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.

Unfortunately there’s been yet another major terrorist attack. This time in Paris where more than 100 people are confirmed dead in 4 separate attacks.

ISIS/ISIL has claimed responsibility.

Why? What on earth did these innocent people do? Why all the hate and murder?

I understand people of all religions and backgrounds are frustrated for a number of reasons. Everyone is angry and bitter. But isn’t it time to just stop?

Paris

Less than a week ago the determination was made that United Airlines would no longer operate their direct flight from Washington, DC to Kuwait (or Bahrain). At this time, and since 2006, they’re the only American carrier offering a direct flight out of Kuwait into the US and for many of us it was quite convenient even if not as luxurious as the Middle Eastern carriers.

United_Airlines_1181356

Rumors are swirling as to the reason for the ending of this relationship; Kuwait being found guilty of discrimination on their flight from JFK to London by refusing Israeli travelers service is the most talked about possibility. The other is that United is stating the flight just isn’t meeting the financial expectations. Of course this too is a possibility considering the decreased number of US Contractors in Kuwait and the fact this was once a daily flight which has been scaled back to just a couple of times a week over the past years.

Either way the service is ending January 2016.

On a personal note, and the only reason we even remotely care about this… we have a number of tickets booked on this flight between March and September of 2016. Us going there, family coming here, summer vacations, holidays, etc. Tens of thousands of dollars and just as many MileagePlus miles. I’ve spent my morning cancelling flights and seeking out alternatives. However, United has a very strict cancellation/refund policy which obviously we’re requesting an exception to. They’ve explained it will take at least 7 days to process. Let’s just hope they don’t make this difficult.

I’ve always loved her and in some ways the lyrics to her songs seem to define my life at one point or another. Glad she’s back! (Side note: I find it quite interesting the guy in the video has ‘protection‘ tattooed on his hand in Arabic)

“And a million miles… ”

Do you ever think back to your past (recent or distant) and wonder why you didn’t take different action? Or why you tolerated certain behaviors? Stayed at particular jobs? Or attempted to salvage friendships/relationships that weren’t even worth your time? Do you ever just want to scream, “Past, you were a serious asshole!”?

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘don’t burn your bridges’. But what if what we once assumed were bridges were really just roadblocks preventing us from getting to where we needed to go, or being who we needed to be?

While deleting my LinkedIn account today I came across a few ‘connections’ that took me into a reminiscent place. A kinda dark one even. I remember the General Manager who was outright incompetent and wondered why I wasn’t more aggressive in conveying that message to him. And the Engineering Manager who got promoted based upon the length of her skirt, behaved like a cheap prostitute, and treated some hard working highly educated people like cattle. She was the epitome of unprofessional and having to deal with her from an HR standpoint was genuinely painful. Oh, then there was the ‘Legal dude’ who I often wondered if he graduated high school yet always claimed to have graduated with honors from some prestigious law school in the UK.

memories

The memories of the professional relationships took me to thoughts of the more personal ones. The blogger from Kuwait I befriended who smelled like a 14 year old boy going through puberty who just got out of gym class and hadn’t discovered the miracles or deodorant. Why did I pretend I couldn’t smell him while I was quietly throwing up in my mouth? Or the guy who contacted me through the blog, asked to meet regarding a possible job (for him), had zero prior experience, no high school diploma (though he was 30+ and married with kids), and then conveniently ‘forgot his wallet’ after we ordered (I think we met at a coffee shop if I remember correctly). Why didn’t I say, “Oh, you have no money? Let’s cancel your order before we get started discussing your substandard CV/resume that you’re wasting my time with.”? The most amusing part of that meeting? At the end of my hour long waste of time guiding him on what he might want to do to secure employment he asked if I might be willing to give him some ‘pocket change’ because I must have a high salary. Why did I politely explain that I never carry cash? Why didn’t I scream, “Duuuuuuuudeeeee! Could you be any more of a loser if you tried?” Then of course there was the lovely guy who came to our office to present contracts for his rather large organization in Kuwait. Very professional and we had discussed me doing some consulting, writing ethics manuals, corporate policies, etc. Seemed incredibly professional and respectful. I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong when I woke up the next morning to 12 photos of his penis in my text messages. Yes, folks… Mr. Professional felt I may enjoy seeing his (less than) manly parts before we conducted business! Why did I just block him and avoid all future contact? Why didn’t I reply with ‘hahahahahahahaha’ and call the police?

So why all the venting now? Resentful? Angry? No. I don’t think so. I think it’s just that I’ve come to a place in my life where I’ve gained a great deal of strength and self esteem. Perhaps those things happened to me because, well, I allowed them to. Maybe somewhere deep inside I felt it was the best I deserved from others so I accepted nonsensical crap. I claimed I was letting things roll off my back but maybe that wasn’t it at all though it felt like it at the time. Maybe I wasn’t being strong, but instead I was being weaker than I had ever been in my life. And certainly weaker than I am today.

