Mercer Survey Out on Quality of Living Global City Rankings 2009


Here you can find the rankings for the quality of life measure.  The link to the website is here where you can find the City Infrastructure rankings as well as a summary, region by region of the findings (click here).

215 cities were surveyed, using New York City as a baseline at 100 points.

Observations of Note:

-Switzerland holds three of the top ten cities with the best quality of life.

-The top ranking cities in the Middle East are in the United Arab Emirates

-The lowest ranking city in the entire survey is Baghdad, Iraq

-Canadian cities rank high among North American urban areas

-European cities dominate the top ten rankings 

-Mumbai went down from 142 in 2008 to 148 in 2009

-Singapore ranked highest in the world for city infrastructure

Update on Intimidating, Ominous Highway Caution Advertisements


The list thus far: 


pure, wholesome goodness

keep safe distance, this means safety

give the road rights

From previous post:

Safety of pedestrians is the responsibility of all

life is prescious 

your driving is symbol of your civilization

speed short way to prison or death

your family is waiting

responsible, safe driving

Scare Tactic of the Last Resort for Democracy from Al-Watan Daily: "Being Loyal to the Nation in Fear of God"


This little gem of a piece had me recollecting the fear v. love scene in Donnie Darko.  The way religious fear and democracy promotion are tied together in this article is the most bizarre marriage of ideas.  I will make bold the highlights.  Is fearing God the only way to motivate people?  How very Jonathan Edwards!

We should fear God Almighty and not issue statements that are detrimental to the well being of our beloved country Kuwait. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) once said; "Whoever believes in Allah and the Judgment Day should always speak good words or forever maintain their silence." We should fear God Almighty and know that He will judge us for the words that we speak.

Muzaz Ibn Jabal, the prophet''s companion, asked Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) "Shall we be questioned about our utterances?" Responding to his question the prophet said, "Most people will be thrown into hell, face down, because of the blasphemy of their tongues." We should choose our words carefully whenever we address people anywhere; even during conferences and symposiums.

We should also fear God Almighty because He will question our actions and deeds. The Holy Quran says; "Work righteously as Allah always observes your work, and will send His Messenger to the believers: Soon will ye be brought back to the Knower of what is hidden and what is open and then will He show ye the truth of all that ye did."(Repentance: 105).

We should fear God Almighty and not to fight with each other or fuel crises among tribes and sects of Kuwait. God has warned us of rivalries and conflicts in Verse 46 of Surat AlـAnfal: "And obey Allah and His Messenger and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with all those who patiently persevere."

We should fear God Almighty and know that He will ask all leaders and officials about what they did to serve the people of Kuwait. We should be aware of an important fact that God Almighty will judge us all and decide whether to reward or punish us. We should fear God Almighty and not issue fatwas that are not in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Not all people can issue fatwas. Only clerics who fully understand the Holy Quran and Sunna are the ones who can issue fatwas.

We should fear God Almighty and distance ourselves from sectarian conflicts. Allah says: "I have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes so that you might have knowledge of each other. Allah is All Knowing." (Chambers: 13).

All people are free to choose the doctrine of their choice but they shouldn''t attack or defame the followers of other doctrines. Sectarianism can lead to division and hatred. We should fear God Almighty and cast our votes for the right people to represent us on the boards of coـoperative societies and sport clubs as well as the Municipal Council and the Parliament. We must fear God almighty and consider the best interests of the country.

Inauguration of the Architectural Monstrosities Collection


I am going to try to maintain a picture collection of the most monstrous, recent or new architectural projects in Kuwait.  I am also accepting ideas.  My goal is to regularly post a picture of something I come across.  Some criteria I am looking for include but are not limited to the following:

1. Relatively recent or in the process of being built
2. Incongruous with neighboring buildings and surroundings
3. Environmentally unsustainable or ill-adapted
4. Aesthetically unpleasant
5. Without personality or sense of being able to relate to

I will try to scout and take pictures in order to keep this little side project up.  In short, this is a mission to find the ugliest new building in Kuwait.

