Postcard from Madrid

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Tomorrow evening I will be boarding a midnight flight to Spain for my long-anticipated vacation to Madrid and northern Spain to visit family. I will travel back to Kuwait September 11. Curiously, this is the second time I travel to Kuwait on September 11. I will try to keep posting when I can, and I will definately upload pictures upon my return.

NY Times: "Lost Boys of Afghanistan"

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"On the edges of a Salvation Army soup line in Paris, a soft-spoken Afghan boy told the story recently of how he ended up in Europe, alone.

The boy, who said he was 15 but looked younger, recounted how his family left Afghanistan after his mother lost her leg in an explosion in 2004. They spent three years in Iran, where he went to school for the first time, learning English and discovering the Internet. After his father suffered a back injury that made working difficult, the boy, who declined to give his name, headed west.

He spent two months working 11-hour days in a clothing sweatshop in Istanbul, he said. He was then smuggled into Greece, where he was forced to work on a potato and onion farm near Agros for nine months, finally escaping in the back of a truck. He reached Paris by train after nearly a year on the road.

“I want to go to school,” he said in English. “I would like it if I could be — it sounds like a lot to ask — an engineer of computing.” (click here for full link)

Kuwaiti Lad Climbs Mount Kilimanjaro for Cancer

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An example of a young Kuwaiti man making a difference in the community. Bravo! This is a
press release from the Kuwait News Agency written by Ahmad Al-Rifaie:


Kuwaiti mountain climber Faisal Al-Nakib successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, in an attempt to raise awareness on cancer and how to prevent it.

Speaking to KUNA, Al-Nakib said that on July 3, he was able to reach the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro along with seven contestants from different countries, out of a total of 19 who had begun the climb on June 26. He expressed his great joy at having succeeded in reaching the top.

"I was the first to reach the summit, and I was able to endure the harsh climate conditions - the severe cold and the difficulty breathing - during the eight hours of night climbing," he said. He noted that this was a great challenge for him, as Kilimanjaro was 5,895 meters above sea level. "My strong will and strong desire to succeed made me reach the top," he added.

He explained that 70,000 pounds were collected for the Orchid Cancer organization, aimed at raising awareness over this condition. "

Arab Times: "Woman nabbed for chewing gum on the first day of Ramadan"

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"A woman was arrested on the first day of Ramadan for breaking her fast by chewing gum. According to sources, security officers from the Hawalli governorate spotted the woman chewing gum at 5:30 am while they were on patrol duty. When they questioned her about the act, she said she had the personal freedom to do as she pleased. She was referred to the authorities and a case was registered." (link here)

Staring Night Series 6: Nectar Handprints

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She was plentiful and sacrifice

gave everything to us

She ripped out her hair
as wailing mothers do.
Each stiff strand fell strong
into wheat stalks.

The milky tears hardened to rice.
the anguish matured into our grain.

Running her eyes over us
in one last time ritual
pinnacle of maternality.
She plucked them out of her head
pressed them in her palms
and released two dried dates.
One to fill each of our hands

before reaching within herself
pulling from her warm cavity
a glistening swollen honey pear.
pulsating where she no longer did.

our last taste of what created us
overindulged without reverence
and with too many hands at once.
the last bites' mouthfuls
a fraction of the first
but outlasting memory's deceit.

We try hard to remember her
as left, bereft children do.
A maintenance of impressions
and anxiety that her face
will become blurry
even if we close our eyes
and press them shut hard.

Jahra Fire Opens Up Op-Eds that Talk about the "Nature of Women" to Be Jealous

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This is from an Op-Ed in the Al-Watan Daily by Mr. Hamad Salem Al-Marri entitled "The Gory Aftermath of Overwhelming Envy and Blind Rage" that only belittles women more, and proves that many men are more than ready to let the example of one incident substantiate their patronizing beliefs on women. If its the responsibility of men to ensure the safety and well-being of women, explain to me why the Jahra groom was unemployed for seven years when he is only 25? Do you have an answer Mr. Hamad? All throughout the year, although in smaller scale, several women are killed through acts of rage and envy by their husbands as well, sir. Its not something inherent to the nature of a sex.

