Murder at Avenues Mall — Kuwait

Kuwait Times article can be found here.

For updates on this case please check Mark’s blog (248AM) as well as the Facebook Memorial page set up in honor of the victim, Dr. Jaber Youssef. Both have posted a video, the photo of the suspect who has been arrested, and further details regarding the case.

Last night the stories began, photos and videos flooded Twitter and other social media sites. An assumed stabbing had taken place in front of hundreds of shoppers at the Avenues Mall here in Kuwait. Details were limited and don’t seem to be much more clear now, 16 hours later.

The initial reports stated there was an altercation between two men over a woman resulting in a fight and one being stabbed. The photos were evidence it was far more serious. The amount of blood being shown in photos was enormous.

Today the report has changed a few times; first stating a Kuwaiti stabbed a Lebanese but that he survived, soon being followed with stories of death, and quickly shifting to the perpetrator being a Saudi and the victim being a Lebanese Dentist who was stabbed over a parking space before entering the mall. Because nothing has been reported in the local newspapers, we’re all still relying on eye witnesses and those who knew either party involved.

I’ve now just been told the victim hit his brakes while looking for a parking space at the mall and the perpetrator was behind him (causing him to abruptly hit his brakes as well), and the victim got out to apologize. This wasn’t acceptable so those in the rear car followed the victim inside the mall where they proceeded to stab him to death. Again, only hearsay.

Here are a few links to other blogs who have posted about this tragic incident and can perhaps shed more light on what really took place. Warning: graphic images and videos may be posted on these sites.

KuwaithereBlog

248AM

965Malls Blog

Sadly I’m unable to provide any additional information, facts, or details. But that’s not the purpose of my post. 

As soon as the news of this broke out last night I was immediately contacted on Twitter by an American. They were considering taking a position here in Kuwait and this prompted serious concerns regarding safety. Understandably so. Please keep in mind, Americans who have never been to this side of the world before know only a few things about Kuwait — it’s next door to Iraq, Kuwait was once invaded by Iraq, Iraq and Iran were often at war, the US only recently left Iraq, Kuwait isn’t too far from Iran, and Afghanistan is ‘over here somewhere’.

Therefore, the purpose of this post is to remind people Kuwait is a safe country for the most part. Certainly as safe, if not more so, than America. Yeah, we deal with people who drive like maniacs, but you even learn to avoid those to the best of your ability. We also encounter silly boys who want to stare at every single female species driving a car, but even that can be resolved by ignoring them. What we really don’t fear are random murders in malls — or anywhere else for that matter. The majority of crime in Kuwait is confined to a few specific areas, are normally crimes among people who know one another, or are within a family (domestic disputes). That being said, if you’re offered a job in Kuwait, don’t allow this one incident to cause you concern. Kuwait is a beautiful country filled with good people. But no place on earth is perfect.

What I was really bothered by were the videos showing the clean-up after this incident. No police anywhere, no one blocking off the trail of blood, and a man without gloves using what appeared to be a wet rag wiping the floors. Evidence being destroyed and bio-hazards all over the place. People taking videos and pictures, and no one trying to contain the situation. Though this was an isolated incident, certain policies regarding this sort of thing should be put into place… for everyone’s protection.

Finally, my deepest condolences to the family of the victim. And I do hope they catch the criminal who felt he had the right to take someone’s life — especially over something so senseless. This case deserves attention and justice should be served.

15 thoughts on “Murder at Avenues Mall — Kuwait

  1. Kuwait is abuzz with excitement about the new Grand Avenues project and as I walked around this project on Friday morning, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement on the Kuwaitis faces as they walked down the corridors of this project. It was the place to be scene and the restaurants were full which I have never seen before in Kuwait. I appreciated the effort that was made to line the sidewalks with poinsettias, although Kuwait is not tolerant enough to have Christmas trees in their mall like Dubai, but hey, maybe someday they will realize that Christmas makes people happy with an array of wonderful customs that they would also enjoy, but they are not there yet. Kuwait today is a society that is dealing with its demons and it is not an advantageous time to have a dysfunctional government. I always say that Kuwait has become a dysfunctional society, full of dysfunctional people and the primary reason is from the dysfunctional government. As a foreigner, I had a window, and my window to go to this mall project was mornings with a quick departure by 1:00 PM and why is that? Because of the violence levels in this country and everyone knows about the gang violence in this mall, in fact all malls in Kuwait. A woman cannot even walk down the street in Kuwait without the fear of being kidnapped and raped, let’s be honest here, the stories are in the paper every day. Not one of my colleagues can sit in a restaurant or go to the grocery store in the southern coastal areas without being propositioned by a hooker and her pimps. Kuwait today is a very troubled society, with the highest levels of car accidents in the world to the highest crime rates in the GCC. Kuwait needs to get their house in order and that starts with the Ministry of Interior performing their duty to this nation to ensure safety and security for all citizens. The other day my son went to get a Subway sandwich in the center of Salmiya and as he looked around the streets were full of hookers, midday, whilst fancy cars pulled up to solicit their business as grey police cars watched nearby doing nothing, this is Kuwait today. After leaving the mall, I went to a nearby shop and forgot to get something at this mall, but my window had closed, I knew there was no more parking, so drove home. That is how you must live in Kuwait today; I rarely go out at night. 248AM has a picture of one of the killers and it is about time we see their faces. They always show ours when we commit crimes, let’s see theirs! This was over a parking space, but this killer proceeded to commit this crime because he was empowered by the lack of law enforcement. Sure this is a private project, but it is about time that all over this nation, the authorities start tackling the high levels of crime in this country and it appears that they need to start in the malls. May Dr. Youssef RIP!

