How to beat the Heat in Kuwait

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I bet Siri can’t even handle the heat in Kuwait

The heat in Kuwait is real. I’m telling you, for Expats like me, this is by far the hardest culture shock I have been battling over the last eight years. But then, I got used to it eventually.

The photo above is the screenshot of my iphone4 way back 2 years ago . I visited Wafra farm to see herds of camels & other desert animals. It was on a raging hot summer, ( as it seems to be all year-round summer !) and naturally, my phone couldn’t just beat the heat when I was being out for long time in the desert. For a moment it was like that and it refuses to function. It needs cooling down first.

So How do people living in Kuwait “cools down “during a 50 degrees temperatures outside plus a roaring humidity and occasional sand storms? From the time that Ramadan is approaching,(June-July) ,it could be the hottest month that lasts up until October. So how to beat the heat is simply : Water, Water, & Water!

  • Drink Up!-Drinking enough water & liquids is essential in this arid climate. Dressing up in cool,breathable clothes & staying in the shade,one can be able to survive the strong sun here. Kuwait has an abundant varieties of any type of beverages except alcoholic drinks. There are so many shops & restaurants that serves different juices, smoothies, & refreshing drinks that will definitely cool you down. My personal favorite is making homemade smoothies or getting the Samadi or frozen yogurts.
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Home made healthy smoothies to beat the Heat
  • Boat Trips -The Silsan Est. for Boats & Marine Equipment has a number of boats for rental. Like for example the Silsan 1 has 4 cabins on board and can take up to 30 persons to the island of Um Miradum for 120kd, or up to 45 people for 185kd. The Silsan 2/3/4 can take up to 45 people from their location at Salmiya Yacht club (@Sultan Restaurant) for a cruise around the bay or to a trip to Kubbar island or Failaka.
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Boats and yachts for rental in Marina Crescent
  • Jet Ski rentals – Jet skis can be rented from various locations in Kuwait,such as near the TGIF restaurant along Gulf Road for 15-20kd per hour depending on the age of the jet ski.More than 1 person can share the time and the skis can also be rented for half-time/hour as well. One needs to submit their Civil ID card & sign an agreement that you will be responsible for any damages. I personally enjoyed this experience.
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Jet skiing in the Arabian Gulf along Green Island
  • Soap Football – Kuwait is a huge Football fanatics and during hot summers, one can enjoy to get wet & wild in the water -and-soap drenched rubber football field that can be played near the Swimming Pool complex and the beach area between McDonalds & Naif Chicken restaurants along Gulf Road. Rates could be 15kd for an hour of playing.
  • Aqua park – This wonderful Aqua park is Kuwait’s water entertainment complex that is located just beside the Kuwait Towers.Inaugurated in 1995, the park spread over 60,000 sq/mts and includes kiddie pools,giant slides, waves pool,river pools, Jacuzzi and Adult pools. It has waterfalls, juice stands, restaurants, and other exciting park amenities. Other activities that can be enjoyed inside the park is paint ball, soap football, beach volleyball and go-karting. The park is open from April until October, Saturdays to Wednesdays (10am~10pm), Thursday ( 10 am ~11pm ). Tuesdays are for Women only from 2:30pm ~closing time. Fridays are for Families only. I really enjoyed visiting this water park and their Slides is really an exciting one.

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Kiddie pools in Aqua Park
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The refreshing allure of Aqua Park
  • Scuba Diving – Kuwait has several diving clubs which welcome new members or those wishing to learn how to Dive.The Kuwait mantas Diving Club was originally formed in the early 1970’s as a branch of the British Sub-Aqua Cub ( BSAC) and  aims to provide well-organized safe diving and training at the lowest possible cost to its members.The Palms Dive Center (PADI) at the Palms Beach Hotel & Spa in Salwa is a full 5 star diving club. You can check out their website for rates & details here.
  • Swimming in Beaches/swimming pool complexes-Cooling down in the Public beaches along Arabian Gulf and enjoy a beautiful sunrise & sunset while having a family picnic is one of the typical way to enjoy summer in Kuwait.

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My daughter is a beachbum in Kuwait
If you are not fond of Water sports and prefer to stay indoors, then a trip to the Scientific Center might just what you need. Here you can view the giant Aquariums and see  the wonderful Marine collections of Kuwait.Other Indoor Activities during Summer includes ;

  • PAINTBALL in Kuwait is a combination of the childhood game “tag” and “hide & seek”, but is much more challenging and sophisticated. Although there are many different game formats, typically a group of players will divide into two teams to play “Capture the flag”. The number of players on each team can vary from one, two, five, ten, up to 18 on each side of the field. In this battle, teamwork is essential and strategy is required to overcome your enemy and become number one. Rules for playing paintball vary widely, with most designed to ensure that participants have an adrenaline-filled rush in a safe environment. Basic package as low as 6.5 KD admission, including gun and required safety equipment.
  • SHOOTING RANGE-Enjoy firing a gun, or just want to get out some pent-up frustrations, the Mayadeen Public Shooting Range is for you! They have a range of guns and rifles in different shapes and sizes. Their prices are very reasonable and include safety equipment and the use of professional instructors. Make sure to bring your civil ID or passport as you won’t be able to fire a gun without one. They accept credit cards and Knet and there is an ATM machine at the location. The Mayadeen Public Shooting Range is located off the 6th Ring Road right by the Hunting and Equestrian Club and the Sahara Golf Club. You can contact them on 2475 9999.
  • TRAMPO KUWAIT: Newly opened and located in the new Promenade mall in Hawally, the place is packed with fun for kids and adults alike. With over twenty trampolines, Trampo Kuwait is the place to let off steam. Ideal not just for toddlers and children, but also adults. Booking in advance required for one hour slots. Open from 10 am to 4 pm and 8 pm to 1 pm during Ramadan. What’s App 60694352
  • ICE-SKATING RINK: For 1,5 KD per person, there is not much that can beat the heat than a couple of hours spent on the ice. The ice-staking rink is an Olympic size and caters for figure skaters, hockey players, as well as those of us who just want to go for a couple of hours to play around without breaking anything or anyone. Ice stakes are available for rent and there are even ice penguins for little ones who need a helping hand and something to hold onto.   Al-Soor St, Kuwait City, tel. 22411151 / 22411152

Salam & Thank you for reading and If you want to follow more of my Expat Guides & tips, feel free to
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The frenzy Toddler Life

Do you have a toddler in the house?

Toddler is an age of wonder, humor and loud meltdowns over palm tree pony tails and spaghetti noodles. In fact, toddler is an age where if you don’t or can’t find the humor in all the little things that can go wrong in a day you will end up crying in the corner before breakfast is over. For me, I only appreciate coffee or tea if its made before my toddler wakes up.

Thankfully ,this stage I believed can be  survived,( As What to expect says so..!)

As I ponder on her toddler days, I can find  wisdom and humor to the generation below her, and hey, I know I am not alone.So, how is your life  been with all the messes?

Have you been bending a lot too?

Who pick-up most of the scattered toys?

For the last 1.5 years, I realized this ; “What is a home without children? ” Quiet. The silence is always golden.

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Natalie trying to ride her Papa’s wooden Bike when He was a Toddler himself. A memento for the 2nd generation.

I can know if a household has a toddler or not. Just listen to the loudness of noise or the total absence of it. When you call someone, the crying, shouting, and loud attention seeking tiny human is breathing out her lungs just for you to cut off that call short.