Islam teaches us that men are responsible for the safety and well being of women, since women, by nature, are more sensitive and tend to allow their sentiments to take control of their actions. However, Islam has never degraded women. On the contrary; it has given them all their rights and treated them fairly. Women are inclined to be emotional, which clouds their judgments and renders them to be unjust at times. In addition to that, women are known to be jealous. A woman feels threatened whenever any other woman comes between her husband and her.

How Many Hours Punched Does it Take to Afford a Big Mac?

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The Economist has published an blog entry entitled "An Alternative Big Mac Index" about a UBS study that looks how how many hours on average people in a city have to work to afford a Big Mac. This goes a little bit further than the purchasing power Big Mac index.


THE size of your pay packet may be important, but so is its purchasing power. Helpfully, a UBS report published this week offers a handy guide to how long it takes a worker on the average net wage to earn the price of a Big Mac in 73 cities. Fast-food junkies are best off in Chicago, Toronto and Tokyo, where it takes a mere 12 minutes at work to afford a Big Mac. By contrast, employees must toil for over two hours to earn enough for a burger fix in Mexico City, Jakarta and Nairobi.

Jad Choueiri (Dis)graces Us with Again with "Stop Popping Pills"

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Jad Choueiri continues to help us explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before into the depths of male waxed eyebrows, pancake flat messages, and as I mentioned before, the overall multiple depths of discrimination faced by the Beiruti club of beautifulpeopledom.

Again his embrace of the thing he is supposedly "denouncing" comes off ambiguous and confused, leaving us to wonder if he is on the side of the fence of saying no to drugs, if he is merely a musical Paul Revere alerting us that if you do drugs you might get caught by "cops", or if he is encouraging the drug/club scene through the ironic "don't" but really "do" push the little red button and pop the pills.

The sad part of it all is that people like him think that pushing conservative boundaries translates to this. It only gives authorities more reason to crack down on Arab night crawlers if you ask me. I have never witnessed such an empty vaccuum of a music video-and thats saying a lot for someone who survived the summer fluke "I Like Girls Who Wear Abercombie and Fitch". Is there no alternative?

Step One for Bringing Kuwait International Airport to International Status: Reform the Airport Visa Office

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A country’s true level of modernization and development is most often measured not by the height of towers in the skyline or the width of its superhighways, but rather in simpler measures: how long and how many steps does it take to get things done?


Unfortunately, if we are talking about the steps it takes for international businesspersons and tourists coming into Kuwait to firstly understand the procedures to exit the airport and then to undertake them, Kuwait’s performance is abysmal.


Kuwaitis, on an individual level, pride themselves on welcoming people and receiving guests into their homes with open arms and with the highest detail of care. An analogy can be drawn to the importance of airports as institutions of reception into a country. One would not welcome their guests into the house through the backdoor or leave them waiting. Why should the airport be the same?


To give an idea of what happens once passengers arrive, foreigners holding passports that allow them to get their visa directly at the airport are given no indication on how to do so. There are no signs directing passengers smoothly from terminal, to the visa office and lastly through baggage claim and customs.


In fact, in most airports it is typical that luggage is claimed first, thus the natural logic of passengers is to proceed first to baggage claims, upon which they must instead go upstairs to the discreet corner where the visa desk is located. If they are lucky, they will find someone to help them understand this procedure, which is in no way logically obvious, however there is no one necessarily in charge of redirecting passengers.


The visa section requires that applicants pick up a sheet up paper to fill out located on the desk, take a number from an automated machine, and give their passport to a man who makes a photocopy. They must also present upon arrival the visa fee in Kuwaiti Dinars.


