bathroom during the day because they take their jobs so seriously.  I have to tell them to go home at night because we don't pay overtime.  They want to finish their work.  I don't believe that I have ever worked anywhere (US or in any other country) with a more dedicated group of people.  Ever. 

Why not be direct?  Again, I can't understand why people just can't be straight with each other.  Why waste time?  If you don't fear a higher power or higher energy, that's your thing.  I don't understand that way of thinking and I pity the fool who isn't living with an appreciation of karma.  You never know what life is going to bring  you next.  Or who you are going to need.  Or when.  Or how.

Earthquake in Iran/Iraq felt in Kuwait

I was in bed, all cozy and warm.  My bed started shaking and moving around the floor.  My immediate thought was, 'that damn dog is stuck under the bed!'  I got up to look and he wasn't there.  So my next thought was a scene from The Exorcist and I was pretty sure I had a demon (djinni) in my room.  That's when I noticed my chandeliers swinging back and forth.  Cool.

My dog was still sleeping in the hallway.  He's a drama queen and if there is anything even slightly wrong (ESPECIALLY when I'm sleeping which is when he is in guard mode/high alert), everyone in the neighborhood will know about it.  So, I figured all was good and went back to sleep.

My dear friend and colleague called a minute later to ask if I was ok.  What a dear person. I really love this guy.  He's just one of the kindest people I know, wrapped up in a tough guy persona (because he has to be in his job).  That was so nice.

A friend's daughter just had an operation yesterday at a hospital and they asked her to walk down 15 flights of stairs.  There have also been numerous pictures of half-neked people on the streets, staring up at buildings.  Yeah, that's not me.  I wouldn't have walked down 15 flights either.  They can KMA.  I would have locked myself in the bathroom.  Don't care.  Not gonna happen. 

I did that when they had a fire DRILL at KIPCO tower (a DRILL that they notified us of like 3 weeks in advance).  We worked on the 30th floor and they wanted us to walk downstairs.  I thought it would be a short drill so I hid in the ladies room .... for 2 hours..  I had my phone.  I called people.  I chatted.  It took them about an hour to get everyone upstairs in the elevators.  Dumbest drill I've ever seen.  Forget that.  And I saw zero cute firemen.  What's the point?

Anyways, I live on the 2nd floor now so I just threw my passport in my handbag, put it next to my bed and had a dog leash and collar handy.  Went back to sleep.

This is the 3rd earthquake I've experienced in Kuwait (yawn).  The first one was in 1998 I think.  I saw things shaking and swaying in my apartment.  That was cool.  The second one was no big deal; kind of like a big truck driving by.  This one last night was the biggest yet.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Plastic Recycling Plant opens in Kuwait - Drop Boxes Popping up Everywhere!

Below is a repost from Ladies Who Do Lunch In Kuwait's blog.  She's very positive in her posts, so I'm hijacking them because I've been in such a negative posting slump lately.

I've heard of a few recycle programmes but then they seemed to fizzle out but Omniya have now opened a large purpose-built facility in Jahra to handle recycling all those water bottles that I feel so guilty throwing away. Bravo! Look out for one of their 2,500 collection boxes spread out over the city.

This one is in Al Shaheed Park in the Habitat Museum building.

--- end ---

I saw one of these bins outside Mishref Co-op this weekend and didn't know what it was.  Now I do and I'll bring any plastic water bottles to the bin.  I don't really use them unless I'm driving somewhere, but people in my neighborhood have "donated" by throwing them out of their car windows in our parking lot, so I can go pick them up.

FINALLY a solid recycling program! Next on the wish list:  tire recycling plant....