A dear friend contacted me yesterday and asked if I would be willing to post a petition for a friend of hers who was arrested and jailed in Kuwait. Like other cases previously, my friend is certain Jermaine is innocent and being held unjustly. Furthermore, his court dates are set well in advance but no action seems to be taken on these dates and they often reschedule for a month or more away. Leaving Jermaine sitting in a jail cell with zero answers.

AIK

Yes, there are people who have opinions about such things and for the most part I agree; follow the law of the land you’re in. But, until there’s evidence that a real law was broken it’s terribly unfair to endlessly violate one’s human rights. Not to mention, it’s just nasty to point fingers and judge without knowing the entire story.

In the past there have been a number of Americans arrested in Kuwait and given harsh sentences for manufacturing and distributing drugs. I was intimately familiar with a few of those cases and saw the evidence firsthand. I believe their sentences were fair and just. But there is that random case from time to time that just doesn’t quite offer the type of evidence one would like to see before holding a person in a foreign prison without the right to a timely hearing. Especially when their own Attorney is telling them the Police in Kuwait planted the evidence and falsified drug test lab reports.

That being said, my friend asks that you take a moment and sign the petition in hopes of getting justice for her friend. In a time when America is feeling terribly divided, let’s do something nice to bring forth a little unity.

Petition can be found here.

More often than not, when mentioning to people from the Middle East that my husband is from Kuwait, I’m told that GCC Arabs are seen as arrogant, prejudice, and pretty much viewed as the armpit of the region. I’m aware of this reputation and I can even understand it to a degree. However, regardless of how they’re viewed, it’s a form of racism. And, well, that’s just nasty.

Even worse than ‘local racism’ are the Westerners who move to places such as Kuwait and take on that mentality. For the most part I like to believe Westerners are raised in a world where racism is only practiced by the less intelligent, not formally educated, culture lacking cretins. Anyone with a sense of self respect is above and beyond disrespecting someone based upon the color of their skin or their nationality.

So what changes? Why do some of the white faced expats move to Kuwait and adopt their entitlement attitude? Well, for the most part they become obsessed with a lifestyle some locals pretend to be living; large villas, expensive cars, and meals at the finest restaurants every day. For the Westerners who grew up thinking Toyotas were luxury cars and Dairy Queen was a quality meal, you can see how the less fortunate could get starry eyed.

But does this also include becoming a shallow racist? It doesn’t have to.

Insecure people have a tendency to treat others in a disrespectful manner as a way of making themselves feel better. It doesn’t make them better people and it really highlights their own flaws. So, when the less fortunate Americans move to places such as Kuwait and realize they too can be racist assholes, it makes them feel better about their real existence.

Recently, in a facebook group I was asked a question about my husband. The other member was incorrect in their assumption but their question was incredibly racist and reminded me of why my husband and I have distanced ourselves from that lifestyle for so many years. We focus on offering support to the less fortunate, rescuing animals in need, and respecting people just because they’re people. We don’t judge people on the color of their skin, where they’re from, or how much money they make. We live a life that we find to be emotionally fulfilling. We don’t compare ourselves to others or attempt to compete. We want to see others be the best they can be and if we can play a role in that then we’re all for it. (sidenote: the woman in the facebook group is divorced, has a number of children, stuck in Kuwait, and is bitter towards others — not just us).

So while Kuwait is viewed as a country full of arrogant jerks, it’s really a misconception. While living there I surrounded myself with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in my life. Many of who are still my best friends. My husband is from Kuwait and he’s generous, kind, compassionate, and hard working. He’s not dishonest or disloyal, nor would he divorce me with a half dozen kids and offer no financial support. So while it’s always easy to point fingers and make assumptions, rarely are they accurate, and often they only reveal who you really are.

UPDATE: Someone left a wonderful, well informed, helpful comment that I’ve posted for anyone curious. They have provided a great deal of information regarding Mut’a as well as offered some corrections to my inaccuracies. 

Several times a week I get emails from readers who are involved in relationships with Muslim men and are often seeking advice on religion, culture, tradition, and how the three tie into one another — if at all. Many of them are also seeking advice on marriage and whether or not he’s ‘serious’ when he asks her to consider marrying him. Obviously I don’t have all the answers and never claimed to be a professional in the field of intercultural marriages, so I simply share information based on my experience and hope that helps.

A topic I recently realized I have never covered is Mut’a Marriage. And based on a few emails I’ve gotten as of late, I figured now would be the best time to touch on this.

My experience with Mut’a is pretty much nonexistent. It’s something (from what I understand) that is practiced among the Shia’a Muslims and not so much anymore within the Sunni community. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m basing this information off of friends in Kuwait and the UAE who are both Sunni and Shia’a. Therefore, I would love to hear from any readers who have been involved in a Mut’a Marriage in hopes of helping out some of the women who might be reading this and could use that guidance.

It’s my understanding Mut’a is a ‘temporary marriage’ where a woman agrees to be a man’s wife for a specified period of time and can then participate in all things husbands and wives participate in; ie. sex. There is no dowry involved, no additional benefits, no financial gain (unless he agrees to pay her a certain amount), and no support upon divorce. Some of these marriages last as short as a few days and some can be a lifetime I suppose. As far as their legality, I know they’re not recognized in the US as our marriages (to be legal) must be documented in a court. A Mut’a Marriage is simply an agreement between a man and woman. I don’t believe there’s any paperwork involved. However, I do believe it’s a fairly common practice for boyfriends and girlfriends as a way to eliminate any Islamic guilt. You know… have sex, pretend you’re married, and Allah doesn’t know any better. No offense intended. Just keeping it real.

That being said, if you’re one of the women who have written me about your boyfriend asking to marry you ‘temporarily’ to ‘test’ out how a real marriage would be, maybe that’s not exactly what he means. It’s possible he has a strong desire to have sex with you but his religious guilt is telling him to ‘do the right thing’ and ‘marry’ you. Of course the real right thing would be to respect you as a woman and keep it in his pants. But, chances are, you’re unaware of his culture and what is and is not permitted in his religion. He can pretty much tell you anything and you’ll pretty much believe it. And of course, once he starts throwing the idea of marriage around, it makes it all that much more appealing. And, well, ‘real’ in your mind.

Do your homework, ladies. And keep your panties on while you’re studying 😉

Note: I realize I’ve spelled ‘ageing’ the British way though I’m American. And while I like to say us Americans have perfected their language (as a joke of course), I still have to suck it up on occasion and accept their written grammar/spelling is far more proper than ours.

Before I plunge into my innermost thoughts on failing and/or ageing, I would like to preface this post with sincere gratitude. During the extended ‘pauses’ in my blog I often receive emails from readers who want to know where I am, why I’m not blogging, and when or if I will start again. So appreciated. However, this time I received an email not only asking those questions, but genuinely expressing their appreciation for my words and explaining how my experiences have been motivating on many levels. You have no idea how much this means to me. Thank you.

So yeah, failing or ageing?

This morning I was reading through some of my previous posts in hopes of finding some ‘blogspiration’ (was that cute or what?) and found myself motivated by my own words; I was lively, alive, embracing the world, and doing stuff! Regardless of how small that stuff was, I was doing it. And from what I read, doing it rather well.

So what’s changed?

Recently I’ve discovered a lack of motivation due to frustration. Not so long ago I didn’t even require an alarm clock. I told myself what time I needed to wake up and regardless of how few hours of sleep I would get I always seemed to be awake right on time. Also, for as long as I can remember I never required ‘lists’ for anything. I could do a week’s worth of grocery shopping and never once walk aimlessly up and down an aisle thinking, “Now what exactly am I here for?”. I might have a dozen tasks lined up for the day and not only did I remember every one of them but I was well prepared and organized. Now I almost forget where I’m going while on the road to get there and inevitably always left something behind at home. What’s happening to me? Am I simply becoming lazy? Am I not the successful person I once believed myself to be? Or is age taking its toll?

Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned on the blog, I had been working towards my MBA. Not for any particular reason as it wouldn’t have made a difference in my career, but it was a personal goal of mine. So no real pressure other than what I placed on myself. I found that I was enjoying the challenge of studying again — been a while since I was a student. Feeling my brain actually function on a different level, while sometimes painful, was quite fun. However, this summer I’m not enrolled in courses. Initially I blamed it on a recent medical procedure gone wrong which resulted in me being hospitalized for an extended period of time, but I’m better now… for the most part. Only now I seem to experience ‘brain fog’ tenfold.

I walk from one room to the next forgetting my purpose. I get dressed and prepared to go to the store and find myself standing in my living room wondering exactly where I was planning to go… and why! It’s frustrating beyond words and I genuinely have no answers. But beyond frustration is the toll it’s taking on my every day life. Because I find myself so flustered with confusion I simply quit. So that trip to the store, or the classes I intended to take, or the business meeting I arranged all end up cancelled, postponed, or simply missed. I can’t help but to think I’m caving into the ageing process and allowing myself to fail miserably. Where I once experienced a great deal of joy in my life I now find to be painful. I dread making plans as I am terrified I’ll forget them and even worse, let people down. It’s embarrassing. How do I explain to people my age and older that I’m ‘just getting forgetful’? Especially when they all seem to function as we did in our 20’s. Even now, I had a follow up sentence in my mind and as quickly as I read the previous sentence to ensure it was fitting… I forgot. So yeah, here’s a paragraph with no real summary attached.

My husband tells me to start relying more on my phone. And I have. Fortunately I have a phone which just allows me to talk as it takes notes and stores them away chronologically. Imagine my surprise when it says, “You have a meeting in 30 minutes” and I realize it’s a 45 minute drive and I haven’t even showered. I’ve learned to add notifications 24 hours in advance as well as 2 hours in advance on every reminder.

This coming from the woman who not so long ago didn’t even depend on an alarm clock.

Though I’m fortunate enough to work from home and set my own schedule I still look forward to the long weekends. It’s a time my husband and I can actually plan to take care of a few things we’ve been putting off due to lack of time. Vacations? Not a chance. Our long weekends are often filled with family time and home improvement projects. Sure, it might be nice to get away for a few days from time to time but with the number of pets we have, we’ve decided our time with them is more valuable than travel and the boarding them.

This Memorial Day weekend was rather rainy so there was little opportunity for outdoor time which worked out rather well considering the work we’re doing indoors. My husband, who is starting to embrace being a hands on home improvement guy, spent the weekend replacing all the flooring in our family room and my office. I spent the weekend choosing new paint colors and making numerous trips to and from Lowe’s as he remembered items he had forgotten on trip number one.

My hope is that we build a new house on our land in a couple of years. Right now it’s just the 2 of us and I feel our current house is perhaps a little large for our needs. I long for something a bit smaller with a cozy feel. My husband, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of spending the money. His theory is ‘our current home meets all of our needs, why bother with another’? Could be why he’s embracing his home improvement side. He figures if he does everything to our current home I won’t be asking for yet another one. He’s the sweetest, kindest, most generous man in the world until I ask for something he deems unnecessary.

Mexico has their El Chapo, Kuwait has its El Cheapo — and apparently I married him.

 

I really want to apologize to those of you who have emailed, commented, and reached out for guidance and/or advice. I realize I haven’t responded to any of you and that’s certainly not like me at all. Unfortunately, I faced an unexpected medical issue which resulted in me being in the hospital for almost a month. During that time (which I only remember bits and pieces of) I had no option but to focus on my medical care and not much else. Fortunately I’m slowly healing and getting back to something that feels semi-human and I hope to respond to emails within the next week or so. Please be patient and know that I haven’t disappeared.

It seems I’m way out of the loop in terms of Kuwaiti fashionistas and exactly what the term refers to. A few days ago Mark of 248am posted an article of one of the self-proclaimed fashionistas being jailed for 10 days for using someone’s passport to travel from Kuwait to Dubai. While seeking out further details on the story I came across another article in the Kuwait Times regarding yet another (or the same?) ‘fashionista’ who was arrested on prostitution charges late last year.

