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Winter 2015















10 GET SMART! The evolution of consumer electronics

14 SILENT KILLER Fighting diabetes in Kuwait

18 CLASS ACT The benefits and practicalities of learning a second language



Does ‘Special Needs’ education need a rethink?







26 CAPITAL ASSETS The rise of Dame Nemat ‘Minouche’ Shafik to the Bank of England

34 OUTER SPACES The pioneers behind Kuwait’s green spaces

48 UTZON UNTOLD Why the National Assembly Kuwait is a global architectural icon

68 SWEET SUCCESS The secrets of Dolce Antico fine chocolate


FLOOR 16, MAZAYA TOWER #2 KHALID IBN AL-WALEED ST, SHARQ, KUWAIT P.O.BOX: 21585, 130761 SAFAT KUWAIT TEL. 22202581 / 22202589 FAX 22202562


Bringing together age-old crafts and high tech

82 WHEELS OF FORTUNE Kuwait’s classic car museum

@The_Correspondent_Magazine @CorrespondentUS

NOTICE: The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for errors and/or omissions contained in this publication, no matter how they may be caused. The opinions and the views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be seen as appropriate by a reader due to their particular circumstances. No part of this publication or any part of the contents may be reproduced either digitally or electronically without the explicit authorisation of the Editor-in-Chief /publisher in writing; a fee may be levied for reproduction. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. ABCK Ltd. (the trademark of the American Business Council - Kuwait) is a member of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce. ABCK Ltd.’s mission is to promote trade, investment and goodwill between the United States of America, the membership, and the State of Kuwait. ABCK Ltd. is an independent, not-for-profit association as identified in US IRS Code 501(c) (6) comprised of leading American corporations present in Kuwait, their partner corporations, small and medium sized businesses, and prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs. The ABCK Ltd. through its focus groups, committees and programs provides a forum for business executives to pursue and discuss issues impacting business operations between the US and Kuwait. Through the support of its members, the ABCK Ltd. is the recognized voice of American business in Kuwait and beyond. For more information, visit:

Since June 2015 The Correspondent is a publication produced wholly independently by The Kilma Media and Advertising Company and has no affiliation whatsoever with any prior publications under the same name.

W E LC O M E This issue of The Correspondent magazine holds particular resonance for me as a publisher; it encompasses topics that I personally hold dear, such as the environment, culture and health. A father’s legacy is the main theme of our cover feature, a global exclusive on the multi-award-winning architect Jørn Utzon, who designed Kuwait’s spectacular National Assembly, working together with his son Jan. Few people are aware of the humanity that lies behind the concept of this building and at the heart of the Utzon design dynasty. This story took six months to research and

involved traveling 13,000 km. We are delighted to say that some of the images shown in this issue are being published for the very first time. The theme of legacy continues through our features on Kuwait’s Historical, Vintage and Classic Car Museum and equally our piece on Barnard & Westwood, a small, family-owned printers and bookbinders in London patronized by royalty. We are a magazine about innovators and hard workers; Dame Nemat “Minouche” Shafik is both. In our Banking

section, we salute one of the world’s most powerful women who, from humble beginnings, rose to the post of Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, a feat she credits to her father’s inspiration. I hope that this, our winter 2015 issue offers an even broader appeal to our readers across the world and insights into issues that really count. Wishing you all a peaceful and successful 2016. Abdulaziz M. Al-Anjeri EDITOR-IN-CHIEF



Kuwait City, Kuwait - November 24, 2015

Dear Readers : The summer of 2015 marked the beginning of the 25th anniversary of the invasion and subsequent liberation of Kuwait, a watershed moment in the long friendship between Kuwait and the United States. By commemorating this important historic event we reaffirm the friendship between Kuwait and the United States and help younger Kuwaitis and Americans discover this important part of our shared history. The American business community was an important part of our country’s assistance to Kuwait in its hour of need, for example by mobilizing an international force to put out more that 650 wellhead fires, a complicated and risky operation that helped resurrect Kuwait’s oil fields. Although experts had predicted it would take two to three years, the American-led effort brought the fires under control in just eight months. Only 12 months after that, oil production was restored to its pre-war capacity. American firms were also among the first step up to help rebuild Kuwait’s infrastructure, from its air traffic control systems to its emergency power generation, as well as disaster clean-up and many construction projects. This dedication to assisting Kuwait laid the foundation for growing commercial partnership for the many business that were willing to make a long-term commitment to Kuwait. As a result, commercial ties between the United States and Kuwait have expanded by more than 700 percent, with trade volumes growing from US$1.8 billion in 1989 to US$15 billion in 2014. It would be a privilege to include the American business community in the Embassy’s commemorative events and activities throughout the coming months. We will keep The Correspondent readers informed of events and we welcome your participation. Please do not hesitate to contact us, or to learn more visit our website at, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @AmbSilliman.


Douglas A. Silliman Ambassador


Dear Members and Friends of the ABCK: It is once again my pleasure to welcome you as Chairman of the American Business Council - Kuwait in this latest issue of The Correspondent magazine. The US and Kuwait have enjoyed a long history of commercial cooperation which was formalized 55 years ago in 1961 by the arrival of Mr. Dayton S. Mak, the first US representative in Kuwait. The ABCK has played an integral part in that bilateral relationship for three of those five decades. 2015 marked the 30th Anniversary of the American Business Council - Kuwait. As we look back on our history, we can be proud of the Council’s contribution to the American business community, as well as the role our current and sustaining member companies have played in the growth, rebuilding and continued security of Kuwait, especially after the Iraqi invasion in 1990. At this momentous milestone we must not forget that many of the efforts to rebuild Kuwait were executed by companies both old and new to the region, in addition to individual entrepreneurs, all of whom we are proud to count amongst our Council members. These names were instrumental in providing support in times of need and continue to do so in peace time.


