Saturday, October 25, 2003

Mob Scene at Nino

A naive attempt to have lunch at Nino today. The parking lot was overflowing with cars all the way to the Gulf Road; it was so bad the police had to come and maintain order. Inside, the restaurant was packed with a loud young crowd enjoying their "Last Lunch" before Ramadan. Getting a table was out of the question, so we went down the road to Le Notre which was just as crowded.

The balcony at Le Notre at this time of year, is one of the most pleasant places to spend a lazy afternoon in Kuwait.... With just one little ingredient missing ;-)

Monday, October 20, 2003

Digital Camera

I guess this blog will start to get boring if I don't put any pictures on it. I will just nick them from various websites, but a blog about Kuwait won't be complete without some real digital photography of scenes in and around the country. So, I'm succumbing to the digital bug and I plan to buy a digital camera before the weekend. I've been meaning to do it for ages, but was just too lazy. My friends who know me are still surprised that I haven't bought one yet, being the tech-geek that I am :-P

The last straw - and incentive - was seeing a picture of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, the Prime Minister in today's papers wielding a digital camera and pointing it at the press corps photographers. How cool was that?! If he's got a digital camera then I want one too. NOW!

I'm still not sure what make I should get: Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, HP.. Please suggest something in the comments box below.

E-Government my @#$!!!

I stopped paying attention to the annual E-Government conferences since I had the rotten experience of attending the first one in 2001. I mean, who are we kidding here? To put it simply, all the good intentions in the world won't make e-government a reality in Kuwait as long as we have thousands of government slackers - sorry, I mean employees - sitting around wasting everyone's time and getting paid for it. The system is rotten to the core and no amount of technology spending will get rid of that.

Think about it.. streamlining procedures and processes will result in more efficiency. People will not have to endure the routine humiliations of government bureaucrats, and can get things done on their PCs at their own time. The result? No use for the thousands of voting government workers, and more importantly, no one to bribe! I imagine the MPs will fight tooth and nail against this initiative to protect their constituents and their own wallets.

Still, I guess we have to appreciate progress wherever it is achieved. Today's news announcing the issuing of online building permits from the municipality is encouraging.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Emergency Music Review

This isn't a Kuwaiti music review, but since I did hear this awful song on Kuwait's SuperStation I feel compelled to comment... I had the misfortune of hearing a new duet featuring Britney Spears and Madonna... Yes, folks it's every bit as terrible as you can imagine. How could it possibly work? Teaming up Spears - a no-talent bimbo and international laughingstock whose career is almost on the skids - with Madonna on a song so wretched it can cause ears to bleed.

Oh how the mighty have fallen! I don't care what happens to Britney Spears, but I have to squirm when I see Madonna (full disclosure: I love Madonna!) reduced to duets with singers half her age in a desperate bid to remain in the spotlight. Mrs. Ritchie has hitched her wagon onto the wrong kid, as if that lip-lock at the MTV Awards wasn't enough. Her last album was boring beyond belief, compounded by a poor choice of singles and some ill-advised videos, and if this lame attempt at relevance is the best she can muster... then we should be afraid. Very afraid! It's like watching a good friend slide into drug addiction or hang out with a bad crowd.

And what of the song itself? A noisy, tuneless mess called "Me Against the Music", and I'm sorry to report everybody lost that battle!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

NBK's Musical Chairs

Did anyone read the list of NBK's Watani Gifts winners in today's papers? Is it me or is it the same people and their relatives every time? They just seem to shuffle them around whenever there's a prize draw.

I smell a conspiracy!!

Kuwaiti Christians Under Attack!!

Huh?! That was my reaction too when I read this story in today's Washington Post. A Kuwaiti native called Johny Fares, a resident of a Maryland suburb, had his house vandalised by redneck thugs who scrawled "Bin Laden Lives Here" on a trailer parked in front of his house. While the story isn't all that strange especially after September 11, here's the real kicker:

"As a Roman Catholic, Fares said, he suffered discrimination in his homeland, where crosses were burned in front of his family's house. "One of the main reasons we came to the U.S. was for equal rights and freedom of religion and speech," said Fares, a state auto safety inspector."

What the fuck?! I've lived here all my life and I've never heard of anything like this happening here! There are several Kuwaiti Christian families, though last I checked "Fares" wasn't one of them. And churches of several denominations have functioned with no incident for decades. Can anyone corroborate his statement?

Needless to say, I fired off an angry email to the Washington Post accusing them of sloppy reporting. You can do the same by sending an email to

Monday, October 13, 2003

More Shopping!

Yet another shopping centre has opened in Kuwait; this time in lovely, picturesque Sharq. On first glance of its exterior, the new Al-Rayah (or Arraya) Complex could be in downtown Houston. It's large and overbearing like most Texans. The question is do we need more shopping centres in Kuwait? And if so, why isn't Kuwait itself being marketed as the best shopping destination in the region? Answers on a postcard (kidding!) or click on the Comments below to add your 2 fils worth.

Among the designer shops set to open there is Burberry and I sincerely hope this will be a decent shop like the ones in London and New York that carry all the cool stuff, and not another copy of the pathetic store in Salmiya which resembles a duty free stand in some Southeast Asian airport.

The complex will be attached to the new Marriott Courtyard Hotel (groan!). Wow! More hotel rooms for non-existent tourists, and the chosen few who are "granted" entry visas by divine intervention. They claim to have the largest ballroom/convention center in Kuwait which I suppose is great news for conference organizers and wedding planners. And tons of parking space for a change..

Of course we'll all go check it out and satisfy our curiosity. Then promptly forget it ever existed, just like Al-Muhallab...

Security concerns

Well it seems that the play "An Evening with Gary Lineker" was cancelled for security reasons after the suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad yesterday. Nobody has come out and stated as much yet, but I'd like to think that was the reason. The Hilton resort, where the play was scheduled, is packed with Americans... so maybe they got a bit jittery.

Oh well....

Sunday, October 12, 2003

An Evening with Gary Lineker..... or so we thought!!

There we were all excited about going to see a real British comedy on stage.. in Kuwait!! "An Evening with Gary Lineker", a comedy about "sex and football" was scheduled for a 2-night run at the Hilton ballroom (dinner theatre is so provincial, but why quibble?) on 14-15 October. Suddenly without any warning, the play got cancelled. Why? Because the organizers failed to get the necessary "approvals" from the Ministry of Dis-Information, heretofore known as the Ministry of Doom & Gloom, or the Ministry of Making Life Miserable!!

I knew it was too good to be true. But then stranger things have happened here.. Sometime in the early 90's, none other than Dame Edna Everage gave a performance right here in Kuwait. I went to see the show and it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Totally raunchy and completely ruthless.. I remember wondering how on earth the show got past the "censors", but then the material must have gone right over their heads. Certainly, the Kuwaiti "embassy groupies*" - you know who you are! - missed half the jokes; they were just happy to be seen there.

*Embassy Groupies: The same crowd of Kuwaitis you see at every boring embassy function, who are really only there for the free booze. Note how they only go to the European events :-P