Monday, September 14, 2009


Does history in Kuwait have any meaning or significance?

Apparently, preserving elements of the past is not a priority for the government or the people.

Mark from 248AM posted a video from YouTube showing the demolition of the Um Al Aish telecommunications station on the western outskirts of Kuwait City. The station opened in October 1969, bringing with it state-of-the-art satellite technology in keeping with the country's rapid advancement and growth. Along with national skyrocketing businesses and amassing wealth, it served as a key player in establishing Kuwait as a regional pioneer. When August 2, 1990 rolled around, Kuwait fell victim to the artillery-based onslaught of the Iraqi interlopers. Along with other heritage sites, important landmarks and basic infrastructure, the station was reduced to a bullet-riddled skeleton of twisted shards and burnt metal. It remained in its derelict state until May 2009, when the Kuwaiti government gave the go-ahead to knock the remains of the station into the ground.

Why does this bother me? Um Al Aish served as a testament to Kuwait's modernization and the fact that it was once a major powerhouse in the Middle East. In its dilapidation, it became a playground for photographers and graffiti artists. Rather than rebuild, however, the remains of the station could have been turned into some sort of museum or open-air memorial; something to remind Kuwaitis and visitors that a war happened here, that this was once the height of global technology, that this was once something. Clearing the site for redevelopment - what good does that do?

This isn't the first time something like this happens here: 
1. The bombed-out remains of the Sheikh Khazaal Diwan across the road from the Diabetes Research facility near Souq Sharq have recently been cordoned off for redevelopment into a museum. While I am incredibly interested to see the plans for the diwan, I fear that the crumbling exteriors of the old buildings will too be razed to have an ubiquitous, glass-and-stone-clad structure take their place. 
2. The National Museum of Kuwait along the Gulf Road, which was looted and set alight during the Invasion, has been sitting as a hollowed-out shell for the better part of twenty years. A sign was latterly installed indicating that the Museum will be rehabilitated and rebuilt. I'm 100 percent for rebuilding the structure; why it took Kuwait almost two decades to decide that it needed a major museum is beyond me. The only qualm I have is that the building will be turned into yet another jungle of concrete and steel without any hint of its illustrated past.
3. The Ramada Al Salam hotel [before and after images below] in Shuwaikh: not many people of this day and age have heard of it, but this hotel was once a Greek cruise ship that sailed the Mediterranean. It was sold to Kuwait in 1976, where it was dry-docked and turned into a land-based hotel not unlike the Queen Mary in Long Island, California. Known as the Kuwait Marriott from 1976 to 1989, the hotel rebranded as a Ramada shortly before the Invasion, where it was torched and completely destroyed. Its remains sat untouched for a number of years before authorities stepped in and scrapped the vessel. 

I have to stress that we do not need to canonize every last shred of the Invasion, but we at least need to keep poignant symbols of our past [the Bayt Al-Qurain is a good Invasion remnant, but not enough]. The Middle East is taking a tragic turn in wiping away its foundations in a desperate race to build hotels, malls, towers and other structures, turning the region into a bastardized, Arabic-themed Las Vegas. Dubai with its superlatives [the tallest, the longest, the widest, the first, the only...], Bahrain with its paradoxical bars and brothels packed with Arabs, Kuwait with its endless arsenal of retail possibilities... I can go on. 

Another trend we seem to be embarking on is Disneyfying elements of the past to keep with the twenty-first century, the best local example of which is the Kuwait Heritage Village. Currently under construction directly across from Souq Sharq, this massive project is designed around the ethos of old Kuwait, with one- or two-story buildings, narrow streets, winding alleyways and covered markets. The catch? It's all commercial. Upon completion in 2010/11, the project will serve as a mall and collection of restaurants. Where's the culture in that? The ultimate hypocrisy, however, lies in the name: with the word heritage, you'd expect the restoration of old buildings and such. This entire project, however, is a new-build! And to make matters worse, archeological remains dating back from thousands of years were discovered at the construction site. Rather than cancelling the project to turn it into a museum, the artifacts were dug up, transferred to storage and construction resumed. Typical.

We must develop, grow and change to keep with the times, but it is imperative that we remember who we are and where we came from. Without a cultural identity, Kuwait might as well be another cookie-cutter city in God-knows-where instead of a characteristic metropolis in the northern Persian Gulf. Why give up something as precious as the past to become nothing more than a cheap, gaudy, monotonous trend?


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Leaning Tower of... Abu Dhabi?