THE ABCK CONTINUES TO THRIVE AS A RESULT OF ITS ACTIVE AND ROBUST MEMBERSHIP These companies would make their mark across all sectors, from infrastructural development, transportation, high-tech, oil and gas, education and health care, to retail, hospitality and food. Today, all sectors of the Kuwaiti economy are richly represented by Americans and American companies in Kuwait, which is a testament to the strength of our deep and abiding alliance. We celebrated ABCK’s 30th anniversary on October 27th 2015 with an outstanding gala that was a resounding success! Over 220 members were in attendance to enjoy the festivities and the US Ambassador, HE Mr. Douglas Silliman was our special guest and speaker, accompanied by his wife, Catherine. Ambassador and Mrs. Silliman are great supporters of ABCK and we were honored to have them attend this auspicious event. Also at the Gala were Mr. Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Jan. Delano is the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States; he is also the Chairman of the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC), the voice of all Middle East AMCHAMS to Congress. Both Ambassador Silliman and Delano Roosevelt addressed the Gala to rapturous applause and the festivities lasted well into the evening.

The ABCK continues to thrive as a result of its active and robust membership. It has recently changed its By-Laws to include as members ALL graduates of US Universities or US-accredited affiliate universities, in addition to removing restrictions on Kuwait residents. This will allow a more inclusive membership, especially younger members, who were previously ineligible. We have already begun our outreach to them and have registered a number of new members as a result. We hope in future to allow for more participation by members of the small and medium enterprise (SME) community who will find the ABCK fellowship both useful and inspirational. In closing, I would like to say that I am excited about the future of ABCK and I encourage you to become an active member in any of our committees or focus groups. I would also like to encourage you to run for a seat on the Board of Directors. We are always seeking active volunteers that are willing to participate in advancing our mission objectives. If you have any ideas for the ABCK, or would like to participate in any of our events, committees or focus groups, please feel free to contact us! Thank you all for your continued support! Best Regards, Scott Beverly Chairman, American Business Council - Kuwait





GET SMART! Abdulla N. Almulla discusses the momentous changes in Consumer Electronics over three decades. TCM: From your own perspective what are the key changes you have witnessed over the past decades in the consumer electronic industry globally? ANA: The consumer electronics industry has seen particularly rapid development over the last decade. From the staid colour televisions and video cassette recorders seen just about 15 years ago, we now have a convergence between electronics and mobile telephony through the arrival of the Internet. Even within electronics for example, the broadcasting industry went through a number of shifts in terms of platforms: state broadcasters have evolved and we now have satellite broadcasters using Cable Operators, from this we moved to Set-Top Boxes followed by Direct-to-Home television.

The hardware industry has also gone through a radical transformation with more and more devices becoming ‘smart’, meaning Internet compatible or Internet-friendly. Simultaneously, with the enhancements in technology, the industry has seen reductions in unit costs due to the massive increase in the number of end-users. TCM: In your view, what effect has the rise of the Far East’s consumer electronic industry had on the rest of the global CE market? ANA: China, Taiwan and South Korea have been in the forefront of the low cost, high volume manufacturing that has led to this remarkable transformation; they have almost entirely captured the global Consumer Electronics industry. TCM: How has the consumer electronic market evolved in the past ten years here in Kuwait? Is it on par with the USA, for example? ANA: In Kuwait, the consumer electronics market is evolving, but


is definitely not as evolved as it is in the USA. For example, in the USA the broadcasting industry continues to innovate, whereas Kuwait is too small a market for a vibrant broadcasting market of its own. However, at the same time, in the mobile electronics market, Kuwait has made rapid strides, with a lot of applications designed locally covering a wide spectrum of consumer requirements, including banking and finance, food, social interaction and entertainment. TCM: What are the major trends you envisage will emerge in the next few years in terms of products? ANA: The convergence of the world wide web with day-to-day life will become a reality in the course of the next decade. Online shopping is now a reality; the use of mobile Internet to order say, groceries - which are then delivered from your selected store to your home at a time of your convenience - has already been implemented successfully in much of the developed world. Mobile phones can now be used to remotely turn on, or off home appliances, such as washing machines or central heating. People are using mobile security to watch over their children placed with day care helpers. In the


States, Google and Apple are already experimenting with driverless cars. Banks all over the word are talking about cutting staff and increasing digitization with online services, this will result in fewer physical branches. TCM: What are the key drivers in today’s competitive world that inspire consumer electronic brand loyalty? ANA: Innovation that leads to qualitative improvement in the customers’ lifestyle is the key driver for consumer electronics. As the experience with Research and Design’s Blackberry® brand shows, the only way to ensure brand loyalty is to constantly stay ahead of competition on innovation. TCM: Can you advise us who are tomorrow’s consumer electronic innovators? Are they coming from big established brands, start-ups or are they individuals? ANA: While huge global companies like South Korea’s Samsung continue to innovate, new ideas are indeed coming from start-ups. Very often after a period, these small companies get bought out by the big brands for hefty sums. The amount is usually related to the potential of the product or idea to expand the market place.

Abdulla N. Almulla is a highly respected name in Kuwait. He is currently an honorary member of ABCK, a Board Member in Almulla Group and Deputy Chairman of Almulla International Financing and Investment Company. The Almullas are one of the oldest mercantile families with innumerable business interests from their highly successful foreign currency agencies to a variety of vehicular enterprises. Mr. Almulla is passionate about technology, electronics and gadgets; for three decades he has been traveling to the USA to observe and explore the consumer electronic market. He frequently appears on Kuwait media and has been the subject of over 100 TV interviews since 2008. A graduate of the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Washington State, Almulla is an active member of the Kuwait and international business community. Business Associations: • Member of the Board of Directors, National Takaful, one of the largest insurers in Kuwait - 2003 to 2013 • Secretary-General, Union of Automobile Agents - 2008 to date • Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry - 2010 to date • World Economic Forum (WEF) Attendee 2005, 2007 Which ONE consumer electronic item has seen the most technological advancement in 30 years? ANA: Without doubt it has to be the mobile phone. The first handheld phone was made by US company Motorola in 1973 and was sold for an unbelievable US$4000 - which was a lot of money back then and made it available to only a few. The first mobiles were heavy, brick-like devices, almost unrecognizable from the sleek, mini computers which can now fit in our pockets. The prototype weighed 1.1 kg and measured 23 cm long, 13 cm deep and 4.45 cm wide. Can you imagine it took 10 hours to re-charge and had a talk time of just 30 minutes! The simple act of being able to make a call wirelessly was a huge technological step forward in the information age. It was this era that saw the birth of Apple Inc., but many other of the tech giants that we all know and use in daily work today, for example Google, did not even exist. The mobile industry has seen many technological shifts and transformations; there have been four generations of mobile devices

to date and each generation has had its own share of technological breakthroughs. At the start there were many different brands and styles of phones. The Motorola Microtac was a ‘flip phone’ where the handset incorporated a folding design, when it was released in 1989 it had a price tag of almost US$250. Then “Big Blue” (IBM) brought out the IBM Simon in 1993. It was a revolutionary device which could send and receive faxes and e-mails, and it even had an address book. Possibly the most recognized phone is the Nokia 3210 because when it appeared in 2000, it introduced the world to texting. It sold 160 million units worldwide and remains one of the best-selling phones of all time. When mobile broadband was incorporated into handsets it changed the game completely and the iPhone and Android dominance began. It seems hard to believe the earliest iPhone came out only in 2007. The first publicly available 4G-ready device was HTC Evo, released in 2010. Now we are in the fourth generation of mobile devices we have a new world of communication at our fingertips. These devices are

designed to increase broadband speeds and promote high-speed transfer of data, the mobile phone is now a portable computer, but it seems designs are getting even smaller. Wearable technology is a new area of development that is increasingly rapidly; it may be possible that these devices will herald in the next generation of mobile devices. Mobiles are now more interlinked to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. Now with rapid growth of digitization, the mobile phone has enabled customers to do transactions on their phone and allowed managers to get updated data on their phones, and in some countries the mobile phone itself has become a virtual bank account for its owner. There were 4.33 billion mobile users in the world in 2013 and this figure is likely to touch 5.13 billion by 2017. Looking back over these last 43 years, the mobile has to be the item that has seen the most dynamic transformation in terms of consumer electronics.



SILENT KILLER 35 million adults are currently living with diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa. Recently honored by Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, DDI’s Director Dr. Kazem Behbehani speaks on his lifetime’s work and calls for action against a disease known as the ‘silent killer’.

TCM: What are the key factors we need to address in order to mitigate the threat of diabetes here in Kuwait? KB: The key to preventing Type 2 diabetes is to reduce the overall level of obesity in the population as a whole, in addition to raising awareness of, identifying and addressing, risk factors in individuals. Obesity is the most potent risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. By encouraging people to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly we can help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, by preventing Type 2 diabetes in this way we may also prevent morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.


Type 2 diabetes is strongly influenced by poor diet and lack of physical activity which leads to obesity. With our sedentary lives, availability of fast food, lack of exercise and the over-reliance on cars, diabetes is spreading rapidly. Tackling this dangerous trend towards being overweight and obese which can lead to diabetes needs far more than individual action. All organisations, professions and sectors must work together in their own way to help prevent people developing diabetes. Individuals also need to be aware of the dangers and healthcare professionals should be able to identify people at risk at an early stage and offer effective advice and treatment. Before people develop Type 2 diabetes, they usually have pre-diabetes - a condition in which

blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. The good news is that if you have pre-diabetes, there are ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, you can delay or even prevent Type 2 diabetes. TCM: How can Kuwait do more to educate the young on this disease and what successes have you seen in the last 5 years here amongst young people? For example is social media a tool that can be employed usefully? KB: School education programs that promote healthy living contribute towards the prevention of noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes. In 2014, Dasman Diabetes Institute hosted over 2000 students in over 40 schools across all six governorates of Kuwait. Raising awareness about diabetes helps the young to make healthier choices. The main aim of educating the young is more to prevent diseases like diabetes and other related conditions by adopting a healthier lifestyle and empowering them to educate their families respectively to make small changes that lead to big results.