8: Directors Come Together to Focus on UN MDGs


I just found out about a movie released last year entitled "8", which is actually a collection of eight short films, each based around one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, directed by: Abderrahmane Sissako, Gael Garcia Bernal, Mira Nair, Gus Van Sant, Jan Kounen, Gaspar Noe, Jane Campion and Wim Wenders.  Has anyone seen it?  The official movie website can be found by clicking here.  The UN MDGs (for a direct link, click here) include the following:

1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality and empower women
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability
8. To develop a global partnership for development

Movie for Earth Day in Kuwait: Fires of Kuwait


For most of the readers from Kuwait, this might be old news, but for some of you abroad (or new to Kuwait), I highly recommend this movie.  I had the privilege to see it in IMAX two years ago when I came to Kuwait to visit for the first time.  It was playing in the Scientific Center's cinema.  Unfortunately, youtube does not do it justice, but it is a captivating film nonetheless.

The documentary provides an account of the international effort that mobilized in the aftermath of the First Gulf War to extinguish the oil fires that Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces had set ablaze in a scorched earth retreat policy.  These flames took almost two-thirds of a year to put out and caused a massive environmental shock to Kuwaitis as well as the ecosystem.  

Al-Watan Daily: "ACK participates in Friends of Life environment campaign"


Finally some Earth Day coverage!  Congrats to ACK for hitting several points I mentioned in my Earth Day blog entry: education and beach clean-ups.

"KUWAIT: In observance with Earth Day, the Australian College of Kuwait (ACK) organized a recycling campaign in collaboration with the Green Target Company, a locally owned recycling enterprise, on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at its West Mishref campus.

In an ecoـconscious effort to introduce a green culture, ACK strives to encourage its staff and students towards paper conservation. Recycling boxes have been distributed across the campus in order to raise the level of ecological awareness amongst the ACK community through minimizing waste and recycling used paper.

This initiative stems from ACK''s Corporate Social Responsibility program in campaigning its environmental awareness events in order to educate students on the benefits of recycling used paper.

ACK will also participate in a beach cleanـup campaign being organized by the Friends of Life organization to take place on Saturday April 25, 2009, at the Shuwaikh Beach proceeding at 3:00 pm.The aim of the campaign is to raise environmental awareness.

These activities demonstrate ACK''s vision in "Enabling Human Potential within a Culture of Care." ACK continues its efforts in promoting environmental sustainability awareness via these innovative programs." (for link click

AFP: "Arab novel booms as Beirut named World Book Capital"


"BEIRUT (AFP) — As Beirut prepares to don the mantle of UNESCO "World Book Capital City 2009," Arabic novels are enjoying an unprecedented boom across the Middle East, breaking taboos on topics such as sex and religion.

The Lebanese capital was chosen as the world's literary centre this year "in the light of its focus on cultural diversity, dialogue and tolerance," according to the UNESCO selection committee.

There is no shortage of literary fodder as book readings and launches are scheduled across Beirut daily for the last week of April. Among books being showcased will be a wealth of latest offerings from leading authors.

"More than 100 novels were up for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the Arab version of the Booker Prize) in 2008/09 -- and that's an unprecedented number," said Fakhri Salih, a former jury member for the award and current chairman of Jordan's association of literary critics.

The prize was awarded to Egyptian author Yussef Zeidan for his book "Azazil," which centres on changes in religion in Arab countries around the Mediterranean in the fifth century AD.

The novel quickly gained popularity as a genre in 2002 when Egyptian writer Ala al-Aswany published the highly successful "The Yaacoubian Building," a novel-turned-movie depicting regime corruption and the rise of Islamism in Egypt.

The publication was followed by a flurry of works that delve into taboo topics, primarily sexuality and religion, in countries where such books had been historically banned and where the novel was almost non-existent.

"The production of novels in Gulf countries exploded in recent years," says Rana Idriss, who heads the Beirut-based Al-Adab (Literature) publishing house.

In 2005, for example, Saudi author Rajaa Alsanea found fame with "Girls of Riyadh," a book that traces the lives of four young women in the ultra-conservative kingdom." (for full article, click here)

Kuwait's First Second-hand Shopping: "Share the Wear"


Monday, May 4, 2009
3:30pm - 10:00pm
Marina Mall, next to Hallmark
"The first second hand buisness in Kuwait! We help clean out your closets, we collect old unwanted clothes, dry clean them and re-sell them.
- We collect clothes, watches, shoes...etc.
- Prices will be from 1-3kd, may differ with the quality of the item.
-Vintage designer items have separate prices. 
For more details or questions please contact the number below or email us or just send a message through facebook."

