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New Driver License Enforcement in Kuwait? – Maj Gen Abdulfattah Al-Ali

When you read this article from the Kuwait Times, you will see that the requirements for obtaining a Kuwait driver’s license are not new, but enforcing the requirements – if it happens – will be new. It will make Kuwait more like Saudi Arabia for expat wives, where women cannot drive their own car to pick up the laundry or drop the kids off at school or go grocery shopping – unless, in the case of Kuwait,  she has a university degree AND has lived in Kuwait for two years AND is employed earning 400KD. No mere expat wife will have a driver’s license under these guidelines.

But these are the same guidelines that were in effect when I arrived in Kuwait. When I was in Kuwait on a house hunting trip before moving there, I asked how this would work, with me not being able to have a license, according to the rules. I was asking Kuwaiti officials. They said that the rules did not apply to me. (This answer still stuns me.)  So where is it written to whom the law applies? The office of the Interior Ministry for Traffic Affairs will have a great deal of leeway making their approvals – will they apply this law equally to all peoples of all nationalities?

No licenses without traffic chief’s nod

KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs Maj Gen Abdulfattah Al-Ali issued a decision yesterday to stop the acceptance of applications for driving licenses from non-Kuwaitis (expatriates and bedoons) unless they are approved by his office. The decision number 61/2013 went into effect from July 1, 2013, and allows the undersecretary’s office to inspect every application forwarded by foreigners and stateless residents in order to verify whether they meet the conditions to apply for a driving license. Ali reportedly threatened traffic department officials with retribution if they fail to abide by the new instructions.

According to security sources who spoke to a local daily, the decision came after cases were discovered in which manipulations were found in some departments where licenses were issued to expatriates who do not meet the requirements. A foreign resident in Kuwait must have a university degree, a minimum monthly salary of KD 400 and have been residing in Kuwait for at least two years among other conditions to apply for a driving license.

The sources also argued that the new decision does not take away the authority of traffic departments around Kuwait. “The departments’ main role is to issue licenses to Kuwaitis, while issuing licenses to expatriates is the exception,” they said, adding the decision means transferring the exception to the assistant undersecretary’s office so that traffic department officials can focus on their jobs of serving citizens and putting more traffic police officers on the streets.

“Any decision – even if it’s for the safety and organization of traffic regulations in the country – issued suddenly without informing the public in advance will surely create hostility,” said attorney Labeed Abdal, a Kuwaiti columnist. “I advise the good undersecretary to hold a press conference to explain to the people why such a regulation is needed. In this way you send the message correctly to people who will not be angry or surprised,” he added. Abdal agreed that the decision is directed to ease traffic jams in the country blamed on reckless drivers. “I think the decision is good. Be informed that he (Ali) did not stop it completely – he said he will give a chance, under his ultimate mercy. He did this to avoid license forgery and wasta (influence),” he stressed.

Another Kuwaiti was not very happy about the new decision. “(A driving license) is the right of every human being…why can’t they understand this. This decision is short of saying ‘just terminate all the services of expatriates in Kuwait’. Why are expats here if you cannot provide the facilities they need. I ask the official (Ali) to try at least once to ride in a bus or even wait for a taxi. If he can stay for one minute under the scorching heat of the sun, then OK, cancel the licenses of expats. If not, forget about your decision – it’s inhuman and cannot be accepted,” he fumed.

 I do not agree that a driving license is a right of every human being. I do believe that those under 18 should not be driving on the roads of Kuwait – I don’t mind them learning how to drive out in the desert, but save the testosterone driving for way out there where you can’t endanger the rest of us. I don’t believe people who don’t know the laws should have a license. I think there should be a test that every person can study for and must pass to have a driver’s license, otherwise you are simply saying that every human being has a right to a license to kill! I believe that every driver must be adequately insured to be licensed, and that the police must be impartial when determining fault in an accident. These are the rules that hold those responsible enough to drive the wild roads of Kuwait to be held accountable for their driving.
I applaud the sincerity with which Maj Gen Abdulfattah Al-Ali is striving to make the roads in Kuwait safer for all, and enforcing the law equally against all nationalities, even Kuwaitis. I hope he will remember transparency and accountability as he builds a truly modern and enforceable traffic system in Kuwait.
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July 6, 2013 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Satire, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Transparency, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | , | Leave a comment

World War Z

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I talked AdventureMan into going to see World War Z with me – us and half of Pensacola showed up for the early matinee, and we got the last two seats. I had thought it’s been out for a while and people would be going to see something else, but all the theaters showing it in Pensacola are selling out every show. That doesn’t mean every seat was already filled – a lot of people had bought tickets online but weren’t there. On the other hand, while we got two good seats – they were – LOL – at opposite ends of the row!

 

World War Z is not a movie where you want to be sitting on opposite ends of the row.

 

World War Z is Contagion on steroids.

 

Did you ever see Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead? I used to love scary movies, until I saw that movie. The scary movies were funny, not so scary at all – and George Romero changed all that with this low-budget horror classic. I think I liked it because it had a scientific kind of origin – a virus.