All of this ‘fashionista’ chatter piqued my curiosity and I started seeking them out on Instagram. Within minutes I had located several — which became quite easy as they all, in some ways, linked back to one another. Not only the ‘fashionistas’ but their photographers, their ‘glam squad’ (I puked a little typing that), and even Kuwaiti male ‘stylists’.

It didn’t take long to discover their primary goal was to resemble something that popped out of a Kardashian vagina. I have never, in all my life, seen so much fake hair, fake eyelashes, fake lips, fake noses, and facial contouring. They make the Kardashian clan look au naturel.

Don’t get me wrong, these women were probably once absolutely gorgeous… naturally. But then, in their tiny society of judgement, something convinced them they just weren’t good enough. Some comment by a random stranger prompted a once gorgeous young woman to alter her appearance to the point of being unrecognizable — as herself or even human. Most of these women were in their early 20’s (guesstimate based on comments) yet appear to be easily in their mid-30’s. Any look of innocence disappeared while undergoing some unnecessary cosmetic procedure.

I recall a number of years ago in Kuwait, perhaps in 2006 or so, I mentioned to a friend that so many of the young women appeared to have stepped out of cookie cutters. They all wanted to resemble one another while managing to be the most admired. There was a rapid competition to be exactly like the next girl yet convincing themselves they were unique. It was interesting. Sadly this competition has evolved to extensive cosmetic procedures and developing a ‘fan base’ (thanks, social media!).

Sure, the Kardashians have managed to make an empire by capitalizing on young ‘fashionistas’ and their insecurities, but does one really want to follow in their footsteps? Have any of them genuinely contributed to society in a positive manner? Does that even matter anymore? Is there really a great satisfaction in going to sleep at night thinking, “At least I’m pretty”?

I once wrote an article for a local newspaper discussing abandonment issues and the role it plays on individuals. The article evolved into the affect abandonment issues potentially play on entire societies and Kuwait was my primary example. The result? A large number of people with detachment disorders who desperately want to be accepted but lack the depth of emotion to truly love anyone other than themselves. In other words ‘likes’ on a photo is their sense of validation.

On an even more depressing note, while looking at their photos (for hours… seriously, hours!) I found myself thinking, “hmmm, perhaps I should get my lips injected?” First let me say I am old enough to be these women’s older sister :) and second I’m not a shallow person. I mean, I do like to dress well and take care of my physical appearance but it’s not all consuming. I have a life other than the shape of my eyebrows. So for someone like me to view their photos and question my own physical presence truly brought to the forefront how young, impressionable girls must feel — but on a much more realistic level. Instead of accepting themselves for who they are and loving their natural beauty they must be saving their lunch money for a nose job. It’s scary.

That being said, if you’re a self-proclaimed Kuwaiti fashionista and find young girls running up to you in malls to give you hugs with tears in their eyes as if they’ve just seen the Amir; make a difference. Don’t be just that pretty face. Be an inspiration. Be someone they want to grow up to be and not because of the brand of bag you’re carrying. Be kind, compassionate, caring, and hope those young girls don’t grow into the terribly insecure women you’ve all become.

Disclaimer: I’ve never met any of the women I’m referring to in this post. Therefore, my opinions are based strictly on visual perception and reputation. 

I’m posting this for a good friend of Desert Girl who is very well versed in the legal rights of US Contractors in regard to the Kuwait Labor law. There are a lot of contract changes taking place, a lot of new employees arriving in Kuwait, and a lot of old ones leaving. It’s best to know your rights upon accepting a new position as well as upon ending your contract whether it be through termination or resignation.

Please feel free to reach out to her should you have any questions.


 

I am hearing more and more each day about the break time gossiping and moaning that surrounds the work contracts here in Kuwait.  Most of the gossiping is done by Denny Crane’s thinking they are Legal Eagles and just cherry picking what they hear from one person and another then combining a mish mash of complete inaccurate information.  So, on that note I would like to just explain a few simple terms to you guys:

  • If you have a Visa 18 you fall under the Kuwait Labour Law of February 2010 – A copy is here for you to read.
  • The Kuwait Labour Law supersedes any work contracts that you have with your employer
  • If you decide to take Legal Action against your employer to recoup any overtime, indemnity or holiday pay outstanding you can sue your employer through the legal system in Kuwait without any retribution from them – once a case is filed you are protected . You must realise that your employer can not sack you because you are taking them to court – if they try, this works in your favour and substantiates your claim even more.
  • You can file a case up to 1 year from leaving your employment – but this takes more time to process.
  • As an American citizen even signing a contract outside of Kuwait in advance to your arrival here – you are still bound by Kuwait laws.
  • You might want to check out the following site – this is the big buzz word in the US at the moment – Human Trafficking – yes guys – you come under Human Trafficking by your own employer – quote: (5)(i) Using misleading or fraudulent practices during the recruitment of employees or offering of employment, such as failing to disclose, in a format and language accessible to the worker, basic information or making material misrepresentations during the recruitment of employees regarding the key terms and conditions of employment, including wages and fringe benefits, the location of work, the living conditions, housing and associated costs (if employer or agent provided or arranged), any significant costs to be charged to the employee, and, if applicable, the hazardous nature of the work;

(ii) Using recruiters that do not comply with local labor laws of the country in which the recruiting takes place;  https://www.acquisition.gov/sites/default/files/current/far/html/Subpart%2022_17.html

 

  • The Legal procedure here is simple and painless:
    • You find a good bi-lingual lawyer – please understand only Kuwaiti Lawyers can stand before the judge in Kuwait
    • You Sign Power of Attorney ‘Tawkeel’ – this enables your lawyer to act on your behalf – this can be done in about 30 minutes
    • You discus your issues – take all forms of paperwork including proof of any overtime sheets or payslips that you have
    • The lawyer will look over all the documentation and work out how much money is owed to you what you can claim back through the courts
    • You agree on a fee – this is usually around KWD 1,500 dependant also on complexity of the case and if you are leaving you must appreciate contact through international means (this might push the fee up to KWD 2,000) also, they will charge a recovery fee of around 7% – but, the monies collected on your behalf will be sent directly to you once received. Expensive ? Yes and No – once your case is filed you need do nothing – the Lawyers will take over everything – and monitor every aspect of the case for the duration – considering most Lawyers have a normal flat rate of KWD 50 to open a file – and charge anywhere between KWD 150 – 300 per hour consultation – looking at this you will realise it’s a justifiable cost. Some may charge you less than this – but you have to question is the firm experienced enough and do they have native speaking English staff? But, on the other hand if they try to charge you over KWD 2,000 you are paying waaaay too much.
    • Once in agreement to everything a contract is signed.
  • The legal process once you decide to peruse your case through the courts in Kuwait is quite simple:
    • Your file is presented to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour ( MOSAL – Sha’oon this is the local name given) where it is registered and a case number is given.
    • Your file will be given to a Sha’oon Manager – he will be the one looking at all the evidence and collating the information from both sides to give his recommendations to court.
    • Your employer will have 3 chances to attend an informal hearing with him in the Sha’oon offices.
    • If your employer does not attend 3 times then the case gets automatically sent to the Civil Court.  In all honesty,  it’s a case of sit back and wait – usually takes about 6 months for it to get a hearing date – Kuwait Judicial system is paper driven and as we all know every man has his stamp !
    • If your employer does decide to turn up at either of the 3 appointments given to them by the Sha’oon they have a right to present any documentation that they have – this can also give opportunity to settle out of court – they will be asked would they like to settle out of court – if this happens and they agree then terms and conditions will be set and an agreed amount will be negotiated and a payment date set out.  This will be legally binding !!!
    • Even if you decide you want to leave Kuwait during this process – your lawyer will fight on your behalf for your rights. Just make sure you have a good lawyer that holds your back !!!

