Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ice Skating Rink in Kuwait

Did anyone know there's an ice skating rink in Kuwait? It's located in Kuwait city by the highway. It was built in 1980 and is used for skating as well as a place for concerts. It includes a shoe-changing area, skating equipment store, first aid facility and snack bar. There are skates available for rent also.

For more information call 22411151.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Word Facts

I'd like to list some everyday words that are used for greetings as they tend to break the ice with local people.

Salam Alaikom- means "peace be upon you", you use this when greeting someone.

Wa Alaikom Salam- the answer used to return the greeting after someone says Salam Alaikom.

Shwaya- means little (as in amount)

Wyed- means alot (as in amount)

Here are the numbers :

1- wahed, 2- ithnain, 3- thalatha, 4- arbaa, 5- khamsa, 6- sitta, 7- sabaa, 8- thamaniah

9- tisaa, 10- ashraa

The days of the week:

Sunday- yumaal ahad, Monday- yumaal athnain, Tuesday- yumath thulatha

Wednesday- yumaal arbia, Thursday- yumal khamees

Friday- yumal jumah, Saturday- yumas sabt

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stairwell or storage space?

There are many benefits to living in company housing. The building is taken care of by the owner (for the most part), it's usually pretty clean and they have to follow the company's list of standards. I know for some people it may seem like you don't have any privacy but it beats living on the economy.

I live on the economy which includes living with local people in the building. We have to do our own maintenance and deal with unruly people who think breaking down walls at 6 a.m. is ok. Most people understand that the stairwell is used in case of a fire and should meet certain standards, one of them includes keeping it free of blockage. Well in my building as well as most local buildings people think it's ok to use it as a storage unit as you can see below:

As you can see these individuals are blocking 5 landings with their stuff. Aren't there any officials who check buildings for this problem?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Are there any laws that people follow?

2 kids dead, family critical in highway mishap

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 20: Two Kuwaiti children, aged 2 and 4, lost their lives while four other members of the family suffered serious injuries in a tragic accident on the King Fahad Road opposite Mishref Friday night.Rescue officers and paramedics, who rushed to the scene on receiving a distress call, pulled out the remains of the children from the badly wrecked vehicle and rushed their seriously wounded parents and two other siblings to the intensive care unit of Mubarak Hospital. The remains of the deceased children were referred to forensics.Preliminary investigation indicated that the father suddenly lost control of the car and it swerved off the road and crashed into trees.Securitymen are investigating the case.

A simple car seat and seat belt might have saved their lives. How many times have you driven by cars and see kids roaming freely in the car? I've seen them laying in the back of the window and laughing. They seem to think that having the maid hold the baby will prevent the child from becoming a projectile. WRONG! Police are always pulling over taxi guys or other expats who might not even be doing anything wrong, the police just want to bother them. Have they ever pulled a car over for having 8 kids with no seat belts? Nope I don't think so.

I've seen the parents bring the newborns home wrapped in a blanket. No seat required. The police have a show on Kuwait TV where they discuss safety on the road but never once said buckle your kids in. They never say don't drive with the baby in your lap as I've seen over and over again. They do however make sure you don't talk on the mobile phone or you will get a ticket. At least the mobile can't grab the steering wheel. Do they even have the buckle up rule for kids?

A couple years ago I saw an accident and the small boy was sitting on the trunk of the car with his head bleeding because the mother was holding him in the front seat and his head hit the windshield when they hit the car in front of them. I think the most amount of children I've counted in a car was 10 and they were in a late model Camry, how do they concentrate while driving?

I brought my car seat from the states and when I go out I have my baby in it. You can only imagine the looks I get. They stare as if I have an alien or something. I can always spot the expats, they are the only ones who have car seats.

A simple act of putting your child in a car seat or seat belt can mean the difference between life and death.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Party Villa

I awoke last night at 4 a.m. to the sounds of chicks screaming, people yelling and music blaring. Aha! This must be the party people my husband keeps telling me about. I go out to the balcony to be nosey. The party villa was in full affect. There were cars lined up around the villa and people coming in and out. You can always tell it's a party when there are 2 bouncer guys at the door letting people in. This was a typical Kuwaiti party, in order for a guy to gain entry he must bring a girl no matter what shape she's in. It's BYOB (bring your own beer) but here it's probably a bottle of Red Label. The people show up with gift bags containing their booze.