We all know about Dubai's ruthless expansion into the seas and skies, but neighboring Abu Dhabi has been growing at a more reasonable rate. In fact, Abu Dhabi's developments are generally overshadowed by the more glitzy, Las Vegasesque nature of its steroidal sister emirate. The Louvre, the Guggenheim, the zero-carbon [and therefore environmentally-friendly] Masdar community... Or better yet, Capital Gate.

Move over Pisa, Abu Dhabi's gonna knock you down. Or at least it plans to.

Why? Abu Dhabi-based developer ADNEC is constructing a new tower designed to be the internationally-recognized icon of the city of the same vaunted prominence of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. What makes it so special? It's tilted. Like Leaning Tower of Pisa tilted. [Only this one's tilted on purpose.]

At 160 meters in height and a staggering 18 degrees, Capital Gate will be more than 2.8 times taller than its slanty Italian predecessor and have more than 4.5 times the inclination. Housing a five-star Hyatt hotel in the lower section and offices in the upper half, it's scheduled to open in 2010 and is expected to make a dramatic impact on the skyline.

True, it's yet another hotel/office hybrid, but its design has been executed in a far more daring and unconventional concept. Rather than build a box or something based around something like a flower or another ubiquitous, neck-breakingly tall high-rise, the architects [RMJM Architects, for those interested] chose to go with something new. Can't wait for this one to open, although I can't help but wonder if this one is gonna attract people the way the Leaning Tower of Pisa has for almost 900 years...

Friday, June 26, 2009

First Farrah, now Michael

June hasn't been a stellar month. I mean, Air France flight 447, swine flu, the pandemonium over the Iranian election results, Farrah Fawcett - talk about turbulent times.

And now, the bell tolls for a true legend: Michael Jackson, the talented [and troubled] King of Pop, died in Los Angeles yesterday at the age of 50.

Although his cause of death is presently unknown [an autopsy is scheduled for June 26] but may most likely be attributed to a cardiac arrest, Jackson leaves one million people scattered over 50 scheduled concerts in London between July 13, 2009 and March 6, 2010 behind, as well as eight siblings of the famous Jackson family, three young children and millions of fans.

Interestingly, when news of his death broke, worldwide Internet traffic surged - enough to slow the web down. The celebrity world is in shock, with icons like Elizabeth Taylor being "too devastated" to talk about the death, Elton John singing tributes to Jacko, and Celine Dion comparing his death to those of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

So sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

As Michael would say: Don't stop 'til you get enough. Or in this case, don't stop 'til your heart gets enough.

[Attached to this post are Michael's body being taken to the coroner's office, as well as the last photo of him taken in an ambulance as paramedics try to resuscitate the singer.]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah Fawcett: February 2, 1947 - June 25, 2009

After several years of battling metastasized anal cancer, 1970s beauty and sex symbol Farrah Fawcett died this morning in Santa Monica, California at the age of 62.

Beginning her career with shampoo ads, the actress gained superstardom after her role in the 1976 TV series Charlie's Angels, as well as for her blond locks [which many a female emulated] and the now-legendary poster of her in a red bikini which sold over 12 million copies [Why is it not posted here? Haram, people.]. Now that's fantasy for you.

Her final days were chronicled in the emotional and painful-to-watch TV documentary, Farrah's Story. Involved are scenes of the ailing actress undergoing tests at hospitals, projectile vomiting and writhing in pain. Cancer's a disaster.

Rest in peace, Farrah.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

360 Mall - Opening July 5, 2009

It's all in the title: Kuwait's newest offering to free money from your recession-stricken wallets is opening in less than two weeks.

How do you set 360 apart from its peers? Why, bring new stores in to Kuwait, of course. Expect [individual] boutiques/stores/dining outlets from the following:
- Bebe
- Bottega Veneta
- Dolce & Gabbana
- Givenchy
- Gucci
- Intersport
- Toys 'R' Us
- Wagamama

Then there's the 15-screen cineplex [with 2 VIP theatres and an IMAX screen], the 20-lane bowling alley, the 9000 square meter family entertainment zone, a Marks & Spencer department store, a 1200-seat food court, 36 restaurants and coffee shops... need I go on?

Exactly what Kuwait needs: another mall. You know, because The Avenues, The Marina, Salhiya, Arraya, Al Fanar, Souq Sharq, Laila Gallery, Al Kout, Al Manshar, Sulail Al Jahra, the Muthana Complex and all the others simply aren't enough. 

Better yet, before 2012 rolls around, our retail arsenal will be further augmented with The Symphony, Olympia, the Al Hamra Mall, the mall at the Kuwait Trade Center, the mall at the United Tower, the Avenues' massive expansion and the enormous Mall of Kuwait.

