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Expat wanderer

Kuwait Drivers Without Drivers’ Licenses

This disturbing piece of writing is from the Arab Times. Disturbing not just because Kuwaiti citizens are driving without licenses – that’s nothing new – but also because some editor let this piece run without some badly needed editing. Ayb!

 

Some Citizens Said Driving For Many Years ‘Without’ License

 

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 23: Intensive traffic campaign the Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs embarks upon since the past few months uncovered that some Kuwaitis have been driving for many years without license, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily. A source disclosed that a Kuwaiti in his 40s’ recently applied for driver’s license at a driving test section. The added the act is strange in Kuwait since almost every Kuwaiti goes for driving test at the age of 18. Other driving test sections have received similar applications from many Kuwaitis in their late 20s and 30s. Some of the concerned citizens changed their minds to apply for driver’s license after they were caught by traffic officers. He also said many others were caught driving

 

“The added the act is strange . . . ”   Gibberish. And what about that lead sentence?

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Communication, Cultural, Just Bad English, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Safety, Social Issues | 3 Comments

Most MERS Cases Undetected, report shows

Interesting, Qatar announced today their fourth case – this article says they have had eight confirmed cases and one Tunisian who visited Qatar and came down with MERS. From the Gulf Times:

 

Most Mers cases going undetected, study says

Researchers estimate that for each case that has been found, five to 10 may have been missed

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 21:32 November 16, 2013

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • The Mers coronavirus typically causes severe respiratory problems.

Dubai: A new analysis of Mers case data suggests a large number of infections are going undetected, with the researchers estimating that for each case that has been found, five to 10 may have been missed.

The scientific paper, from European researchers, further suggests that transmission of the Mers virus is occurring at a rate close to the threshold where it would be considered able to pass from person to person in a sustained manner. In fact, the authors say based on the available evidence they cannot rule out the possibility that person-to-person spread is the main mode of transmission of the virus at this point. The other option, they say, is that the virus is spreading via a combination of animal-to-person and then person-to-person transfer.

“We conclude that a slow growing epidemic is underway, but current epidemiological data do not allow us to determine whether transmission is self-sustaining in man,” they write in the article, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The scientists are from Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and the Institut Pasteur in Paris. The work was done with funding from Britain’s Medical Research Council, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies.

To date there have been roughly 155 confirmed MERS cases and at least 65 of those infections have ended in death. All the cases trace back to infections in a handful of countries on the Arabian Peninsula: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

On Wednesday, Kuwait reported its second case Mers coronavirus for a man who just returned from abroad, the health ministry said.

In a statement cited by the official KUNA agency, the ministry said the new case was for a 52-year-old Kuwaiti national who was in a stable condition. Media reports said the patient had just returned from a visit to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The announcement came hours after Kuwait reported its first case of the Mers virus for a 47-year-old Kuwaiti man who was in critical condition.

Last weekend, Omani officials widened health checks following the country’s first death blamed on Mers. Officials looked for any sign of the virus in people who came in contact with a dead 68-year-old man.

Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College’s MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, said that while publicly available data are spotty, calculations based on what is known support the argument that only a small proportion of cases are coming to light.

“At the very least there probably have been double that number of infections,” Ferguson said in an interview.

“But it’s considerably more likely in my view that we’ve had maybe five to 10 times more human infections than that. And symptomatic human infections, I would say.”

He stressed that he and his co-authors are not suggesting that the Mers-affected countries are hiding cases, just that the way they are looking for them is not capturing the full scope of the outbreak.

Experts have previously expressed concern that surveillance systems that look only for Mers among people who seek hospital care will only catch the sickest of cases. And in at least one affected country, Saudi Arabia, the criteria for who gets tested for Mers may be less inclusive still.

Dr. Anthony Mounts, the World Health Organisation’s leading expert on Mers, said the agency has been told Saudi health officials are focusing their testing on people with Mers-like symptoms who are gravely ill.

“I know that their surveillance strategy is focused on intensive care patients,” Mounts said in an interview. “That’s the focus of their surveillance strategy.”

Mounts agrees that many Mers cases are probably being missed. But he noted that some other affected countries are taking a different testing approach. For instance, Qatar has tested over 3,000 specimens over the past six months, looking for Mers in people who seek medical help for influenza-like illness, and all people diagnosed with pneumonia.

“They really are testing a lot of people and they’re not seeing this,” he said.

Eight Qataris have been diagnosed with MERS since the virus hit the global public health radar in September 2012. As well a man from Tunisia who contracted the virus is believed to have been infected on a visit to Qatar.