Social media is a powerful tool to raise awareness regarding fast-food, comparing it to healthier and more nutritious food options. In addition it can educate the younger members of society on calorie content, nutritional value and our portion size. Additionally, social media is instrumental in providing health tips and here in Kuwait many people use it to learn about physical activities and exercise routines. TCM: What more can the government in Kuwait do to assist DDI in its fight? KB: The government can help in raising awareness about diabetes. The Ministry of Health, healthcare providers, along with the media and the general population have to educate the population to have a better understanding of nutrition, obesity, plus the treatments that can prevent obesity and the prevention of diabetes. At present we have various national and international collaborations to tackle this disease from multiple perspectives namely: treatment, research, education and public health promotion. The ideal public health approach to diabetes would emphasize prevention and education for the whole community.

It would advocate for environments and policies that support healthy lifestyles, including healthy eating and physical activity, increase awareness of the symptoms and long-term complications of diabetes among both the public and health care providers, promote access to resources for people with diabetes and monitor the effect of diabetes through data collection systems. TCM: If we do not act now to reduce diabetes what kind of prognosis would you give Kuwait? KB: According to the International Diabetes Federation, 35 million adults are currently living with diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and by 2035 this will rise to 68 million. Almost half of the people with diabetes do not know they have it. Progressive urbanisation, increased life expectancy and lifestyle changes have resulted in an explosion of Type 2 diabetes. Kuwait is among the top 10 countries with a high prevalence of diabetes. The time to act is now! With more education and support especially for the youth, diabetes can be prevented. Right now even children as young as nine years of age are developing Type 2 diabetes based solely on lifestyle.


Dasman Diabetes Institute has become a leading campaigner for healthy lifestyles and diabetes awareness in Kuwait. We commemorate the United Nation’s World Diabetes Day (WDD) annually in November at our premises.

HH the Amir congratulates Dr. Behbehani on his award from Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II Consistent lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise are needed. The responsibility of this lies with everyone including the individual. Government organisations, schools, private sector and healthcare organisations should avail every resource to educate and raise awareness about diabetes. TCM: What is the significance of being able to isolate genes that can fight obesity and T2 diabetes? KB: It is important to understand that what we know of diabetes and obesity in North America, Europe or Asia is not necessarily applicable to Kuwait, therefore it is imperative for our future generations that we conduct genomic research that is geared towards understanding the genetic root causes of diabetes and obesity. The make-up of our genes dictates who we are and how healthy we may be; they also indicate how likely we are to developing diseases including diabetes and obesity. The genes responsible for the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are many. It is a well-known and accepted fact that every individual - even in the same family - might carry different


genetic variations that impact on health and risk to disease. These variations decide for example whether the individual will respond to a certain medication or not. Thus it is critical to execute comprehensive genomewide studies to enable the isolation of genes within individuals of any particular population. Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait was amongst the pioneering centres in GCC region to respond to this challenge, and we have successfully isolated genes which play a key role in the pathogenesis of diabetes and obesity. TCM: How important/effective are the annual diabetes campaigns such as World Diabetes Day, Diabetes week (UK) or Diabetes month (USA)? Or is it better to have a sustained public awareness campaigns all year round? KB: The Dasman Diabetes Institute affirms that ‘prevention is better than cure’, in our mission statement, we state clearly that health promotion and awareness are a priority for the Institute. Since 2006, the Institute organizes and takes part in many events and campaigns annually to shed light on diabetes and health in general.

Our Institute, through its functions and events, allows visitors to interact with diabetes specialists and dieticians. We provide information that explains various facets of diabetes using models, TV presentations and brochures. It is estimated that more than around 1000 guests attended the Institute’s last event underlining the interest in Kuwait to preventing and managing this deadly disease. In addition to the United Nation’s World Diabetes Day (WDD) celebrations, the Institute organizes an annual walkathon. It is a fun way to encourage people of all ages to walk, socialize, be more active and share their stories about diabetes and health in general. This activity is believed to be a very effective and encouraging platform that offers an extensive and interesting healthy environment for everyone to learn about diabetes and realize the dangers of this silent killer.


KNOW THE TYPE, KNOW THE RISKS. There are three types of diabetes: TYPE 1 DIABETES The body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop Type 1 diabetes before their 40th year, often in early adulthood or teenage years. Type 1 diabetes is nowhere near as common as Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are Type 1. Patients with Type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet. TYPE 2 DIABETES The body does not produce enough insulin to function properly, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin. Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are Type 2. Some people may be able to control their Type 2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, following

a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, Type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease - it gradually gets worse and the patient will probably end up having to take insulin, usually in tablet form. Overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Drinking just one can of (non-diet) soda per day can raise our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22%, researchers from Imperial College London reported in the journal Diabetologia. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is also greater as we get older. Those with a close relative who have/had Type 2 diabetes, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose. The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet; between 10% - 20% of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucosecontrolling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth. The baby may be bigger than he/she should be. Scientists from the US National Institute of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.