So many malls, so little time.

[360 is located at the intersection of the King Faisal Highway and the Sixth Ring Road in the Al-Zahra district of South Surra. For more information, visit the following link:]

UPDATE: 360 changed their opening date from June 25 to July 5. How unexpected.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Swine flu: it's here

Yeah. The title says it all.

Details: not one, three or five, but EIGHTEEN soldiers on U.S. bases have tested positive for the swine flu virus. As of today [May 23, 2009], 12022 confirmed cases of swine flu in humans in over thirty countries have been recorded, with 86 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far, it is believed that the virus is contained within the bases and has not spread to the civilian populace.

Yeesh. In times like these, I'm sure we're all hoping that nothing major happens. Not that we need any more problems here or anything.

For the full article, visit the following link:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Change in the air?

It's official: we have four female members of parliament. Aseel Al-Awadi, Salwa Al-Jassar, Massouma Al-Mubarak and Rola Dashti will be going down in Kuwaiti history as the first women to ever join the National Assembly. This is truly iconic in any democratic system, seeing that Kuwaiti women were only given suffrage and the right to run for parliament back in 2005.

Four. أربع

Women. نساء

And what's more: the elections have revealed a decrease in the number of Islamists elected into parliament, from 21 in the last session to 11 this time around. An increase in Shi'a Muslim MPs has also been noted, jumping from five to nine representatives.

Is this a sign? Maybe people aren't liking the fundamentalists anymore? Is Kuwait bound to get better from this point?

While I can't stress how much of a turning point this is for us as Kuwaitis and Arabs, I don't think our problems will be solved just yet. According to Reuters, Kuwait still needs to approve a five-billion dollar economic stimulus package which was rejected by the previous parliament, as well as work together with other government figures to push major infrastructural projects forward [including the City of Silk in Subiya and Kuwait's largest hospital, the Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Hospital in South Surra]. Still, the fact that we actually have female MPs this time around should hopefully pave the road to a different [better?] Kuwait.

In the meantime, all I'm worried about is whether or not Aseel Al-Awadi and Rola Dashti will be harassed by the few fundamentalist MPs to wear hijabs.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Floating. Bed.

No, you're not seeing things.

That's a bed. And yes, it's actually floating.

If we're going to get technical, it's not floating as much as it is magnetic interaction. The brainchild of Dutch designer Janjaap Ruijssenaars, this sleek slab essentially hovers 40 cm above ground due to repelling forces found in magnets on the underside of the bed and on the floor directly below. To ensure that the slab doesn't fly off or fall to the side [in case you, uh, roll around while you sleep, wink wink], this little number is discreetly tethered to the ground in each of its four corners. It can support up to 2000 pounds [approximately 909 kilograms] in weight while suspended, so you can still defy gravity even if you're on the heavy side.

Could this ingenious innovation be the possible berth of the twenty-first century? If you've got 1.5 million dollars to spare, you could get one right now and have it put up in your own room. [I'd suggest waiting the recession out and seeing how far that'll whittle the 1.5 mil down. Maybe we'll find one of these in the back room at the local co-op for 10 KD. Oh, black market.]

1.5 million? Floating bed? Imagine the possibilities. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Porsche Panamera unveiled... after an elevator ride

A lot of you may have heard of Porsche's newest model line, the four-door four-seater Panamera. A lot of you don't like the Panamera. While I strictly believe in a "to each his own" policy, I think that this car is one that grows on you after a while. After all, when Porsche unveiled the Cayenne in 2002, the automotive world scoffed at it. And now, it's one of the most popular cars; especially here, where you see so many of them that it makes you want to pull your eyes out and blindly hurl them at one. But, I digress...

The Panamera was just unveiled at the Auto Shanghai 2009 expo on April 19. When it officially goes on sale in Europe, North America and Asia in September [with other regional releases in October through December], the [current] base option, the V-8 400-horsepower Panamera S, will begin at 89,900 US dollars. Eighty-nine thousand nine hundred dollars. The Panamera Turbo, the top-end offering from this line, will liberate you from a whopping 132600 dollars [customizable options not included]. Recession? What recession? Ree-se-shun?

Something cool that Porsche managed to pull off at the car's unveiling was its ability to reveal the car from the 94th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center [currently the world's second-tallest building at 492 meters]. How'd they get it up there, you ask?

By elevator. Duh.

