Monday, July 16, 2012

Thank you, ladies of the US Embassy Kuwait

I would like to thank several women who have moved on to the next steps on their journeys with the Department of State.  They have helped me during the last few years at the US Embassy and compliments should be given where compliments are due.

First, my friend Rachel, who left Kuwait several months ago to her new posting.  Rachel reached out to various members of the media in Kuwait - including me - to help promote activities and positive PR at the Embassy.  She invited me to various social events and turned into a dear friend who I sincerely admire for her professionalism and sunny/kind outlook.  She worked towards promoting young women in Kuwait and assisted a dear friend (non-blood relative); ultimately changing her life and greatly improving her chances for a much brighter future.

Next, Virginia, who extended invitations and invited me into her home.  I knew her through friends and although I never had the opportunity to get to know her as well as they; I sincerely appreciated being included in their group activities when I was.

Of course, I miss HE Deborah Jones all the time.  I miss seeing her face in the news and hearing about what she talked about in the diwaniyas.  I enjoyed it most when she got into hot water.  I saw her as a kindred rebel spirit and it was a great honor for me to have brief glimpses into her life here.

Thank you, ladies, for coming to Kuwait and touching my and others' lives in small, but profound ways.  Your work here was appreciated. 

Call to introduce green card concept in Kuwait

Anonymous 10:15 wrote to tell me about an article in the Gulf Times; a discussion with lawyer Labeed Abdal, who proposes a green card type of sponsorship system in Kuwait.

Anonymous 10:15 says, “ I think you will find this article interesting because quite frankly it would affect people like you who are long time residents. I like the idea but changes in Kuwait come slowly although periodically they come up with good solutions to problems like this, but it high-ranking officials that seem to block them.”

Call to introduce green card concept in Kuwait
Laws to help better conditions of foreigners and end abuses by visa traffickers urged
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Published: 11:26 July 15, 2012
Gulf News
Manama: A Kuwaiti columnist has called for reforming his country’s immigration laws to help improve the condition of foreigners and end abuse by visa traffickers.

“We need to make serious reforms in the immigration laws in Kuwait, as the sponsor system must be cancelled to leave this matter between the expat and the state,” Labeed Abdul (they spelled his name wrong) said. “Moreover, the types of jobs, services provided, responsibilities and levels of income for an expatriate must be considered for a permanent visa, whenever Kuwait starts to consider this matter.”

Writing in the local daily Kuwait Times, Labeed called for an end to “making people suffer through forcing them to live on 30 days’ entry visas or work visas that can be misused by employers”.
A solution he suggested was to introduce green cards, similar to the ones in the US.

“A green card provides permission to reside and work in the country on a permanent basis. It is an immigration process that will develop into a permanent stay in the country after having been a lawful resident. It also can be taken away if there is any failure to meet local regulations and can positively lead to naturalisation,” he wrote on Thursday.

“In Kuwait, there are thousands of foreigners who have lived and worked here for ten years or more and respect all the rules made by the government and have made Kuwait their home. Those people want to stay here with their families since they feel there is nowhere else to go, as they lived, married and even had their children here.”

Labeed said that a large number of people considered Kuwait “a great place to live in” and “have successfully adapted to its culture and had great and friendly relations with its people.”
“We indeed want them not to feel unwelcome or extremely worried whenever the clock starts its quick ticking towards expiry dates for their visas.”

Around three million people live in Kuwait, with foreigners making up two-thirds of the total population.
Most expatriates are unskilled labourers from Asian countries working in the booming construction sector.

Several labour officials from the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have called for imposing five- or six-year residency caps, mainly on unskilled workers, arguing that they could turn into a security threat. (DG:  Probably because they had to leave their wives in their country and they are desperate for the company of a woman.)

However, business communities have resisted the proposal, saying that it would disrupt the economy and would cause chaos in the local markets.

- End -

Okay first of all, I don't believe this will every fly.  While it is great in theory, reality is that Kuwait doesn't want people to stay long-term and they certainly don't want potential new citizens (refer to the Bedoun cases still on-going).  Which brings me to another point:  Why should the Bedoun (those who can prove that they should be granted Kuwaiti nationality) not get citizenship first before even discussing the idea of others getting it?

Second, LOTS of people are making money from the current sponsorship system, both legally and illegally, so yes, "cause chaos in the local markets" is quite true.  How else would sponsors make money?  Ethically?  OMG!  Shiver the thought!

Legally - Take, for example, the number of companies in Kuwait who sponsor Westerners.  KRH used to be a dumpy little office downtown with bad air conditioning; housed in the same building as Baba Tahir Restaurant.  Look at 'em today after scoring the CSA sponsorship deal. 

