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. 

https://www.facebook.com/omniya.recycle/

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....

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

“I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.” ― Muhammad Abduh

“I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.” ― Muhammad Abduh


This was posted today on Ladies Who do Lunch In Kuwait's blog.  She's amazing and I adore her.  She has many of the same perspectives on life that I do.  I'm happy to see this post.



Muhammad Abduh
 argued that Muslims could not simply rely on the interpretations of texts provided by medieval clerics, they needed to use reason to keep up with changing times. He said that in Islam man was not created to be led by a bridle, man was given intelligence so that he could be guided by knowledge. According to Abduh, a teacher’s role was to direct men towards study. He believed that Islam encouraged men to detach from the world of their ancestors and that Islam reproved the slavish imitation of tradition. He said that the two greatest possessions relating to religion that man was graced with were independence of will and independence of thought and opinion. It was with the help of these tools that he could attain happiness. 

He believed that the growth of western civilization in Europe was based on these two principles. He thought that Europeans were roused to act after a large number of them were able to exercise their choice and to seek out facts with their minds.[15] 

His Muslim opponents refer to him as an infidel; however, his followers called him a sage, a reviver of religion and a reforming leader. He is conventionally graced with the epithets “al-Ustādh al-Imām” and “al-Shaykh al-Muftī”. In his works, he portrays God as educating humanity from its childhood through its youth and then on to adulthood. According to him, Islam is the only religion whose dogmas can be proven by reasoning. Abduh does not advocate returning to the early stages of Islam. He was against polygamy and thought that it was an archaic custom. He believed in a form of Islam that would liberate men from enslavement, provide equal rights for all human beings, abolish the religious scholar’s monopoly on exegesis and abolish racial discrimination and religious compulsion.

Abduh regularly called for better friendship between religious communities. He made great efforts to preach harmony between Sunnis and Shias. Broadly speaking, he preached brotherhood between all schools of thought in Islam. However, he criticized what he perceived as errors such as superstitions coming from popular Sufism. As Christianity was the second biggest religion in Egypt, he devoted special efforts towards friendship between Muslims and Christians. He had many Christian friends and many a time he stood up to defend Copts. During the Urabi revolt, some Muslim mobs had misguidedly attacked a number of Copts resulting from their anger against European colonialism. Abduh also had meetings in Baghdad with the son of Baha'ism's founder and then spiritual leader, Abdu'l Baha, who he had a generally positive view of - although it was asserted by his students that he was unaware of the extra-Quranic religious scripture or status of Baha'ullah as a prophet in the faith and viewed it as a reformation of Shi'ism.[17]

Abduh's collected works have been compiled and published in five volumes by Muhammad Imarah.

Original post by Ladies Who Do Lunch In Kuwait Blog:  https://ladieswhodolunchinkuwait.blogspot.com/2017/11/i-went-to-west-and-saw-islam-but-no.html?spref=fb

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Animal Rescue Resources and Shelters Kuwait

So after a rather shitty morning, I was on my way to the office when I stopped at the light at the end of  highway 50 (I'm American - we go by numbers).  I was about 4 cars back and saw something flapping around on the road.  It was a kitten that had been hit.  People in surrounding cars were just staring at it, dying a slow, frightening and painful death.  No one made a move.

This is why I'm really really really starting to hate humans.

I put my flashers on, got out, ran to the kitten and brought her back to my car.  Little boo shuddered and died in my arms.  I stopped and said a small prayer for her and cried.

I talk to the animal rescuers in Kuwait and most of them are women and most of them are physically sick.  It's because of the stress they endure day in and day out by seeing animals in pain and many intentionally tortured.  These ladies never have enough money.  They don't go on vacation.  They don't buy stupid, useless crap like designer purses or expensive cars.  All they have goes to the animals.

Most of the rescuers use Instagram to broadcast immediately to the public if animals are found or lost or hurt (so they can beg for donations and help).

Sometimes, I just can't look at the pictures.  It hurts my SOUL.  Like Paul;  terribly traumatized and the only survivor of 3 dogs which were buried alive up to their necks and left to die in the open desert.  Or this week, the dog with a heavy chain embedded in his neck, locked on with a padlock.  Or the countless number of dogs and cats that have been shot and are paralyzed and dragging their hind legs on the street.

The horror is immense.  And I'm so sick of some saying, "That doesn't happen in Kuwait."  YES IT DOES.  That and worse.

If you can donate to these wonderful people help the animals, please do. Don't assume that other people are already doing it.  Many times, they don't receive any donations at all for lengths of time.  Money is always great, but if you can supply items like the following, it is a step in the right direction:

Cat/Dog Food
Bedding
Cleaning products
Pet toys (new or used)
Leashes, collars, pet carriers (new or used)


Here is a list of animal rescuers and/or shelters.   

