A lesson in Mut’a Marriage

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 😉

US Contractors – Your legal rights and the Kuwait Labour Law

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.

Networking and small talk.

After what felt like a super long week filled with business meetings, studies, research papers and networking, I was finally able to relax a little late last night and catch up on some reading.

While browsing for interesting and relevant articles about networking I came across this piece in Entrepreneur. Small talk; probably my biggest weakness when it comes to business development. I like to think I’m easy to get along with, friendly, and approachable, but when it comes to knowing I have to chat someone up in hopes of creating a business relationship it’s a struggle. It always feels very forced and spurious. As a matter of fact, I’ve found my most successful business ventures have been with friends or former colleagues; people I have an existing connection with.

Much of my recent business expansion has been a matter of me investing the time required to generate pertinent training modules for individuals and corporations. Of course this depends upon extensive research into organizational weaknesses and types of certifications individuals in particular departments are interested in obtaining. Oddly enough, this is the easy part. My next step is to reach out to companies I have existing business relationships with and get them on board with corporate training. Seems simple enough until you realize while you’re suggesting ways to improve by utilizing targeted training, they’re hearing, “Your company is failing”. This is where that small talk becomes an important tool — and where I feel intimidated.

Obviously creating a more personal connection with a potential client makes business feel less formal. It almost feels like a positive interaction between two good friends. But getting there relies heavily on that small talk… that ice breaker.

So, if you find yourself in a position to make small talk, especially in a business setting, you might also find this article rather interesting. It’s simple, an easy read, and makes networking feel a bit less dreadful to me.

Full article

Recruiting Americans

I was recently contacted by a former colleague to see if I could assist in recruitment for their US company with a large contract overseas (Kuwait and Afghanistan). Though I generally stick to recruitment for local companies located throughout the GCC, I agreed to give her a hand. O.M.G.

First of all, in 2014 the medical requirements changed a bit and became more strict when it comes to overall heath and weight. BMI now plays a significant role in whether or not someone will be offered a contracting position. And this isn’t just for new hires… this applies to current employees as well. There are a number of ‘replacement’ positions being filled because the previous employee wasn’t ‘medically fit’ to perform their duties. Ouch!

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OK, I understand the need to have semi-physically fit employees working on the US camps. Not that they’re toting weapons or fighting in a war, but they are employed on a government contract in support of the US Military.

However, these changes leave me facing a number of challenges.

When recruiting in the US there are a multitude of laws that apply. Such as discrimination. And though ‘weight’ isn’t a protected class, not hiring someone because of their weight can quickly turn into a discrimination lawsuit — with enough evidence. Additionally, I’m conducting interviews via telephone. I can’t even see these people to make a fair determination as to whether or not they might be a qualified candidate. Obviously saying, “Hey lady, are you fat?” isn’t an option. So I have to go into the ‘BMI’ speech, explaining the new requirements set forth by the military. Seems reasonable enough, huh? Well, have you ever seen someone (man or woman) wearing something that would look super cute on a size 2 but not on a size 22 yet they’re flaunting it as if they’re modeling for Victoria’s Secret? These are the people who have an over-inflated ego and delusions of grandeur. They think they’re showing off the perfect body all wrapped up in the perfect BMI. They’re totally out of touch with reality.

Speaking of out of touch with reality;

During this little recruitment project I’ve viewed a number of resumes/CVs from individuals who are obviously desperate to find employment in Kuwait (I say desperate because they’ve applied for 38 jobs and are qualified for 0). It’s been rather fascinating to come across a resume belonging to someone you’re familiar with realizing everything they portray publicly doesn’t resemble anything factual. We do check references, verify education (even when it’s supposedly overseas), and contact previous employers. As will any reputable employer — even those not affiliated with the US. So when you make claims about your education and/or employment history, make sure they’re accurate. And, if you were recently terminated from your position as a US Contractor because of medical/weight issues, disclose that at the beginning of the interview! As badly as some might want to keep that information a secret, it’s not. Not when you’re applying to work overseas on a US contract.

Note: Please do not ask if you can send me your resume/CV. These positions are all listed online through a number of companies bidding on an upcoming contract. Each position much be applied to individually and online. Wishing you all the best in your search for employment.

Supporting one another…

The other day I was talking to a wonderful woman who, like everyone else, is facing some unique challenges. She has a lot on her shoulders but is handling it all like a champ. She doesn’t quite realize how well she’s doing and I get the sense the stress is starting to affect her self esteem. She had mentioned to me something she’s become involved in and really invests a great deal of time and talent into doing the best she can. And she’s doing awesome! However, she’s feeling a bit hurt by the lack of support from her friends. She’s not asking people to spend money, invest their time, or lift a finger. She’s simply asking people she considers friends to show a little emotional support. It’s shameful she even has to ask.

support-one-another

That being said, where do we draw the line in showing emotional support for one another? Just because someone isn’t one of my dearest, best, closest friends doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy for them or support them in something they have an interest in. Heck, I would do that for a stranger. 