As I'm watching the scene a black and white police car 6916 pulls up slowly to the front. Alright! I'm going to see some action right? WRONG! They pull past the villa and turn left. Drunk half-naked chicks stumble out of the party trying to find their way to their car. Music blaring as the athan (call to prayer) goes off. The police car comes back to the villa and stops. A guy wearing jeans and a shirt gets out of the police car and goes to the party! Are you serious?? Now the police are giving rides to parties? I'm sure some of his fellow officers are inside too. If they get a call to a party that expats are throwing they will close it down but Kuwaiti parties rarely, unless it's exposed by someone of importance.

Rules? What rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Desert Camp Trip

For those of you looking for something to do this weekend the AWARE center has a desert camp. The AWARE center is a gathering place for expats to get to know Kuwait. They offer a wide variety of classes and other activities. The AWARE center is closed on Friday and Saturday so tickets should be bought today, I know it's short notice but I just came across it today.


February 20, 2010 - 10am – 4pm

*(Bus transportation will be available for those who sign for it. Meet at AWARE Center at 9:15 am. Buses will start Departing at 9:30 am)

**(Map will be provided)

Every year during the winter, the desert beckons us to come and enjoy. This year, we journey south to the AWARE Arabian Desert camp for an all-day, outdoor experience including:

Camel Rides
Sporting Competitions
Hot Buffet Lunch
Arabian Cultural Displays
Families & Children Welcome

10 KD Adults; 5 KD Children (5-10yrs)
..for a memorable day in the desert amongst friends
Visit AWARE to purchase your tickets

Surra, Block 3, Surra Street, Villa 84 – Telephone: 2-5335260/80 Fax: 2-5335230

To ensure you receive our monthly newsletter, make sure you add to your address book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mental Health in Kuwait

Those of us from developed countries know that mental health concerns are easily addressed by a counselor or psychiatrist and there is no shame with that. In the states I worked for Riverside County Mental Health which dealt with child abuse and substance abuse so I know first hand the treatment provided by our Government even if you can't pay there are programs to help. Unfortunately in the Arab world mental health is a taboo no one wants to address.

There is rarely a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD here. It is said your child has problems and might be forced out of school. For children who are handicapped the government will pay the handicapped school over 5000 kd each for the child to attend. I can't say much about the teachers as I don't know if they are actually trained for special needs children or just a typical teacher dealing with them. My mother works at a school in Jahra. The owner owns a Handicapped school and also a bilingual school. The new idea is to integrate children who are "slow learners" into classes with "normal" children. The government also pays 5000 kd or more to the school for those kids. It's a good business.

The parents of these "slow learners" are trying everything to keep their kids out of the handicapped school because those children are labeled within society meaning they will not be treated as equal. It's unfortunate that their isn't a better mental health agency here that can provide testing and medication if needed without labeling these children.

There are drug users out there who might want to seek treatment but can't. If they go to the psychiatric clinic they are given a "red card" which means they are crazy. Once receiving this "red card" they cannot attend schools, get a job or live a normal life. It's better to hide your impairment than to seek treatment for it. There are private practices available but are way too expensive. My daughter was being bullied at school and decided to act out by hitting one of the kids. I feel that they severely punished her because we are American. The staff is usually intimidated by Kuwaiti families and won't say much.

The principal decided my daughter needed counseling in order to get back to school. Being civilized I took their advice and went to a counselor in Salmiya. I've worked with counselors and psychiatrists in the states so I know what to expect. The counselor sends my daughter out of the room and started asking me questions. HUH? I'm not the one needing the talk my daughter is the one. Needless to say I got rather ticked off and told her what I thought. It cost me 100 kd for that 30 minutes and she didn't say one word to my daughter. Of course she felt I would need to come back for a few more sessions. I saw children there and I wondered if she was taking advantage of their situation.