Illegally - Unscrupulous business owners who offer TCNs visas for crrrrraaazy amounts of money.  My former maid had to pay 700KD a year!  How could she afford to do that?

While I would love to be able to make a life here, own land/property, add to the long-term economy of Kuwait; realistically, I don't see that happening.  I can buy property in the US and rent it out to Kuwaitis on vacation, but I can't own a home here.  Even if I wanted to buy a yacht and live on it, I would need a Kuwaiti sponsor (co-signer) unless I paid cash outright.  So much for being an "adult".  I even need a co-signer to buy a car.  I feel like I'm 16 all over again.  Ridiculous!  Have they never heard of credit reports/history?  When I bought my first car here, the guy at the bank where I was financing it looked down his nose at me and snydly remarked, "You need a Kuwaiti kafeel (co-signer)."  I gave him my best F-you smile and said, 'What family would  you prefer?' (and rattled off a few family names of Kuwaiti friends willing to help.)  Dude, I'm paying YOUR bank almost $4,000 in interest ("profit") and you treat me like that?

So staying here IS in my mind.  I love Kuwait (on the good days) and want to stay, but it looks like my only option might be to marry a Kuwaiti.  And I'm not adverse to a trade:  US Green Card for Kuwaiti nationality. (My goal:  6 months here, 6 months there.  Any takers?)   But wait... the Kuwaiti government has just put a hold on naturalizing wives of Kuwaitis also!   It used to be possible to marry a Kuwaiti man, pop out a kid, and immediately be granted Kuwaiti nationality.  Not anymore - for a woman of any nationality. (Men marrying Kuwaiti women are never granted Kuwaiti nationality.)  What marriage to a Kuwaiti would do for me is the ability to remain here under his sponsorship.  Fine.  I could do that (and I make a mean steak as part of the deal).

I strongly believe Kuwait needs to do something about this archaic sponsorship system, but .... the country is in such disarray from so many different agles, with more being piled on every day; when will there ever be time to fix everything?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Arabian Business: Kuwait's ALAFCO inks $1.9bn Boeing 737 deal

Kuwait-based airplane leasing company ALAFCO and Boeing on Tuesday announced initial commitment for 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s valued at $1.9bn at current list prices.

The signing ceremony was attended by Ahmad A Alzabin, ALAFCO's chairman and CEO, and Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK.

Arabian Business - 17 July 2012

Alzabin said in a statement: "Today, with rising fuel costs, the 737 MAX will provide operational cost savings to airlines in addition to being more environmentally-friendly due to its latest quiet engine technology.

"These are the advantages that airlines are looking for in the current competitive and demanding environment."

Conner added: "This is the first agreement for the 737 MAX from the Middle East which is one of the industry's highest growth regions.

"We are proud of the confidence that ALAFCO has placed in the 737 MAX which will deliver unsurpassed fuel efficiency in the single-aisle market as well as improved environmental performance."

The 737 MAX has accumulated more than 1,000 orders and commitments from 17 customers worldwide since its launch in August last year.

ALAFCO had previously ordered six 737-800s in March 2007 with the last airplane delivered to the leasing company in July 2011.

Proof Read Much or What?

Coming from any English-speaking country, you can't help but giggle at some of the misspellings on all kinds of things; maybe most frequently on menus where you will find "lamp" and sometimes "bred"; or even on street or business signage ("Iron Man Jim").  The below is probably the worst signage I've seen in Kuwait; not because of misspellings, but for the complete butchering of the English language.

 (As seen behind Fanar Mall in Salmiya)

Stand clear:  Construction site. 
Warning:  Falling debris from demolition.  Not responsible for damages.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kuwaitiful: Destination XL – Clothing Store for the Big Guys

This is a re-post from Kuwaitiful's blog (which I recently happily discovered).

Photo:  Kuwaitiful

Kuwaitiful says, I randomly found about this place and the idea behind it intrigued me. I know how hard it is for big guys to find clothing in Kuwait since I have a friend dealing with this issue. Destination XL only offers clothing sizing XL and above. You don’t need to worry about not finding your size. They offer a variety of brands that include Reebok, Dockers, Levi’s, Cutter & Lacoste. They’re located in Symphony Mall, for more information you can click here.

Offered Sizes: “Waists 38-64, Big Sizes XL-7XL, Tall Sizes XLT-6XLT plus shoes in extended sizes 10-16 and widths to 3E.”

- end - 

This is great news because before, I have heard my large men friends as saying that the only place they could find sizes was in KitKat in Salmiya - which is really more of a sports clothing store.