Because of the scarcity of publicly available data, Ferguson and his colleagues used some different approaches to try to estimate the state of the outbreak. He acknowledged that their calculations are estimates, and said of the analysis “it’s not definitive … but I still think it’s informative at least.”

“I would say we’re doing the best we can with the data available to try and address a couple of key questions,” he said. “We would certainly be in a better position if there was fuller [case] reporting.”

A commentary by Canadian epidemiologists lauded the team for the techniques they used to reach their conclusions. Dr. David Fisman and Ashleigh Tuite, who are with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana Faculty of Public Health, also hinted that the often-seen instinct to withhold information during infectious disease outbreaks may be futile in the era of computational biology.

“The ability to draw inferences about diseases from non-traditional data sources will hopefully both provide alternate means of characterising epidemics and diminish the temptation towards non-transparency in traditional public health authorities,” they wrote.

One of the questions Ferguson and his co-authors tried to answer relates to whether the virus is spreading person to person at this point or whether what is being seen are infections from an animal source that is igniting limited spread in people.

To do that, they tried to calculate what is known as the virus’s reproductive number — the number of people, on average, an infected person would pass the virus on to. For a virus to sustain itself in people, each person needs to infect at least one other person, a reproductive number of 1.0 or greater.

They could not come to a definitive conclusion, saying with what is known, either scenario is possible. But they said the evidence suggests the reproductive number is near 1.0.

— with inputs from agencies

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Work Related Issues | , | Leave a comment

“Death Knell for OPEC?”

From AOL News – although this is not really news, announcements have been out there for a while.

Massive Oil Discovery Is Deathblow For Saudis

It’s the biggest find in 50 years and the media is completely ignoring it…

It is 6 times larger than the Bakken, 17 times the size of the Marcellus formation, and 80 times larger than the Eagle Ford shale.

All told the recent discovery outside a sleepy Australian town contains more black gold than in all of Iran, Iraq, Canada, or Venezuela.

The current estimates of 233 billion barrels are just 30 billion barrels shy of the estimated reserves in all of Saudi Arabia.

Now, one renowned international energy expert predicts the proven reserves will be much bigger.

“The find may land at 300 or 400 billion barrels, making it one of the greatest unconventional oil discoveries any of us will see in our lifetimes,” says Dr. Kent Moors and advisor to six of the top 10 oil producers and active consultant to 20 world governments.

“It represents a bona-fide redrawing of the global energy map as we know it,” Moors says, “and the mainstream media is completely ignoring it.”

Editor’s Note: Experts value this find at over $20 trillion. To see the one stock that will deliver a record payday, go here.

Where the Hell is Coober Pedy?

 

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 8.31.56 AM

 

To the people who call this place home, the oncoming oil boom means nothing will ever be the same ($20 trillion worth of oil can do that to a town).

The boom is centered around a place called Coober Pedy, an inhospitable speck on the map in Southern Australia.

The big draw is the riches found in the region’s vast geological structure, the Arckaringa basin.

Encompassing an area in excess of 30,000 square miles, what’s buried within the basin is enough black gold to completely change the global oil landscape-not to mention the lives of early investors.

Analysts believe this is equivalent to investing in Saudi Arabia in the early 1950’s.

And according to this inner circle briefing by Dr. Moors, one little company controls the whole thing.

Editor’s Note: This is the biggest find in 50 years and it will create unheard of fortunes for investors who act now. Watch this unbelievable video to learn more.

The Death Knell for OPEC

This massive find has been likened to the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale oil projects in the U.S., which have created legitimate boom times in Texas and North Dakota.

Even at the lowest estimate, Coober Pedy is set to make Australia a net oil exporter; at the higher estimate, Australia would become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.

“What we’re seeing up there is a very, very big deposit,” says South Australia’s mining minister, Tom Koutsantonis, “This is a key part to securing Australia’s energy security now and into the future.”

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Financial Issues, Geography / Maps, Interconnected | | 2 Comments

Where is Warri, Nigeria?

Today our church prays for the Diocese of Warri, in Bendel, Nigeria:

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 7.33.30 AM

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Faith, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth | Leave a comment

If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: Heather Lende

Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 11.10.34 AM

“You have to read this!” said my book friend, “You’re from Alaska! It’s about a woman who lives in some small town and writes obituaries!”

I grinned politely and put the book in my bag. Some books sound more interesting than other books – I’ve always loved adventures and mysteries and murders – add a little drama to the day-to-day-ness of everyday life. A woman who writes obituaries? Hmmm, not so much.

But spending my afternoons tending to my sweet little 3-month-old granddaughter means I often sit, anchored by the soundly sleeping baby who I don’t want to disturb, even by twitching. I have one hand free – and you can only play so much iPhone Sudoku.

