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Kuwait Ver. 2.0


unlike the new windows vista that either has or is about to be launched (i’m not really up on all that crap) , this is one upgrade that WILL affect your life if a) youre a kuwaiti that intends to grow old here, or b) youre an expat that will (un)intentionally grow old here.

some serious shit is going down in kuwait, and missing it will mean that you’ll be left behind. for some its too late, theyve missed the train and now all they can do is wait for the shortbus. for others, theres hope, but it does mean reformatting your mental cpu and equiping yourselves with the best knowledge (software) that money can buy.

youd have to be living under a pretty sturdy rock to have not heard about the whole loan write-off deal being discussed at the moment. lets put aside the pros and cons of the argument for a quick second, cos lets face it, everyones gonna have an opinion, and well opinions are like assholes, everyones got one, as the saying goes.

previously, personal loans were incredibly easy for kuwaitis to get. if you werent kuwaiti, chances are you’d need to have a kuwaiti sponsor/guarantor who would be willing to foot the bill incase you decided to retire in style in paris rather than pay the bank its money back. the merits of such a policy aside, you can see where theyre coming from.

2 events last week signal the ending of this and the marginalisation of kuwaitis being considered ‘safe’ customers:

1- i was checking out the new mitsubishi pajeros in their al rai showroom over the weekend. having had a couple of decent sized projects in the past, our family business has purchased alot of cars from mr al mulla over the years. and theres one sales man in particular that we deal with on the floor.
as i walk in i see him get up to greet me, and since i’m just browsing i tell him so,….. dont want him to waste time with me since i’m not really there to buy, just killing time. 5 minutes later a kuwaiti walks in, nice clean dishdasha, proper flashy cufflinks, the works,….. he snaps his fingers in the air, and asks to be served by someone.
i look over to my dealer friend saying ‘ ahh you got a customer i’ll let you get on with your job’.
surprisingly, he laughs and goes ‘ pfffft, they have no money so why waste my time with them’.
ok i knew that, but what about their loans, i mean a sale is a sale right?
apparently not,….. financing, altho lucrative for mr al mulla and his financing friends, is a royal pain in the ass cos 75% of the time, the customer will be back in 6 months to transfer the loan to someone else, in which case my dealer friend gets his ass chewed for not screening his customers enough cos a transfer involves alot of paper work etc.

so we sat down, had some tea, and talked about the southern indian state of goa and what its weather was like.

2- Commercial Facilities company is now offering expats loans of 15 times your monthly salary, no kuwaiti guarantor, no collateral,….. and heres the kicker,….. minimum salary eligible is kd250. you dont even need to transfer your salary or anything.

has it really gotten so bad that financial institutions are now looking for fresh waters to fish cos theyve over fished their own little pond?

this is not new. this has happened in many other countries with large ‘foreign’ or minority populations, the indigenous get sidelined and perhaps rightly so because micro loans have a history of working very well. well ok these arent exactly micro micro loans but its alot less than the cost of a brand new cayenne, and there are simply more expats to suck dry 😛 (business is business). it basically spreads out the banks money more efficently.


now at the other end of the spectrum,……

the kuwait free trade zone has been in a royal tug of war since its inception. one family had the idea and helped push the idea thru to the point where their company got the deal to develop the area. kudos hombre! 😛

another family saw this and goes damn, thats a great idea 😀 , and proceeds to try and snatch it away….. which is nothing new here.

just yesterday the first family’s deal got canceled, or atleast it looks like its gonna get cancelled.

nothing new you say?

true,….. nothing new at all except the way it was done.

there was no kicking and screaming, tantrum throwing “mommy i want!” kinda stuff going on. and there was no “do you know who i am now give me your wife” going on either.

i’ll bet thats got you scratching your head 😛

dont get me wrong, it was a major bitchslap,…. but it was a sean connery bitchslap as opposed to the usual steve-erkel-esque bitchslaps we’re all used to.

it had style!

ever heard of the state audit bureau?

no one pays taxes here so i dont blame you if you havent, and even if you have a company, chances are youve never met anyone that works there.

theyre accountants,…. so how bad can they really be 😛 ?

pretty fucking evil if you know how to use them properly, as with most things in life.

the free trade zone deal was cancelled after the state audit bureau apparently found some discrepancies in the deal, and therefore “suggested” the government take action. and really surprisingly, the government follows their advice and bends over backwards.

why?

in the interest of greater transparency and accountability?

hahaha fuck no !



someone asked daddy to pull some strings.

but he did it in the right sequence, in other words he knows how to use wasta.

he went the legal route, dug up all the dirt, and found a loophole so big the free trade zone could fit thru it ironically enough 😛

then he found the evil accountants, set the dogs free and makes the government accountable.

so the government has no choice but to comply otherwise they lose face.

brilliant, fucking A grade strategic planning! ( i’m really not being sarcastic here)



heres the thing,…. notice the difference in the two sections of society?

one side is sinking in debt, while the other is advancing themselves properly.