Womens Plus-Sized Clothing Stores in Kuwait

I am going to post this as an addendum.  Anonymous 3:01 asked me if I knew any plus-sized stores for women in Kuwait – and maybe youse guys can help me out.

I read an Article on KUNA stating that retailers in Kuwait are trying to keep up with the demand for plus-size clothing.  From what I see here, not everyone is a size 8 and I don't know where all the full figured girls are shopping here.  I don't think that retailers here are keeping up fast enough.   Fer real ... with all the boob jobs popping up around here?... puhleeze.   I would love to be able to wear some of the things in Zahra, for example, but I'm not a stick girl; never have been. ("Meat is for the man; bone is for the dog.") Girls like me buy size 8's at Zahra and other favorite shops and then take it to the tailor to have copied.

Back to my thought...

There is an upscale boutique-y plus size shop in Salmiya and I can't remember the name right now.  Dayum. They used to advertise in the Arab Times.  (Somebody write to me and tell me what it is!)

Evans is the only plus-sized dedicated store that I can think of.  In my oppinion (yours may differ):   Their quality is low and their prices are high and everything they sell looks like a potato sack. 

H&M Avenues has a few racks of plus sizes in their back room.

Marks & Spencer also has plus sizes.

If you want to order online, check out:

You can always go through Just Ask at Sultan Center - they'll order on a US or UK based credit card if that is required and handle the shipping)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

US/Non-US Divorce in Kuwait

I am wondering if anyone can help me answer this for a friend.

They're both in Kuwait.  Her husband is American; she's not. They have children together.  He has dumped her for another woman and moved out of their house, leaving her to pay the bills.

Now, here comes my questions:  How does she resolve this?  Does she have to go to the US to get a US divorce lawyer and sue him for child support and alimony?  Can she find a lawyer in Kuwait?

My first question would be "where did they get married"? and I'll have to find out.

Anybody have advice?  Lawyer contacts?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Timor or Taima?

Does this look familiar?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Hijacked on LinkedIn

Uffaaaaaaa!!!  Somebody created a phony Desert Girl profile on LinkedIn.  Who would do such a thing?  This isn't my profile.  No wonder I've been receiving so many requests. 

People are phuckin weird.  This is why I love my dog so much.

Another Kuwait Airways Almost-Crash

Al Watan had video taken by a passenger on Kuwait Airways flight from Jeddah to Kuwait on July 7th with 186 souls on board an Airbus A300 (not my favorite plane).  One of the many aging 20+ year old planes still flown daily through heat and dust and in poor repair.

A Kuwaiti woman posted about  the video on Facebook saying,

“They were reciting the `Shahadas' on Islam- that usually means in such cases they fear it is the end, and in Islamic teaching, if those two Shahadas are the last thing you say you go straight to heaven. No, I felt the fear in the video- when men started reciting really loudly.”

One engine burst and the other one stopped working.You can hear the engine noise, people crying and praying as the pilot tries to land the plane safely (which he, Pilot Mohammad Al-Sarraf, accomplished  miraculously in Medina.).  The video respectfully does not show faces, but you can see that many of the passengers were wearing the religious clothing associated with a journey for Omra. 

Newspapers have reported that Kuwait Airways has "decided to ground several ageing planes for repeated malfunctions."  "They" have been talking about upgrading the fleet for HOW long?  It is just a matter of time before an entire flight of lives will have been lost due to a lack of urgency to get anything accomplished.  Their families will have to mourn.  Future generations of Kuwaitis will remember the day and think back sadly.  Is this really the outcome they want?

The last time I flew on Kuwait Scareways was in 2006.  Although there were no malfunctions (Thank God!) with the flights, they were definitely the worst flights I had ever taken:  On the direct flight to NY:  an Indian man in the seat behind me insisted on placing his dirty, stinky feet between the seats so that they would be next to me.  The flight attendant apparently didn't feel empowered enough to do anything about it.  On the return flight (London to Kuwait), Kuwaiti police brought a female prisoner on board who proceeded to cry in agony and plead for her life - even to fellow passengers - during the entire trip.  Obviously, she wasn't being extradited (if UK authorities even knew about it) for a petty crime. I was traumatized and couldn't stop crying for the next few days.  NOT a relaxing flight; although no where near as horrific as the flight from Jeddah.I am sure those poor people are going to be affected by it for a very long time.