Earth Week Celebration: “The Story of Stuff"


Come to the Starbucks Earth Week celebration to watch “The Story of Stuff”, an interesting English short film, and enjoy a very special coffee tasting.

WHERE: Starbucks Salem Al Mubarak St. (opp. Fanar Mall)
WHEN: Monday April 27, 2009 6pm - 8pm

Seating is limited, so please confirm your attendance by return email:, or sign up at the store.

For more information, please call: 22581680

ABC News Exclusive: "Torture Tape Implicates UAE" Royal Sheikh


Al Watan Daily: "ILO cites Kuwait for human trafficking"


I was wondering for so long what the regional office of the ILO did here in Kuwait.  I now know that they still have not opened up headquarters here.

KUWAIT: A senior official at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has disclosed plans by the government to enact a law criminalizing human trafficking. The official also underscored the ministry''s determination in working closely with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to achieve its desired goals. The Labor Ministry''s Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Jamal AlـDousari has refuted statements that the (ILO) has registered some human rights violations against Kuwait concerning human trafficking.

The official however, affirmed Kuwait''s eagerness in endorsing all international agreements on human rights.
During a press conference held at his office, in the presence of the ILO representative from Kuwait, among other relevant officials, AlـDousari said the reports issued by certain countries accusing it of human rights violations are not considered by the concerned international bodies.

"We deal with this matter in a transparent manner, in the sense that there are several authorities that monitor our work, particularly our free media," the official pointed out.

He added that the ministry has outlined a comprehensive plan to eradicate human trafficking, including the provision of shelters, adding that a law would be enacted soon to criminalize this practice.

The official stated that the choice of the ILO to make Kuwait the headquarters of the regional office of the ILO is indicative of its international standing. The Kuwaiti ILO representative Thabet AlـHaroun also announced that the inauguration of the new office will take place on April 28, to coincide with the celebrations marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the organization. He disclosed that Kuwait had joined the ILO even before joining the United Nations. (click here)

Al-Watan Daily: "Islamists oppose policewomen force"


The ever-unfolding drama of the women's police force really fascinates me.  I will continue following up and posting for as long as articles are written about the matter.  Congratulations to the brave female officers unafraid to defend their merits.  As I had criticized in my earlier post on the policewomen controversy, I am happy to finally see that female officers were interviewed for this piece.

"KUWAIT: Raised in a society dominated by men, Hanan wants to prove that Kuwaiti women are just as good as males in serving in the police force.

The 19ـyearـold Kuwaiti is among the first female police officers who recently graduated from academy in the conservative Gulf Arab state where many believe a woman''s place is at home.

"When people said that women will not be able to work as police officers I wanted to prove to them that women can actually make it," said Sergeant Hanan AlـSaybaei. "It was not a childhood dream, but I took it as a challenge."

The move is the latest step that the U.S. ally has taken towards greater participation of women in society after granting them the right to vote and run for office in 2005.

"It''s an unprecedented step. (Police) was restricted to local men, and women''s participation is now a reality," said former oil minister and political analyst Ali AlـBaghli." (for full article, click here)

* By the way Mr. Al-Baghli is also the chairman of the  Kuwait Human Rights Society, who after some research, I've seen is focal on women's empowerment as well as foreign labourers' rights in Kuwait.

Fully Realizing Earth Day in Kuwait from a Bottom-Up Approach


1. Get the newspapers more involved. 

While upcoming parlimentiary elections seem to dominate the speaking points of the two newspapers I read daily (Al-Watan Daily and Kuwait Times, if you have suggestions for other English-language Kuwaiti newspapers as well I am all ears), I saw no mention today of Earth Day.  Perhaps tomorrow coverage will be discussed about an event that occured after the fact, but there could be greater journalist initiative on this matter.

2. Clean up the beaches.
The other day I waded in the beach near Marina Waves and discovered a giant, floating fish tail.  I put up a picture on this blog a month ago of an oil barrel beached on the shoreline of an area full of private chalets.  If even the backyard beach areas of private chalets are completely littered, what does this say of our ability to look after public beaches in Kuwait?  A serious drive should occur to teach people to clean up after themselves.