Many times, the visa officers give attitude to those who ask questions about what they need to do. However, it has never occurred to the airport staff to put a sign with all these different requirements in different languages before the desk.


Secondly, many visitors, once their number is called, have not yet picked up the form out of pure ignorance about the fact that one is needed. And why can´t this half-sheet form be distributed during the flight by the cabin crew to save time and explanations, as is policy in many countries?


The waiting time to be attended has never taken under and hour for me, often more time than the duration of my flight. I can never predict at what time to tell my colleagues to pick me up, because it is completely unpredictable. This is not how Kuwait´s premiere international transportation hub should function.

The biggest crack-line in the system is that as visitors are held up in the visa office, this means that their luggage on the conveyer belt goes unmonitored for up to hours at a time.
It is tossed aside in various corners of the airport baggage area.


One of the times that I flew into Kuwait, I had to wait 75 minutes in the visa office. I was nervous about my luggage being unattended for so long. Sure enough, even though my luggage was confirmed later by my airline company as having gotten on the direct flight to Kuwait, it was lost and to this day has never been recuperated.


Although I have no way to verify this, I can only deduce that it was lost or stolen from the Kuwait baggage area. Again, in many countries, baggage taken out of the airport is screened at customs to make sure the baggage ticket matches with the identity of the person. Why not Kuwait? And why do visitors have to wait to pick up their luggage in the first place. It would clear up space, save time and be more secure if it could be done before.


The inherent issue is not to figure out how to fix these “leaks” but rather a more existential question on the purpose of this visa desk in the first place. The desk has about a half dozen seats for officers, however, only a few of these are ever occupied at a time. Other countries in the region, such as Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon allow you to pass customs and take the visa at the same time, in an efficient, timely, and most importantly a professional and business-friendly manner.


Many people and businesses in Kuwait pay large sums of money to have an escort accompany a passenger from the airplane to customs, bypassing the delays and tribulations of the visa procedure. Thus, a lucrative business would surely be threatened if procedures were streamlined, however in order for Kuwait to modernize its airport, it will have to simplify this bottleneck.


Airports are the first impression from which several observations are drawn by visitors, for better or worse. Ideas of how friendly a country is, conducive to good business, and its overall professionalism are based on these first marked experiences. The airport is undergoing fundamental expansion efforts with new construction projects, how in bureaucratic procedures, the airport is in dire need of reduction and transformation. People will remember the airport mostly by how they are treated, not by its facades.

Khan vs. Newark

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Bollywood MEGA star Shahrukh Khan was detained last week in Newark Airport for two hours after being suspected as a high alert security threat for his Muslim last name, only being set free upon intervention from the Indian Embassy in the United States.


In a complete irony of fate chockful of spice, Khan was in the US to promote his new film, My Name Is Khan, that tells the story of a Muslim Indian wrongly profiled and detained for being falsely implicated with the 9/11 terrorist plot.


Of course, while held up the Bollywood actor dropped the fact that he was a famous superstar, but apparently Newark authorities do not have access to a google search toolbar.

Nothing delights me more than the fact that The Daily Show covered a segment on this.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Shah Rukh Khan Detained at Newark
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Interview with the Jahra Groom from The Kuwait Times

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Excerpt from an article entitled "Jahra Fire Death Toll Reaches 46" by A Saleh:

...Sounding distressed and still shocked by Saturday's horrific events, Al-Thefeiri revealed that he had married his first wife in 2004, with the couple having two children, a boy and a girl, in the next couple of years. He said that they had initially been happy, but added that he had been planning to take another wife for some time due to the constant interference in their marriage of his mother-in-law and his wife's aunt, who he said had only recently been naturalized.

I'm 23 years old and I've been unemployed for five years now. I used to be an army soldier and was dismissed for private reasons that I don't wish to discuss," he said before talking about how he and his first wife had grown apart. "[My first wife's mother and aunt] made her refuse to take care of me, to cook for me and spend time with me," he claimed, laying most of the blame on his first wife's aunt, who he said was 40 years old and married to an 18-year-old man. "This led to my wife starting a rebellion and following in [her aunt's] footsteps in being too free!