Contact number is 1810011 / 9872 8900  if you want to discuss it further.  The initial consultation is free.
Just to let y’alls know:  You can’t go back to the US and fight it there.  There is no jurisdiction for the first round.  You have to file a case in Kuwait and based on that outcome, use the Kuwaiti case as evidence in your subsequent case filed in the US (if you choose to do that).  There was a recent class action case against an American contracting firm working in Kuwait where the plaintiffs filed in the US.  The US judge threw it out as the Kuwait Labor Law does not apply in the US.

I got an email from a woman who lives in Kuwait but is of Syrian nationality whose son is a US Citizen. She was asking if her son would be able to sponsor her on a visa to America.

Unfortunately, traveling to America for the purpose of living (or anything other than tourism) can be a lengthy process with very few exceptions (entrepreneur, business owners valued at 1 million+ dollars, etc). We don’t necessarily have a ‘sponsorship’ program like Kuwait. You can’t just go to the ministry, fill out a few papers, and get family members here under your ‘sponsorship’. It actually requires an application for ‘immigration’ to the US. And, for a child to make the application for a parent is not high on the priority list. If I’m not mistaken, children of a US citizen take priority, and second to that would be a spouse.

So the short answer is, ‘no’, your son can’t sponsor you to live in the US. The long answer would be, sure, he can apply for you to immigrate on the basis that he’s a relative of yours and is a US Citizen.

Additional and valuable information can be found at USCIS.gov as well as any documents you might need to complete. Furthermore, there are a variety of Immigration Attorney’s available to assist (for a fee) should you need guidance. Sorry I don’t have any recommendations or names.

02. February 2016 · Write a comment · Categories: America · Tags: , ,

It’s been so long since I’ve posted that 4 major holidays (yes, my birthday is a major holiday… just ask my husband) have passed. These past several months have been much busier for me than usual but in a super positive way. I’ve been spending a lot more time at the gym, focusing on my physical presence as much as my mental well-being, volunteering for a great cause, actively working at our nonprofit, and over the holidays… events!

One of my favorite things about being involved with a group of positive, like-minded people is the number of events we get to attend. Or are at least invited to attend. It’s not always we opt to leave our pets at home alone, especially if it’s going to be a late evening. However, over the holidays we did attend some well put together events that got us out of the house for a bit. While I do enjoy creating the perfect look for myself, I’m finding it’s also just as fun to put something together for my husband. He’s one of those geeky kinda guys who’s perfectly happy wearing beach casual attire to meetings with other CEOs. I admire his style (or lack thereof) but it’s also nice to see him well tailored.

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking a variety of ‘newbie’ questions about Kuwait and most of them are from Americans who mention their new job on Arifjan. It seems like a major contract change has taken place and I’m just totally out of the loop. For those of you who do have questions about Kuwait, I’ll gladly do what I can to answer. But I have to admit, my travel to Kuwait has been minimal recently and there are so many changes taking place there that my advice could be totally outdated. And, well, useless. I do suggest you check out DesertGirl’s blog as she always has a lot of advice and guidance for those who are new to the region.

For those of you who have emailed with questions about relationships, dating, etc. I am not ignoring you. I promise. I will get to those emails today.

Though I haven’t been keeping up with my own blog, I have found a number of unofficial newsworthy blogs here in the US. Most flow in the direction I would like to move towards. But of course there’s the desire to appeal to current readers. And, as I’ve mentioned before, starting a new blog is just such a daunting task and I’m not that invested.

On a more positive, less whiny note, I’m happy. Our life has become what some might consider ‘mundane’ — same thing day in and day out. And perhaps, every now and then, I wonder if we’re just incredibly boring people. But as my husband reminds me, we’ve found our happy place. And not only have we truly found it, but we live in it. We embrace it. And we don’t question it. So yeah, I’m happy. Yeah, I’ve been happy for several years now, but I believe I’ve failed to recognize it as ‘happiness’. It was more like, “new relationship butterflies’ or ‘relocation excitement’ or ‘home remodeling thrills’ or ‘yay, new furry family member’. I didn’t recognize the steady stream of happy events as genuine happiness. I suppose, as I’ve said before, I was just waiting for that tragic moment when it all came to a screeching halt. Now I’m just enjoying the ride.