The five-meter long car was put on a specially-constructed rig, where it was then turned vertically and shoved into an elevator cabin with only inches to spare on all sides. It then began the climb to the 94th floor of the tower, where it was presented to the world 425 meters above the ground. 

Fitting, seeing that only that very top echelon of the financial demographic [or Kuwaitis] would be able to afford that thing in times like these anyway...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fire at Al-Marzouk Pearl Building

Ring the alarms: there was a fire at the Al-Marzouk Pearl residential complex earlier today.

The fire happened around 3:45-4:00 PM. Apparently the elevators in Block 2 of the building caught fire, destroying the elevator shafts and cabins, as well as causing considerable smoke damage on the fourth floor. Thankfully, no casualties have been reported. Exact details on the fire's cause should be available soon.

The fire was fully extinguished in under an hour, but a lot of renovation work needs to be in line for the complex's owners/managers.

The following photographs were taken on my iPhone when I checked the damage out with my friend and fellow blogger K5.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MOBA: The Museum of BAD Art

With a slogan of "art too bad to be ignored", you just can't help but to be intrigued.

The Museum of Bad Art [MOBA] is, you guessed it, a gallery that showcases art that no one else would display or bother appreciating. With two branches in Dedham and Somerville, Massachusetts [outside of Boston], MOBA has a collection of over 500 artworks ranging from the delightfully mundane to the appallingly ghastly.

It started back in 1994, when an antiques dealer found a painting in the trash and showed it to some friends. He soon started featuring rejected art at a friend's home, which soon gained tremendous popularity and eventually led to the art needing to be displayed in a larger space for people around the world to gawk, point and laugh at.

The next time you're in the Boston area, you can join in the fun.

For more info, visit MOBA's official site:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Planet Hollywood Kuwait: 2009

That's right, people. Planet Hollywood is coming to Kuwait.

- Opening during the summer
- To be located at the Olympia mall in Salmiya [at the Olympic Council of Asia headquarters across from the Scientific Center]
- Coming with all the usual offerings of deep-fried goodies and the branded merchandise you can't live without

Interesting. I've never been too swayed by PH, and the last thing Kuwait needs is another eatery that contributes to the country's rapidly growing waistline. Meh.

Let's see how this one pans out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Missoni? Hotel? Kuwait?

Missoni. Does that name ring a bell?

To the fashion-inclined and shopaholics, it better. Many of you know of the brand for its loud, strong use of color, lines and pattern; and, naturally, budget-unfriendly prices. Now they're making the transition from clothes to hotels, with their first two hotels opening this year, interestingly, in Edinburgh [June] and Kuwait [August/September]. Yes, we're getting the first designer hotel in the Middle East. Suck on that, Dubai.

The Edinburgh hotel is going to be done in blacks, whites and silvers, while the hotel here is going to have a wilder color scheme more typical of the Missoni name. Think yellow walls, hot pink tables and blue-green bathrooms.

Some detes about the Kuwait hotel:
- 106 rooms and 63 suites, all with views of the Gulf
- All the rooms will have bathroom TVs built into the mirrors
- There'll be an Italian restaurant, a Choco Cafe with a terrace, a lobby lounge and a lounge on the 18th floor
- A large outdoor pool with Gulf views done in tiles with the stripes and colors of Missoni clothing
- The hotel sits on top of a new top-range mall called the Symphony Centre which'll house high-end stores and boutiques [this mall will even feature foot masseuses in the bathrooms and assistants to carry your bags while you shop. Dare I say modern-day slavery?]

Don't think you know where the hotel is? If you've ever been to Salmiya, you do. It's the huge curving beige building with a red building on the back, taking up the block from Arabian Gulf Street to Salem Al-Mubarak Street.

I think the hotel sounds incredibly exciting, and it's bound to make a huge impact in the region when it finally opens this year. Seeing as this is Kuwait though, and the hotel has already been delayed time and time again, the opening date might change.

Fingers crossed it opens on time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

11.03.09: Olympia Opening Ceremony - Kuwait

On March 11, the Olympic Council of Asia [OCA] celebrated the official inauguration of the Olympia complex in Kuwait. When the whole complex [located on Arabian Gulf Street directly in front of the Scientific Center] finishes off construction later this year, it'll consist of the OCA's permanent headquarters in a seven-story building, two twin office towers, a five-star Hilton and yet another mall; you know, because Kuwait clearly needs more of those.