Three months ago, therefore, Al-Thefeiri got engaged to his bedoon second wife. On the subject of why he did not divorce his first wife before remarrying, he said that he was friends with her brothers and stayed married for their sakes. "Our main problem was her aunt, originally an Iraqi, who only received citizenship through her Kuwaiti husband," he claimed, adding that a maid working for his parents' neighbors had informed him on the day after the fire that she had been called over by his first wife who
was standing outside the wedding tent, along with two other women and two men, and noticed that she was carrying a container of petrol and a lighter. The maid said that the first wife had asked her to bring a newspaper, which he believes was used to kindle the flames. "I'm in deep shock and still can't believe what happened," he bemoaned.

One of Al-Thefeiri's neighbors, whose mother and sister were injured in the wedding tent blaze, however claimed that Al-Thefeiri, who regularly attended his diwaniya, had informed him that his first wife played in a folk music group and that he had divorced her over a year ago. Another neighbor who lives across the street from the Al-Thefeiri family's home, was full of praise for Zayed's father, who died in the 1980s, who he said was a good man who had worked for the police.

Another of the family's neighbors claimed that Zayed was a drunkard with a criminal record who had only recently been released from prison and suggested that he had only been naturalized in recent years, saying, "Zayed used to be a bedoon and only got his citizenship eight months ago." Another resident of the neighborhood said that Zayed had been married more than once previously, stating, "This is his fourth marriage," and claiming that Zayed had already divorced the wife who set the wedding tent on fire.

Jazeera Report on Wedding Fire Catastrophe

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Love and Marriage...and Divorce

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I went away out of the country for the weekend, but found out through the international press about the Jahra Wedding fire tragedy (death toll 43), which by now is no new news. However, this morning it began being reported in the press that incendiary culprit had confessed to purposefully dousing the outside of the tent with gasoline before setting it on fire. It turns out that several witnesses reported seeing this person in the said activities to corroborate the allegation. The suspect is no other than the first ex-wife of the groom, who was incensed by the second marriage of her ex-husband.


Now the Kuwaiti government is deciding whether to ban unauthorised tent wedding celebrations altogether, especially since earlier this year there was another incident of a wedding tent fire occurring in Jahra as well. However, I also think that authorities should look into problems and scarring caused by divorces, and that perhaps greater psychological treatment and counseling should be given to divorcees coping with the remarriage of their ex-partner, as well as marriage guidance for newlyweds facing difficulties in making their relationship work.

Burqini: Not So Different Cousin to the Christian "Modest Swimsuit"

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July we dedicated to the burqa and somewhat less so to the French and their confused identity with the burqa (as well as their immediate association with anything related to islamic dresscode as synonimous with "burqa").


Well, it just keep floating up, and this time in the form of swimwear, although burqini also sounds like it could be a delectible virgin martini as well. Once again the setting is LA FRANCE, where a converted Frenchwoman was told she could not bathe in a full-length swimsuit designed to minimize skin exposure for Muslim women.

I remember a couple of years back finding a website selling "modesty swimsuits" to conservative christian families. The similiarities to me are quite striking.



The Common Language of Music

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World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Emirates Opening Up Dialogue on Sex Education

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I recently read an article about a book that is found offensive by some and worthy of being honored by others.

The book? Top Secret: Sexual Guidance for Married Couples
The audience? married couples in the Islamic World
The author? A 45-year old emirati marriage counselor named Dr. Wedad Lootah, pictured below in niqab


Dr. Lootah claims that her book is faithful to the Qoran and that she submitted the draft to a mufti for approval before its publication. According to The New York Times, Dr. Lootah works in the Family Guidance section of a Dubai Courthouse and was its first counselor. Kuwait also has a similar wing since the 1990s.