So why is it so many people (especially women) seem to be so bitter and hateful towards one another? Isn’t the goal to share the limelight with someone equally deserving? Or even step aside and let someone else shine every now and then? What’s the harm in saying a few kind words? What are women so afraid of?

I was raised in a family of incredibly classy women who had a great deal of self esteem. I can’t recall ever hearing my mother, grandmother, or aunts being malicious or nasty to anyone — even if they were given reason. I was taught to ‘take the high road’ and it’s always worked out rather well for me. And by ‘taking the high road’ I mean either completely eliminating negative forces from my life or just outright ignoring the source. I have a theory — if you don’t pay my bills or feed my pets then how important is your opinion of me? Eh. Not at all.

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Of course ignoring those filled with hatred and negativity doesn’t always take me out of their line of fire. It simply means I rarely know about it, and when I do I certainly don’t allow it to affect me emotionally. After all, when someone feels negatively about us then obviously their opinions are skewed as well. And sometimes, well, they’re outright delusional.

But the question still remains; where do we draw the line when it comes to supporting one another? At what age do women stop cheering one another on and start attacking their peer? And what prompts the lack of support?

It’s often said ‘if someone hates you it’s because they can’t have you or can’t be you’. Is it really that simple?

I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by a group of great friends who happen to be very strong, confident women. We empower one another. Support each other’s ideas. And always reach out to offer a hand, a smile, or a word of encouragement. And I like to think we do the same for random strangers. Like me, they avoid negativity.

Some would say the ability to remove yourself from shallow, petty, bitterness comes with maturity. I happen to think it comes from a good upbringing by self assured, successful women.

“Girls compete with one another. Women empower one another.”

The Instagram life.

It’s no secret that my blogging habits have changed dramatically over the years. Especially this past year. With the move, the businesses (I’ve just expanded and in the process tripled my workload), and now… the MBA studies (my 2nd Masters, go me!), blogging has really taken a backseat. I’ve also found Instagram to be a much simpler way to share bits of my life with those who might be interested. I’m also toying with the idea of a regular Podcast but face the same time restrictions.

No, this isn’t the end of the blog. I’m not going away yet. But, I really can’t continue to invest as much time as I once did. However, I will be more active on Instagram — until the next ‘big’ thing comes along. I believe it’s referred to as ‘instablogging’. I can certainly understand the appeal; one click posting, make an impact statement, and tie it together with a relevant photo.

I’ve always blogged for my own therapeutic reasons as well as the hope I might provide some insight to a random reader. Blog stats have never been important to me (I’ve actually never once even checked them). For that reason I’ll continue to randomly post when I really need to vent, and I’ll also answer emails. Though please be patient, my plate is a bit full right now.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram. Especially if you love super duper adorable pets 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you there!

Internal Revenue Service Webinar [US Embassy Kuwait]

The US Embassy Kuwait will be conducting a webinar to provide information to US Citizens regarding their IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and tax filing requirements. It seems the reporting of foreign income for dual citizens seems a bit intimidating and has many reaching out for professional services. The most important thing to remember is that Foreign Earned Income is tax free up to $92,000 (possibly more this year). A US CItizen earning their income abroad only pays taxes on the income earned after that amount. And depending upon the deductions and tax credits, many will end up owing nothing to the IRS. So before you pay someone claiming to be a ‘tax professional’ who’s really just plugging numbers into Turbo Tax, check out the webinar and get sound advice coupled with facts.

US Embassy message and webinar information below:

To assist all taxpayers in meeting their foreign bank account reporting requirements, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is hosting a webinar regarding the Reporting of Foreign Financial Accounts on the Electronic FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts).
Date: June 4, 2014
Time: 2:00 pm (ET); 1:00 pm (CT); 12:00 pm (MT); 11:00 a.m. (PT)
Location: Your Office or Home
Contact: SB/SE Webinars; Email: sbse.webinars@irs.gov
Event Information: This FREE one-hour broadcast is for:

  • All Tax Professionals
  • FBAR filers

Topics include:

  • FBAR legal authorities
  • FBAR mandatory e-filing overview
  • Using FinCEN Form 114; and Form 114a
  • FBAR filing requirements
  • FBAR filing exceptions
  • Special filing rules
  • Recordkeeping
  • Administrative guidance
  • Live Q&A session with Subject Matter Experts

 

Please click here for more information

 

The Internal Revenue Service reminds U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2013, that they may have a U.S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2014.