The definition of celebration in this context?
1. Close off miles of Arabian Gulf Street.
2. Place rude cops at every not-closed-off intersection to inconvenience you and make you feel like a total idiot.
3. Make you drive several extra miles to get where you want to go and therefore inadvertently contribute to global warming.
4. Confine yourself in endless traffic and be surrounded by expensive, overcompensating cars and the fashionably-handicapped.
5. Throw in several large, flashy fireworks displays to keep the simple-minded masses [myself included] entertained.

The event started at 7:40 PM and rounded off around 10:00 PM, with speeches, laser light displays, and lights that constantly changed the buildings' color. There were several fireworks displays of varying size, but the closing ones were hands-down the largest and grandest. 

The best view to see this all? The rooftop of the Al-Marzouk Pearl residential complex located right. Next. To. The. Whole. Shindig.

The bottom line: a bright and flamboyant welcome for Olympia into the world of Kuwait and a good way to pass time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh look, a slanket!

I'm all for the strange, the quirky and the innovative. Every now and again, we get presented with some spontaneous creation that raises our eyebrows, sends us speeding off to the nearest mall or tearing half of the house down to get to a computer and order that object in question. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we may have found the greatest invention ever brought to the brink of mankind: the slanket. Yes, a blanket with sleeves.

Have you ever found yourself in the endless struggle for the blanket? Or wanting to run around the house covered in soft, downy goodness? Or just snuggling up in your favorite, five-year-old coverlet only to find out that it's been stained with last night's spaghetti? Imagine the trauma.

Enter the slanket. American hotel group [heroes] Thompson Hotels have come up with this groundbreaking concept that can now let you kick back on your couch and lounge about in total, lethargic comfort. Eat dinner while wrapped in the soft embrace of your slanket. Never have to deal with the irritation of your commonplace blanket sliding off your shoulders when you roll around. The possibilities are simply endless.

You know its name, you know what it looks like, you know what you have to do.

Get it. 


Monday, February 23, 2009

Those [halal] shoes are mine, betch.

Halal shoes, you say?

Yes, halal shoes.

Technically speaking, only footwear that uses leather can qualify for this category. In order for the shoe to be halal, the animal from which the leather comes from needs to have been killed in accordance with Islamic shari'a laws. 

If the shoes have any trace of pig leather [which the majority do], then your tender tootsies, and subsequently you, can't attain religious bliss. Sorry, people.

Halal meat I can understand, but halal brogans? Halal flats? Halal heels? Halal moccasins? Do I see a new trend in the making?

Buy 'em now, wear 'em proud, save yourself a seat in Heaven.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gillian Wearing

Emotions manifest themselves in strange ways. Many people parade about displaying a certain personality or image that they feel best represents them. And while we as observers can see these charades, can we really judge others based on our observations? Can we really see and know everything about them?

British conceptual artist Gillian Wearing takes this front on in a rather interesting way. Her world-famous piece Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say (1992-93) consists of a series of photographs that feature a person whom Wearing spontaneously stops on the street or in a public place. The person then writes something they feel or harbor within on a piece of paper and then pose for a photograph while holding the paper up. Some of the end results are witty, others strange, and others unexpected.

It fascinates me when people's exteriors give way to something totally different within. True, some individuals are very what-you-see-is-what-you-get, but at the end of the day, we really shouldn't judge books by their covers.

[Without sounding too cheesy or anything.]

Note: for those of you who are interested, Wearing does not have a personal website, so your best bet for more info would be to run a Google search. Happy hunting.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Fucking, Austria.
Population: 104. 
Located 33 kilometers outside of Salzburg.

What I'm saying is... Fucking is a TOWN.

Now I can say "I love Fucking" without sounding obscene.

For the record, it's pronounced "foo-king", not that other way you're thinking of.

Random note: this little village gets its sign stolen a lot by sniggering, foul-minded people not unlike yourselves. So to combat this little bout of kleptomania, the mayor of Fucking [tee hee] has the sign rooted into the ground with cement and welded to a steel bar.


Cherry pop

[Does it even apply when you use that term on yourself?]

February 12, 2009: enter a new blog.

Lately, I've noticed that a lot of Kuwaiti people have been creating their own blogs. From talking about fashion and food to travelling and cars - we're seeing a lot of emphasis on the superficial and the material. Does the creation of this blog symbolize my assimilation into the Kuwaiti masses and my imaginary need to fit in?


This blog will primarily be a creative outlet relating to my life, experiences, encounters and thoughts as a not-your-typical Kuwaiti in Kuwait. Music. Politics. University. Art. Architecture. Spontaneity. Road rage. The Avenues. Word of mouth. That rancid sandstorm outside.

Will there be more? You betcha.

And now, we begin...