World War Z takes a similar approach, a scientific approach, and it is also very scary because it is hard, very hard, to be scientific and observant when your entire world becomes unsafe, when everything you known has turned to chaos. The zombies aren’t so damaged and tattered as Romero’s zombies, but they have the same herd mentality, a frenzied mob mentality, and an Alien-like skittering and swarming that makes my skin crawl.

I love seeing Brad Pitt as a responsible family man. He does it well. He has to make some very tough decisions in this movie, and you get to see that this sweet family man has another, tougher side.

AdventureMan was glad we went; he also thinks this will be a great computer game. We agreed it was scary because it had some things in it that truly can make life dangerous – you know, political leaders dying en masse, political and social systems dissolving and life becoming a brute struggle for survival with scarce resources  . . . having swarming zombies kicks all that up a notch.

Not a movie for anyone under five. Maybe not even ten, if the kids are sensitive, or prone to bad dreams . . .

 

Our son said we need to read the book; it’s only sort-of like the movie, and has a lot of very edgy things to say about our current political system and leaders. Hmmmm. . .  might have to do that.

 

 

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Health Issues, Survival | | Leave a comment

Retrograde 4th of July

Alternate title: Every man needs a Kubota

 

As we were listening to the news and weather Tuesday night before going to bed, the weather woman was talking about a ‘retrograde’ storm system. She showed us on the map; normally our weather blows from west to east, but this storm was going to blow east to west, and then reverse and go west to east again. Going counter to the normal flow is ‘retrograde.’

 

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Our entire holiday was retrograde. Which, for people like AdventureMan and I, is not too bad. It’s a good thing we married one another; we are not to good with same-same all the time, if things get too tame, we shake things up a little bit. It’s not good or bad, it’s just the way we are wired.

 

One of the first differences was that we weren’t leaving early in the morning to drive down Highway 98 along the beach road; we were picking up our adorable grandson, going to his house, and as soon as our daughter-in-law got off work we would hit the interstate.

It all went well; cloudy skies but light traffic, all was well until we left the highway headed south  . . . and started hitting the “Roads Under Water” signs. We didn’t see any roads under water until the car in front of us hit what looked like a shiny spot on the road and went almost a foot deep. AdventureMan cooly slowed and drifted steadily through the lake in the road – and we thanked God to be in a vehicle a little higher off the ground than a sedan.

 

After the lake in the road, it started raining, a little sprinkling, and then a steady rain.

 

The temperatures dropped.

 

Here is what we had planned – dinner with family and friends, a day of fun and heading out for sun downers on the boat to watch the fireworks on the 4th. Heavy applications of insect repellant and sunscreen.

 

Here is what happened – the deluge.

 

Here is what was cool about the deluge – the temperatures were the coolest, 24 hours around the clock – that we’ve seen in a month. We could sit out on the screened porch looking at the bayou, listening to the rain fall – it was heavenly! No insect repellent needed. No sun screen needed.

 

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Our hostess is a wonderful and creative cook; unafraid to try new recipes. Dinner after our rainy drive in: Red snapper, baked in a crust of crumbs with butter and parsley, so delicious. Green beans and mushrooms; so good I had them for breakfast another day 🙂 Holy smokes, desserts. The best pound cake ever, topped with peaches in their own juice and whipped cream, or chocolate red velvet brownies.

It was a fabulous lazy day. In the afternoon, our friend got an emergency call; friends whose husband was out of town were facing a flooding situation. Loading up his Kubota, he and AdventureMan went over and (manly manly) DUG A DITCH! getting all dirty and wet in the process, coming home with those grins that only activities like a good hunting trip, a successful fishing trip or digging a good ditch can create.

We had great plans that night to visit The Blue Fig (“They have mohammara!” my hostess said, knowing my weakness) but when we got there, it was closed . . . and, oddly every restaurant along that strip seemed to be closed. And side roads were flooded, more big lakes of water in the roads. It had rained so much and for so long that the runoff had no where to go.

 

 

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Our little grandson fell asleep while we were searching for a restaurant that was open, and slept in my arms through dinner. I know this might be the last time; he is getting to be such a big boy, so I just treasured the time and listened to him breathe.

 

I know it may not seem like such a great holiday to you, but it was fun. We focused on conversations and laughed a lot. AdventureMan thinks every man might need a Kubota. We listened to the rain fall on the leaves, the roof, the bayou. We listened to the frogs celebrate the 4th of July. We really had a great time.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Friends & Friendship, Holiday, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , | Leave a comment

The Hot Spot BBQ in Pensacola

“Have we seen that place before?” AdventureMan asked as we headed down 9th Avenue en route to the beach.

“I think it’s new!” I responded.

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The next day was his day to choose where we would go for lunch, and without hesitation, he said “that new place over on 9th.”

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When we got there, we discovered that while the Hot Spot may be news to us, it was well discovered by others – we got the last table. It’s a family owned place, they make their own sauces, smoke their own meats – just the kind of place we like to find and support.

I had the chicken sandwich, AdventureMan had the pulled pork. We split a piece of that homemade lemon pie. The service was great, so attentive that I could not discretely take any photographs of the food. Prices are reasonable.

Get to the Hot Spot early if you want a table! They are at 901 East LaRua; you can go south on 9th off of Cervantes to get there easily.

 

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | Leave a comment