Now, as I sit here in yoga pants, a sweat shirt, and hair pulled up on my head looking like a meme of the typical housewife, I find myself wanting to reach out to my past and clear the air so to speak. But, since I don’t keep in touch with any of those people and have zero desire to speak with them, I can only clear the air with myself. I can simply remind myself that I am better, I deserve better, and I will never accept that level of bullshit from anyone else. Ever!

And at the same time I can secretly hope at least one of those assholes still reads my blog.

Though I rarely blog anymore, it’s still something I would love to get back to doing regularly again. About a year ago I made the decision to give it up all together and then soon returned only to post a handful of times. I had also once decided to close this blog and start a new one covering topics I felt passionate about in hopes of raising awareness or meeting like minded local bloggers. But starting all over from scratch almost felt daunting. I found myself spending hours thinking of names, looking up domains, etc. It was just too much for something I may not be as invested in as I hoped.

Over the years blogging has been replaced by micro-blogging, insta-bloggers, and other social media forums. People don’t often reach out to blogs for information or insight the way they once did. Which leaves us bloggers feeling as though we’re just typing away without a real purpose. Especially if we’re hoping to reach a target audience or share some insights into topics we’re passionate about.

For the past few days I’ve been reviewing some new themes. Simple and clean. Nothing fancy, nothing that stands out. I like clean lines. I prefer to have a point and make it without all the distractions. Which is what I suppose I’ll continue to do. I’ll do my best to share more often, even if it’s topics which may not be so interesting to my current readers. Perhaps I can start over without completely starting over? Here’s hoping!

So, it’s been just over 4 years since my husband and I were married and a little over 3 years since I wrote my initial post about our Arab/American marriage; a post which still garners much attention and encourages conversations among readers. It’s nice to share a bit of insight into our lives in hopes of helping at least one person who might find themselves baffled by cultural differences.

Before writing this post I thought it best to discuss things that might have changed over the last several years instead of writing yet another post about overcoming cultural challenges. Not only have I covered that topic enough but over time it feels as though our cultures are meshing to the point of becoming one in a number of ways.

Lately I’ve noticed that as women are commenting on the blog with questions about their Arab boyfriends (who are often students here in the US) I catch myself thinking, “How small minded and controlling he is!” Perhaps because my husband and I have both changed significantly since moving to America and what was once acceptable and even normal now feels confining and discriminatory. Not sure I could effortlessly move back to Kuwait and fit into a lifestyle I once felt so comfortable in. I know I miss my in-laws immensely, but fortunately, with technology and their willingness to travel, we see one another often.

Though I like to think my husband and I have never been superficial shallow people, that’s even more evident now. Holidays that once consisted of expensive gifts or vacations are now consumed with participating in activities with emotional value. Perhaps it’s a day spent at the dog park with our furry friends, or building a new cat house, or even just a family lunch at our favorite cafe. As we continue to grow closer we also seem to embrace more depth in life. We value things with meaning instead of things with a price tag.

My husband, who has always been more comfortable with the Western culture, fits neatly into his not-so-new life here. He has an incredible career, wonderful colleagues and business associates, and holds dear his simple yet meaningful lifestyle. He knows we’re making a difference regardless of how small it is.

One of the biggest differences I think we both experience is that sense of freedom. Primarily not having to be consumed with perceptions; a huge part of life in Kuwait. I’ve always been very independent, worked, managed businesses, drove, traveled, etc. And, fortunately, my husband always admired and encouraged that. Yet in Kuwait we still had to be concerned with perceptions. Would the neighbors wonder why my head wasn’t covered? Would they question who that Western woman was driving all over town alone? Would extended family members see me out and about and wonder why I wasn’t escorted by a man? While living up to those ‘standards’ wasn’t difficult, it did become emotionally daunting over time. Having to question every single move we made out of respect for some unwritten cultural rules that neither of us believed in definitely exhausted us. Here, the only respect we really have to show is to one another. And we do. Yet we have freedom to do as we please without wondering is the neighbor watching. If I want to head out at 5am for coffee and shopping (alone)… I do just that. No one cares. No one is watching. And no one would dare even question it. We want to rescue dogs… that’s what we do. No one is questioning it. No one is shaming us for having dogs in our home. And we certainly don’t have to worry someone will toss poison over our fence to try and harm our pets. We’re free.

Over the years, since writing my first post about the Arab/American marriage, the primary question has been, “How to overcome cultural differences?”. And as I’m sure my answer has changed over time, I can comfortably say the best advice I have is just to live the life you want to live. Be yourself. Love what you do and where you are. And if that person (whether it’s the Arab or the American) is supposed to be in your life then they’ll be comfortable with all of that. If they are constantly trying to change you then it’s definitely not the relationship for you. Yeah, this is pretty standard advice for any relationship regardless of background and culture but things can get quite blurred when the cultures are so very different.

Thanks to those of you who still hang around and read the blog during the very rare occasion I write something new. I always have thoughts and ideas running through my head and often think I should blog about them, but I doubt they would be of much interest to those who don’t know me personally. Perhaps someday.