My daughter's school kept recommending the counselor so much I thought they might be getting a referral fee from them. How many other families are going to her for counseling and she is cheating them? The biggest thing in Kuwait is having a certificate, even if you don't know what the hell your doing as long as you have that paper you can be a doctor. I hope one day it gets better for the sake of the children, after all they are the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

After the crash

Everyday we see all kinds crashed cars sitting on the side of the road. We never know the story unless it's published in the papers. I don't know if the people here don't believe in towing? They leave cars for days sometimes months at a time. I've seen cars with flat tires just left there. I guess changing a flat is too dirty of a job for some spoiled people. They must have 2 or 3 cars at home to use if they can leave one for weeks at a time.

The insurance companies here are a joke. Even if you have the "gold" package on a new car don't expect to get the right help. My mom was rear ended while waiting in a round-about sending her to the hospital and messed up her car pretty bad. After a year of fighting the other guy's insurance she got 50 kd settlement. When an accident occurs first step is to call the police which is 112 now. Then it's off to the police station for grilling. You should bring a translator if all possible, majority of the officers and investigators don't speak any English. If it's a questionable accident you will have to go to another police department for investigation. Once the person at fault is decided you will be given some paperwork to take to your agency if it's a rental car if it's a personal car you will use the paperwork to fix the car as you cannot do any fixing without proper paperwork.

My husband does all the translation for me and sometimes for individuals who need help. Translators can be the thin line between freedom and jail time.

I came across a Porsche sitting in the desert and wondered why the owner wouldn't sell it for scrap, it was totalled. My husband told me that sometimes people who take expensive cars on payment can't sell it until they pay off the loan. It's not like the states when you get in an accident they will pay off your car, nope your stuck with it until you pay it off.

I wonder how much money is owed on the car below?

Best Advice: Try to avoid accidents at all costs.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Word Facts

I'm sure almost everyday we come across Arabic words that are constantly repeated but we really don't know what they mean and it gets frustrating not knowing so here are a few more commonly used words:

Mandoub: This is an assistant type person who handles all kinds of paperwork. They also do all the foot work for people who don't have time or are too lazy to do it themselves. Companies hire them to do every and anything asked of them. No job too big or small.

Khafeel: This word means "sponsor". It can range from the sponsor of your visa to the person who sponsors you for credit as in purchasing a car.

Tefteesh: This word means police check point, you know the ones held in the middle of the street on any given day making a traffic jam. The last one I saw was in the middle of the day in Salmiya. I thought there was an accident, nope just police deciding to put a checkpoint.

Masteshfa: Means hospital.

Hope this helps!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friday Market, but you can go on Thursday too

Living in California we would always take a trip to the swap meets that were held at the drive-ins during the day. We would find all sorts of items and try to bargain for a better price. Well Friday market is almost the same as a swap meet. It's located in Shuwaikh near the Avenues mall. You can find all sorts of items from clothing to furniture both used and new. Yes, it's called Friday market but you can also go on Thursday. During the day it's not as crowded as it is at night. It doesn't cost anything to get in and you can try your bargaining skills when buying something. The restrooms are decent but bring your own TP (toilet paper) as this item seems to be lacking in most facilities throughout Kuwait. There are restaurants there in case you get hungry.

Around the corner from the Market is the animal market. It's a little smaller than before because the Beladiya has shut down some of the stalls due to non compliance. You can find all kinds of birds and fish. I will post pictures of the animal market when I get some. There is also a new Veterinarian hospital there if you have a sick animal.

Above are a couple pics from the Market. In Arabic it's called Souk Al-Jouma.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Moroccan Half

Being married to a Kuwaiti can have it's challenges when it comes to visiting their family especially when the wife is American, luckily for me my hubby's mom is Moroccan so it's a much more friendly environment as non-Kuwaiti mothers are alot more accepting of foreign wives. I also have the advantage of eating traditional Moroccan food mmm mmm good. When I was in California I used to drive an hour a way for Moroccan food now I get it whenever I want Woohoo! I had to take a pic of the food for you to see for yourself.

