Congratulations Kuwait


L-Right (Aseel Al-Awadi, Rola Dashti, Salwa Al-Jassar and Masouma Mubarak) L-Three: Stephanie McGehee/Reuters; right, Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP-Getty Images

Our faith in the system and people of Kuwait was reaffirmed today.

Following years of uncertainty and gridlock, the people of Kuwait have voted for change. I am certainly in high spirits, and relieved. We were hoping one or two women would make it in, we got four!

Some newcomer independents also won and ‘Hadas’ took a big hit in the 3rd District (my district). The ‘fatwas’ and mudslinging by xenophobic elements towards women and progressive candidates backfired, reenergizing and intensifying support for them.

Congratulations to the qualified ladies and newcomers.

Deja-Vu Kuwait ‘Election Day’ – Third Time The Charm?

Rain in Islam is a blessed event, and it rained slightly today on ‘Election Day’ (our third in over three years). Hopefully, it is a positive omen of things to come.

Voting took a maximum of ten minutes, including a detour by a Candidate (who gave the obligatory two minute campaign speech) on my way to voting.

It seemed very quiet this year, with reports of low voter turnouts from all the districts.









Let us hope the third time is the charm.

Here are a couple of previous stories: last year’s ‘Election Day’ (2008) post ‘Casting The Ballot In Kuwait’ and the prior post ‘It’s Over, I Voted’ (2006).

Word To The Wise



One week to elections.

Please don’t vote for people who don’t respect women’s political rights, who court and fund foreign extremist elements, who auction their shoes for so-called ‘freedom fighters,’ who lambast the Prime Minister yet accept funds from him, who issue fatwas based on personal interests and who accept ‘campaign contributions’ from foreign citizens.

Here endeth the speech.

Your Criterion And The Candidate


‘National Assembly’ Extension

May 16th, Election Day, is on the horizon.

People often ask what my personal criterion is in electing someone – some of it instinctual, most of it is real politik-based, in other words, candidates who perform their duties in a realistic, level-headed manner with the national interests at heart, devoid of extremist, foreign ideologies and immune to the vaults of riches and personal self-aggrandizement.

In many cases, however, there are candidates who are smart, educated, progressive but don’t particularly fit a ‘code,’ a set of questions that I mentally scrutinize concerning the candidate:

  • Who will the candidate support as ‘Speaker of the Parliament’?

  • Will the candidate accept a cabinet position?

  • Does the candidate have any business interests with the state?

There are a couple of exceptional candidates, from both genders, look impressive on paper, but offering them a vote would be fruitless – they wouldn’t meet the aforementioned benchmarks. I don’t know about you, but I am not in the business of electing individuals interested in cabinet positions (or in individuals who enjoy the ‘status quo’) – to me those are wasted votes.

What are your personal benchmarks for the ideal candidate?

Aseel Is ‘Following’ Me


I have been tweeting more than I have been blogging. I apologize, but tweeting on Twitter is so much easier especially from a mobile device, both in reading other peoples tweets and writing your own. I write random things that I see, thoughts that I have, respond to my tweet friends and update them on where I am in this world – all in 140 letters or less.

Recently celebrities have had the media focus on twitter, first Ashton Kutcher was on a head to head race with CNN by being the first to amass the millionth follower. Ashton won if you did not know. A few days later, Oprah joined twitter and tweeted her first tweet from her show, she quickly got told off by Shaquille O’Neal telling her that her caps where on, which is considered similar to shouting and bad Internet etiquette.

A lot of people joined and tweeted on twitter after that.

Today, I got informed by twitter that Aseel09 is following me on twitter.

Knowing that it is the Candidate Aseel Al Awadhi, I followed her back. Unfortunately, Aseel’s tweets were more like announcements of her media and campaigning activities. They don’t even look like she is the one posting her tweets. I have some advice for Aseel or any celeb whether, local or international, big or small, on how to behave on twitter:

1) If you join Twitter, first be sure that your mobile device supports it and tweet constantly from there. It is more convenient in real time for all your followers.

2) Tweet yourself, don’t let anyone tweet for you. The whole beauty of twitter is that it’s personalized, and not a tedious announcement of some event.