Some subjects that are many times considered the elephant in the room between couples are covered in the book, such as infidelity, female orgasm, homosexuality and AIDS for example.

"Many men who had anal sex with men before marriage want the same thing with their wives, because they don't know anything else," Ms. Lootah said. "This is one reason we need sex education in our schools."

Quoted from the Arab News in response to her opponents who deem her book inappropriate and taboo, Ms. Lootah said:

"I think a lot of people who have not even bothered to read the book are confusing matters. This book targets couples who plan to get married, not school children. Young people should be given education on these matters but the content should be appropriate for their ages."

In the end, she asserts that her main goal is not sexual liberation per say, nor is this what she advocates, rather her motivation stems from a need in society to gain greater sex education for the purpose of saving marriages, as well as for the reduction of inequalities between husbands and wives for equal sexual gratification.

On another note, I went ahead and typed sex education and islam in google and came across a panel discussion on sex education by a group of youths. These students debate whether sex education is too controversial in Islamic societies or whether above all, sex is a health-related issue that needs to be understood. I am curious to know if there is any sex education accessible to youth in Kuwait.

Movie: Last Flight to Kuwait (2007)

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This documentary tells the story, based on first-hand accounts from interviewed passengers and cew, of Flight BA 149 into Kuwait, touching down just in time for the invasion. Thank you to youtube member bjones4 for posting it in ten parts. I will leave you with the description this user provided, as it is phrased better than I could do.


This is the chilling and untold true story of the British, French, German and North American victims of an alleged MI6/Special Forces mission that used a British Airways civilian flight, as a Trojan Horse on the eve of the first Gulf War on August 1st 1990.

The covert mission was an extraordinary gamble that went badly wrong, delivering 367 passengers into the hands of Saddam's Republican Guard.

When the passengers and crew of British Airways flight 149 touched down in Kuwait City en route from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur in the early hours of August 2nd 1990, their lives would never be the same again. Within hours they became hostages of Saddam Hussein's invading Iraqi army and were detained for months in horrific conditions as part of Saddam's "human shield" programme. Some were released and reunited with their families, through the humanitarian missions of Jesse Jackson and former Prime Minister Edward Heath, but others remained captive for nearly five months.

Many of the passengers have never overcome the trauma of their experience. Several have committed suicide; many have split from their partners and, a decade and a half later, all still live in the shadow of their ordeal. This is their story.

AFP: "India to target beggars in 2010 Commonwealth Games clean-up" by Pratap Chakravarty

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It is no doubt that Delhi has some of the most anti-poor policies that Indian cities have seen in recent years, particularly regarding the criminalisation of beggars and the unnanounced and politically motivated slum eviction drives (refer to the 2005 Yamuna Pushta River Eviction for example).


However, one of the great green lights that municipal and state ministers have been able to hide behind is the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games, which have been used to justify many unnanounced and anti-poor "clean up" policies in the name of gearing up for the games.

There is a whole field of study devoted to "showcase cities" and the effect of megaevents and games to uproot citizens and be able to pass and fasttrack policies that would otherwise be unfeasible. Furthermore, enormous amounts of money are spent and efforts exorted on venues that later go underutilized after the games, which does little to create permanent change for the city. On the other hand, positive results are possible, such as the effect of the 1992 Olympics on Barcelona's renovation.

But Delhi has a history of displacement for Games. Who I would label the Doctor Evil of much of Delhi's municipal agenda is none other than Union Minister of Tourism and Culture and conservative hinduist BJP member Jagmohan Malhotra, who also took a leading role in the displacement of residents for the Asian Games of 1982 , being personally responsible for demolishing thousands of families' homes in unfair practices throughout his entire career...the Bulldozer King.

Based on some quotes from the article, it seems pretty obvious the Commonwealth Games are heading in the same direction. Furthermore, solutions seem to be geared at hiding poverty by hanging a white sheet over it than really targeting the underlying problems.