If you have a toddler, its like  having a blender without a top cap over it.Imagine staring down a blender full of berries and knowing you have to start it without the lid. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I have to take my toddler out amongst the general public even for a short 20 minutes —even to the nearby supermarket, you know it’s going to be terrible, but you don’t really have a choice. I cannot risk to let her loose in the aisles or else we’ll be paying for many broken items. Did I mention that all of a sudden she doesn’t want to sit in her stroller?

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Kissing frog is old school. Now its Kissing the barks of Trees. Very nature-Friendly Kid.

Silence is golden- unless you have a toddler.In that case, silence is very very suspicious.Be quick, be very very quick to check her out. She might be eating something from the floor or licking the window glass and trying to flatten her nose though it.

That exercise looks adorable though.

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It feels great to learn to scribble on my Face !

Toddlers have their own set of rules, and until you can convince them that your way or the highway is really the only set of rules in the house there will be a lot of screaming, yelling and maybe trying to tell you in their own language “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR?”. Spell rebellion. They’re so cute, but they can get SO MEAN. All she wants to do is to run, make a mess, cling to me and repeat the same routine.

She used to loved to devour grapes, but now, she just turn her nose up when she sees it. Has her taste buds suddenly twisted? Toddlers are like mini-versions of drunk people.

 

My daughter is no exception. For the past few months, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety, worrying that my child may accidentally kill herself. She stumbles through life on unsteady feet, not paying attention to what is in front of her, off to the next adventure, and she never fails to inadvertently stumble (or rather, crash) into danger. We are always waiting to hear the next bang, boom, screech or howl.I cannot forget the sound when she fell out from her crib.It was horrible thug.

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The Frenzy life of a Toddler

I’ve heard many parents of toddlers complain about what a headache they can be. They pee & poop in odd places.  They stumble and fall into things and are basically one giant bruise. They throw tantrums. They refuse to eat their meals. They rip the pages out of their books, Hold on forever to anything that is color blue, eats wood etc.  They won’t sleep in their own beds but rather sleep on the edge! They splash in mud puddles and lick the windows and lick the tires of the stroller & bike. Toddlers are a pain in the ass. It’s just the truth.

As much stress and anxiety as my toddler causes me, most of the time, I can’t help but just laugh… Ahh Toddler Life!

For Mamas & Papas out there who can relate, How’s your  life with a toddler in the house?

 

Kuwait from A to Z

 

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Kuwait from A to Z

 

As the time I leave Kuwait comes near, I thought it might be a great tribute to posts more about this fascinating country which has been my home for the last 8 fruitful years. If you want to know more about what’s it like to live here, you can also check out  how to survive Kuwait  and my top Expat tips to enjoy the hot summers here.

So, how can you describe Kuwait alphabetically  from A to Z?

The only way for you to enjoy living in a foreign country is to embrace its culture & open your mind for changes. It won’t be easy at first, but experiencing any culture is the best way of learning. I have come to know  many facets of this country and here I share with you the A to Z of Everything about Kuwait  alphabetically. Enjoy!

AAVENUES – The world-renowned super-mall in Kuwait. It has beautiful architecture, and wide ranges of restaurants and shops of worldwide brands for all taste preferences.  The Avenues is among Prestigious MEED Quality Awards for Projects 2013 for Leisure and Tourism Project of the Year and The Avenues Among Prestigious Arab Town Organization Award (ATO). This place has becoming the modern touristic icon in Kuwait. I love this place and everything in it. It totally revolutionize the whole mall concept!

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The Avenues-designed by international  designer & Architectural London-based firm Gensler

A-AL-HAMRA TOWER – The Al Hamra Tower is a completed skyscraper in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Al Hamra is the tallest building in Kuwait and the 23rd tallest in the world. Another beautiful piece of architecture visible in Kuwait skyline.

 

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Al Hamra Tower

B BAKALA – The Arabic version of mini-stop or 711 convenience store in every corner of Kuwait neighborhoods.This is an original Kuwaiti thing.People just need to honk from their cars and the storekeeper will bring his order.Bakala always saves my day when I need boxes of water & eggs for my pancakes!

BAKLAVA-Kuwaitis loved sweets, so do I! It’s a part of their culture and Baklava is one comfort food in Kuwait that is present  in every corner, there is a nearby sweet shop selling this and this is the ultimate Ramadan dessert.

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B-Baklava,Kuwait’s favorite dessert during Ramadan

C-CARS – People in Kuwait loved Cars. I’m telling you, they have a serious love affair with cars here. SUV’s , Hummer,Maserati, and almost all brands of  luxury cars, you name it, its here.They are as common as people having 3 smartphones ! Cars like Porsche, Lamborghini & R&r are just parked out in the sun, out in the dust. Pink limousines parading in Gulf road is a typical sight. During New Year’s eve, people drive in their cars, into the desert, even into the shores of the beach. Unfortunately, Kuwait has  the highest accident rate in the world, because people drive like a maniac, once again topping global records.

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How to drive a Porsche Cayenne in Kuwait

D- DATES (Tamr ), this exquisite & delicious fruit from the palm tree which is abundant in the whole region. This is my favorite and I love bringing these to my  love ones in Ph & NL. An experience in Kuwait is not complete without eating this. During Ramadan, dates are usually the ones being eaten first after praying & breaking the fast.My daughter loved eating dates .This is for sure one of the things I will be missing from Kuwait.

E-EXPAT POPULATION -Did you know that Expats in Kuwait  make up 70% of the total population?Yes, from Westerners to neighboring GCC expats, they are here. There are so much cultural diversity in this tiny yet oil-rich country.

F-FAILAKA ISLAND– Failaka Island is  about 20km off the coast of Kuwait City, tiny Island that stands as a constant reminder of the Iraqi invasion a quarter-century ago.Prior to the Gulf War, Failaka was reportedly home to about 2,000 residents, but they fled when the Iraqis invaded and most did not return. Over the years, the homes and offices they left behind have crumbled, many still scarred with bullet holes from the war.Today, much of the island lies empty and in ruins, although a small tourism industry has emerged – with boat trips, overnight accommodations and cafes springing up on Failaka for curious sightseers. Failaka is also still used today for military exercises by the Kuwaiti army.

 

F-FRIDAY MARKET- or locally known as Harag.This is the famous Expats & local Flea market in Kuwait.The place to buy a secondhand dress, an Afghan coat or an illicit antique from Iran, this enormous semi-covered market is a shopping extravaganza – but, more importantly, it offers a look at contemporary Kuwaiti culture and cross-border relations. Five minutes shuffling between dusty textiles and sipping the coffee of a good-natured vendor delivers more in the way of insight into the complex web of Kuwaiti affairs, domestic and international, than you could absorb in a month of lectures on Arabic culture.

F-FAREEJ SOELEH-If you want to experience an authentic Kuwaiti dishes & dining ambiance then you need to go to Fareej Soeleh just before Marina mall in Salmiya. This place is so unique in its decor and seating arrangements. The restaurant’s entrance has an old Ford pickup as a permanent fixture and have become its landmark. First thing to make a note of is that dining area for bachelors is on the first floor and for families is on the second floor.

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Logaymat-Kuwaiti sweet balls

They say you can tell how authentic a local cuisine restaurant is by the number of locals who dine there.  Freej Soeleh is packed on the weekends, especially on a Friday after prayer services.  They serve a sample portion of logaymat as soon as guests are seated which is a nice touch and always makes  you want to order more at the end of the meal.

G-GRAND MOSQUEThe 8th largest mosque in the world.On 27th Ramadan year 2008, around 180,000 worshippers attended the night prayer. With such a huge crowd, the mosque was overflowing with people praying in the streets.the architecture of this mosque is world renowned and the intricate details of the Islamic calligraphy is highlighted in this prominent structure. This mosque is open even for non-muslims to marvel through its arranged tours.I love this mosque so much that I visited it almost 4 times!

