Friday, May 6, 2011

Adventures in Kuwait

The other day I tracked down Josie to do my hair for me. She used to work at Marina Palace until she had a disagreement with the Lebanese owner so she left. Unfortunately the owner still has her passport. I personally don't like the Lebanese owner after she butchered my hair when I first went there. Thank God Josie was there to fix it, that was 5 years ago. I had to force myself to go to the ghetto place in Mangaf to get my hair done but I will only let her do my hair. So for those of you who know Josie, she's still around.

The real adventure started earlier that day when my husband got a phone call saying there was an American locked up in CID. He was on his way to Afghanistan and got taken in at the airport for being blacklisted. It seems his old company failed to cancel his residency properly and he ended up blacklisted. After finishing from the salon I rode with my husband to get him out of custody.

We went to the CID place, I had to stay in the car. Being female it's not the best place to go even though I was so curious as to what's inside I waited in the car. After a few minutes my husband arrived with the guy. I let him use my phone to call his wife and work. I really felt for the guy having to be arrested and put in a police car and driven to detention. We took him to the hotel and my husband has been taking him to all the courts and got his blacklist lifted.

This isn't the first time my husband has done this. He usually gets a couple phone calls a week regarding some American in jail or having problems. The thing that bothers me is when Americans are locked up and they are crying and begging to get out of jail they promise anything to get out. He asks them about a job for me or something like that and they promise him the world. I warned him about them. I told him unfortunately when people are in trouble or scared they will promise you the world and once they are free they forget everything.

I told him he should just stop helping and let them stay in jail. What Americans don't realize is that the embassy does not help those in jail or with legal problems. The embassy is pretty much useless here except for renewing passports or adding pages.

I must say this last guy was a real nice guy. He did pay for the expenses for court and the fees for the service. If you're broke then you will have an even bigger problem if you get in trouble.

What's really pathetic is that the American guy's company paid AGT for meet and greet services. AGT must use HALA services in the airport which is free I'm told. I hope that's not true because AGT is making money off a free service. The HALA services chick met the American guy and took him to the visa place. From there the police came and took him away, the HALA agent did nothing and told him they would take care of him. They sure did. They took him straight to jail. He was lucky my husband got to him before they took him to the real jail. Some American guy sat in jail for 2 months without being found until the Kuwaiti police guy called my husband.

So for any Americans coming to Kuwait who have worked here before be warned that your old company might have got you blacklisted. Even if you're in transit to Iraq or Afghanistan and come to the airport there could be a surprise arrest waiting for you. If you plan to leave Kuwait make sure you pay off everything and find out if your visa is for sure cancelled if you ever plan to come back.

If you plan on coming to Kuwait make sure you have a point of contact or 2 in Kuwait. Bring a credit card or money if possible as you never know what might happen.

If your in transit you will probably be on your own if something happens in Kuwait. This guy gave me 3 different contact numbers in the states to try and reach his company and at that time they were all in meetings. Finally I got in touch with someone after a couple hours and he didn't know the guy by name so it was hard to even get any info from his company. The company will probably reimburse this guy, he had a $25000 corporate card. But if you're not so lucky to have that then you will have to pay for the fees your self if you get in trouble. I don't think companies will reimburse you either considering it's your problem and not theirs.

Beware of AGT- American General Trade, it seems their meet and greet services aren't what they should be.

For those who have been in Kuwait remember to make sure you take care of EVERYTHING before you leave. If you even owe 1 KD they can blacklist you. Phone bills, loans or anything else pending take care of it and make sure you have proof of your residency being cancelled!

For those returning to Kuwait again make sure you have at least 2 POC's and a credit card or some money in case something happens.

Jail here is worse than the states. You will be locked up with 20 other guys in one cell. IF they feed you it's some kind of rice thing and you don't get a phone call either. If you do get arrested I suggest you be extremely nice to the police guys. They decide your fate.

Use words like:

Salam alaikam- peace upon you- greeting when meeting someone

wa alaikam salam- when answering the greeting

mashkoor -kuwaiti dialect or shukran- thank you

Pray that you never have to go through any kind of detention. It's no fun and the embassy won't help you.


  1. an embassy offical does visit the main jail at least quarterly and is made aware of new american detainees
    they cannot do much besides relay messages as they don't have jurisdiction but they do visit
    oh ya, AGT is the pits
    oh ya on the caution, someone i know had - get htis - 500 kd worth of traffic tickets - had to pay before leaving at the airport
    we're in the computer age people

  2. i don't think the 'hala kuwait' service is free. It's easy to check tho as they have a counter by arrivals in the airport. And i doubt they provide much of a service or could do much if someone is blacklisted and gets arrested, as most (if not all) of the people i've seen at the desk are not kuwaitis and would find it difficult to 'bargain' or talk to the security inside the airport.
    i had a friend who was black listed as the wife of someone he worked with accused him of sending something by SMS. He managed to get out before the blacklist took affect, but then couldn't get it back until it was resolved. So daft really as it's fairly easy to disprove this, but seems that anyone can accuse someone without proof, and they consider you to be guilty until you prove otherwise.
    another one to watch out is if you get stopped for a driving offence. Make sure it is sorted out properly. I know one guy who got sentenced to 3 months inside for driving the wrong way on a one-way system in dhajeej on a friday (when there was no traffic), but as he'd been given his licence back he assumed it was ok, and he didn't know it had gone to court . He only found out when he went to the airport to go on leave. He did get that sorted out eventually, but just be warned.

  3. Oh wow thats freakin scary!

  4. was at the airport today to pick my wife up after a brief trip to iran, so i checked at the hala kuwait counter and their services range from KD8 to KD15, so not particularly cheap for providing a service which isn't exactly complicated in the first place.
    I know my wife has used similar services in Mashad and paid more, but they pick your luggage up and deliver to the hotel.

    BTW they are now finger-printing all foreigners arriving at the airport so be prepared for delays when arriving in kuwait.

  5. Thanks for the update. My husband used their services when I arrived in March. I came out the door and saw an Indian chick who was trying to paa herself off as Kuwaiti. She knew nothing about the process I had to do for my son. The only thing she was good for was picking up our visas and handing them to me. Other than that she was just someone following me around. Where are they doing fingerprints?

  6. wow thats some crazy sh**

    well im iranian and i have been living in kuwait for the last 20 yrs

    i never went over this even when having a phone bill or smth
    i guess im lucky

  7. Hi. Very interesting story above. What advice would you have for an American friend who, although he's visited Kuwait many times before and was issued the visa on arrival, was denied on arrival the last time he came to visit?
    He has never worked in Kuwait nor held any sort of residence permit, and has no debts.
    He was denied entry, made to wait for 7 hours while they held his passport and refused to return it until he was about to board a return flight to Qatar. He said he was given no explanation no matter how much he tried to press it, and they were all pretty rude to him.
    A kuwaiti friend of a friend whose job allows him to check said his name is on some sort of list. I know for a fact that he has no criminal record, and has travelled between the States and other GCC countries since then with zero complications at all.
    What's the deal? Is there a way to resolve this?


Comments are welcome! Personal attacks are not. Thanks!