3. Fine littering.
Perhaps a naive goal, such as the idea to penalize cell-phone users on the road, but not a completely unfeasible one-particularly in more sensitive areas, such as valuable green spaces (which are VERY costly to maintain and require sums of money and liters of water) and beaches.

4. Greater Recycling Campaigns.
Luckily in my apartment complex, there is a recycling program that started up some months back.  However, I think it might be a college student's pet project rather than a legitimate and long-lasting program.  The flyer that informed us of the program when it first started up does not mention any ministry or even private enterprise that is leading the program.  Thus, I have no idea who comes to pick up the recycled materials nor with which frequency they empty the containers.  Also even well-meant programs have some cracks.  For example, with the one in my building, the containers for the recycled materials are made out of cardboard boxes....after a few months of half-rinsed plastic models, I do not know how well these cartons can last.

5. Education, education, education.
The most important element in adopting a citizen-approach to creating change is that everyone has to pitch in and see the value, especially referring to the environment and the tragedy of the commons.  Violators need to be shamed, scolded and singled out a little bit, while those who care and make a positive effort should be somehow rewarded just a little bit in order to equaly spread the norm among this country's residents.  This needs to be done in schools, within families and in the office place-starting from a young age, but continuing through formative adult learning years such as high school and college.  

This little post does not attempt to try to discuss the corporate social responsibility of the petroleum multinationals here in Kuwait, nor politicians' and ministers' duties to foster great environmental sustainability in Kuwait.

On a good note, I have seen a fair amount of initiative among many Kuwaitis, particularly a subgroup of many young people here, who care deeply about issues of ecological sustainability and developing green approaches to development (just look at the turnout for Reuse 2.0 or read en.v magazine).  The problem is that the stigma of linking polluting to being a bad fellow citizen must be more greatly diffused.  This has to start on a grassroots level, can't be reserved to a fringe and must be likewise supported by government programs and direction.

On a final note, I look forward and sincerely hope that there will be some press coverage tomorrow of Earth Day celebrations in Kuwait.  On verra, on verra.

In Related News Today to the Previous Post...


Kuwait Times: "Failing Education"

"KUWAIT: Kuwait was once a pioneer in education in the Gulf. Back then, Kuwait University was one of the leading schools in the region. Kuwait's Ministry of Information founded Al-Arabi magazine, a literary treasure that was widely read throughout the entire Arab world. Kuwaiti textbooks were used in other Gulf state schools.

Today, education in Kuwait suffers from a malaise of bureaucracy, political ideologies and exploitation and lack of progress, development or reform. While others in the region develop their education sectors and engage students with things like critical thinking, Kuwait continues to practice rote memorization - both for students, faculty and staff." (full article, click

Al-Watan Daily: "GUST University organizes one day book fair"
"KUWAIT: Under the patronage of President of Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) Abdulrahman AlـMuhailan the university held the fifth annual Book Fair event. The event was attended by Robert Cook Vice President for Academic Affairs and Sabah Al Kadoomi Deputy Director for Academic Services and Student Affairs Dean and Admission among other guests and students.

This is the fifth GUST annual book and information fair. This fair aims to give academics an opportunity to discover what''s new in publishing, spot forthcoming trends and make new contacts. The fair takes place at the GUST University library." (full article, clic
k here)

Al-Watan Daily: "Kuwait willing to contribute in the World Digital Library"
"KUWAIT: As the World Digital Library is set to launch live on Tuesday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, an official at the Kuwait National Commission for UNESCO stated to AlـWatan Daily that Kuwait will contribute to the library with all its'' collected cultural materials.

"There is already some material on Kuwait on the website, however, everything we collect and have such as educational books, cultural documents and manuscripts and so on we will give the UNESCO for their use," commented General Secretary Kuwait National Commission for UNESCO, Abdullatif AlـBaijan." (full article, click here)

Farenheit 451 in Kuwait


Where are the books in Kuwait?  The other day my friend showed me a second-hand bookshop/vinyl store in one of the downtown souks that I had never seen before.  The problem is that the owner said it would be closed for another two months because they are redoing the place.  However, he let us look inside.  Later that day, I noticed for the first time the Central Library that is located off of the Gulf Road.  I had never known about it before.