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Green Island in Kuwait– once before a reclamation area, now a beautiful island.

G-GREEN ISLAND is a man-made island right beside the Kuwait towers. It’s a haven for beautiful landscape & a home for migrating birds. The design of the Green island is unique and has been a famous place for family picnics, leisure spot and tourist destination.The Green Island is located along the coastline, extending from Al-Shuwaikh to Ras Al-Ard, spanning an area of 785,000 square meters. It is surrounded by natural rocks brought from Al-Fujairah Emirates. In fact, even the sands at the beaches of the Green Island is said to have been imported from other countries. Established on 22nd February 1988, and owned by T.E.C, the island includes about 50,000 coloured shrubs and seedlings planted here, and with all the colors and greenery, it doesn’t render the feel of being in a desert country.

H-HARRIS– Your second landlord in Kuwait. The good, the bad and the Ugly are typical face of a Harris (aka guard/janitor/caretaker).

I-INSHALLAH !  ( If Allah wills it ) You know you are in a Muslim country like Kuwait when you hear this word. Inshallah has no English equivalent; it just simply means “If God wills “. In the Quran S18.A23-24 it says “and never say of anything , “Indeed, I will do that tomorrow” unless adding “inshallah “. Since a person cannot predict the future,Inshallah is said even for something expected, like coming home for dinner.

J-JUICES – or locally called  Aseer is a daily staple here. There is a huge variety of juices available  in Kuwait that becomes handy especially during the hot summer months. there is a juice shop in every corner or even can be ordered online through Talabat or in some cases, the brochures just dropped in your doorsteps.What I love is the abundance of flavors. I didn’t expect to find even the tropical fruits  like coconut, soursop & pineapples , but you can see them here or even in supermarkets.

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Colorful, healthy world of Juices in local Kuwait.
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Kuwait Towers

K-KUWAIT TOWERS – An iconic landmark of Kuwait. The face of Kuwait and its best Architectural heritage.After being closed for almost 5 years, it reopened again to public last March 8. This is a must-see for every visitor because the view from its viewing deck is magnificent.It has been closed for quite sometime but last March, it reopened again to public.

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K-KUBBAR ISLAND -Among nature’s best spectacles is the well-known Kubbar Island, relatively Small Sandy Island in the Persian Gulf located in close proximity to Fahaheel. Kubbar is located approximately 29 kilometres off the coast of Failaka and 30 kilometers off the southern coast of Kuwait.  Kubbar Island is a serene getaway that gives the nation of Kuwait its pride in picturesque locations. The island is nothing short of spectacular and is unspoiled in every way. The sparkling blue waters and grainy crystal sands make the beaches on the island so enticing for the tourists. Even though the island’s infrastructure remains yet to be developed,  Kubbar Island local tourist industry is beginning to flourish; it provides boating, sailing, swimming and water sports.

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A trip to Kubbar island for fishing, snorkeling , boating & diving is one of the tourist attractions in Kuwait by westerners & other Expats.

K-KUWAITI DINAR – or KD  for short is the currency of Kuwait. Its one of the strongest in value in all world currency . 1 KD is equivalent to approx. 3.32 $ US.

K-KUBZ ARABI  – Kubz is a type of short bread, flat baked & is widely staple food in Kuwait. Kuwaitis and all other Muslim expats enjoy eating Kubz with their favorite dishes.Your experience in Kuwiat won’t be complete unless you eat grilled meat, lahem, shish tawok with tahini or hummus with a warm Kubz bread.Yum!

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Kubz or Flat bread in Kuwait

L-LINGERIE shop in the Basement Miya Miya stores. You won’t believe this but Kuwait has its own Red Light District Lingerie shop located mostly in the basements of a Miya- Miya stores (Dollar thrift shops).There are variety of sexy lingerie, costumes, and scantily clothes you could ever imagined displayed here that would makes you wonder what sort of fun the one who wears these are engaging. This is Victoria Secret & La Senza’s local rival.

M-MUTLA ‘A RIDGE located on the further north of Kuwait, this place is famous for its rather rugged desert terrain and if you are in for a real desert experience, you can have a glimpse of this place from the  360 virtual tour of Al-Mutla Ridge. Thank you Alex Dennis Bolado.

M-MUBARAKIYA – this is the country’s renowned market infused with traditional Kuwaiti & Arab culture & design. From clothing, perfumes, carpets, fruits & veggies to shoes,everything is ever-present in Mubarakiya. There are old restaurants inside that still baked their bread in the stone-ovens.This is a must-see for every visitor and Expat here.

M-MASHRABIYA – a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The mashrabiya (sometimes shanshool or rushan) is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the Middle Ages up to the mid-20th century. It is mostly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side.

N-NATIONAL MUSEUM – Kuwait boasts of a National Museum that houses various antiquities and ancient collection from the past of this country’s historical past. One of the interesting sights is the Failaka Antiquities Room which shows relics and archaeological finds from the island. Designed by French architect Michel Ecochard, visitors can enjoy this historical museum, which represent the Kuwaiti life in the past, their everyday activities, the rich trading history of Kuwait and its traditions.Kuwait National Museum also houses the adjacent Planetarium which have astronomical shows which I personally love.

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O-OIL RESERVES in Kuwait this is what  makes Kuwait where it is now.  Oil reserves in Kuwait make up 8% of the oil reserves in the world. Kuwait is OPEC’s third largest oil producer and claims to hold approximately 104 billion barrels (16.5×109 m3). This includes half of the 5 billion barrels (790×106 m3) in the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone which Kuwait shares with Saudi Arabia. Most of Kuwait’s oil reserves are located in the 70 billion barrels (11×109 m3) Burgan field, the second largest conventional oil field in the world, which has been producing oil since 1938.

P-PEARL MARZOUK ( Al Marzouk Pearl ) One of the most prominent structure in Kuwait and one of the few who have been undergoing restoration .Recently, Kuwait Real Estate Co., have commissioned the rethinking and redevelopment of this significant modern housing complex to PAD10, an architecture and design firm known for their excellence in design and attention to detail. The team is headed by an amazing person which I personally knew, Mr. Naji Moujaes. The renovation began in 2011 and is slated to complete in 2013 .Pearl Marzouk is located along the green lawn & promenade of the Scientific Center overlooking the sea that gives the residents an outstanding view of the Arabian Gulf.

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Pearl Marzouk in Kuwait

Q-QOUT MARKET – The travelling & hippest market trend happening in Kuwait. They are a very trendy group of artists, farmers, bakers & home-based artisans who gathers together to share their passion with the local community. They recently have their venue in Pearl Marzouk and I was personally impressed by their community.

R-RAMADAN – The Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the highlights of Muslim festivities celebrated every year.This is holy observance of Fasting & prayers of all Muslim worldwide. It is such a great experience to see & partake in this wonderful festival.I always love the atmosphere during Ramadan. The working hours are shorter, people are all friendly & the joys shared during Iftar & futoor. The delicious sweets during Ramadan is also not to be missed along with the spirit of giving.

S-SHAWARMA – Now if you’re in Kuwait, this yummy sandwich is not to be missed. You just need to try it because its delicious. They have so many shawarma shops in Kuwait, almost in every corner of the neighborhood. My personal favorite is the one in Wadi Rum, just in front of Marina Mall in Salmiya and the chicken shawarma of Kurdo. They come in a meal of fries & a drink and side veggies.

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Shawarma sandwich or roll

S-SADU HOUSE – Sadu House or Beit Al-Sadu is a very prominent Textile heritage cultural center of Kuwait.The Al-Sadu project started in 1978, as a private initiative by a group of concerned Kuwaitis with the aim of preserving the traditional art of Bedouin  weaving. In 1991, the project was transformed into a weaving Craft Co-operative Society whose shares are owned by the weavers and artisans themselves.

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I love the whole ambiance of this center. Its full of creativity and Kuwaiti culture infused in their traditionally woven materials.they have an Arts & Crafts shop that displays a wide range of local artist’s  and artisan’s work inspired by traditional weaving. They offer a wide range of gifts from bags, wallets, & diaries to traditional camel bags, rugs, wall hangings & home furnishings.They also hosts workshops and weaving courses and has a Library where there is a digital records of all the traditional weaving textiles & traditions of Kuwait are available for researchers, artists, students, and cultural organizations.

S-SHEESHA –  (Hookah ) the only form of nightlife you can have in Kuwait.Sheesha Parlors are widely available in Kuwait but some restaurants have this service for costumers who wants to smoke  while dining . For Expats, trying out in a Sheesha Cafe might surprise you, there are various flavors to choose from and the crowd inside might just be what you need to kill time, play billiards, chat with friends or just watch Football game.

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To smoke or not to smoke sheesha ?

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Arabic figurine of smoking Sheesha spotted in Mubarakiya Souk in Kuwait

T-TAREQ RAJAB Museum-Another highlight in my stay in Kuwait was the visit to this beautiful privately-owned Museum. I have never imagined that this type of collection ever existed in Kuwait . To be able to see the vast amount of collection from antiquities to jewels  is really a beautiful experience.

The Tareq Rajab Museum houses a collection of over thirty thousand items collected over the last fifty years, of which approximately ten thousand are on permanent display. Tareq Sayed Rajab was the first Kuwaiti to be sent abroad to study art and archaeology.

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T-TAXI – In Kuwait, Taxis have become so handy & affordable. Since there is no good public transportation Kuwait, having a Taxi so easily quite become a convenience. My observations though are; they don’t have meter ( or they choose not to operate it ) , they have fixed amount for every destination and the drivers tends to chat you up, otherwise they are just friendly. You can roam around in your favorite supermarket or to nearest mall by 500 fils or just 1kd fare. Taxi drivers like to give away their phone numbers and you can contact them the time you want to go out & they are waiting at your doorstep. Not like in Holland that Taxis are expensive and there are only designated place where they are located.Riding a taxi is one of the experience that every expats should have. You just need to choose wisely so you don’t end up inside a smelly car & crazy driver!

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Expat Guide -How to survive your first Taxi ride in Kuwait

U-UBON– Ubon is a trendy  Thai bistro at the center of Kuwait City by architect Rashed Alfoudari. This place’s signature Pendant lamps , the black and white furniture and the small area kitchen is at the back of the restaurant covered by mirror wall. The space is a bit small , enough for 10 tables , but the food is brilliantly delicious as well as for the service by the owner himself Mr. Rashid , a vibrant young architect with his architect team , whom they’ve developed the whole concept of designing the bistro and bringing real Thai food to the market , the location is in the heart of Kuwait city , opposite Abdullah Takki store , no reservations , you have to show up.

V-VIMTO -This flavorful non-alcoholic drink is the flavor in every household in Kuwait purchased especially in the days of Holy month of  Ramadan.I have to try it for me to get convinced and surprisingly, it was good.

W-WAFRA FARMS – Kuwait is not all Desert. There are vegetations as well,just like in Wafra Farms. A trip to Wafra is a worthwhile drive.Wafra is the southernmost area in Kuwait. It is part of Ahmadi Governorate and is well known for its fertile soil andfarms. It is parallel with the Saudi border. Wafra and Abdali in the North, are the only two cities in Kuwait known for farming and the animal sector. Wafra Farms are fed by the underground lakes. The farms have a very original cone-shaped mud dovecotes with hundreds of birds. People tend to visit the Wafra Market to buy fresh vegetables.

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Road to Wafra Farms

W-WASTA System – A colloquial term used in Kuwait for a “special sponsorship or backer system “. It is not what you can do that matters, but its actually who you are. This is very rampant in Ministry works and transactions. If you have a “WASTA”, then things are in favor in your way. It could be done in seconds while if you’re the unlucky one, you’ll wait for days, even to nothing. As an Expat, I don’t know if this is favorable or not, since its a real pain in the ass if you are the one needing the efficient service and you can’t get it in a legit manner. Wasta system sometimes just sucks!

X-X-CITE – One of the biggest Electronics shop in Kuwait which is under Alghanim group of companies. They sell almost everything from mobile phones, computers, electronics, and appliances up to cars & household items.

Y-YACHT SHOW– A popular annual event for yacht & marine enthusiasts in Kuwait.Where else would be the best venue to showcase the huge 15,000 +  private owned yachts & boats than in a prestigious show in Kuwait Yacht show held in Marina. I have written about life in the sea in Kuwait that shows how Kuwaitis love marine life and has been an integral part of their culture.

Z-ZUBAIDY FISH – Pampus argenteus, often called either the silver or white pomfret, is a species of butterfish that lives in coastal waters off the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. This is one of the common favorites for Fish in Kuwait along with Hamoor (Grouper).

 

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Fish vendor selling Zubaidy fishes in Mubarakiya Fish Market

So, how do you well-know your own country in alphabetically speaking?

So,there you go, Everything Kuwait from A to Z. I hope this post helps you out if you are planning to start your Expat life in Kuwait.

Thank you for reading!

 

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Off the beaten path : Clamdigger

Have you ever tried digging clams?

I did. Of all the off-the-beaten-path adventures I had  in Kuwait, this is by far the one I enjoyed the most.

Why?

Because its something that I have never done before & never expected that I would be doing here.Yes, in Kuwait. Right in the shores of Doha .

One of  my friend asked me if I would like to come with her to dig clams. I said yes, but actually, I didn’t know how exactly it is being done or why in the world are we going to do it. She picked me up at around 2am in the morning as the travel time going to Doha is quite far from where I lived. It was the perfect time, its low tide and the weather is great. It took us about 1.5 hours and finally we reached the place. We met other people there which I haven’t known but my friend told me that we are all going in a group. It was fine with me.

I didn’t bring anything but I noticed that our group brought buckets, spade, a spatula (wooden & stainless) and a big colander! I was just smiling while watching because I am totally curious what’s going to happen.

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Clamdigging and chasing the sun in Doha

I went to Doha to dig for clams out of recreation and for the sake of experience. I wanted to watch the sunrise there. I’ve always been fascinated by how different the sun rises on different locations that I’ve been to. While we walk barefoot along the shores in Doha, I let my feet feel the soft, cold mud-like shore. This is a new experience to me. It’s  still so dark at around 3am and walking in the beach like this is totally exhilarating.  I can feel the wind in my face, but my eyes is fixed on the lighted part from our flashlights because I don’t like to tumble-down in the sand.The only thing that ‘s running in my mind this time is “I wanna dig some clams !”

The journey to reach the area where we finally can start to dig is enjoyable. With great anticipation I sat on my knees and I let my hands explore the wet shores, my hands slowly digging, feeling, and searching. I watched how the others  are doing it and then I decided to use the spade & spatulas. My excitement goes on higher. I wanted to find the clams!

I heard  the others already shrieking & shouting.They have found it. They have dug and found the clams! This made me become more determined.I said to myself that I will not go home until I found one. Finally  my spatula touches a hard shell so I kept on digging until I got my first clam. It started as one piece, then follows another, until I filled almost half of the bucket. I was so happy when I dig those clams. It’s like searching for pearls.You’ll never know where they exactly  are, all you know is that they are just right there, waiting to be discovered.

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Clamdigging-For recreation or wanting something new?

Finally the sun starts to peek out from the dark. I watched with delight as the sun rises slowly. We are surrounded by its golden glow. It’s magical to be able to see silhouettes of people while watching the sun rises.The sunrise in Doha is beautiful. I even beachcombed and found beautiful shells. So as the experience of digging clams.

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A handful of precious clams. Our sumptuous lunch.

“No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need “

{ You can’t always get what you want by the Rolling Stones } 

I’m a big fan of Rolling Stones & this song has one of the best lyrics. In life we need to have focus & goal because this will help us to move forward. As we go through our days, we might get short-sighted and give up at the sight of struggles & hardships. We can’t always get what we want on the first try, but if don’t give up & continue to move forward, we might find, we will get what we need.

This is the lesson I have learned from Clamdigging, Never Give Up.

A few minutes of beachcombing produced these common shells: a ki
A Shell for your thoughts

Thank you for reading & I’ll leave these questions for you to ponder ;

Do you have any dreams that you have finally given up?

What have you done lately that is out of your comfort zone?

Are you still amazed by simple pleasures like watching the sun rises and feeling the beach in your feet?

 

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Amsterdam for Kids, Why Not?

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam? I mean, with a toddler toddling with you?

Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Full of vibrant and definitely a top Family destination.Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers or children, this major European city is a hub for adventure and family-friendly sights that would make your stay worthwhile. Now before anyone raised their eyebrows and rant about this city’s tag for lascivious scenic spots , coffee shops & brothels, let me get this straight. We went there not for those reasons.

As for me, Amsterdam is a sure winner for travel destination for kids.Besides that this is my husband’s home country, I can’t argue anymore why this city stands out. Its up to you to discover its charm. You as the parent is the sole responsible for your trip to make it or break it. Period.

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Little Miss N in front of her favorite Ninjtje 

 

On our recent trip to the Netherlands, my daughter had a blast and we can’t wait to be back soon this summer. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from this trip especially from our visit to the newly renovated  Rijksmuseum , but this time with my daughter.

Both me & my husband are excited to explore the Rijksmuseum .We are both lovers of Architecture and Arts  so we thought that this should not be missed from our trip.We booked our tickets online & we managed to squeeze ourselves quickly away  from the rain and morning frenzy in the tram. Finally  we’re at Rijksmuseum. We are excited. My daughter was not. She preferred Ninjtje over Rembrandt.Am I a bad Mama dragging this little toddler to admire the works of Van Gogh & Rembrandt?

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Sculpture at the reception Hall of Rijksmuseum

On the contrary, Rijksmuseum was striking & beautiful . It really exceeded my expectation. But not the busyness inside! It is something that I did not expect since we were  there early. After depositing our things at the baggage deposit counter, we headed to see the Grand Hall. We take our time to adore the famous “Night Watch Galleryin the grand hall of the Great Masters. For the first time in over twenty years, the Rijksmuseum again organized a Rembrandt exhibition, giving every generation the chance to renew its acquaintance with the great Master of the Golden Age.This is something that we don’t wanna miss. We don’t see this everyday so we wanted to make the most of it but unfortunately, it did not happen that easily.

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Shooters district XI under Captain Reynier Reael, known as “Lean Company” Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, 1637

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Shooters district II, led by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1642

 

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My daughter was busy biting the leaflet and looking at the crowd. Maybe she was wondering why there is no Winnie the Pooh ? Soon I have noticed that there were quite  a number of visitors with babies tagged along with them, but most of them looks older than her. I felt unsure though that soon she might get bored and start to whine since she doesn’t like to stay in one place.She likes to roam around so we move on. I skipped the crowded areas, especially with so many people coughing! I was really surprised to see so many Koreans inside Rijksmuseum.

One thing that I find difficult is accessing the elevators. They were centrally located but then it was so busy,  its difficult to navigate with a stroller.I find the size so tiny compared to the ample sizes of elevators here in Kuwait.

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Beautiful tainted windows inside Rijksmuseum

Knowing that my daughter is super active, I give her a treat and let her loose in the adjacent hall. She loved the tainted windows, and she had some wooden benches where she climbed on.The sight was new to her. This was also my personal favorite. There were interesting patterns in the floor that kept her occupied, but not that long. Its almost lunchtime so we decided to check out the Museum’s cafe, but as I expected, there was already a long line waiting for a table. Its obvious that we can’t wait that long to be seated. I was not even sure if they have a high chair. I personally needed a breath of fresh air. So we decided to head out and check out Ninjtje Parade in the Museumplein.  

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Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

She loved this, who doesn’t? She was actually mesmerized by each sculpture. I just let her ogle on each sculpture. She climbed them, touch them, maybe they had a quick téte-a-téte! Then we let her climb over the I am Amsterdam Letters with delight. She was so thrilled by the huge letters to climbed on. After she got exhausted, we decided to have a picnic , rest for a while and watch the ducks in the pond. Now that’s what I called “We time “.

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Can I take you home Miffy?

So what have I learned from this trip?

I don’t blame my daughter for the short-cut of our visit in Rijksmuseum, in fact, I was grateful to her. She have taught me to take it easy by slowing down & paying attention to what really matters, Afterall, a happy child equals happy parents.

Expat Mama Travel Tip!

  1. Be flexible and make it simple – Don’t complicate your itinerary. You know your child better. You know what makes them cranky. Bring them to destinations where both you & your children can be flexible and relax as much as possible . Amsterdam is surrounded with beautiful green landscapes and sceneries , make the most of the clean oxygen. The best memories are made outdoors! If your child doesn’t like being in crowded indoors, search for the nearby garden or take a stroll in the park.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun-Make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you become stressed out, your child will definitely catch it. Take time to talk to your child while you admire the scenery. Your tone can either set the mood  & soothe her and helps her to calm down.
  3. Do it together- If you are travelling with a family, then allow other members to interact with your child. This can ease the child-overdose you are feeling if your child is constantly clinging on you.

Don’t forget to make lots of memories of your trip!

If you like this post, then maybe you would be interested to know what are the top free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam as a family. Do you have 24hours in Amsterdam? Then click this Link Here to know more.

How about you,what is the unforgettable part of your trip with your children?  Do you enjoy travelling with kids? how do you handle the impromptu changes ?

Safe travels!

 

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Happy National Day Kuwait!

Kuwait is in full colors today, February 25,2016  as it marks its  55th National Day. Serving to ignite the very essence of nationalism, on National Day Kuwait celebrates with myriad festivities and events, including a spectacular display of fireworks, illuminating the night sky. On this momentous day, Kuwaitis are typically attired in national dress and streets are decorated in the colours of the national flag. Kuwaitis like to spray each other with coloured foam, and water guns so maybe do not wear your very best clothes.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : A Kuwaiti Boy Squinting against the sun flying his kite.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : Kuwaiti fashion faux pas ,typical National Day at the desert.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : National costumes, face paints & gimme Korean love,Salam!

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : National Day for Kuwaiti children.The future of this nation depends on them.

Happy 55th National Day and 25th Liberation Day !