July 11, 2012 Update

Arab Times
Many KAC planes not ‘fit’ for flying Passengers shifted to other airlines

KUWAIT CITY, July 10: Acting Minister of Communications, Social Affairs and Labor Salem Al-Utheina has submitted a comprehensive report on the Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) fleet to the interim Cabinet, reports Al-Jarida daily quoting sources.

Sources revealed that Al-Utheina stated in his report that many KAC airplanes do not meet the safety and security conditions; hence, they are not fit for flying. He asked acting Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak to quickly charter new planes to support the old fleet. He said KAC will refer passengers affected by the suspended flights to other airline companies, sources added.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed some parties have expressed concern over the future of the corporation, especially after Al-Utheina decided to ground five airplanes to protect people’s lives. They also want to know if KAC will be restructured or privatized to prevent further collapse.

Some experts pointed out the modernization of KAC’s fleet will not make any difference unless the company improves its reputation. They said it is better if the government presses ahead with the plan to privatize the company.

Other experts think the best way to address the problem is to restructure KAC before taking the necessary procedures for its privatization by converting it into a public company, which will be affiliated to the Ministry of Communications and under the supervision of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). They suggested the government can sell the company after restructuring but it should keep majority of the shares. They added the problem of KAC got worse when some MPs rejected the proposal to purchase new aircraft.

In a related development, Al-Watan Arabic daily has quoted Sheikh Salman Al-Otaibi, who was on board the KAC aircraft that malfunctioned recently, as saying the company does not care about the lives of passengers. He said the passengers, who were on their way to perform Omrah, survived through the mercy of Allah.

Sheikh Salman made the statement at a dinner party organized by his uncle in his diwaniya to celebrate his safe return from the so-called ‘flight of horror’. He unveiled his plan to file a lawsuit against the company, which is responsible for the lives of passengers. He also stressed the need to upgrade KAC’s fleet to prevent the recurrence of the horrible incident in the future.


Block Island: Where I'm taking mom for her birthday

Block Island, Rhode Island
I grew up (part of my growing up) in Rhode Island; the smallest state in the US.  We used to spend summers visiting Block Island (off Rhode Island), which is just a little larger than Failaka - at 9 miles long (I think Failaka is around 7).  It takes approximately an hour to get out there by traditional ferry (which I prefer over the fast ferry).  There is no need to rush to get out to a place like this; the ferry trip is part of the experience.

Block Island is gorgeous.  It reminds me of Ireland with the same high cliffs and light surrounded by deep waters.  Most of the buildings are victorian style as are the islands small hotels. Many are painted by salt-spray (beach) roses.  Nothing luxery, but just pretty and quaint.

So this year, I asked my mom if she'd like to do a road trip from DC to Rhode Island and stop at Block Island.  My mom is an adventuress like me who actually likes long trips in the car.  It's all about the journey and seeing things along the way.

Rhode Island sea shore is gorgeous - probably some of the prettiest coast line I've ever seen on several continents.  I love the rocky shores, the seafood, crashing waves, and the smell of the salt air.  Plus, traditional Rhode Island cuisine is unique to anywhere else in the US.  I can not wait to get my hands on some greasy clam cakes dipped in katsup.  And Del's Lemonade!  Fresh Del's is like no other lemonade anywhere (someone please look into opening a franchise in Kuwait!).

The beaches and the scenery along the way to Point Judith where the ferry docks is awe-inspiring.  Miles and miles of beaches, light houses and small towns. Driving by the mansions in Newport and over the bridges, feeling the sea salt on my face;.  I've really missed it.

Like most people growing up, I never took the time to appreciate everything the state has to offer and I haven't been back there in years, so this is going to be a great trip with my dear pal and travelling companion.  I have been to some of the most amazing places with my mother; something I have also grown to appreciate tremendously over the years.

LWDLIK's Post on Shurooq Amin

It’s a Man’s World – Interview with Shurooq Amin, Kuwait’s Rebel with a Cause

Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait Blog has an outstanding interview with (Kuwait-) controversial artist, Shurooq Amin, whose art exhibit earlier this year was shut down by officials as being "pornographic".  By Western standards, her art is not-even-close to porn; yet controversial to this culture where OMG you can't show what really goes on behind closed doors. 

The time is now.

On behalf of someone who tells it like it is:  I admire Shurooq's strength and courage and I wish her well.  I believe she's a pioneer and I hope that she receives support from friends and family.  We love you from afar, girl, and your fans support you.

You can see the entire post HERE on Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait.  (Thanks for posting it!)  I think the interview is outstanding.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Wedding Dresses

I was freakin out because The Romanian's son is getting married in a few month and as usual, I have nothing to wear.  I usually don't care, but this time, it is important that all of her friends look fantaaabulous as she hasn't seen her former husband's family in about 20 years and we should all look good for the wow-factor.

She showed me a dress here in Kuwait for 840KD.  I told her I would shop in the States and come back with something nicer and way less.

I ended up in David's Bridal.  I hadn't been there in years since my sisters' weddings. I kind of remember their dresses as being kind of cheesy and not good quality (okay, well it was the 80's when both cheesy and poor quality were in style).

The service I received was phenomenal and I ended up buying a dress for The Romanian and one for me.  I love the fitting rooms - rows of spacious rooms on both sides of a wide corridor with mirrors all over the place and bright lights.  There is lots of room for the entire bridal party to sit and watch the bride (or bridesmaids) try on dresses.  And since I didn't have friends with me, the incredibly gorgeous sales lady modeled about 6 different dresses.  All the David's stores are the same (they are all over the US and going to the UK soon.  Someone should jump on the wagon and open one in Kuwait - cha CHING).

Spanx had turned me on to Two Birds and I looked at a dress from there, but didn't want to drop $300 for something that I didn't know would fit me.  The dress I found at David's was similar and didn't have the worry of having to wrap anything around me like the Two Birds dress.

This is the dress I bought for myself.  It hides all of my unwanted stuff:

Check out the size and color range!

If you don't know about David's - to check them out online at  They have everything from bridal gowns to flower girl dresses; invitations, shoes, and accessories.  You won't believe the prices either (wedding gowns on sale from a few hundred dollars or less; bridesmaids dresses from $79).  I would imagine that you could order through Sultan Center's Just Ask.  You just have to order early because they have their dresses made most of the time.

I like that they update their selections regularly - including the colors so that they are the most "in" for the moment.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

US Embassy

I know I am going to piss off some people by this, but hey - maybe they can help me and readers have a better understanding.  Fer real.

First, why does it cost 15KD to have anything notarized - per stamp?  Is the embassy self-sufficient or are they appropriated funds?  If they are appropriated funds, why is the price so high and where does the money go?  (Please see paragraph 5 below for recommendation.)

Can I continue to complain about the parking?  Just a leetle? 

I don't go to the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, DC and create a new middle lane of parking (not that I could because the parking is on the street, but it would be the equivalent of me parking in the middle of the street).  Why is it that the US Embassy allows people to park willy-nilly-as-you-please in their lot?  I park correctly - what the F?  I give those "keyfi" people dirty looks when I see them doing that. 

Otay and the other thing is - even the cheapest places I go in Kuwait have covered parking.  Et tu, American Embassy - why you no have covered parking for your visitors?  I don't get it.  It was like 120 degrees F in the parking lot today and the little rubber thingies on the bottom of my stillettos were burning off.  That no gooooood.

What I do like about the parking lot is that after X years of being located at the "new" complex in Bayan, someone finally got around to creating several handicapped parking spaces.  (Let's see if handicapped-only parking is enforced, however.)

Long time no hear

I can't tell you how long it has been since I've heard this.  Scenario:  I'm travelling at the end of the month.  He says to me, "Do you need money?  You are going for a long time."  Me, "No, don't worry, I'm fine, thanks."  Him, "I should take care of you.  That's why I'm here."

Okay, so the cynical old biddy in me says, 'That's nice bullshit," but the other part of me says, 'OMG, stupid!  The guy really cares for you (mashallah) and you shouldn't think like that.  When was the last time a man said that to you?'

The later is winning the argument.

Ya know what?  I'm fed up of taking care of me and I would really like someone else to drive for a while.  That would be really nice.  I'm not talking about money or material stuff - I got that covered.  I'm talking about the fact that although he gives me a choice.  (Mashallah.)  LIKE A MAN.  Wow.  That is a novel idea.

... and so it begins...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Free Legal Advice in Kuwait

The Legal Section of the Arab Times had grown to about an entire page now.  Write to them if you have questions.

Kuwait Snoozefest Summer

Things that bore me lately:
  • Consistently "holy-shit-that's-hot" days
  • Egyptian politics
  • Syria (where IS the rest of the world - help them!)
  • OSN programming
  • My love life (although that is getting better)
  • Routine
  • My car
  • People who hit "like" for every phuckin thang on Facebook.  (Who doesn't "like" food???)
  • My intense lack of energy or anything that even slightly resembles energy.
  • Staying up late at night chatting with the mentally challenged on Badoo because I can't sleep and have nothing better to do.
I've been back in Kuwait for what - all of 2 weeks - and I really need to get out of here for an attitude adjustment again.  Ugh!  Calgon, take me away...