These discoveries elated me, and I hope there are other such gems in Kuwait, but it got me thinking about the state of Kuwait's bookstores.  Virgin was reduced in size and content (from what I am told) some time ago.  Even still, most of the merchandise in Virgin has nothing to do with books, and the Virgin workers focus harder on spraying you perfume than on selling you a book.  Perhaps the most reflective point of supply-demand in Kuwait is the fact that The Avenues has no bookstore whatsoever.  I think there is a plan in the works to create one in the next phase, but yet, so many initial stores and not one bookshop...?!

I've also seen so many school textbooks with censored pages.  Sometimes these are censored in marker, but images are often censored only in glued paper.  Isn't it the inate curiousity of a child to peel back that which is covered?  You cannot have a solid  opinion on many contemporary world topics without having learned about it in schooling.  When I was a child, my mother used to take me to the public library every week, and we would bring paper grocery bags to stack them full of reading material that I would never even get a quarter-way through.  The point is that there was an eagerness to read, to find an interesting back cover, to enjoy the process of sifting.

The book offerings in the Virgin store depress me, especially when I look at the highlighted books in the Best Seller or New Arrival stand.  They all have to do with self-help.  What happened to good fiction?  Does anyone know of some other hidden treasures in Kuwait to find good reads?  

Segregation Faux-Pas at Entertainment City


Last night I went to Entertainment City for the first time with three of my friends.  We of course jumped at the opportunity to get into queue for the first rollercoaster ride we stumbled upon.  We went into an entrance and saw that there was no line, but realized that other people were going into another gated queue area directly next to where we had entered.  I remarked to my friends that it was strange that they would have two entrances next to each other, and that one would be non-functional.  So, we left where we had been waiting to go into the other waiting line.  We were waiting and talking when suddenly I saw a big group go into the original entrance we had gone into.  

Being a good fellow neighbor I politely informed them that the actual line was the other entrance, and the man in the group of several women and children kindly informed me that we were in the MEN ONLY section, whereas the other entrance where we had originally gone into was the FAMILY section.

This put us in a strange dilemma.  I was with three male, expat friends and I was the only woman in the group.  We are clearly not a family, and earlier, my friends had been recounting to me how that very day they had been kicked out of a hotel beach for not being a family--that is for being three men.  How arbitrarily and quickly my three friends suddenly were able to jump to "the other side of the fence" once I was in their company.  We had to exit the MEN ONLY queue and go back to the FAMILY and my "three husbands" as I joked.  This line flipping set us back about 20 minutes from getting on the actual ride.  

For one of the rides in the amusement park, I decided to sit it out, since my motion sickness pills were slowly wearing off and this particular ride seemed like a centrifugal force vortex of vomit-inducing misery.  Suddenly my three friends had to go through the MEN ONLY line, where some young Saudi vacationers, or entertainment refugees as I would more aptly put it, began to strike up a conversation with them, probably something that would never happen in the FAMILY line.

The Independent: "The dark side of Dubai-'This isn't a city, it's a con-job'"


This April 7, 2009 opinion piece from The Independent is one of the most forboding, but in-depth articles I have read on the perils of the Dubai city-model of urban development.  It is lengthy but captivating, well-written and reflective. 

"Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging. Johann Hari reports

The wide, smiling face of Sheikh Mohammed – the absolute ruler of Dubai – beams down on his creation. His image is displayed on every other building, sandwiched between the more familiar corporate rictuses of Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders. This man has sold Dubai to the world as the city of One Thousand and One Arabian Lights, a Shangri-La in the Middle East insulated from the dust-storms blasting across the region. He dominates the Manhattan-manqué skyline, beaming out from row after row of glass pyramids and hotels smelted into the shape of piles of golden coins. And there he stands on the tallest building in the world – a skinny spike, jabbing farther into the sky than any other human construction in history.

But something has flickered in Sheikh Mohammed's smile. The ubiquitous cranes have paused on the skyline, as if stuck in time. There are countless buildings half-finished, seemingly abandoned. In the swankiest new constructions – like the vast Atlantis hotel, a giant pink castle built in 1,000 days for $1.5bn on its own artificial island – where rainwater is leaking from the ceilings and the tiles are falling off the roof. This Neverland was built on the Never-Never – and now the cracks are beginning to show. Suddenly it looks less like Manhattan in the sun than Iceland in the desert.