Couscous with vegetables, lamb, soup and lemon chicken.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I really can't resist posting the lovely translations. In Salmiya at the Holiday Inn parking lot we have a severe warning for tires. All tires be afraid be very afraid as there is a tire killer lurking amongst us.

Kuwait! Gotta love it!

Fight for Fried Green Beans

The other day I had a craving for fried green beans from TGIF. I knew we were going to 360 mall and I would get my craving. Wishful thinking. We sat down to eat and the first thing I asked was do you have fried green beans because I know restaurants sometimes run out of items and won't get them for weeks. Unfortunately they had none. I was determined to get them so we drove to Marina Crescent location.

I flagged down the manager and asked for the green beans. Both of the managers said no. I was too hungry to go elsewhere so I just ordered the mushrooms. As we sat waiting for our food I was looking around at the people as I usually do. Low and behold there was a couple of American guys sitting close to our table and what was he eating?? Fried green beans!

That really ticked me off. Were they saving them for certain customers? Once again I called over the manager and told him the situation. Needless to say I got my beans on the house.

Moral of the story is be observant, you never know what it will lead to!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

West Side Kuwait

When driving around Kuwait no matter where you are be observant because you never know what you'll see. I usually don't pay much attention to graffiti but being from California this one caught my eye.

In California we have Los Angeles as everyone knows and in Kuwait we have "Los Andalos". We also have 50 cent would he be called 50 fils if he were in Kuwait?

You'll find something everyday in Kuwait that will make you laugh!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kuwait 411

Expats living in Kuwait come across so many different celebrations, words and information. Do you ever wonder what it all means? I would like to introduce a few facts about Kuwait as well as the meaning of some words you hear over and over.

Fun Fact: Mahboula means "crazy lady" in Arabic.

Word Facts: Inshallah is a religious word meaning " God willing", unfortunately expats joke about the word Inshallah as if certain people were using it as a nice way to say no or an excuse to delay situations. No, it is a religious word and shouldn't be taken lightly.

"Wasta" is an infamous word that everyone in Kuwait has experienced. No one is immune to this word which would equal the word "clout". Clout of course means the power to direct, shape or otherwise influence things. With "wasta" anything is possible, that and a roll of 20 kd's.

Annual celebration fact: It's February, the month that includes the Kuwait National Day celebrations which are held on the 25th and 26th of the month. If you've ever wondered about the origins of the celebration? Here are the facts I found:

Before you know about the various celebrations that take place in the National Day in Kuwait, one look must be given towards the History of Kuwait. From the History of Kuwait you will come to know that in 1897, the sheikh of Kuwait sought the protection of the British, for saving him from the grasps of the Turks. Thus Kuwait became a British protectorate and continued to be like that till 1961. In the year 1961, finally the British decided to give complete freedom to the Kuwaitis. Immediately after the British decision, Iraq wanted to gain control over Kuwait. However, their claim was refuted by both the British and the Arab League. Finally, the Kuwaitis claimed to be completely independent on 25th of February, which from that time came to be known as National Day in Kuwait.From 1961, every 25th of February marks the celebration of National Day of Kuwait. It is a holiday in Kuwait and therefore most of the families try to take advantage of that and visit each other on that day. Some, however, prefer to stay at home and celebrate the special occasion of National Day at Kuwait with their family members. However, maximum crowds can be seen infiltrating the roads of the city with flags in their hands. Places like the Messila Beach in Kuwait, Al-Sha'ab Leisure Park in Kuwait, Green Island in Kuwait become crowded with people; both kids and elders alike. Public meetings and get-togethers are organized in various places. All the public buildings and the famous spots of sightseeing in Kuwait are decorated with lights. Nowadays, the famous hotel chains present in Kuwait decorate their buildings with light in the colors of Kuwaiti national flag. As the sun sets, the sky is illuminated with varieties of fireworks. Kuwaitis wearing their national dress celebrate by coming out in the road and spraying colored foam on each other.