one side pickets the parliament while the other surrounds himself with the best legal minds money can buy. and you cant say its a money thing cos surrounding yourself with people better than you is a mental decision not a monetary one.

one side will use wasta to get their myopic grandma a drivers license while the other doesnt, even tho he could, instead he piles into the legal and legit way of doing things and is probably gonna wind up with the rest of the country in his back pocket soon.


but hey dont get pissed at the dude, cos you can take part in it all.

i am and i’m not a kuwaiti. i havent even met the dude, altho some people who have say hes a pompous ass. pompous asses have their merits too.

his company is publicly traded here.

to be a part of kuwait 2.0 be sure to pick up some shares of the firm if you can figure out who i’m talking about 😛



whether you can spare money for the investment or not is not the point of this post.

there is a mental shift going on here. a shift that is a result of many factors converging over time. alot of kids coming back from abroad are shaping the way the country is evolving. high oil prices are bringing in alot of money, the smart people will be using that money to attract real mental talent to the country. ( whether they stay or not is something else). foreign ideas are being brought in to make the country better for those that know what theyre doing, so naturally it’ll be worse for those that dont.

and for anyone reading this that might argue about it all being a western-jewish-jim-carrey-coutrney-love-media conspiracy,……. ahh shut the fuck up!

its your older generation allowing this to happen because they know there is no going back to the way it was before, the only hope is for them to steer it in the right direction.

they know you cant go on like this.

we know you cant go on like this.

and i’m sure you know it too.

the question is, are you gonna do anything about it or just bitch and moan like everyone else about how hard life has become?

cos matey, its only gonna get worse, and you know what happens to computers that become obsolete.

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12 Comments

  1. awesome post, cryptic but brilliant – you’ve got writing chops my friend

  2. I’m going to bitch and moan for the time being :/

    and for that I have my reasons!

    I posted the little drama you’re talking about in arabic on my blog..

    get a translator 😛

  3. Brilliant SKNK – and be careful out there. sometimes
    “foreign ideas are being brought in to make the country better for those that know what theyre doing, so naturally it’ll be worse for those that dont.”
    causes a backlash. . .
    Love the story. Hope the original entrepreneur will come out OK, too.

  4. amer thanks dude 😀

    3abeer, post it in english :P, cos there are actually alot of non arab speakers who find this lil drama quite interesting.

    xpat, my point exactly, if people do not equip themselves right, mentally, theres going to be a huge number of people ‘left behind’, even more so than now.

    the funny thing is that kuwait isnt compared to african nations, because supreficially visitors dont see the debt behind the mercs and bmws.

    i dont know how many times i’ve been on a plane overhearing a conversation between two ‘newbies’ about how ‘yeah these people are rich, every 18yr old drives a merc’!

    however, if you put a rural african and your average kuwaiti in front of a loan officer from an international bank to check out their credit history,…. african countryman dude will only be at KD0 debt while kuwaiti dude will be at minus kd50,000.

    the gaps just going to get bigger and bigger until the loan breaks the camels back 😛

  5. it’s an article, a journalist wrote in one of the local newspaper.

    I’m just pissed off at what’s going on…I’ll try to get you a translated version.

    too much drama :/

  6. SKNK, see page 1, bottom left, todays Kuwait Times. 😉

  7. thank you 3abeer 😛

    xpat, lol i saw that today, but i was actually talking about the article on todays arab times, front page top right corner written by jarallah.

    • The Krispy Dixie
    • Posted November 30, 2006 at 11:31 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    smoke comes out of my ears whenever I hear someone say they should write off loans! How much of a fucking nanny state can we be!?!?

    but I liked ur commentary on it. very insightful… i’m interested to know who this guy is…

    u think there’s a way i can bribe u into telling me?

  8. lol well since youre in the industry i’m sure you could find out 😛

    your “pro” colleagues might not take it too seriously tho 😛

    but heres a hint:

    who’s ya daddy >:P

  9. okay lol i have to admit i didnt really read the post (it’s too long for me now – im feeling lazy :p) but im sure its a gr8 post!!
    thanks for dropping by my blog 🙂

  10. i was ashamed of my laziness and so i decided to read the post. im surprised i understood any of it because i have always steered away from anything ro do with business/economics/money… but the commentary was very entertaining :p
    i guess i understood it coz it had something to do with wasta.. and the first thing anyone learns about kuwait is wasta!!!! i swear it’s become an art here. and you mentioned oil. oil and wasta are the essentials of life in kuwait. the rest is all batteekh. and incase ur not arabic (im sure u dont have to be arabic to understand what wasta is) then batteekh is watermelon.

    “so we sat down, had some tea, and talked about the southern indian state of goa and what its weather was like.”
    hah. is that what u do with people u just met?

  11. lol youre right, wasta is an artform and a social status thingy,… my wasta and beat up your wasta 😛

    and regarding the tea thing, isntthat how people break the ice here? 😛

    lol you have no idea how many times i go into an office to get a little something done and the damn ‘mudeer’ says wait stay have tea and i wind up wasting 30 mins 😛


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