Once the manic burst of building has stopped and the whirlwind has slowed, the secrets of Dubai are slowly seeping out. This is a city built from nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery. Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that may be crashing – at last – into history." (for full article, click here)

Their Missing Text in the Unfinished Skyscrapers


For some, globalization swallowed their lives, a big baleen whale that gulped in their entire ocean.

These men dressed in sandals and dust, scaling the construction scaffolds riskily under the desert sun

They are the tiniest capillaries of the economic crisis— they were always the smallest units of the chain.

big men who left their nowhere villages through a network of transnational agents passing them off. 

The migrant labor to the GCC countries became the great baton race of the global economy

but they are truly the voiceless, not a genocide, not a humanitarian crisis, not anything spilling over to our edge.

The poetry in their story requires a squinting of the eyes, ears to the pavement, holding in a breath

to hear the muffled lifesong left behind in the trunks of the abandoned cars at the airport, 

to feel the bodyache bad posture of the old luggage slumped on the sidewalk, 

to see the loanshark lurking behind each eye inside each man made redundant

their wishes caught in wet concrete or pacing the construction cranes like stray cats unable to climb down

these little ants unload an unfinished skyscraper off their backs, clutching a plane ticket stub as they exit

for some, globalization is a about the wait—waiting for us to recognize them in these modern wonders

Intimidating, Ominous Highway Caution Advertisements


Ever since writing the entry on driving in Kuwait, I cannot help but see the highway public service slogans on every overpass I go under along the ring roads and highways here in Kuwait.  I had written a couple on the blog entry earlier, but my list has gotten longer since then.  I try to write down each one I see the moment I pass by them, granted I have a pen and paper.  They are slowly becoming my little obession!  Keep your eyes out for them, and  maybe we can start a collection.

Safety of pedestrians is the responsibility of all

life is prescious 

your driving is symbol of your civilization

speed short way to prison or death

your family is waiting

responsible, safe driving

There are more I am sure.  They should put these on signs in areas where people actually spend time stopped in traffic so that drivers have time to read Gulf Road?

The Slow Demise of Old Salmiya?


One by one, it seems some of the main buildings of Old Salmiya along Salem Al-Mubarek Street are coming down.  Half of the shops on the ground floor along the street on many of the buildings are empty.  One of my favorite buildings, a big retro-teal, circular apartment complex seems to be in its last stages of life as well.  Does anyone know what the plan is for that area of town?  Is the bulldozer coming to take down all these buildings that look like ghosts of their former selves?  What will Old Salmiya become and what is the development plan? 

15 April 2009: "Spring 2009 Poetry Contest" by Policy Innovations of the Carnegie Council


Global Policy Innovations announces the Spring 2009 Poetry Contest.

Theme: Spring is a time of renewal, something that is clearly needed in the global economy in 2009. Carnegie Council'sPolicy Innovations invites you to write a poem that captures this time of growth and send it to us. What do innovations, ethics, and globalization mean to you personally? Paint a moment of emotion—an instant of transformation, personal or political—illustrating humanitarian heroics or global solidarity. We will select a handful of winning poems and publish them in a special issue later this spring. Feel free to send us your poem through email, as Twitter #haiku, or viaFacebook.

Deadline: April 15, 2009
Length: 10 lines or less 
Original Work: All work must be original and unpublished reflections on the contest theme.
Publishing: The winning submissions will be published under a Creative Commons license on the Policy Innovations website.
Prize: Literary fame! Policy Innovations is a nonprofit, noncommercial global commons for ideas on crafting a fairer globalization. As such we run no advertisements and rely on thoughtful and generous readers and writers such as you.

The Great Mosque of Cordova: The Umayyad State of AlـAndalusـmade architecture


Dar AlـAthar AlـIslamiyyah

Invites the public to a lecture by Dr. Juan Antonio Souto on ''The Great Mosque of Cordova; The Umayyad State of AlـAndalusـmade architecture''
(Lecture in English)
Date: Monday, April 13, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: AlـMaidan Cultural Center ـ Abdullah AlـSalem School,
Maidan Hawalli, Near AlـShaab Leisure Park.
Tel: 25636528 / 25636561 Fax: 25653006

Al-Watan Daily: "The Kuwait School presents eight point design manifesto"


Fellow blogger and director smArchitecture, Thomas Modeen, put forth the manifesto touched upon in his presentation at Pecha Kucha Night some weeks ago.  