An Alaskan friend had also recommended this book, so early this week I picked it up and started reading.

Oh. my. goodness. Yes, Haines is a small town, but oh the drama of writing obituaries. Oh, the things you learn about your neighbors and the surprises you get learning about their earlier lives. I love the way Heather Lende weaves the writing of the town obituaries with the current ongoing dramas in her own life and in the lives of her friends and makes it work.

It’s not unlike where I grew up, although my hometown had a hospital. We also had moose and bear and elk in our back yards, and learned to treat wildlife with respect, and that the best option was to back away slowly. There are the same senseless deaths from auto accidents, fishing boat accidents and unexpected changes in weather. There is the same feeling of wonder, almost every day of your life, knowing how very lucky you are to live in the midst of such awe-inspiring beauty. It’s hard for me to imagine being an unbeliever living in Alaska.

It’s also a great book to read before going to bed. Some of the books I read are too exciting or too disturbing to read before bed; books that infiltrate your dreams with images and situations that give you a restless night. While Lende deals with death and sadness and drama, there is an underlying message of hope in the neighborliness of your neighbors, the security of living in a town where everybody knows everybody else, in the civility even of people who strongly disagree with one another. If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name gives you peaceful sleep. She ties it all together with an ending that rips your heart out; you will never forget this book once you read it. After reading, you will feel like you have lived in Haines, Alaska.

The paperback version is available from Amazon.com for $9.73. No, I no longer own stock in Amazon.com.

November 22, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Community, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Friends & Friendship, Gardens, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Spiritual, Wildlife | , , | Leave a comment

Milestone 4500

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November 21, 2013 Posted by | Blogging, Statistics | Leave a comment

The Tree of Life

Some days, any excuse will do 🙂 Today’s readings from The Lectionary include this wonderful image of a glorious tree that bears 12 different fruits, the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life is one of my favorite images. We saw it often in every country of the Middle East, primarily in carpets, occasionally in a mosaic or mural. I found such a wonderful variety of images online that I had to narrow down what I would include here.

Kashmiri Carpet

Revelation 21:22-22:5

22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.

26 People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

22 Then the angel* showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city.

On either side of the river is the tree of life* with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants* will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

Karla Gudeon, artist

Karla Gudeon, artist

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt

Armenian Ceramics

Armenian Ceramics

Irina Charny - artist

Irina Charny – artist

KermanCarpet

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Faith, Interconnected, Lectionary Readings | Leave a comment

Kuwait to Limit Auto Ownership to Solve Traffic Gridlock?

Limit Kuwaitis to two cars per citizen?

Limiting expats to one car will also limit the people willing to take contracts in Kuwait, and family willing to accompany them . . .

Or is this another of those unenforceable laws to put on the books?

Restrictions on automobile ownership in the offing – Bid to solve traffic problems

KUWAIT: According to a report published yesterday in a local Arab daily, the government is planning to limit the number of vehicles a person is allowed to own at two for citizens and one for expats. This proposal may be announced at the beginning of the next year. The proposal also calls to stop renewing registrations of old vehicles without specifying the period, which could be between 8 to 12 years.

The Ministry of Interior hasn’t received any official instructions to take action in this matter. “We are an executive department that applies the law and executes decisions. It’s possible that there are committees at the ministry studying this proposal, but we are not aware of it yet,” Maj Naser Buslaib, Head of the Media Department at the Ministry of Interior told Kuwait Times. Economic analyst Hajaj Bukhadour thinks such a proposal is not realistic and doesn’t believe it may be applied. “Such rules do not exist in any country, even the poor ones or those suffering from traffic woes. Through such unreal proposals, the officials in charge are trying to shirk the problem.

The officials pin the blame and responsibility on expats as they are not qualified and creative enough to find a solution for the traffic problem in Kuwait,” he pointed out. Development and improvement in administration is important to solve major problems. “We should improve the performance of the officials who are in charge of issuing decisions.

There are mistakes in any institution, but we need to improve and this is a great part of solving the problem. Such a proposal proves that officials in charge at the Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Interior and other institutions didn’t study the problem correctly,” stressed Bukhadour. There are various solutions according to him.

“Different public institutions should cooperate to organize the movement of people in streets through different timings of public employees, schools and others. Also, the government should provide modern and clean public transportation such as a metro or new modern buses that will respect the time and have stops near residential areas that are shaded to suit the hot weather when passengers are waiting for the bus,” he explained.

He mentioned additional solutions. “Developing roads and the infrastructure is very important in solving the traffic problem. Also, the development of the Traffic Department will help in this matter. I think that such suggestions may bring better results in solving the traffic problem rather that coming up with unreal proposals,” concluded Bukhadour.

By Nawara Fattahova

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Safety, Social Issues | 2 Comments

Traditional Dhow Festival Opens in Doha

The cool thing about living in Qatar is that they tell you when the festival is about to happen, and encourage you to go. The Dhows – all the different kinds – are beautiful and graceful, and my happiest memories in Qatar include a night ride along the coastline with its twinkling lights on a blistering hot evening, but the sea breeze and the movement of the boat makes it pleasant.

Traditional Dhow Festival opens

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


The Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari checking a pearl at the opening of the festival yesterday and (below) some of the boats docked at the Katara Beach. Shaival Dalal

BY RAYNALD C RIVERA

DOHA: A total of 105 Arabian dhows of different types are moored at the Katara Beach for the third edition of Katara’s annual Traditional Dhow Festival which opened yesterday.

Compared with the previous editions, this year’s festival provides visitors with an idea about types of dhows still used in the region.

“Last year we had 107 boats, 70 to 80 percent of which were of the same type — sambuk. This year we have 105 boats of 22 types, mostly jalboot, baggarah, bateel and shoi,” Katara General Manager, Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, told the media after the opening.

While most dhows came from the Gulf; some are from Iran, Zanzibar and India, he said.

“We are looking forward to having some boats from China next year,” he said, adding the Chinese ambassador, who was present at the opening, was forging relations with Katara to participate in the festival next year. 

New at this year’s festival is the Fath Al Khair’s journey to the six GCC states. The dhow, currently part of Qatar Museums Authority’s collection, would leave Katara shores on Friday and return on December 18.

Al Sulaiti said the 27-day voyage is “just like what our forefathers did in the past when they left Qatar for a couple of months to dive for pearls. Through this, we would like to refresh the minds of our new generation with the culture and heritage of their forefathers.”

Inaugurated by the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, the five-day festival features heritage lectures, performances by regional bands, boat-making demonstrations, dhow cruises, light and fireworks shows, children’s activities and exhibits from museums across the Gulf.

There will also be maritime competitions, including sailing, rowing and pearl-diving in which the public is welcome to take part. Winners will be announced at a special award ceremony at the conclusion of the festival.

Ahmed Al Hitmi, Dhow Festival Committee Manager, said: “The festival pays tribute to our ancestors who worked effortlessly to build a future for our country. It provides a platform for cultural exchange, promoting Qatari history, and educating the youth.”

The festival runs until Saturday. It is open to the public today and on Saturday from 9am to 10pm, tomorrow from 9am to 11pm and on Friday from 3pm to 11pm. Public schools may visit from 9am to noon.The Peninsula

 

 

As an Alaskan girl, I grew up on the water and could not help falling in love with these old boats. I have hundreds – maybe thousands – of photos of boats, fishing, fishermen mending nets, fishermen making traps – I’m a sucker for a marine photo op 🙂 Some of these are Kuwait, some Doha.

00Shuui

00KuwaitAlKoot

00Kuwait

P1040403

00DohaFishingDhow

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatar | Leave a comment

Kuwait Airways Buys USED Jets

Has Kuwait Airways safety record improved? Can you still pilot for Kuwait Airways just by being Kuwaiti? Just one more reason not to fly Kuwait Air rom today’s Kuwait Times:

Kuwait Airways buys used jets

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Airways is buying five used aircrafts from India’s Jet Airways after an initial deal with Airbus fell apart due to lack of funding, a local daily reported yesterday quoting sources with knowledge of the case. Speaking to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the sources said that an agreement to purchase the Airbus A330-200 aircrafts was reached during Kuwait Airways board meeting last Wednesday. Kuwait Airways had signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year with Airbus to purchase and rent the same class of aircrafts, but the deal fell apart due to lack of funding and after Boeing reportedly entered negotiations with the national carrier. According to the sources, Jet Airways offered the five planes which have a total capacity of 1260 seats (252 seats each) for a total of KD 80 million.

The Kuwait Airways’ board sent its approval to the Kuwaiti government to make the final decision; which according to the sources is expected to be made by the Kuwait Investment Authority, which represents the general assembly for the Kuwait Airways and which will fund the deal if approved. If a deal is signed, the source predicts the aircrafts to arrive early next year. The planes, which have been in service for four years, can be used in medium and short range flights to Europe, the Middle East and Far East, the sources said. They added that each plane has two classes; a ‘Premium Class’ with 42 seats for businessmen, and an economy class with 190 seats.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Safety, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments