Only in Kuwait!



Only in Kuwait | by Justbluedutch

Why Kuwait is such a controversial country? It’s a tiny oil-rich magnet in the Gulf and yet  holds a profound mystery for some who haven’t been there, and a nonchalant charm for Expats who have toiled there every single day.The other day I was reading the recent study by Internations citing that Kuwait (along with Nigeria & Greece )  is still on the bottom sink for “Worst Country for Expats “. I dunno how to feel about this but somehow, I knew, stats are based on facts too. I , for example, how is it to live there day after day.

Being an Expat allows you to see things in both ways. More of a culture shock for some but normally it is how you  see things, accepting it  and adapting to a new culture. Integration happens when you began to pick it up and live with it , and not for the sake of  comparison to your own roots. I have seen strange things in Kuwait. Some that is so odd that makes me crazy.Who doesn’t? For locals, it all seems normal for them.Nothing to argue about. As simple as : If you don’t like it here –pack your bags & Leave!

I think anybody comes to the Netherlands , or in Germany, even in Philippines would also have something to say about the “not so ordinary “in their eyes as an Expat. Looking back at the 8 years I spent in Kuwait, for some things I don’t really get why and How on earth they are doing it. I have written the Guide to Expating in Kuwait and for those who are new to this country’s arid climate “How to beat the heat in Kuwait “ you might as well chuckle with me as you know exactly how is it .

Shuno Hada! No Parking , both in Arabic & English signages. What are these cars doing in here?

1.Only in Kuwait that the Handicapped parking spaces are seized by ordinary people.Even the ones with a clear signage.Only in Kuwait that you could be beaten by a mob because of a dispute in a parking lot. Why do I get the feeling that pedestrians never felt safe along roads in Kuwait. Sure thing, SUV rules!

2. I love coffee, absolutely but I don’t get it why they drink tea almost every hour and drink coffee or Arabic coffee {gahwah}  in small cups 3 rounds in one sitting. Why not just get a mug? Did you know that only in Kuwait that a tea boy is called “Office Boy”?

Did you know that in the Avenues alone, ( the largest super mall there) there are 6 Starbucks , in all over Kuwait there are 76 branches! I am sure this list will be updated soon. I tell you, people there always need  a caffeine fix. What about Costa Coffee, Coffee Bean & Leaf, Caribou, Second Cup,Tim Hortons etc., the lists go on.

Coffee and Tea in Kuwait will never get boring. So as the sweets, cakes & pastry shops!

I swear this is a typical scenario in the streets of Kuwait!

3.I don’t understand why  maniacal drivers  put up their feet on the dashboard and let babies do the steering. Is it the new toy?  In 120-140 km/h.In the Gulf road, and some things that this speed is still so lame!

Yes, without seat belt.

Wearing seat belt seems like more of an offensive rather than defensive. Taxi drivers have 2-3 phones being used simultaneously WHILE Driving! It’s a bonus if you found one having Skype calls to any point in the world. You have the whole story all throughout your ride.

4.Seriously it’s only in Kuwait where I saw camels, sheep, lamb & goats being transported and paraded in the highway. Especially in the busy roads of Al- Ghazali  road going to Shuwaikh, in front of a shopping mall Centerpoint.  I know the Friday market is out there but still, it is an odd sight for me. It’s a thing when you see these poor animals paraded to slaughterhouse. Right there, in front of your car. You can even smell the camels from your window.Way to the desert area, you see camels strutting their stuff in the roads going to Wafra /Kabd /Khiran/Abdali area and yet you don’t see any road sign for you to watch out for animals.

Sabah al kheir Kuwait! Camel herd in Wafra farms.

5.People don’t mind incorrect spelling of signage of shops, menus of the restaurant and even directions. You’re so smart if you figure it out yourself. Well as for food, you need to eat like a local for you to know where is the best Shawerma or best done kebab & grilled stuff. With burgers, people seems to know where it is no matter what the hour is.

Only in Kuwait. laundry shop in Abraq Khaitan.

6.The make up Oh God. Talk about make-up and Loads of it. I have never seen that much heavily make-up women here in Europe, but only in Kuwait that women wears make up even going to a Bakala in 50 degrees .

One Authority of the Soft small / big please?

7.Only in Kuwait that the sky changes from bluish to grey to orange to brown to almost pitch black due to sandstorms. But sometimes, this mighty M is always visible.

Watching the sandstorm looms over McDonald’s.


How are things over there? Do you also  find ‘Strange’ things such as these?

How do you deal with it? I would love to hear your comments .

Be it from food, behavior of people, how locals interact with you, customs and traditional way of life, at work, even just the country itself.You really see diversity at large. Kuwait is one small country but booming with Expats you it’s no wonder that you can find an Asian store right next to the block next to an Indian restaurant and opposite to a Turkish pastry shop and just a few meters away to an American boutique. A Kaleidoscope indeed.

For the new Expats in Kuwait, welcome and enjoy your stay.

Are you on Twitter, Follow my Expat life escapades in my Twitter page Here ! - Where Expats Blog

Bakala , 711 of the Desert

Picture this :  It’s Friday and its your day-off from work . You wanted to make some pancakes and checking out your pantry you realized that you ran out of eggs & your box of milk is not enough to make a batter. You quickly get loose coins and head on to the elevator to go to the Bakala right in front of your building .Easy peasy right? Very convenient! Even better , you just call them to deliver !

If you are an Expat in Kuwait, it is for sure that you have a favorite Bakala around in your neighborhood. It’s totally a Kuwaiti thing. I have never seen a Bakala version in the neighborhood in the Netherlands or in Europe.

Bakala is a mini-store, a version of a supermarket , a one stop shop that sits on almost every block all over Kuwait. You can even find a Bakala before you get lost in the vast desert near Wafra , Julaiah, and further most of Sulaibiya. Normally its located on the corner of a building , right next to residential flats, right in front of the mosque [masjid ] or across from the busy streets in the city. It’s uniquely tucked in or adjacent to main shops. Its size is so incredibly small and packed up with various goods.

 Bakala storekeeper in Kuwait

They sell fruits, bread, milk, soap, soda drinks of all kinds, cigarettes, and even toys for the Little ones. You can find everyday staples in here. Their door is decorated with inflatables or stuff animals that eventually attracts the kids playing in the streets. My favorite is their KDD ice creams in cones. Here, people normally just honk their cars and the storekeeper comes to get their orders. Like a take-away in restaurants that you don’t need to get out from your car. They even deliver goods right to your doorsteps if you are too lazy to go out. I often ordered  boxes of our drinking water from the Bakala right down in our building.They have Phonto pay system for your mobile & internet bills, as well as recharging system.

Once i moved to Kuwait, i noticed the existence of Bakala is quite part of Arab culture.Every Bakala has a distinct identify . Some are really decorated well, some are so tiny that only 1 person can get inside. Normally in every municipality in Kuwait there is a nearby  Coop Shops which is subsidized by the local government. This place is frequently visited by Kuwaitis, other Arabs and Expats too. But also, array of Bakalas to choose from. What surprised me is that i found Filipino stuff in their shelves, like noodles,sardines, soy sauce and even vegetables!

If Sari-Sari store stores exists in Philippines, then this is their local version. The only thing that differs is that in Philippines, they are privately owned by families, they don’t deliver to houses and they accepts credit. In Bakala, you can only pay by cash, or by K-net ( or Debit card /electronic payment ) for some subscription bills .Whenever i miss something from my groceries, i can always rely to the Bakala . A total lifesaver.

Bakala in the Desert in Kuwait

What about you, do you find any fascinating things  in your new country ? If you like this post,please feel free to leave your comments.

If you are planning to move in Kuwait then you might find more interesting Expat views of Kuwait in my post “Kuwait : from an Expat point of View “ post .You will know more about Culture shock and Typically Kuwait things we found while living here.

Until then and thank you for stopping by and  reading !