3) Be human, tell us your activities, spur of the momen thoughts and comments – don’t misuse it as a Public Relations form of spin.

4) Be funny, show us your humor.

5) Be interesting, tell us the story about what is happening to you, with one tweet after other.

6) Comment and reply to your followers or anyone else you may have an opinion about.

7) Using Twitter as a platform for announcements is the wrong way to tweet.

If you want to see an interesting and captivating twitterer you can check out my own tweets. (Apologies for the self promotion).

I hope Aseel listens to my advice, and if she does, she will win my vote and others.

Kuwait Political Fatigue.

Political fatigue and cynicism are in the air. People aren’t even into election rallies. And the ones who are, hear the same tales of ‘If I am elected.’ Newspapers are tedious to read. Late night TV shows featuring candidates have become deja vu. There are some candidates who aren’t even running because they fear parliament might be disbanded again.

People fear even if they vote right, the government will deliberately hijack its own political process baiting the ‘Problem MP’s’ by imposing Defense Minister Sheik Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah as Prime Minister on them and that in itself will court trouble and controversy.

Even if the government doesn’t impose the Defence Minister on Parliament, the same schtick will occur: there will be a session or two of Parliament followed by a four month hiatus. They will reconvene in October, the government will hand in a lacklustre ‘cut and paste’ development program and the Parliament will go haywire. Then we all get hit by an ‘unconstitutional dissolution.

Will that stop me for voting? Of course not – after all I can spare an hour on May 16.

Do I think my vote will make a difference on Election Day? No.

Kebabs On The Barbie: A Kuwait Love Affair

Gulf Road No BBQ Sign.jpg

The Gulf Road – Kuwait City (from Marof39)

It isn’t really that bad in Kuwait in the summer time, traffic gets lighter in August, it is easier to get around, fruits and vegetables become plentiful and cheaper, and people spend more time at the beach, enjoying its usual summer activities.

Kuwait has a very strange peculiarity that you don’t see anywhere else in the world; most of our beach front from Salmiya all the way to the southern border – more than eighty kilometers long – is locked out to ordinary people save for very few areas here and there, the rest is occupied by chalets owned by Kuwaiti citizens and, in some cases, by a handful of small scale resorts – with horrendous prices, mind you; for a short family vacation, what the Brits call a “bucket and a spade” holiday. The odd thing is that these chalets remain mostly closed and empty during summer and you see miles and miles of dark or dimly lit chalets along the coast.

What is left of the sea front in a country that prides itself of its past as a seafaring nation is a stretch of coastline that has been reclaimed and developed for enjoyment of the rest of the population, this area is called the ‘Gulf Road’ or the corniche. More and more locals spend their summer days and nights (as well as Friday afternoons) frequenting it with their families and friends, laughing, playing, swimming and most importantly cooking their meals.

In Kuwait we make a big fuss out of cooking, especially when it comes to roasting kebab and grilled meats on the beach. This alfresco grilling causes people annoyance for no reason. Critics claim the rising blue smoke reminds them of the Red Indians, some say the smell is nauseating, some say the family man who is usually in charge of cooking isn’t particularly tidy, leaving a mess of trash afterwards, this in spite of signs that clearly state “NO GRILLING” (it seems Kuwaitis like to do the grilling only in the National Assembly (our Parliament) .

What do we expect when we squeeze two million people on a stretch of sand that is less than 16 kilometers long? There are not enough car parks (people used to park on the pavement – even though we put up these hideous concrete balls to prevent them from parking there – so now they just park on the main road instead).

Beach life on weekends is all about barbequing and grilling anywhere in the world, east or west the best nation for beach barbequing culture is Australia: they placed grills along all their popular beaches so the holiday makers or beachgoers wont have trouble cooking their own food; they even gave these grills a cute names like ‘barbies’ (“put another shrimp on the Barbie, mate”).

Of course as I previously mentioned our ‘No Grilling’ signs are prevalent all along the beach. Kuwait needs to remove these signs and build grills and let the fires roar, spreading the heavenly aroma for all to share – what is a beach without a mess?

Have a great summer.

