Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Wierd Photo and Illustration Placement

Do you read the Kuwait Times? No, I am not their representative, but I read fairly closely. In Qatar, I used to find the real information in like the third paragraph from the end of the article.

One time, the Chief of Police gave out his phone number (!) and said “Call me when you see a bad driver.” We all had the phone number memorized, and died laughing when the most common complaint would go like this:

“I am calling to report a bad driver!”
“What is the license plate?”
“I can’t see it! It’s a white Toyota Land Cruiser on C-Ring, weaving in and out!”

The joke was, when we got to Qatar, all the cars were white, and more than half the cars on the road seemed to be Toyota Land Cruisers. Things have become more varied, now.

Meanwhile, reading the Kuwait Times here, I have seen something odd, time and time again. Photos or illustrations, placed in the middle of an article which is about something else totally. I have even looked at the page, trying to think where this was supposed to be – without success. Occasionally, I can find an article on a different page that MIGHT have been appropriate for the photo or diagram, but never even on the same page.

Yesterday (17 January 2007) Kuwait Times, page 17 – The article reads “UK inflation rate hits 3%, highest since 1997.

Inserted into the article is a box. In the box, there are two separate graphs showing exactly the same data – how US department of defense equipment is re-utilized, measured in billions of dollars.

This article has ZERO relevance to the article. This article has ZERO relevance to anything on the page, any article in the financial section.

I’m guessing it was the right size. It’s the only possibility I can imagine. ZERO relevance.

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, News, Qatar, Random Musings | Leave a comment

12 Rules to Help you Enjoy Life in Kuwait

By Meshary Alruwaih, Staff writer, Kuwait Times with his permission.

(Actually, even better than with his permission – because it never showed up on the online KT, I had to ask him to send it. And because my computer doesn’t read the file he sent, my husband had to run it off, and I am having to enter the whole thing the old fashioned way, by typing. So any garble, any mis-spellings or wierd grammar is mine, not his.

If you haven’t seen this article, I would love to hear your impressions. I found it very matter of fact. What do you think? Is his experience your experience?)

Life in Kuwait can sometimes be pretty boring. No matter how biased one can be in favor of one’s homeland, it’s always beneficial to acknowledge the limitations and deficiencies of it. Such acknowledgements serve as a gate to self-criticism, which is a necesary prerequisite to making recommandations and offering solutions as to how to improve the experience of living here.

This article provides basic recommendations on how to enjoy your life in Kuwait. The lack of development in all aspects of life in Kuwait has meant that people here – Kuwaitis and expats alike – have a harder time and less options for enjoying life than their fellows in other neighboring countries like Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. I mean, as Kuwaitis, we are stuck here, but for the expats, why would you come here if you could be in Dubai or Doha instead?

Returning from the US, I’d been hoping for a myore dynamic government attitude towards turning Kuwait into an open society, business hub, financial centre, and all the other meanlingless promises we have been hearing for so long. Going by their words, Kuwait is supposedly always on the brink of turning into a vibrant, go-ahead society, where different types and varieties of activities and exciting new venues are always just about to evolve.

Having pretty much given up on all those governmental promises, I’ve formulated some suggestions and rules of my own for helping to enjoy life in static Kuwait, apparently frozen in it’s very own time warp, so here they are:

1. Follow Politics. Do not miss political intercourse in Kuwait. All political actors here have their special sense of humour, whether comical lies and promises by ministers, or stupid proposals by MPs. It gets even funnier when people take to the street to protest, you get women dancing, swearing at ministers, and all kinds of amusing slogans.

2. Don’t get involved in the Kuwait stock market. Do not let your life become dependent on colors, today green, tomorrow red. Rational economic and political order is missing in this country, which is reflected in the market. But let’s face it, it’s always fun to watch how people react to instantly making or losing moeny when it’s not your money.

3. You NEED (Wasta) connections. You cannot enjoy your life in Kuwait without having Wasta. You will certainly need to renew your driving license, get a job for your visiting younger brother, extend his visit if he cannot find a job; these simple procedures will turn into pure suffering if you do not know someone who can help facilitate the process.

4. When June comes, get out as fast as possible. It’s oven-hot, and there is neither water nor electricity, do not come back before September.

5. If you do follow rule number four, do NOT use Kuwait Airways. Truly a horrible experience!! (My note – see previous article on Kuwait Airways here.)

6. Friendships? If you are a Kuwaiti, make friends with expats; if you are an expat, make friends with Kuwaitis. The interaction and exchange of views and insights are fun.

7. Visit a diwaniya. At least once a week even if you don’t like it, it’s important. It’s where you achieve Rule #3.

8. Do not watch Kuwaiti football. Do not watch Kuwaiti football league as it is extremely weak and very boring. And definitely do not support Kuwait National team, as you will end up suffering all the ills in the world. The Gulf Football Championship is coming up soon; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

9. Join one of those health clubs or spas. Well, if you can afford them, of course. They are nice and you will enjoy your time there, but they are ridiculously expensive.

10. Movies: forget about cinema in Kuwait. The Kuwait Cinema Company is months behind its counterparts in the west and even those in the region. Get smuggled DVDs from one of those places in Hawally or Salmiya. Sorry, IPR guys!

11. Starbucks: Make peace with Starbucks, you have to like it, they are everywhere, and chances are you will end up in one of them, so accept the fact that Starbucks is a part of your life.

12. Read Kuwait Times – every day! It will keep you up to date on local politics, provide funny stories about not-so-smart criminals, give you material to discuss with your Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti friends, and it can easily be found in any Starbucks. Oh, and you get to read my column twice a week!

My comment: There’s a fine line between tongue-in-cheek and telling it like it is, and I think the column writers at the Kuwait Times are very brave in their reporting life here as they see it. I disagree with number 4 – when everyone else leaves, it is so much easier to drive here! I haven’t had any major electrical outages. And honestly, there is some major infrastructure work – and planning – that needs to take place here yesterday.

Having said that, I usually do leave for a while in August! It can get HUMID!

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, News, Political Issues, Qatar, Social Issues, Weather | 17 Comments