Note that KSPATH is formally closed.

Instagram accounts with contacts:

Enlarge to view.  Please forward.

If you can't donate, volunteer.  Get your kids involved and volunteering.  It is a great opportunity to teach compassion and the dignity of life.

If someone you know finds a sick or injured animals, tell them to contact one of these groups!!!  Don't leave the animal out there to suffer alone.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Qatar Airways doubles the cost of pet transport fees

I'm boycotting them because I'm an animal lover.  Maybe all those who are animal lovers should consider doing the same.

Sorry, Qatar Airways, but that is just not compassionate and you've just lost a customer.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Kuwait's Foreign Resident Sword of Damocles: Deport, Deport, Deport!


Constant threat to foreign residents for deportation. The Kuwait version of the Sword of Damocles!



Every week for I can't remember how long, there have been new proposals and laws issued to deport foreign residents.  This week: more than 5 (minor)  traffic violations and you're deported.  Please - tell me what other country in the world deports you for traffic violations?  If the US or UK mandated this law, there would be no more Kuwaitis left in those countries. 

We should all change our salutation from, "How are you?" to "Deported yet?" 

Here is my take: 

Who leaves Kuwait first? It isn't the poor who probably either have their passports "held" (illegally,  I might add) by their sponsors or who just can't afford a ticket (or otherwise) to go home. So, we are looking at educated, high-paid professionals who are probably adding to the economy of the country in many ways; and adding to the future of Kuwait in other ways. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, Kuwait! Droves of professional Westerners are leaving Kuwait these days - people who have called Kuwait HOME for years. Almost all of my Western friends (professionals) have either left or are planning to leave Kuwait within the next year.

No one is looking into the economic impact of this mass exodus. MPs are just spouting hatred and "deport" to gain support for their own personal agendas/monetary gain. The true LEADERship of Kuwait should put an end to this nonsense.  Enough!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sheikha Awrad Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah

I don't have English transcripts for it yet, but apparently yesterday Sheikha Awrad spoke out against xenophobe MPs Safa Al-Hashem and others and their plans to eradicate Kuwait of foreign workers.  She stated (again, no transcripts, but from what I have heard) that these MPs are not working in the best interest of the Country, but for their own best personal interests (suggestion is monetary gain).

I applaud her.  Someone finally had the balls to stand up to these people!!!

Unfortunately, before today, I knew nothing about this Sheikha and I am glad that I was able to do a little research on her.

“A leading charity work activist in Kuwait . Known as the mother of bedoons since the start of her humanitarian missions in 2003, seeking fairness for this group whose members were not given the Kuwaiti citizenship . Announced donating one of her kidneys to one of the bedoon patients in celebration of the Kuwaiti organ transplant society in 2006 . One of the most well known public figure for defending the rights of non-citizens ( bedoons) . Founding member of the life foundation which is a foundation specialized in assisting terminal cancer patients especially bedoons . Hold the title of the mother of bedoons dear to her heart."


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Equality for foreign residents

My friend mentioned a quote by the late Sheikh Zayed of the UAE (God rest his soul) regarding expats (I refer to us as “foreign residents” as the term “expat” has become a term in Kuwait synonymous with all the problems in the country).

“Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan was told that 85% of the workforce in the UAE is made up of expatriate workers, he said:

The livelihood is from God, 
the money is God's, 
the land is God's, 
the grace is God's, 
we are all God's creation, 
and he who has trusted God will never be failed, and those who come to us are welcome.”

THAT IS LEADERSHIP.

I hope that the latest Kuwaiti government to be sworn in will have similar fundamental beliefs.




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kuwait 2020: Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?


Are former US Ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah Jones’, remarks about the future of Kuwait beyond 2020 coming to fruition? 

Wikileaks leaked a report that Ambassador Jones sent to the Department of State in 2010.  My favorite quote was that Kuwait is, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”  It is a fascinating perspective and one that I’m sure she didn’t want to become public.

Deborah Jones was Ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 through 2011.  I admire the her. She is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person with a sharp wit and dry sense of humor.   She speaks fluent Arabic, regularly frequented diwaniyas and political gatherings, and had an in-depth understanding of Kuwaiti culture.

Ambassador Jones’ report was brought to my attention by a friend and former Kuwaiti MP who believes Kuwait is headed in the direction predicted by Amb Jones. (As he stated, "I'm worried about securing the future of my children and grandchildren.  I've bought a home in Europe.")   You can read the full report and perspective pieces regarding the report at: