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Expat wanderer

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

0800, 27 August Isaac Stalls

In Pensacola this morning, there is some wind, there are some half-hearted showers. So far, so good.

We continued our preparations yesterday, bringing in the plants, bird feeders, and assorted watering cans and my potting bench. I boiled water for our large Qatar coffee thermos, and filled the freezer with more water containers. I took some of the heavier things off the walls and cleared my desk of anything which could fly around, then, in a flurry of compulsive activity, polished the desktop, since it’s been a while since I have seen it empty.

Now . . . we wait.

Last week, I was telling a friend that we’ve been in Pensacola two years now, and I am starting to get edgy. We’ve moved so often, that at the two year point, I feel the need to start packing up. I find myself looking at houses online. At the very least, I think about moving the furniture around. (AdventureMan hates it when I move the furniture. He takes it personally. He thinks I am mad at him, LOL! No! I am just restless.)

We have been asking God’s mercy on the Gulf communities, and now New Orleans. If you have the eyes to see, the Weather Channel has been talking about the dry winds that have been disrupting Isaac’s efforts to organize into a full fledged hurricane. The storm in huge, but the center is disperse. They are saying that it will mean a lot of wind, a lot of rain and a surge in the water level. None of this is new to Pensacola, nor to most communities on the Gulf. God is merciful. We can weather this slow storm, God willing.

Here are some photos from last night, as clouds and rain move in. So far, no where near as threatening as the normal Pensacola heavy rains and thunderstorms.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Satire, Weather | 2 Comments

A Little TSA Humor

Thank you, KitKat 🙂


November 23, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Privacy, Satire, Travel | 5 Comments

Seattle-like Sunrise

Good morning, Kuwait!

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(How many different blues can you count in this photo? This is a RICH photo in the blue-grey spectrum, one of my favorites.)

When I saw the skies this morning, all cloudy and gloomy, I thought for a minute I was back in Seattle. If I were in Seattle, the temperatures would be much much lower – it is already getting hot in Kuwait, and this Friday we will hit a huge high:

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But something is goofy with Zanzibar, on my WeatherUnderground favorites:
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How can that be right? Highs almost in the 90’s, lows almost freezing?

It just might rain a little out there, my Kuwait friends. Be careful on the roads and remember:

Don’t Call Until You Reach Your Destination!

March 10, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Beauty, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Satire, Social Issues, sunrise series, Weather, Zanzibar | 8 Comments

Kuwait Celebrates Women with Massive FlyBy

Be still my little heart! This morning, I was, by the grace of God, in the right place at the right time. Did not have the right camera, but I did have a camera as Kuwait honored International Women’s Day with a massive fly-by. At one point, twenty jet planes roared over the Gulf in a humungous group. I’ve seen a lot of air shows, but I cannot remember ever having seen twenty jets flyby in one movement.

WOOO HOOO Kuwait! You really know how to honor women!

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They even had three cargo planes fly over the Gulf as a unit . . .

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Wooo HOOOO! My heart is still fluttering! Adrenelin high! I am guessing the cost of aviation fuel is so much less in Kuwait that the Air Force can go out and have a little fun occasionally. You made my day.

(It MIGHT not have been in honor of International Women’s Day. If anyone knows why this enormous display took place, please sign in now!)

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos, Satire, Women's Issues | | 20 Comments

Uncle Jay Explains the News (US) from 2008

Tongue-in-cheek funny . . . This came out mid-December, or I am sure there would also be a shot at more recent events . . .

January 1, 2009 Posted by | Character, Community, Cultural, Events, Financial Issues, Humor, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News, Satire | 2 Comments

“Generation of Spoiled Idiots”

I have a dear friend who sends me the most amazing things. This started my day with a howl of laughter:

I am embarrassed to tell you – I remember rotary phones. I even remember party lines, where you had to wait for your neighbor to finish his call before you could make your own, and you never knew who might be listening to your conversation. I remember planes that had large, beautiful lady’s lounges, with a seating area for nursing mothers. I remember when living in Germany was a huge problem to many young people who ran up huge phone bills, calling their families when they were lonely – no internet, no VOIP. I remember transistor radios, and Walkmen! LLLOOOLLLL!

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Aging, Alaska, Biography, Cultural, Generational, Humor, Interconnected, Random Musings, Satire, Travel | 8 Comments

Happy Halloween

This is from the New Yorker

We love their cartoons. This one, unfortunately, is more true than funny.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Family Issues, Financial Issues, Humor, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Satire | 5 Comments

Vanity Fair Spoofs Obama Cover

Vanity Fair Spoofs New Yorker Cover

From AOL News

(July 23) – Call it the battle, albeit friendly, of political cartoon satire. A little more than a week after The New Yorker magazine caused a commotion with its controversial magazine cover of Barack Obama and his wife, Vanity Fair decided it wouldn’t be outdone.

This week, the magazine published a spoof cover — published only on the Vanity Fair Web site — of John McCain and his wife in a similar pose and in the same Oval Office setting.
But this image may create some of its own controversy. It shows the 71-year-old McCain, often the butt of age jokes, using a walker, and his wife Cindy — who once had a drug problem — cradling an armful of prescription pill bottles. A portrait of President Bush hangs above a fireplace where the Constitution is burning.

July 24, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Lies, Political Issues, Satire | 6 Comments

Not New News

Just as the Qatteri Cat monitors traffic in front of our place, I monitor my blog traffic – a lot like Qatteri Cat, sort of lazily, desultory.

Yesterday, I got the most hits – a lot – on MOC bans Porno Film Sites, a post I wrote almost a year ago.

80 hits. That’s a lot for a post almost a year old. Why so much interest? Are there new movements afoot in the Ministry of Communication to ban undesirable content? Are there new technologies available that make that possible?

I knew exactly the kind of photo I wanted to include here, so I googled “saudi censorship image” and found this wonderful blog: Your World Today. I really like his blog.

April 17, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, Satire, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Technical Issue, Women's Issues | , | 8 Comments