A Vote For Responsibility

dont vote for this.jpg

It saddens me to repeatedly hear people comment that they “won’t be voting” in the upcoming elections on May 16. What saddens me most of all is that these people represent the young demographic, people who are just about-or have begun to create a family of their own, and need every help they can get to ensure their family’s security when oil runs out.

It’s not just about improving government services; it’s ensuring that these services continue to survive after the economy shrinks from complete oil dependence in sixty or seventy years time; according to recent estimates (some reports claim a maximum of forty years).

I have a 2 year old daughter, by the time she’s a mother, her children will face Kuwait’s hardest economic situation ever-a country without oil to fuel the state’s expenditures and services. In other words, what I as a parent decide today will affect my grandchildren’s future wellbeing.

By selecting the right MP, we as voters set the standards for a better future, it’s not about voting for someone who would be able to help me grab a government-built house quicker than the rest, or someone who would be able to process my papers with his influence or some other short-term personal gain.

Younger voters may not feel it now, but think about this: A University education with gender-segregated classes is no education to rely upon, and this segregation came about recently because the people voted for the wrong MP’s. On the same subject, an educational system where course work is dictated by politically and religiously motivated advisers is doomed to produce fanatics and extremists no matter how the situation is justified.

Last year I posted a blog about the difference between the Kuwait of the 1960’s and today, and in it, I outlined the features of the ideal candidate for my family and myself. Today, however, there are many options that fit the description I set for myself, and ironically enough, they were not all tribalists nor Islamists or ‘service MP’s’; They were all right-minded people, with an actual progressive agenda and clean-shaven faces who don’t shout their throats off in front of cameras, spurting out brain-farts for local consumption while flexing their tribal or Islamist muscles!

I’m not endorsing anyone in particular here, but I am asking everyone to vote, and vote well. Vote with your minds, not your hearts, not your ears, and certainly not for your expected monetary gains – despite what you may watch in political plays and songs, you shouldn’t be voting for Kuwait for the sake of Kuwait; It’s simply a plot of land with oil underneath it! You should be voting for your family’s well-being in the not-too-distant future, you should be voting for Kuwait’s children, since they’ll be inheriting the problems and solutions that you will be creating today….and if that’s not enough to make someone vote right, think about people in my latest post, and what they’d done for you and your country lately!

Space Age Surra Co-op


The above shot is of the proposed Surra Co-op (under construction); it has a bold, futuristic vibe.

Heater ‘Scavenger Hunt’ Paves Way For Summer ‘Exodus’


Summer in Kuwait – Somewhere Off Abu Halifa

With the short rainy season behind us and the shorter spring almost over, we look forward with much trepidation to summer time here in Kuwait with its usual super heat and mugginess. Although if you have arrived in Kuwait in winter, you would think the cold so severe it would last forever (you probably rushed like everyone else to purchase some new electrical portable heaters).

We had a nasty cold snap last year too, the market ran out of portable heaters, people travelled to their chalets or farms to get heaters and bring them home – we also heard of people travelling to Saudi Arabia to purchase oil heaters (a very popular item in Kuwait – since many people here even with central air-conditioning abhor central heating because they wake up suffering from throat dryness, headaches and fall ill).

Surprisingly, we learnt the Saudis themselves came to Kuwait to look for the same type of heaters because they ran out as well.

As for myself, I ended up scavenging the heater from the driver’s room since he was away on his leave, lucky devil.

Of course the big hot summer will be upon us in no time and we will miss the cold, its memory long gone; we will start complaining about how stifling the heat is, and questioning what the heck we are all doing here when everyone is drifting to a cooler climate.

The big deal this summer is the decision by the Ministry of Education to delay the start of the school year to coincide with the end of the holy month of Ramadan, adding more inanity to our educational system. Indeed, many have seized this opportunity and are planning to spend the month of August and first half of September outside Kuwait, like they used to do many moons ago when Ramadan was during the summer season (tickets to Lebanon a favorite destination for a lot of the locals are already sold out for that period).

It would be funny as hell if the Lebanese expatriate community remained in Kuwait (because airline tickets are sold out) while the Kuwaitis travel to Lebanon for the summer.

We only hope that the protagonists in Lebanon remain calm and the Israelis don’t start another war to ruin the tourist season there.