Mr. Hamadah and his ASK language students

Pioneering research is showing how learning a second language boosts cognitive function in children and may even keep adult brains healthier in old age. TCM visits American School of Kuwait to see an Arabic language class in action. For expatriate kids, arriving in a new country with a new climate and new culture brings many challenges. In Kuwait, children who have not had exposure to the Middle East will have an additional challenge to contend with, a new language. Learning a second or third language at a young age may seem daunting, however according to a newlylaunched video lesson on the innovative website, educator Mia Nacamulli explains how language learning can boost brain health. People who learned a second language early in life have what she terms “a holistic grasp of its social and emotional contexts”. The advantages are not just for early learners, those people who

learn another language in adulthood were seen to have a more rational approach and were less prone to emotional bias. Fifty years ago the situation was very different, teaching young children a second language was seen as hampering a child’s development because in language tests the speed of their response could be slower than other, monolingual children. Nacamulli suggests that that children perceived as being ‘slower’ in responding, were in fact, at the same time “able to stimulate the dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that plays a large role in executive function, problem solving, task switching and focusing while filtering out irrelevant information”.

In other words, their brains were being exercised in ways that other brains were not. In the US, research at the University of Washington (UW) by leading expert Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl is showing similar results. Kuhl is adamant that early exposure to language alters the brain. She believes learning two or more languages at an early age has implications for critical periods in development, as well as for bilingual education and reading readiness. Dr. Kuhl’s research - which uses the latest brain imaging devices, shows even young infants who are brought up in a bilingual environment are “more cognitively flexible” than monolingual infants. “Bilingual children have been shown to reach major language milestones at broadly


Active participation is key to learning the same age as monolingual children” she claims. Moreover, research now indicates that speaking more than one language may have cognitive benefits from childhood through to old age, keeping the mind youthful and importantly, lessening the chances of senility. The American School of Kuwait (ASK) was founded in 1964, at a time when language learning was seen as an impediment to child development. The school followed an Americanstyle curriculum but, from the start, students were given the chance to learn Arabic. That tradition still holds strong today. Pupils learn reading, writing and simple phrases, they are thoroughly tested on comprehension through constant revision. Mr. Hamadah joined ASK as an Arabic tutor in 1977, which, he admits, has perhaps given him the advantage of refining his language teaching process over time. Ensuring each topic is mastered before attempting new ones and revising past lessons are vital he says. However, just as important is making the learning fun; with a motivational teacher and dedication on both sides, children at an early age can excel in Arabic and from this, grow curious about


foreign languages, as many of the pupils demonstrate.Ten year-old Henry is typical of many students. At home, his mom - originally from West Africa - and his dad, whom he describes as being of AmericanIrish-Polish descent, speak French together. His first stab at learning Arabic was when the family lived in Saudi Arabia, but he was put off by a less-than inspirational teacher. He had lost interest in Arabic - until he arrived at ASK. Henry can now read and write and put short sentences together. He explains how he uses Arabic to buy milk in the local store or bakala and when he is at diwaniyas (social get-togethers) with his father, who is also able to speak some Arabic. His Arabic may even be a bit better than his dad’s, he adds with a twinkle in his eye. Henry’s curiosity in languages is evident; at school he is learning about mythology, and now he wants to learn Ancient Greek. Henry’s buddy Sami, who is Canadian, has been in Kuwait three years. Though his parents speak English at home, he is lucky to have Lebanese grandparents who speak Arabic. This means he is obliged to practice his Arabic with them, but he admits English is still his dominant language. The situation

is more complex for Sebastian, from Argentina, whose native language is Spanish, he is already very competent English as well as Arabic. Diana, who is nine was born in Kuwait, but sees Bulgaria as home and Bulgarian as her native language. She admits Arabic is more useful: “When I travel home to Bulgaria on the airplane I speak to the air hostesses in Arabic” she confides with a grin. What is extraordinary is that - without even realizing - Diana has already mastered not just three languages: English, Arabic and Bulgarian, but she is being exposed to three very different alphabets: Latin, Arabic and Cyrillic, the latter used in Bulgaria. Children whose native language ‘borrows’ Arabic words seem to identify more with the new language. Canadian Manasa, who is a Tamilspeaker of Indian descent, explains that the Arabic word for ‘book’, kitab, is shared with Hindi. Similarly, for Zara who is Indonesian, part of the fun of learning Arabic has been discovering that her home language of Bahasa Indonesia contains Arabic words, such as the word for ‘chair’, kursi. Both Zara’s parents are learning Arabic so she says her home

environment is conducive to practice, and practice really does makes perfect, according to Mr. Hamadah. Mr. Hamadah drills the children daily both collectively, and then individually, to reinforce sentence patterns and check that the students’ pronunciation is correct. He insists on introducing new things slowly, and only after the children have accomplished the last task. Today, the children need to write their surnames. They clamor around the white board asking for hints. Later, he shows them a series of images that are composed from Arabic calligraphy, the students are clearly intrigued. The work was created by an ASK student some thirty years ago. That student is now a parent of children who attend ASK and his children are being taught by the same teacher he had.Giving children the gift of a new language not only opens their eyes to the world and to a new way of communicating but according to a 2014 study published in the journal Brain and Language, provides them with mental agility. People who speak more than one language are, it seems better at filtering out unnecessary words than monolinguals. Tests show that the brains of those who only know one language have to work harder to complete the same mental tasks. Researchers believe this is because bilingualism is a constant brain exercise. Lily was born in California of Persian parentage but has Arabic-speaking grandparents. She speaks English, Spanish and Farsi, but loves Arabic. When asked what she plans to do with her career she says she plans to be a teacher, an Arabic teacher “I want to teach the next generation�, she says with a grin. Evidently Mr. Hamadah has done a good job. Who knows? In ten years, he may even have some serious competition from one of his students...



- Baruch Spiegel Consultant Behavior Analyst 22

CULTURE CLASH? Baruch Spiegel examines Western educational systems in a Kuwaiti cultural context. When I tell people I work in education, I nearly always get asked the same question; which school do you work in?

those who have interaction with young people and it is in our interests to understand how our children experience education.

My role as a Consultant Behavior Analyst is not defined by the location I am in, but rather the needs of those in front of me. I therefore have to be extremely flexible in my approach and because of this, I have subsequently evolved a rather unique skill set. Currently, education is seen as a 'one size fits all' experience regardless of age, ability or cultural background. I see education differently; I believe it is something around which we should shape ourselves, and it should be based on those with whom we are working, rather than people who tend to conform to a predetermined expectation or standard. My idea is not shared by everyone.

I have had the privilege of being able to travel the world with my job, this has allowed me to observe a multitude of methodologies, applied by a variety of educators, within a diverse range educational institutions. Living and working within a multitude of different cultures has encouraged me to see the world differently and thus when entering a new educational setting I endeavor to take a balanced and contextual viewpoint when dealing with problems and challenges. Based in Kuwait, that educational setting is placed within a vital yet often misunderstood part of the world. The international school system in Kuwait is much the same as other parts of the world, with the American and British curricula dominating.

The term education has, for many, lost its meaning and is a fact that must be acknowledged before any meaningful progress can be made. Whatever your own personal definition of the word is, it undoubtedly affects

The youth of this region aspire to access higher education systems whether in the US or the UK. The


heavy influence of Western education systems here is not caused by an inherent respect of the content or quality of teaching, but simply because the population aspires to access the best universities in the world. This has had a significant trickle-down effect as the focus of learning turns from the development of social skills to the aptitude for academic ability, exam preparation and Grade Point Averages (GPAs). As academic performance and university placements fuel the motivations within education in Kuwait, it means children categorized as having 'Special Needs' are offered few concessions within mainstream classrooms. In addition you find that the arts hold far less significance in a child’s school day as it is not considered important for future personal, or professional achievement. When subjects that are deemed ‘arts’ are taken out of the classroom and academic achievement is given priority, children with learning difficulties, Autism, and many other developmental disabilities are set up to fail. If you have Dyslexia or Dyscalculia for example, it immediately places you under a very direct and intense spotlight as you have been flagged as someone who is going to struggle. Kuwait is suffering from this dilemma as it has not yet found a middle ground for these types of students. Mild learning difficulties are placed in the same category as ‘Special Needs’ with little, to no schooling options for this demographic. Placing large numbers of children into uneasy categories that are not serviced by the community, is counterintuitive to the culture of the region which holds dear principles such as


family values, respect for elders, a cohesive community and face-to-face interactions as paramount. Within my field of work, meeting families in their homes and discussing difficult topics with parents about their child is a skill I must always rework and refresh when entering into a new culture. Not observing societal sensibilities can have huge impacts on the successes and outcomes with the parents and therefore with their children, so to see these same sensibilities ignored within some schools concerns me. Despite English being a second language, families still try to keep pace with Western curricula, and schools still compare these children to their Western counterparts. It is not uncommon here for children to spend eight hours at school, after which they spend three or four hours working with academic tutors. The intense working hours for these children has had a very real effect on the time they spend with their parents and families. Seeing education having this kind of counter-culture effect is deeply saddening to me as it is in direct conflict with the enriching environment learning is supposed

to create.This disregard of cultural nuances that can be seen in schools pursuing international curricula is the effect of having an education system that places the acquisition of information ahead of social skill development. The current system, both in the UK and the US, along with the versions that are being sold abroad, forces children to learn facts without placing them in a functional context and seems to hold no value in learning about how best to interact with one another. Learning how best to cooperate with one another should to be something that is held with the upmost importance in schools. I have spent the past fifteen years working with children with “Special Needs”, providing training to teachers and conducting seminars and workshops on behavioral techniques. Throughout this time I have had one common message, we need to see compassion and empathy and other such emotional faculties as skills. Viewing such terms as teachable skills changes the framework within which they are understood. By placing these fundamental components of human nature on the same shelf as Numeracy and Literacy forces us to ask the question; why

are they not being taught with the same structure and time allocation? Within many Kuwaiti families for example, expatriate nannies replace parents as primary carers for children; these nannies have no authority within the home. This has led to a new generation of young people who show little respect for those adults around them. This effect has been compounded by the fact that emotional skills such as showing empathy and understanding - irrespective of ethnicity - are not being taught in schools and thus may end up incubating institutionalized racism in society. The travesty of the situation is made even worse by the fact that Kuwait attracts many wonderful educators who, instead of affecting real change by teaching the skills the culture needs, spend their time trawling through a heavy and somewhat irrelevant curriculum. Kuwait’s education system is asking some difficult questions of itself and unfortunately our Western schooling system is not providing adequate answers. The dynamics within Kuwait and the international community as a whole are complex, but the sobering

conclusion I have come to is that our education system is in dire need of change. That change needs to come from both policy makers designing curricula and teachers at grass-roots level who have the power to change their approach in the classroom. Schools are meant to be sanctuaries for children, a safe and nurturing environment in which to flourish as equal, humane and inspired human beings, but in order to solve a problem we must first acknowledge there is one. Rather than blindly exporting school systems around the world we need to engage with the culture and localize accordingly. Thankfully we have enough educators with the energy and dynamism to try to affect the right kind of change, however change cannot happen without the support of each society as part of that process. By placing the best interests of our children at the forefront of each learning experience we can finally reclaim the real aim of education and strive to create a better future for our children.