The celebrations also coincided with Kuwait being chosen as capital of Islamic culture for 2016.As annual tradition dictates, military shows are held with the high-profile participation of land, air, and marine troops from the military, Interior Ministry, and Kuwait National Guard (KNG).The military shows usually receives the patronage and attendance of His Highness the Amir with the attendance of chiefs of the army and the National Guard, and scores of top senior officials of the state.Military and security units’ performances reflected the spirit of efficiency and readiness in defending the homeland under all circumstances.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : Of festive Kuwaiti dancing & singing & Diwaniya with hundreds of carpets laid.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : Its all about the details.Of pins & flag needles.

A parade showcasing armored vehicles, tanks, and other machinery usually occur during the event.An airshow, which includes various types of air crafts, marvelously sprayed the colors of Kuwait flag in the sky, painting a portrait of the flag.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : Of pimping rides and please make some sounds .

Regularly, the event takes place in Sabhan area where the public are welcomed to attend.Also partaking in the national celebrations is the Sabah Al-Ahmad cultural village which is being decorated with the finest of colorful lights representing the Kuwaiti flag. The village is holding several events and festivities which will last till March 15th in honor of Kuwait’s national celebrations.

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On #iLoveYouKuwait : Camels & guards steals the show.

The celebrations of Kuwait national day and liberation anniversary was also accompanied by the re-opening of the country’s most prominent touristic site and symbol the Kuwait Towers. The towers were closed for five years due to maintenance work and now it is currently permissible for people to visit.Private and public buildings as well as homes and dwellings of Kuwaiti nationals and expatriates also showcased lights and decorations dedicated to the dear national celebrations.

Do you appreciate National days of the country you are living right now?

The art of Slowing down at child’s pace

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Lessons learned from  raising a Toddler

My daughter, Natalie is a great teacher. She’s only 18 months and yet she have taught me far greater & deep lesson about Caring with Respect, a valuable lesson that I needed for my age, and at this time of my life. I never learned this from school, but only through life with her.She have given me the Gift of Slowing down in life, at her own pace.

We loved to take a walk together. This is one way that we bond. Oftentimes, when we get down from our building, we took the elevator. But as soon as we are out, my daughter immediately run to the stairs and starts climbing. Up & down she goes. I always grab her by both hands and pull her back to get on with our walk & immediately she pull her hand out from my grip & go on her way. We do this maybe for a couple of times but she has her own ways to go back again to the stairs. One time after scooping her up, she just screamed,cried & refused to walk. The next time we are going out and she did the same, I let go of her. She go on her own way, she climbed the stairs, up & down for a couple of times while I just stood there, watching her. She’s looking back at me from time to time & smiled . Then she continued with her “ways”. After 3 rounds, she came up to me and pulled my hand, going to the direction of the main door so we can go on for our walk. This time, she was willing. She was finally ready. I learned that just being prepared & present for her helped her. Now I fully understand what does it really mean to “walk with her “. Its not about my pace, but hers.

Recently I found out something unusual with her. I didn’t notice the change until I evaluate what have I done. Normally when she woke up, she cried and refused to go back to sleep unless I stayed with her. I used to do things without telling her what I’m planning to do with her. This always result that she gets upset. I felt like I need to do it in a rush way like changing her diaper, leaving the room, pulling out her onesies, or brushing her teeth. But lately, I decided to talk to her more often of what I want to do instead of doing it while she’s caught off-guard. I decided to take my time, to slow down & care with respect. To let her know if I am going to remove her diaper and wash her, or inform her that I am going to the kitchen to get her milk, or telling her I’m going to brush her teeth. Her reaction changed. She became more calm, more tolerant. She was there waiting for me, as if she really understood me. This really struck me. She let go of her defenses and behaved. This time, I finally knew the power of Narrating what was happening & just observing more to understand her needs better.

Many times, I see my toddler as uncooperative, as whining, and difficult. But I never evaluated my own actions as demanding, insensitive or harsh. But when I started to look deeper at my actions as a parent,I was really dumbfounded why I never realized these things before. I know for most of us parents whose both hands are full with work & day-to day responsibilities, it’s not always easy to be fully present and attuned to a baby or young child who can’t keep up physically or verbally to let you know, “Hey wait a minute! Slow down! “We thought we are always in-charge, that our child are all helpless creatures. We forget that although they may not be physically agile as we are, they have feelings, their perception of things is developing and therefore this stage is critical.

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Educating while caring : Slowing down at child’s pace.

I was deeply moved by the gift of slowing down to a child’s pace and the humbling  lesson  I have learned about “Educaring”. Educaring  means that we should educate while we care, and care while we educate; that these two things are intertwined. So the intimate caregiving activities of feeding, diapering, bathing, and dressing a baby, provide valuable opportunities for a baby to learn about himself and also about others, about the people who care for him. And these are also valuable opportunities for relationship building between parent and child.

The art of Slowing down at a pace of a child illustrates the profound connection and joy available to both parents and young children when we can slow down just a little to be present with, and allow for what naturally unfolds, leaving our agenda behind, and trusting our children to be active participants in their own experience, recognizing that they have a point of view too.

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Babies, even toddlers knows best.Let them eat sand if she like. She does it anyway!

How do we do this? How can we slow down at their own pace and educate them while caring?

I wanna share with you  what I have learned from the excerpt of the book “Baby knows best”  : Raising a Confident & Resourceful Child , the RIE way by Deborah Carlisle Solomon. I didn’t know that these things are so relative and yet it really opened my eyes. This definitely changed my relationship with my daughter.Here are some helpful tips ;

1 – Slow down. Just slowing down creates a sense of peacefulness and allows even a young baby to follow what’s happening. When you think about the difference in how you feel when you’re rushing or even just moving at a brisk pace versus when you take the time to move slowly, it’s not surprising that this would have such a difference for babies.

2 – Practice telling your baby what you’re going to do, before you do it. “I’d like to pick you up now. I’m going into the other room and I’ll be right back.” When we are in the habit of telling the baby what we’re going to do, the baby can relax. She knows there’s going to be no surprises.

3-Tarry time -It’s the time between when you tell the baby what’s going to happen and when you actually do it. So after you tell the baby “I’m going to pick you up now,” you tarry, or wait for her to process what’s been said and let you know she’s ready. She might raise her arms up or have a look on her face of anticipation and you’ll know that now she’s ready to be picked up. This is important because babies take more time to process than we do. If we just say we’re going to pick you up and then pick up the baby, it will still feel very abrupt for the baby and she won’t be able to quite keep up with what’s going on.

Childhood is fleeting. Time flies so fast that we might not realize it when were so absorbed by the hustle & bustle of parenting. But as for me, I wanted to grow along with my child as she learns from me and vice versa. It is more important than ever to remember that the simple act of slowing down and giving our full attention is a gift that we can give to our children, and to ourselves.

Can you relate to this post?

Or what have you learned about slowing down in Life to appreciate more of it?

I wish that you find your inspiration everyday.Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Liberation Tower of Kuwait

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Kuwait Liberation Tower

Have you’ve been to the Liberation Tower in Kuwait?

I have reached the viewing deck of the Liberation Tower in Kuwait in one minute, 150 sweet floors!  in swift seconds.That elevator ride was fast and surprisingly cool. Since I love Architecture and modern buildings, I made sure that climbing this tower was one of my bucket list while I live in Kuwait and today it came true.Admiring beautiful building is my favorite past time whenever I’m into a new place or rather part of exploring the local culture.Through visiting key places like the Liberation Tower then  have come discover new details and concepts behind it.

I searched for ways to go here but I’ve learned that it is not open for public and could only be viewed through arranged appointment with the Ministry of Communications (MOC) management. Luckily, the always amazing Aware Center have arranged a tour to this iconic landmark and fortunately I was able to go.Finally!!

For those of you who lives in Kuwait, this tower can be seen if you go Sharq area and Kuwait city. It dominates the skyline standing at 372 meters from ground level. The Kuwait Liberation Tower is one of the elements of the “Liberation Communications Tower Complex ” situated in the heart of Kuwait City.

This is the tallest structure in the Middle East and is considered the Fifth (5th) highest freestanding telecommunication tower in the world (status as of yr 2000).Compared to other famous constructions in the world, it is 72 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and nine meters shorter than Empire State  Building in New York. The view I’ve had when we visited the Olympic Tower in Munich was totally different from here, mainly in Kuwait it’s full of high rise buildings and less green.

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Kuwait skyline viewed from the viewing deck of Liberation Tower

The construction was completed in 2 distinctive phases separated by an interruption of more than 3 years, followed the treacherous occupation of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.It was meant to be called “The Kuwait Telecommunications Tower “.  After Saddam Hussein’s forces were expelled from Kuwait last February 27,1991,the Tower was completed in 1993, and renamed “Kuwait Liberation Tower “depicting  special significance of the country’s freedom from Iraq.

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Rotating Viewdeck

Here are some useful facts I have learned from visiting this Tower. I find  everything interesting and contributed to the uniqueness of this structure.

1.The total cost of this project amounts to 50 million Kuwaiti Dinars (Approx. $ 165 US Million Dollars )

2.Construction Time (Total ) – Sixty seven months.

4. The Revolving Restaurant was done by  Glantre,UK.

5. The Instrumentation were done by Interfels,Germany.

6. Secalt from Belgium did the External Cleaning Systems.

7. Gleitbau from Austria were responsible for the Slip-forms.

8. The Structural steel work & steel mast erection were done by Centrozap from Poland.

 

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Liberation Tower

The structure is made using ceramic tiles on the façade from base to first mezzanine level. Three natural light shades render a geometric design from the base. The tower, including the telecommunications complex, is divided into three working areas – a public communications center; revolving observatory level, and a restaurant at 150 meters; and the adjacent plant and equipment structure.

There are a total of 18 elevators, and are amongst the fastest in the world. As for the revolving mezzanine, there are six office floors spanning 12000 sq/m above the revolving observatory level, that rise up and out within a section covered in Anodised aluminium, so as to withstand the extreme temperatures.

The tower includes a revolving restaurant and an observation platform, apart from radio and telecommunications offices.

Given the historical and monumental significance of this tower, visitors usually do not miss the opportunity to visit this destination during their travel to Kuwait.Visiting this Tower is a wonderful experience. The host welcomed us warmly with brief introduction and tour of the whole building. I had great views of the skyline of Kuwait when I’m on top of the tower.It is nice to view Kuwait from above, so different from the ground.

If you’re interested to tour the Liberation Tower, check out Aware Center’s scheduled events to find out more details. They have lots of amazing cultural events about Arabic culture that you might find interesting. You can also check out their website Here.

I just hoped that Kuwait would invest more on maintaining this type of monumental buildings. The time I visited, I noticed that there were some renovations going on. I think this tower is worth the pride of Kuwaitis since it really stands for a symbol. Kuwait has no nature to boast but If they continue to build buildings with adept planning, then this place will go further.

Do you think you would want to climb a tower like this?

How was your experience visiting some famous architecture in your country?

Are you on Twitter? Follow my Expat Life stories and adventures in my Twitter page Here .

 

My Daughter is a TCK (Third Culture Kid)

” A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.”

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A third culture Kid 

My daughter, Natalie is a TCK . ( or better understood as Third Culture Country Kid.) She was  born in Kuwait  from a Dutch father, Filipino mother and currently being raised in not-so quintessential Arabic culture  in Kuwait. In a few more months, she will be attending  a Kindertagesstätte in Germany  where she will be stomping her feet with other kids and learn ABC   with other toddlers of her same age.  At her critical stage of language development, we hope that she learn Deutsch along the way.  Right now,at 18 months, she’s exposed to a bilingual home. Since birth, we  talked to her in English, but occasionally converse with her in Tagalog, Dutch & now German. I am not so sure which language will she eventually  be able to pick-up quickly,  Smorgasborg eh?

She loved to play with other Expat Kids in the parks &  playgroups. She interacts with multi-lingual children , most of them are 2-4 years ahead of her either speaking Arabic, Lebanese, Egyptian, Kuwaiti & American. In Kuwait, seeing a TCK is quite a norm. With the booming Expat community here, it’s no wonder that there are so many half-nationalities.It’s unlikely that my neighbor in the new building are French-Italian, Romanian-Lebanese, or Filipino-American. This diversity is coming hand in hand as Kuwait grows into a multi-cultural hub for Expatriates . She is exposed to Arabic culture and the norm of childhood here in Middle East.The other night, I had visitors at home and they were utterly surprised why she is watching nursery rhymes in German and Dutch children’s books.  They asked, what will be her mother-tongue? Hilarious but the child doesn’t know. At least not yet.

This is a typical part of common early childhood of  a TCK.  A child born away from her parent’s own culture have a unique childhood, even a special one. What they call home once they grow older might be confusing ,the dilemma is real but in a way, having an Expat parents gives them the  privilege to see the world in an expanded way. At an early age, TCK have the chance to have a cross-cultural competence or cultural intelligence : the capacity to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. I have touched this on my post about 10 Surprising things about Parenthood in Kuwait and the challenges I have faced as I adapt on new culture along with my child.

As a new mother, I am very concerned about this fact. Myself , as the parent, is the ultimate responsible for my daughter’s early development and the path she goes along her adulthood. For now, she couldn’t decide yet for herself. That is why its very important for Expat parents to consider the well-being of their young tots and not just the financial, social & personal reasons of migrating from one place to another.  As I engrossed myself on learning more about this, I am fully aware that my daughter could face challenges ahead, (which is quite normal ) . One of the challenges that  a third culture child could face  is developing a sense of belonging, commitment, and attachment to a culture. When you moved from country to country for work, relocation or personal reasons, you dragged your child into these changes. With adults, it is a different sense of adapting to a new culture, so as with the children. What happens in their early years of childhood has a definite impact when they grow up.

Now why am I talking about this? Because this is an Expat Blog & I am sharing from my personal experience  & my thoughts on this matter. I know that soon, when my daughter grows-up, it would be inevitable for the question “Where is my Home ? ” for her not to come across with. Maybe she would even develop a love& hate relationship for the question “Where are you from? ” 

I wanted to share a relatable documentary film that talks more about TCK. Aspiring film-maker Aga Alegra and her international, multi-cultural team are now trying to explore the lives of TCKs in the upcoming documentary “Where Is HOME?” which shows us different perspectives of people who have spent a significant portion of their childhood overseas. It has an ultimate purpose of understanding why Third Culture Kids struggle to answer the question of “So Where is Home? ” and the implications this difficulty has on their personal identity.

What I have learned from watching this documentary is that TCK ‘s life can be the best life that your child could have.It doesn’t need to complicate things. When your child is exposed to early realities of life then these values can strengthen their character as they learn these things along the way. We, as parents need to guide them to have  the ability to feel at home anywhere in the world and the ability to easily connect with everyone on this beautiful planet. To pass on to our children what we have learned  to recreate a sense of community for ourselves with each move . To be there for our kids when they feel that they  are generally the odd-ones-out in each new community. We need to be on guard , to quickly find common ground in order to understand those around us so we can be a better example for our children. Remember, no matter where you go, your home is the only place your child feel that she’s accepted, belonged, safe & most importantly, Loved.

But as of now, I am ready for this ride, I don’t know yet what the future might brings to us after our move to Germany  but  I am excited for all the new things that we are learning in our Expat life, and with our TCK toddling away with us. I know there would be more challenges, but I also remind myself  there are also more fun &   that’s what makes life fulfilling. Every stamp on our passport does not mean travel, it means Life.

Can you relate on this post? How about you, how  are you coping as an Expat family and your child as a Third Culture Kid?

Do you have any unusual stories being a TCK?

 

 

 

 

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Kuwait :From an expat point of view

I came to Kuwait in May 2008 totally ignorant about this country. Yes,i know about Saddam’s invasion but i haven’t got any clue what to expect from this country. You see, sometimes, when you make big changes in your life, it’s so spontaneous that you embrace it enough to get it through your skin overnight. Now, for almost 8 years of living and working in this small, yet oil-rich country, Kuwait has been close to my heart. My second home. I have embraced the Kuwaiti way of life, Muslim culture, the real heat during Summers , the fierce Sandstorms, the Authentic brightness of the sun, and the parenthood in this culture.

I’m telling you, Kuwait is not your typical tourist destination .If i were a tourist, i would never put Kuwait in my Bucket List. Why?  No nightlife, No public partying, no alcohol, not much “Green Nature “ to see here, (yeah there is Desert), No Pork! Public Transportation is bad, besides,who would want to go out in the scorching  heat? Kuwait is totally dormant especially during Ramadan. It doesn’t have an appealing profile in Wikipedia, or  in Tripadvisor. But still, there are approximately 2.4 Million expats living here.People are attracted to go to Kuwait  mainly to earn money. People go here to work, and this is  from my own perspective.

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Kuwait Towers.The Symbolic Architectural Heritage of Kuwait.

Now from the moment you step out of the plane and out from the Airport, you inhaled Kuwait. The air you breathe in  is different. The heat & humidity is quite a shock to most foreigners .The heat is real. It could stung your skin. If you come here during the months of May to August,then you might really praise the invention of Airconditioning.You cannot survive here without an AC. When people complained to me that they have hot temperatures, i shrug & always said,“Do you know how it feels to have 50 deg temps?“Getting used to the heat is one of the hurdles you need to overcome. A good pair of Sunglasses is also a  must-have. Never ever come here during Summer!!

As we all know, Kuwait is an Islamic country. Arabic is the main language spoken although English is widely understood by  Kuwaitis .Paperworks in Ministries are all in Arabic so it’s a nerve-wrenching experience to deal with them if you don’t understand it.Prayertimes are widely observed.Every place has it’s own Mosque (Masjid).I have seen cars parked in the middle of the highway, just because the driver needs to pray.I have seen my colleagues pray together, inside the mall,in the park, even in the island of a Roundabout.

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Kuwait Skyline showing modern Skycrapers like Al Hamra Tower.

 

In Europe, where in it is  pedestrian-friendly, the car stops to give way to the pedestrians .In Kuwait, the cars and its drivers rules !Maniac drivers are the King of the Road most especially in the major highways. I saw men driving with  kids in the driver’s seat,no seatbelts,annoyingly feet up on the dashboard,mobile phones are stucked on their cheeks!People are even driving on New Year’s Eve. I often wonder what in the world they are doing spending all their time driving around. Social status is also depends on the car that you drive. Swerving and cutting lanes is common and mostly causes accidents. Driving in Kuwait is not for the faint-hearted. Autobahn in Germany has no speed limit, yet the percentage of road accidents is lower compared to Kuwait who has speed limits set,  yet has a high road-accident rate .Kuwait has broken the world record of number of  traffic deaths.Not really the kind of record to be proud of.

I don’t know why but only in Kuwait that Men stared a LOT.I mean, its really crazy and uncomfortable the way people stares. I would believed that you could get so much attention if you are a Celebrity or a supermodel walking along the street and wearing flashy outfit! Don’t forget that Kuwait is a Muslim country and although Non-Muslim women here are not required to wear the Abaya, they are expected to dressed conservatively. I noticed that Kuwaiti women are fashion & beauty-conscious. They love the glamour & glittery lifestyle. Their wardrobe are always trendy and up to date with fashion . Of course, they have money to splurge on make up , clothes & everything. There’s never too expensive for them. You can always see fashionable women totally made-up even on a very laid back environment just like grocery shopping. International brands flocked in Kuwait’s top malls like The Avenues. From designer shoes to bags, they wear it even going to supermarkets. It’s no wonder also that Kuwaiti women are one of the top users of make up.I mean,they really wear it.Loads of it.Everyday.The number of salons both for men & women are more than the number of gasoline stations.

For most expats working here, An attractive salary offer without any taxes is the top reason to stay. Utilities are minimal. But the high cost of housing is getting higher due to rise in Expat population.If you are working from a private sector then you have benefits like Free Healthcare, Accommodation ,Transportation and Annual vacation leaves with Airfare .But sad to say that most disturbing inhuman acts of molestation and abuse for domestic workers are also coming from here.It breaks my heart to hear many stories of ‘Kabayans’ who are victims of injustice .I have high respect for these women who really work hard  just to provide for their families. In Kuwait , modern slavery is prevalent.

When i was new here, “Diwaniya”caught my attention. It’s totally Kuwaiti.  Every Kuwaiti household  have a  Diwaniya area,mainly a hall or Annex from their reception area for the purpose of meeting & gathering with male friends,colleagues and guests. This tradition is traced back since immemorial. The men usually dressed in their Dishdashas discussing various topics while relaxing,casual smoking,drinking tea,Arabic coffee & Sheesha, nibbling sweets or dates .I find it cozy with their beautiful soft cushions.

As an Expat , I could RANT a lot more about bad things about Kuwait, But then I would be a hypocrite to say that these things are absent in Philippines, in The Netherlands or even in the US.Every country has its own issues.  Maybe the extremities are different but injustice & social problems are prevalent anywhere.There is no such thing as perfect place. As an expat, I have learned to accept this country, with its flaws and everything, After all,it is my own freewill to be here. It doesn’t mean that I approve of the rudeness, Hypocrisy, Wasta System, Modern Slavery and Racism but Generalization is complete ignorance.

I have read lots of hate blogs about Kuwait. It’s like spitting it out as a vomit. So many hate and disgust in their words. Kuwait have wounded their hearts. People have the right to voice out their own opinions and some have low tolerance of anything that pisses them off. It may not work for you, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t work for others. I have known kind and decent Kuwaitis so in the end, I tried to keep an open mind and looked on the positive side ;

KUWAIT –A country with distinct heritage.Has a stable currency and one of the richest country as per Capita terms. Kuwaitis are more liberal and westernized compared to other Arab countries.Their government is progressive.Yes,their lifestyle is grand,and spend like crazy ,living in big villas & mansions, but they have the money to spend. They can afford the luxurious life.They have Oil and the State owns it.They are endowed.When a Kuwaiti marries,the government gave money .Education is free.NO TAXES!Gas prices as 70 fils (around 0.25 USD) per liter.Expats bring their families here and settled.One way or another,they know that life is better here compared to their home country.Or else they would have left already.

For those expats  in Kuwait, they have a reason to still stay here. For those who have left already, they’ve had also a reason to go away.

I hope i have given you an idea what to expect as an expat in Kuwait. But how about you, How is your experience as an Expat ? If you like this post, please feel free to hit the like button below & share it. I would also love to hear  your comments below.

 

Again, Thank you for stopping by !