    • Thank you so much for your comment and sharing the things you’ve witnessed here in Kuwait.

      I too have a window in which I will go shopping, etc. Not because of crime…but because of traffic. I do believe certain expats are targeted when it comes to rape, kidnapping, etc. but as a Westerner I don’t fear things like this anymore than I would in the USA. This doesn’t mean I’m complacent, and since I’ve been married I rarely leave the home alone. Though I honestly don’t feel more afraid here than I do back in the States.

      I agree the government has a lot of work to do here. But this could be said for any country. However, Kuwait has so much potential and with the right regulations and laws in place, it too could flourish.

      The face of the killer was shown because they’ve discovered he’s not a GCC national, but stateless. He will be treated (to a degree) like an expat.

      Thank you again for your comment.

    • “Because of the violence levels in this country and everyone knows about the gang violence in this mall, in fact all malls in Kuwait. A woman cannot even walk down the street in Kuwait without the fear of being kidnapped and raped, let’s be honest here, the stories are in the paper every day”

      I don’t know whether to laugh at this or just be merely confused. No offense. But gang violence? That’s the ONLY violence that has happened in Kuwait in YEARS and I sure you years meaning before I was even born. There is only ONE flaw in Kuwait, which makes me very upset and that is the use of “wasta” and how ppl abuse it to get what they want. Ppl who are right don’t get what they deserve, and uneducated ppl just cuz they know a person knows that person get all the statuses they want.

      But violence?! What on earth are you talking about. Kuwait is one of the LEAST countries that has violence and ppl getting kidnapped. Its like a ratio of 1 out of every 20 ppl here vs 7 or more out of 20 abroad! And I assure you and you can double check that NONE of those even happened in malls, except the one with the lebanese dr. And the stabber wasn’t even Kuwaiti.

      If you wanna say Kuwait is corrupted. Then I agree with you with regards to “wasta” and ppl getting illegal things, and ppl who have the right to get it don’t. But yet I stress again, Violence?! LoL never. Especially in the grocery store. You have no need to be afraid 😛 I assure you. But if you still are, even tho I don’t think you should, go with someone 🙂

      Peace

      • I agree with you that Kuwait is very safe, but to say violence and kidnappings ‘never’ happen, or are very rare isn’t true. Violence against locals and Westerners is quite rare but those from less fortunate countries aren’t so lucky. Maids are kidnapped, raped, and murdered often in Kuwait. And people are beaten and robbed often as well. And though these stories make it to the newspaper there’s still that mentality of, “Oh, it was just a maid” or “He was only a street cleaner anyway, it doesn’t matter”.

        I always felt very safe in Kuwait though. And I lived in Jahra which has a reputation of its own. I’ll never understand why and surely the people who ‘hated’ Jahra had never even been there. But, I feel just as safe here in America.

        • Thanx for the reply :)!

          I agree with you. I didn’t mean it “never” happen. But compared to abroad its little. I’ve been to many places and lived in the states and england and lebanon for some time as well. I’ve always felt Kuwait was the safest. Like for instance, to me no country is 100% safe. Kuwait is about 90% lets say, and in the states about 60-70%, and in spain & lebanon (i’m scared the hell out of it at night time, they have many theives etc.) about 30-40%. So i was kind of confused when she said she was scared to go to a grocery store 😛

          Unfortunately many maids are beaten, and there should be a stop to that. Some ppl here treat them like slaves. I’ve heard those stories since my husband used to deal with these issues at work. Many (not all), of maids who are beaten, ironically weren’t from their employers. Most ran away with (i’d rather not say the nationality) boyfriends and then were beaten by their so called boyfriends. And they are mostly the target and victims since they know if something happened to a citizen here, things will be way worse.

          I’ve never been to Jahra, but I’m glad you say its safe 🙂

          • Yes, Kuwait is definitely more safe than a lot of other places I’ve visited. I would like to do a short vacation in Iraq this year (been wanting to do it for years). Wonder how safe it is there now?