"India plans to round up beggars to shield foreigners from New Delhi's rampant poverty during the Commonwealth Games, seen as a showcase of the country's emerging economic might.

The drive comes as the government is rushing to build 39 plush hotels to house visitors, new roads and overpasses and an air-conditioned Games village to accommodate athletes for the sporting event to be held in October 2010.

"We Indians are used to beggars but Westerners are not and so we need to clean up," New Delhi's Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal told AFP, saying the crackdown on beggars would go into high gear on Monday.

"We'll catch them all," he said." (click here for full article)


Kuwait Times Poll Shows Most Readers Want Overhaul of Sponsorship System

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KUWAIT TIMES POLL

Should the government scrap the sponsorship system?

Yes
Poll bar87%
No
Poll bar6%
Not right now
Poll bar6%

Interviews with Kuwaiti Men Married to Thai Women: Underlying Reasons?

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Certainly the title of the article, "Kuwaiti Citizens Prefer Marrying Thai Women" caught my attention, with emphasis on the use of prefer in the choice of words. However, while I was hoping this article would maybe be one of acceptance for marriages between Kuwaitis and Asian women, and particularly to their children, who often face an uphill battle of stigmatization in school, the piece really threw me off.


Different husbands married to Thai women were interviewed and their responses for why they prefer this nationality to Kuwaiti women are not only eery in content, but also eerily similiar. The reasons all seem to stem from satisfaction with extreme servility and exaggerated acceptance of submissiveness. Please judge for yourself:

Interviewer A
"I realized that my friends were right when speaking about Thai wives and their dedication to their marriages. Her husband is her top priority in life. She is very obedient, she is keen to see he is comfortable, she adores housework, she is very keen and willing to learn Kuwaiti cuisine, she is very quiet, never shouts and she always waits for her husband's rage to subsist before she calmly continues a debate"
Interviewer B
"They also pampered and treated their husbands well. Through my fifteen year marriage to a Thai woman, I never felt she lost any interest or that her care for me lessened. To the contrary, she pampered me more than our kids. She used to put me to bed and sing to me and she was very dedicated and creative in making me more comfortable"
Some of the interviewers noted that they married due to the fact that it is perceived as economically more feasible. A frank husband stated plainly that ""It's cheaper" but went on to say, "I got married there and in time, the experience turned into a worthy one. We both love each other - till death do us part." Like the third interviewer, I am sure there are many strong, genuine and lasting partnerships, but the first two interviews are disturbing, particularly that one of the husbands gloats that he successfully beats out his kids in competing for his wife's attention.

From My Migrant Rights Post: "Kuwait Makes Baby Steps to Reform Sponsorship System"

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The Al Watan Daily, Arab Times and Kuwait Times newspapers are reporting that Kuwait’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is making small moves towards the abolishment of the “kafeel” sponsorship system, beginning with allowing expatriot workers in the private sector to transfer their residencies without the approval of their sponsor.

This leniency is granted provided on the condition that the worker has been with the sponsor at least three years before transferring residency. The Minister, Dr, Mohammed AlـIfasi, spoke to reporters of Al Rai at a Kuwait Pearl Diving Ceremony and, as the Al-Watan Daily reports, also mentioned that the entire Department would also go under a drastic restructuring to facilitate reforms of the sponsorship and cut bureaucracy.

According to The Kuwait Times, Dr. Al-Ifasi was quoted as saying that, “they are being sold for certain sums of money as if we were living in the age of slavery.”

The Arab Times interviewed several leading politicians and academics about their opinions on the overhaul of Kuwait’s current sponsorship scheme. One of these, Dr Humaid Qanas, exercised caution in implementing proposals without a solid and well-researched understanding of the underlying problems, noting that similiar countries that have abolished the system only did so after many years of conducting studies before implementing policies.