My Advice about the National Days: DON'T go anywhere near Salmiya (at night), just stay home! It's safer. You avoid potentially dangerous situations like being sprayed, traffic, people trying to open your car doors and possibly getting into physical alterations with party goers.

Learned Fact: Yes Kuwait is like one big car show. Everyone loves to cruise by you in their Ferrari's and Porches. I've come to learn that sometimes it's just a smoke screen made by guys who want to pick up chicks and will do anything to prove their worth even if it means borrowing a fancy car from a rich friend, renting a fancy car or even financing a car way above their means. On the outside they all look cool and promising that is until you go out with them and over time you learn that they have a nice car but can't afford to put gas in it.

I had a friend who owned a fancy car rental place. He was driving along Gulf street in Salmiya and spotted his Bentley that was rented out. Just for kicks he pulled up next to the renter and asked him about the car as if he was admiring it. The renter smugly told my friend "Oh I just bought it from Dubai", Ha! as if. So ladies beware! The real people who own those pricey cars don't brag and show them off and most of them aren't cruising Gulf street. Sorry to burst your bubble guys but the truth must be told.

Stay tuned for more facts!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Funny Stuff in Kuwait

Everyday I go out I know I'll spot something that will make me laugh. I know English is the second language in this country but has anyone ever thought about using "spell check" before they make a sign or a sticker? I'm sure you have come across a car that has some words on the back of it that makes absolutely no sense. Some of these sayings are actually translations of the Arabic version but translating Arabic to English just doesn't work out sometimes. For example:

Then there are those signs that mean well but just don't make the cut. I took my daughter to the clinic in Qortuba (or however you spell it) clinic. There's a driveway in front of the door for dropping off people. Here are the signs posted near the driveway:

I think it's supposed to mean no honking horns?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mexican Restaurants in Kuwait

Being from California we love our Mexican food. Unfortunately when I came to Kuwait I couldn't find a restaurant that could even closely compare to the mom n' pop Mexican restaurants in Cali. Yes, I did try Chi-Chi's (I get a laugh at the meaning of the name. You would have to know Spanish slang to know why it's funny as hell). I hated Chi-Chi's. The service was crap and the food wasn't much better. Some of you may like it but this just my opinion. As a contractor I could go to Taco Bell on base but it wasn't like home. There were very few items to choose from and the tacos were pure grease. I attempted to bring some home to the kids, by the time I got home it was greasy mush, sorry kids. Flash forward to today, I have found a couple new Mexican restaurants worth trying.

Amigo's restaurant in Avenues is really good. They assemble the food in front of you so you can see exactly what your getting. Burritos, tacos, nachos and taco salad. I stick with the chicken burritos mmm so good. The burritos have rice, you get to choose from 2 different kinds, beans (pinto or black), sauce, lettuce and cheese all wrapped up in big tortilla (pronounced tor-tee-ya). The only drawback is having to drive all the way to the Avenues and put up with crowds and traffic. I HATE fighting for tables at the Avenues. If you want to go I advise you go around noon time during the week.

Let's move on to Taco Time in Souk Salmiya. This is where City Center is in Salmiya. It's upstairs in the corner close to City Center. They have a similar menu including burritos, tacos, and other items. I go for the Casita Burrito which is pictured below.

The burrito meal comes with a drink and tater tots, how funny is that? I haven't seen tater tots since I was in elementary school. Surprisingly they are really good which brings me to the next item on the menu I like, the Mexican fries. Don't let the name fool you, there are no fries but tater tots covered with nacho cheese, sour cream and pica de gallo (pronounced pica-de-giyo). A little Spanish lesson, when two LL are together they are pronounced as a y. Below is a pic of the mixture. After looking at the pic I could imagine people thinking I'm crazy as it doesn't look quite as good as it tastes. Of course there are many other items to choose from if you don't want to take a chance on the tater tots.

Both restaurants are reasonably priced and the meals include a drink and side. Taco time has 2 other locations in Hawally and another Salmiya location behind Marina Mall beside McDonald's. I could only hope for a real Taco Bell or some other great Mexican restaurant from Cali.