  2. They better not make this a ‘bedoun’ issue, because this is a ‘Kuwait’ issue. No one feels safe to go to any mall at night in Kuwait, especially this one and this hurts this mall economically. I can’t imagine fearing to go to the Emirates Mall or the Dubai Mall. Get your house in order Kuwait! It is a Ministry of Interior issue. Crime plagues this nation, no one is safe anymore, the traffic is horrendous, wasta sometimes is more powerful than following the law and there are corruption levels in the police force, everyone knows this, so let’s address the core of the matter. In today’s Kuwait Times, finally government officials are speaking out.”MPs blamed the Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah. MP Safa Al-Hashem asked where Sheikh Ahmad was at a time like this, and warned against attempts to use any wasta in favor of the criminals. MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah said that this crime was an evidence of the inability of the government to maintain law and order in the country, and that some veteran officers at the ministry need to be shunted out. He also warned of more problems if the prime minister did not make changes in the Ministry of Interior and rectified the poor choices of ministers.” Mr. Al-Shaya put alot of effort into building the Grand Avenues building it on par with other GCC nations and to allow a mall to be disrespected like this by shoppers fearing to go there at night? This is appalling!
    A shopper stated,“After the news about fights that I read on weekly basis, I am not surprised by anything. I do not like to visit the mall on weekends, but my daughters insist on going as they have school on other days and their friends are going. So I have to take them. But I cannot let them roam about alone and have to be with them all the time. Also, I always leave a mall before 10:00 pm as I feel it becomes more risky after some shops close,” said 42-year-old Manal. I rest my case!

    • You’re right this should not be treated as a bedoun issue. This is a heinous crime committed by a person, regardless of nationality. Just as people first assumed the killer was Kuwaiti and hoped he would not get away with it because of wasta, I hope they keep that same focus knowing he’s bedoun.

      After your comment yesterday I started wondering if I had somehow become blind to much of the crime taking place in Kuwait and started Googling other similar incidents (I actually thought this was an isolated incident). I admit, I was shocked to see how often these types of things have been taking place in the past year or so, and all are published in the newspaper. But, as you know, there’s never a follow up to find out what happened. This incident just happened to get so much attention because it took place at the busiest spot in Kuwait over a weekend in front of hundreds of people. It had ‘shock value’.

      Though it’s so tragic this innocent man lost his life over nonsense, and his family is now left to suffer this loss, perhaps it will result in something good. Maybe this will finally force laws to be implemented and followed. Perhaps it would give his family some little sense of peace knowing his death prompted positive changes for others.

    • http://www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDetails/tabid/96/smid/414/ArticleID/191891/reftab/36/t/CID-police-in-blame-game-as-crime-immorality-climb/Default.aspx

      Told you so, if you analyze the high crime rate in Kuwait the core of this issue is the MOI. If hookers are openly selling thier wares openly all over Kuwait in front of the very policemen who are suppose to be arresting them, Kuwait has a problem and as a GCC nation this is shameful. If you do an analysis of the high accident rates, high crime rate, lack of security at Kuwait International Airport, all roads lead to the MOI. They need to be overhaulled and discuss how they can improve their performance on a broad scale for this very small nation, otherwise, the country will become a rogue state. They have to improve police training and address the corruption levels in the police force, address the large amounts of illegal residents in the country and it may involve building a separate immigration detention centre like Australia because of the lack of jail space in the country. They should consider building a new central jail but that is not an immediate solution. When you have large amounts of unemployed expats on the streets, many times trafficked illegally by visa traders or due to unemployment and not exiting the country, it will increase crime and also the Kuwaitis need to address the phenonmena in their own society on why some of their nationals are turning to a life of crime in such a privledged society. Most of Kuwait’s problems are easily solved, they just need to focus on the core of the matter and formulate solutions based the problems, but this is so huge and that it involves many divisions of the government, but it starts with the MOI.

  3. You think Americans have it difficult here? If something happens, you always have the Embassy to back you up. Besides, the culture of racism here puts Arabs at the top and white Europeans/Americans on second tier not far behind. All others, such as Indians and Filipinos, are at the bottom. Try being an Indian in Kuwait. Not a single day passes by when you don’t encounter racism and the threat of violence. The expatriate Westerners prefer to associate only with other expatriate Westerners and not with the wider expat community.

    • No, I don’t think Americans have it difficult at all. I wasn’t aware my post had implied that. However, I am different nationalities are treated differently by some here in Kuwait. But I also know many locals who have friends from all backgrounds and walks of life. I’m really sorry you’ve experienced discrimination and negativity because of the country you were born in. It’s a shame.

      As for Westerners only wanting to associate with other Westerners, I don’t think this is true at all. Personally, I have less than 5 Western friends here, the rest are all a variety of non-Western nationalities. I believe other Westerners would love to meet people outside of their ‘circle’ but it’s difficult to just approach a random stranger and ask to ‘be their friend’. Many Westerners work together all day, building friendships that often carry over into after work activities. I know numerous Western women who have married locals from Kuwait (myself included), 2 American women who married Indian men they met while working in Kuwait, 1 American woman who married an Afghani she met here in Kuwait, and a number of others who married Egyptian, Lebanese, etc. Your English is beautiful, why not strike up a conversation with a random Westerner at the local Starbucks? You might be surprised.

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful reply and I apologize for the aggressive tone in my last post. I had experienced a situation last week along the lines of what I was describing, which left me pretty steamed up.

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