Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Critics... Who needs 'em?!

It is with great sadness that I read today's farewell column by Ahmed Al-Diyain in Rai Al-Aam. In apparent bullying by our esteemed leadership the fiery columnist was asked by his usually supportive editors to tone down the tough rhetoric against the government's latest assaults on the constitution. So instead of bowing down to pressure, he will simply stop writing for Rai Al-Aam and hopefully find another outlet for his writings. I hear a website is in the works.

It is outrageous and unacceptable for our leaders to ask the press to control their columnists just because they can't stand the criticism, when the easier route and the most logical would be for them to simply clean up their acts and not give the columnists anything to criticize!!


In addition to this being the first attempt at a bilingual post, this is also the scathing editorial column by Abdul-Latif Al-Duaij (my favorite columnist) that shocked Kuwait last week while I was away. I've linked to it, but it's so good I felt I had to publish it on my blog in its entirety. The number 13 is an obvious snarky reference to the 13 guidelines imposed on musical events. Or it could refer to Kuwait's continuing streak of bad luck in government.. The list outlines 13 criteria for patriotism, as defined by our esteemed leadership. It amazes me that here we are in 2004, blatantly rolling back every reform our government ever made during its brief shining period of enlightenment. All this while the eyes of the world are on this region!

Thanks to Brian at Spartacus for his Arabic formatting tips, now if only I could get a better looking Arabic screen font.

شروط الشيخ صباح الوطنية .. أيضا 13

عبد اللطيف الدعيج

1- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تمتنع مثل عيال عم الشيخ سلمان عن التصويت على دستور البلاد مثل ما فعلوا عام 1962 ويمكن الى الحين.

2- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تحجب الثقة عن حكومة الساسة والخبرة وتقبل بحكومة كبار الموظفين كما فعلوا عام 1964.

3- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تحاصر المعارضة وتنتهك مواد الدستور وتجبر القوة الحية في المجلس على الاستقالة بعد حين.

4- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تغرق البلاد بالسكان وتخلق مشكلة ?البدون? ومن ثم تزوّر ارادة الامة لصالح المتردية والنطيحة من الموالين.

5- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تتلاعب بالجداول الانتخابية وتسهِّل نقل الاصوات للإمعة والتابعين.

6- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تحل مجلس الامة وتعلق الدستور وتصادر الحريات التي كفلها الدستور منذ سنين.

7- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تسهل عمل الارهاب والتزمت الديني كما فعل ع.ع.ش.س. منذ ثلاثين سنة وحتى الان، ولا تنس ان تعطي الخيط والمخيط للمتطرفين.

8- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تتبنى بيع الاجل الاسلامي وتخلق ازمة المناخ وتحكم شعبا من المفلسين.

9- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تلغي التقسيم العشري للدوائر الانتخابية الذي اقره المجلس التأسيسي وتفوض قوى المخابرات امر تحويل الدوائر الى خمس وعشرين.

10- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تحل مجلس الامة كل عشر سنين.

11- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تسجن خلق الله وتجلدهم لانهم طالبوا بحقوقهم الدستورية يوم الاثنين.

12- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان تضيّع البلد برقم قياسي.. ساعتين.

13- ان تكون وطنيا يعني ان ترفض تعديل الدوائر وتقبل بكل الخراب الحالي ويرضى عنك ع.ع. ش. س..

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


The sirens are blaring now. I guess they're not too thrilled that I'm back ;-)

Madonna Concert Review

Since friends have been asking about last week's concert at New York's Madison Square Garden, I might as well post a short review:

First of all, we had great seats.. The stage set was simple compared to the last tour, and relied heavily on specially shot images projected on huge screens behind Madonna and her crew (band and dancers). But somehow, a circus atmosphere prevailed through the entire show which actually made it kind of fun.

When a performer, any performer, has a large back catalogue of hits there will always be a few songs missing from a concert set list and someone will be disappointed. I could've done without a few tracks from the last album "American Life" (which I hated!) but she more than made up for them with powerful renditions of some of her best known hits. The highlight for me was "Burnin' Up" which I always felt should've been a rock song. Well she rocked alright, tore it apart with screaming guitars. Even the light pop of "Material Girl" was given a rock makeover and the result was pure pop/rock perfection.

Madonna sounded and looked fanstastic. Except for the severe thigh muscles, which were thankfully covered up later by several costume changes. She did overdo the whole Kabbalah shtick (yawn!) with a series of Hebrew scripts projected onto the screens during "Like A Prayer", and a silly t-shirt that read "Kabbalists Do It Better" during "Papa Don't Preach". I was reminded by my companions that in the original video from 1986 the t-shirt read "Italians Do It Better". Whatever..

The big surprise was a moving cover of John Lennon's immortal "Imagine", which was accompanied by images of children ravaged by war and famine around the world, and ended with quick shot of a young Palestinian boy playing with an Israeli boy. That was nice of her, I thought.

Overall, it was a fun concert with a wild and enthusiastic crowd. If you get a chance to see her in London this August, do not miss it because you never know.. it could be her last tour.

Back in Kuwait

Well my trip is over and I'm back home. As much as I love traveling, I absolutely HATE living out of a suitcase, so it's nice to be back to the comforts of home. I missed my bed, my sofa, my car and my friends. And I missed the beach, which is where I will definitely be this weekend. OK so it's unbearably hot, but so what? We're used to it.

While I was away, I deliberateley cut myself off from all Kuwaiti news, because I needed a break from the absurd nonsense that governs our daily lives here. My mother tells me that was a wise decision, since it would've just ruined the trip for me..

So I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and I'll post my comments in due course. That is if I'm not rendered utterly speechless..

Sunday, June 27, 2004

More from New York - The Feedback!

What have I started here?! How did a crack about sending my resume result in a "discourse" about Islam, the Al-Sabahs, Saudis..etc.?!

Anyway, I loved how "NYC Guy" and "Ibn" - which could easily be "Ibn Laden", by the way - basically analyzed my character and background. Well you got a lot of it right and a lot wrong. And no, I have NEVER worked in a government job, and wouldn't be caught dead working there. In fact, you can go back to some older posts and read about my tangles with government bureaucrats and you'll get an idea of what I think of them.. I've spent my career in banking and now in an investment company, mainly as a marketing manager.

The course at NYU was just a 2-week management course. It was an excellent program and we benefited from a different lecturer every day. I was sent on this course by the company I work for as part of my career development and training, and also as a reward for all my hard work since I joined them last year... As for Soho House, I went with a friend of mine who is a member. So there!

I'm only half joking when I say I want to live in NYC, and yet I realize how tough it can be as compared to the cushy existence we have in Kuwait; of course it's not all "Friends" or Soho House all the time!! Yet of all the cities in the world, New York makes me come alive like nowhere else and I've been smitten by it for too long so maybe it's time I "proposed" and just moved there to be near it and part of it.... I also don't want to continue doing what I am doing now - I mean how many more investment marketing guys does NYC need?! - I want to do something different with my life before it's too late since I'm not getting any younger, but I have yet to figure out what exactly I want to do.. I'm intrigued by working for the news bureaus, and maybe I'll give it a shot. God knows they can use someone like me!

And yo, NYC Guy! Who's our mutual contact in Kuwait? I have no idea who you're talking about!

I don't know if I will "burn in hell" for this or not.. but I also got to see Madonna in concert while I was in NYC! :-P

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

More from New York

One of the replies I got to my last post came from "Anonymous" who suggested I simply pick up and move here permanently. To that I have only one reply:


Meanwhile, Michael Moore was on the roof at Soho House last night, where I was hanging with some friends. That man has a widescreen butt, fortunately it was at night so he wasn't there to tan.

Too bad I won't get to see Fahrenheit 9/11 since it comes out the day after I leave this fair city, and I highly doubt it would play in Kuwait anytime soon.. or ever!! Hitchens gave it a real thrashing in Slate, but I still want to see it.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

New York, New York

Sorry I've been absent. I've been away in New York City at a management course at NYU. The course is over but I'm still here to enjoy the city before I head back home.

I've had a long-running love affair with NYC since my first visit at age 14, and for many reasons too numerous to list here. But the one thing I will mention is that at least here in NYC you don't get the sense that Americans are totally isolated from what goes on in the rest of the world. Sorry to offend any non-New Yorkers reading this, but I worry about people in the vast space beyond NYC and other big cities not getting all the news that they should. Sadly, it's a combination of news channels hungry for ratings and a total lack of interest from too many Americans.

But then I've always wondered about most populations outside urban areas anywhere in the world. I think the reason we pick on Americans for being under-informed is that, as the world's superpower, we hold them to a higher standard and we know they can do better