“Stating that Kuwait is fond of putting attractive titles on such a vital issue, but there will be no traces of its functions at the end of the day, Qanas urged the government to assign specialists to study the proposal and put the final touches for its full implementation.

“The issue is similar to many other proposals like the housing, education and healthcare projects, which do not have clear plans or serious inclination for success. We should get it right this time, because the issue has dented Kuwait’s image in the international community,” the academician suggested.”

"Sex and the Saudi" and the Most Expensive Novelty Item in the World

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Two articles came out recently that blew my mind. The first, from the Associated Foreign Press, discusses one Saudi man's purchase of the most expensive sex item in the world, "a solid 18 carat gold penis enlarger worth nearly 50,000 USD"..."encrusted at his request with 40 diamonds and several rubies".


"We were approached by the customer who insisted on a solid gold version of our product because he claimed to have a severe skin allergy to stainless steel."

Later, the buyer asked to add diamonds and rubies to it.

"There is something tremendously selfish about the male ego, and subsequently 50,000-dollar orders may become the norm for companies like X4 Labs."

The second article, from The Independent, deals with a Saudi man who is getting in trouble with the law for having bragged and talked about sex on a tv show for a Lebanese-based LBC satellite tv station, after which more than 200 people filed complaints to authorities.

"The segment began with the 32-year-old Saudi Airlines employee apparently talking about the first time he had sex – at age 14, with a neighbour. Then he leads viewers into his bedroom, dominated by red accessories, where the divorced father of four says "everything happens".

Another shot shows him in a red shirt and red slippers, with a stylish goatee, holding up blurred sex toys, a sex manual and a bottle he took from a box. "It's used for women who do not have sexual desire," he explains.

In another sequence, he greets three male friends at the door of his apartment in the western seaport of Jiddah. The four, who have since been detained by Saudi authorities, then briefly discuss what turns them on and how much "comfort" they get from sex. "One million per cent," notes Mr Abdul-Jawad."

Pearl Diving Expedition

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Just returned from the celebration at the Kuwait Sea Sports Club of the return of the Kuwait traditional pearl diver's expedition to Bahrain. It was an amazing thing to witness and I hope to have pictures up soon. I think my friend and I must have been the only foreigners there. I had a great time. For those of you who don't know, Kuwait was a huge pearl diving nation before the discovery of oil. This trip aims at teaching male youth about their ancestry and the traditional way of living before the introduction of petroleum. I think its a really great experience.

From the Paper Edition of the Friday Times

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"With Friends Like That..."


"A young Kuwaiti man told police that an erstwhile friend had physically attacked him with no warning as they sat in a diwaniya together, forcing him to strip and using a mobile phone camera to film him naked before sending the footage to mutual friends via bluetooth. A case has been filed and the accused has been summoned for questioning."

1. Obviously there are some holes in this story
2. Why is this information being disclosed to the press?

On the Road in America

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I just became aware of a television show that apparently aired on the Sundance Channel called "On the Road in America", a combination of "Road Rules" and a public diplomacy project to send Arab youth to the United States to instill greater faith in the American image in a time when the US is having a rebranding crisis in the Middle East.


I found out about the program through a National Public Radio interview called "Arab Men Challenge Perceptions while 'On the Road'" on the show Tell Me More with two of the castmates from the first season. The trailer for Season 1 (2007) can be found below, as well as the trailer for Season 2 (2009), which apparently features a 29 year old Kuwaiti, who would like to meet "American Bedouins".



Story of Young Man Jailed in Kuwait and Escaped During Iraq Invasion

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I discovered this on chillnite.com . Really worth watching through all the five videos. Surprisingly, the re-enactment is not super cheese. It tells the story of a young British national, who at 19 at the time, was busted (framed) by a police sting operation that sent him into a Kuwaiti jail. His sentence was cut short, however, with the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, as the prisoners revolted and managed to let themselves out. His story is riveting.