BARUCH SPIEGEL CEO and Founder of G.E.N.I (Global. Education.Network.Initiative), Baruch Spiegel has been working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis for 15 years. Baruch specializes in creating individualized programmes of support for children that have Autism, learning difficulties and severe problem behaviors. He has since created a wide range of services for the Educational community that not only aim to inspire meaningful change in our classrooms and homes but shift the focus to core values and look at re-structuring our policy and decision-making processes. An advocate of both inclusion and collaboration, Baruch has begun a ‘call to action’ to bring all educators together so that they might reshape the Educational system and redefine what Education actually means.



CAPITAL ASSETS JAMES ASHTON INTERVIEWS DAME NEMAT ‘MINOUCHE’ SHAFIK, DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND Not every strong-willed teenager listens to the advice dispensed by their father. Nemat Shafik - known universally as Minouche - not only listened, but acted too. “He would always say to me they can take everything away from you but they can’t nationalise your brain,” Shafik remembers. Her father impressed on his children the importance of getting a good education because of the trauma they had suffered. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, when she was four years-old Shafik’s family fled General Nasser’s regime to start a new life in America. Her father, who had been an affluent landowner, was forced to start again with nothing. Education, she says, “is what saved us. My father had done a PhD and so he was able to use that to rebuild his life”. Education has proved invaluable in Shafik’s life too. Now one of four Deputy Governors at the Bank of England, she put in a long spell in academia - including a period at the University of Massachusetts, London School of Economics and St. Antony’s College Oxford, as an economics student and then professor - becoming the youngest-


ever vice president at the World Bank in Washington at 35. Add to her CV a stint at the International Monetary Fund under Christine Lagarde and you can see why she is regarded as one of the world’s top financial policymakers and rated in the top 100 most powerful people in the world by Forbes magazine. Shafik joined the Bank of England in 2014 in the newly-created role of Deputy Governor for markets and banking. The City of London, Europe’s financial center, had been rocked by a series of global trading scandals. Libor inter-bank interest rates, foreign exchange, the gold and oil price, among others, had been manipulated by unscrupulous traders on a grand scale. Her job, serving under Bank of England Governor, Canadian Mark Carney, was to oversee the cleanup operation and make sure such abuses were not repeated. The fruits of that labor were seen in a piece of work called the Fair and Effective Markets Review, carried out with the UK Treasury and City watchdog known as the Financial Conduct Authority.



Lagarde used to say if the US investment bank that collapsed had been called Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers, we would never have got into this mess. It seeks to introduce clear rules, better standards and training for what were some opaque markets. In addition, the prison term for market abuse is being increased to 10 years with the scope of sanctions widened. It is by no means the end of her work. “All of these things are always works in progress. We have never said we are going to have a perfect regime in which there is never misconduct.” She continues: “We want to make life difficult for the bad apples. Tougher criminal sanctions are part of that - and increasing the likelihood you are going to get caught.” There is more to the role, though. Shafik is one of a handful of people to sit on all three of the Bank’s key policy committees, which set interest rates, supervise the safety of banks and monitor the UK’s financial system for future risks. In addition, she is the Bank of England’s G7 representative and leads engagement with bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements.

JAMES ASHTON James Ashton is Executive Editor at the London Evening Standard and Independent titles in the UK. He has written on business and finance for The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, The Scotsman and Reuters and was educated at the University of St Andrews and City University in London.


Holding British, American and Egyptian nationality and speaking Arabic and French, Shafik brought a well-honed world view to the Bank of England; she is the latest evidence of a shake-up at the 321-year old institution. Under Carney, whom she knew from the circuit of international monetary meetings, the Bank preserves its pink-coated gatekeepers and warren-like corridors but is trying to present itself as less male and less pale. She is all for diversity. Her old IMF boss Lagarde used to say if the US investment bank that collapsed had been called Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers, “we would never have got into this mess”.

In an interview six years ago, Shafik coined the term “sticky door”, saying it described better than a “glass ceiling” the challenges facing women in the workplace. “One often sees women holding back from giving the door a little bit of a nudge, asking for an interesting assignment, not being afraid to put themselves forward,” she says. “I have been fortunate at various points in my career for people to give me a chance to take a new opportunity. You know, I think without that pulling on the sticky door... you never make progress.” Someone who pushed at the door with Shafik was her grandmother, one of 17 children, who gave her early lessons on leadership. “Whenever there was a problem you would get called to her room and she would talk to you privately about what needed sorting out. “Whoever was the least popular or the least attractive of the children was always her favorite; she always looked after the underdog. She created an environment in which everyone could thrive around her and I think that is what good leaders do.” While she was in Washington at the World Bank, Shafik met her first husband, Mohamed El-Erian, another high-flier with Egyptian roots who was rising through the ranks of the IMF and went on to lead the bond giant Pimco. Shafik, 52, has twins, a boy and a girl aged 12, with her second husband Raffael, a marine biologist, and is stepmother to his two daughters and a son who stretch

up in age to 25. It is quite a brood, but she doesn’t think the way she handles family life is different to any other working mother. “You just juggle and occasionally, you drop a ball, but normally you try not to. I think this job is pretty similar to other jobs I have had in terms of the hours and workload. I still do more or less the same thing which is try and be home for breakfast and dinner and take a little bit of work home in the evenings.” Shafik returned to London in 2004, joining the Department for International Development, which has held overseas aid spending steady despite mushrooming state debt. “If you manage to continue being generous and public spirited in tough times I think it’s a real tribute,” she says. Next came the IMF, where she joined as deputy managing director in 2011 the month before her boss, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested over sexual assault allegations. There, she had responsibility for 45 countries as the Eurozone crisis was raging, including “most of the really hard cases”, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Iceland.