The filing deadline is Monday, June 16, 2014, for U.S. citizens and resident aliens living overseas, or serving in the military outside the U.S. on the regular due date of their tax return. Eligible taxpayers get one additional day because the normal June 15 extended due date falls on Sunday this year. To use this automatic two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

CREATE #REUSEQ8 ART…LIVE!

en.v & Zain To Create Crowd-Sourced Recycled Art Installation at Kuwait Scientific Center

In celebration of Earth Day, en.v – an organization dedicated to promoting social responsibility and environmental sustainability in the Arab world – has developed an interactive art installation to be displayed at The Scientific Center as part of the organization’s REUSE program.

REUSE_EWeek_Instagram_ENG

The interactive art installation, which takes the shape of a seven meter life-size whale constructed with a steel frame and wire mesh material, encourages participants to weave used plastic bags into the frame, thus reusing them in a creative way to complete the outer-body of the installation. This ‘crowd-sourced’ activity targets students who will be visiting the Scientific Center from private and public schools in Kuwait and visitors from the general public to raise awareness on the effects of consumer waste on Kuwait’s marine environment in a collaborative fun way.

Show your support for the cause by visiting the REUSE whale at The Scientific Center from the 17th to the 19th of April, 2014, between10am and 9pm. The event will include an environmental fair with engaging activities from a number of local environmental and educational initiatives, as well as live music on Thursday and Friday evenings from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

REUSE_EWeek_Instagram_AR

REUSE is a program initiated by en.v in partnership with Zain Telecommunications to promote environmental sustainability and community participation in Kuwait. The program includes activities such as educational roadshows and competitions, community events, online environmental campaigns and workshops taking place throughout the year.

Dogs Are People, Too [NY Times]

My love for animals certainly isn’t a secret to anyone who has ever read my blog or spent 5 minutes with me in person. Our pets genuinely are family members. We plan much of our day around their care and wouldn’t think of doing otherwise.

Of course when we got each of our pets my husband and I agreed it was important they get acclimated and fit neatly into lifestyle, not the other way around, But we also agreed once their schedule meshed with ours, we would do everything in our power to avoid major changes. We choose many events based on their ‘dog friendly’ policy, or just skip something that doesn’t allow pets and opt for a doggy day at the park or a trip to the pet store.

Some people may ask why we put so much consideration into our pets when making many decisions, but the answer to us is simple… they’re family members with feelings. Some may argue that animals don’t have feelings… I couldn’t disagree more. Their eyes, their facial expressions, their behaviors; speak volumes.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

Until now, me and all the other animal lovers of the world were just spewing a ‘bunch of nonsense’ to those who didn’t get it. And, well, other than our personal experiences there wasn’t a lot of evidence to support our ‘animals have feelings too’ speeches.

Fortunately Neuroscientist Gregory Berns has made extensive progress in his study of the dog brain. He’s found scientific evidence supporting the ‘animals have feelings’ theory us animal lovers have known all along. He’s quite possibly my favorite person on earth today.

Check out the brilliant article here.

“The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.” [excerpt from NY Times article]

The Liberal Muslim

I’m not one to blog about religion, nor am I one to incite a religious debate. I have no interest in being attacked or attacking anyone else for their beliefs… regardless of their religion.

I’m quite open about my ‘liberal’ standpoint on pretty much everything in life. It’s all very simple to me; as long as you’re not hurting another person or animal, then do as you please. It’s not my place to judge.

Some would argue my point of view by stating there are certain things which are a ‘sin’, such as homosexuality. My own religious beliefs were even questioned by a random stranger when I posted the Macklemore ‘Same Love’ video during Ramadan. Their judgment reminded me of a time I asked a friend what they would do if one of their close friends got addicted to drugs or alcohol. Their response was shocking, “Never speak to them again. Never allow them to come near me. Ignore them and tell other people to do the same”. Wow, how is that considered religious behavior?!

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

It’s my belief that it’s not our place to judge. And no matter what religion you practice (or if you’re an Atheist) none of us have the right to point fingers at someone else’s behavior. Isn’t it our place to encourage those who are struggling? And give a helping hand to those in need? Since when does tolerance translate to being ‘bad’? And since when does hate and degradation imply the finger pointer is the ‘better’ religious person? Isn’t that all so backwards?

At the end of the day I believe it’s important we all be comfortable in our own skin. After all, there’s never gonna be another ‘you’. We should fully embrace our existence, flaws and all. Because isn’t it really our differences that make us so perfect anyway?

Finally, attacking someone for their lifestyle, gender, age, weight, physical appearance, etc. is really just bullying. And didn’t we all know better than that by age 6?