"KUWAIT: The ''Kuwait School'', is an eight point design manifesto (first of its kind in the region) outlining some key nodes and the spirit in which Kuwait and perhaps even some of its neighbors could remodel their priorities and tackle various design related undertakings. This callـtoـaction was first announced at Kuwait''s inaugural Pecha Kucha Night, which took place at the Dar AlـAthar AlـIslamiyyah Cultural Center on March 11, 2009. Below is a summary of the manifesto''s eight interrelated points, unveiled in the images in both English and Arabic, that aim to establish a recognizable cultural identity for contemporary Kuwait, something that still, as it stands, remains largely undefined." (for full manifesto, click here)

My Best Friend on NPR from China!


My best friend, Mark, who lives in Chengdu, China was interviewed by NPR while shooting some hoops.  Mark is one of my idols, and certainly my main encouragement for starting up a blog.  Check out the soundbyte here

Al-Watan Daily: "Segregation a success at Kuwait University: Society head"


Please tell me where in the article the interviewed person is able to demonstrate that segregation has been a success.  I failed to find out.  It seems like it has only created nightmares in terms of ensuring everyone graduates because the school effectively has to double its course supply.  I am including the photo of Mr. Al-Azmi so that if you see him on the campus, you can just ask him yourself.

I would like to know from Kuwait University students there thoughts on segregation.  It would even be nice to see a written op-ed response by someone.

"KUWAIT: The Head of the Sharia (Islamic Law) Society of Kuwait University Sami Mohammed AlـAzmi outlined in an interview with Al Watan the society''s major accomplishments and achievements, including the society''s success in overcoming the common problems of segregations, which has been a prime cause of anger and dismay amongst university students of late.

Tell us the secret behind your success now that the students have voted for you to represent them once again.

AlـAzmi: The Society has represented students for the past seventeen years consecutively. Our ingredients for success are numerous. They vary from total commitment to our pledges and goals, our transparency policy, to meeting students'' demands. Little wonder they fully trust our society.

And could you tell us about some of your programs during your first term?

AlـAzmi: We actually began with sports. We arranged a football tournament held under the patronage of MP Mikhlid AlـAzmi. The prize was attractive as winners received two thousand Kuwaiti dinars. The tournament was a great success as more than thirty teams took part. Around 320 players participated in the event. As for the economic side, the society held a symposium under the theme "Is Kuwait suffering from an Economic Downturn?"

It was another great success as we managed to invite prominent MPs such as Khaled Sultan Bin Essa and leading Economics Professor Anwar AlـShirian and others. We also held cultural events of importance during which CDs and leaflets about various cultural aspects here in Kuwait were handed out.

And what about your major future plans?

AlـAzmi: There are many indeed. But at the moment we are paying much attention to the major issues involved in segregation. Many students are facing problems, some of whom are desperate to graduate, but with the segregation closing off certain courses to either sex, this may be unfeasible. So, we have been in contact with the university management and have managed so far to open many courses and now are working with the management to open some more.

So, the university management is extremely helpful in this regard?

AlـAzmi: The university management has been very helpful, as well as the faculty, as they provide us with the needed information. The same goes for the Office of Deanship for Student Affairs. They are all cooperative and keen to provide us with the best advice. However, the only issue here, which we''d like to raise with the Office of Deanship, is their cancellation of a very important evaluation scheme. In the past, the office would assess the societies according to their programs and achievements. Fortunately, we have always been at the top of the list. But suddenly the office decided that they would no longer do such assessments. We call on the office to review its decision.

Let''s discuss another important issue: the College of Sharia was the first to segregate classes. Many are arguing now that such an education is no longer feasible and they are calling for coـeducation. What do you think?

AlـAzmi: On the contrary! The fact that the segregation has been successful in our college makes it all the more feasible and successful. The only real problem which is facing us is the lack of money. The university management provides us with financial aid but not enough to cope with our numerous cultural, social and educational activities." (for link, click


Website that offers information about events in Kuwait


I stumbled on, which offers a calendar with lists of events going on around the city.  For direct link, click here.