When interviewed, it was before Greece had defaulted on its IMF loan and the ensuing crisis that saw its high street banks closed and cash withdrawals capped. At that grim point Shafik was unclear about how the situation was going to be resolved. She hoped the UK and rest of Europe were better insulated from any market fallout thanks to regulators putting firewall defenses in place over the last four years which had been designed to prevent financial contagion spreading from country to country.And what about her nickname? Her real name is Nemat Talaat Shafik, but Minouche, a French pet name, took root within months of her birth because her parents couldn’t agree.

“So I was given two first names and then called “the baby” for six months until they could figure out what to call me. A friend of my mother’s came round and said this is ridiculous, you have got to give this child a nickname: why don’t you call her Minouche? It was sort of invented on the spot and it stuck.” Since arriving at the Bank, she has been given another title. Shafik was made a Dame of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honors. One day, she might even make Governor. I am sure her grandmother would agree that she has indeed learnt well.


NEMAT SHAFIK Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik was appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of England in August 2014; in a newly created role, she is responsible for reshaping the Bank’s operations and balance sheet, including ensuring robust risk management practices. She represents the Bank in international groups and institutions. Prior to joining the Bank, she was Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 2011-2014 and before that, Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development from March 2008 to March 2011. Nemat Shafik was Vice President at the World Bank. She has also chaired six international consultative groups and served on seven boards on a wide range of sectors and issues. She has held academic appointments at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Economics Department at Georgetown University. Shafik attained her BA in Economics and Politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, her MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, and a DPhil in Economics from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Dr. Shafik has authored, edited, and co-authored a number of books and articles on a wide variety of economic topics. She was awarded a DBE by HM The Queen in June 2015.






RETURNS American Tax Bureau is staffed by professionals trained in tax compliance. ATB gives readers an insight into its services. TCM: What are ATB’s aims and what services do you offer? ATB: Our aim is to bring US expat taxpayers into compliance with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Our most popular services are geared towards US expats with a focus on the relatively new FATCA compliance which affects every US citizen. We look at private office consultations, tax amnesty programs, and foreign bank account reporting (FBAR). TCM: What is ATB’s unique selling point? ATB: ATB is the premier US tax advisory and preparation firm in the GCC. Many internet-based tax preparation firms portray themselves as US tax specialists however, it is hard dealing with online agencies as there is no direct contact. To the best of our knowledge we are the only firm that is based in the GCC with walk-in offices specializing in US tax advice. Moreover we are staffed with people who speak Arabic,


English and French. We can also provide translators speaking Tagalog and Mandarin. This linguistic support is entirely unique. TCM: What background and experience does ATB staff offer? ATB: We pride ourselves on the fact ATB offers over 23 years’ accumulated expertise, we have a specialist who is a Certified Public Accountant licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1997. As a CPA, he is legally authorized to represent taxpayers for any IRS issues plus, he is a registered tax professional who holds a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). He is an active member of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) and has years of experience in the field of US taxation and advisory services. This means ATB staff understand the complexities of the IRS tax laws and know how to deal with any Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues.

TCM: What does ATB recommend as a first step for US taxpayers that were unaware of the tax and financial reporting obligations? ATB: ATB advises anyone who is a US citizen or holds a US green card to contact our office and schedule an initial consultation. We will assess your unique circumstances and advise you how to proceed. We will answer any questions you may have during your consultation. TCM:What does the initial consultation entail? ATB: Most consultations last between 30-60 minutes. We recommend people book well in advance though, especially when tax returns are due! Currently there is a cost of KD50 for the initial consultation. TCM: How can we get in touch? ATB: ATB website is For further details on US tax issues contact us in confidence at: tel. (+965) 2226 6990.




ATB can help



OUTER SPACES SALMAN ZAFAR reports on the impact of Green Spaces in Kuwait.

Al Shaheed Park, Kuwait


Green spaces are vital for the sustainable development of urban areas and should be an integral part of city planning. The promotion of green spaces is particularly important in the GCC; they are aesthetically pleasing, reduce carbon dioxide and are a sign of the ecological health of a city as well as the well-being of its population. In a desert country like Kuwait, the sight of lush green public spaces has, until recent years, been somewhat of a rarity, but all that is changing. Off Baghdad Street in Salmiya, there is a pioneering urban park project known as the ‘Secret Garden’. The brainchild of local entrepreneur, foodie and environmentalist, Mimi Al-Nisef, she and her band of volunteers have transformed an abandoned urban eyesore into a welcoming oasis. It now has trees and shrubs, a vegetable and herb patch, and includes a children’s play area. Through Instagram, Secret Garden hosts afternoon markets and all kinds of artistically-inspired gatherings at the weekend. The district of Yarmouk has also been inventive. It has what is locally known as the ‘Recycled Park’. Here amid trees and shrubs, art installations are made with recycled refuse and giant trees created from disused car tires. One of Kuwait’s newest urban greenbelts is Al Shaheed, or Martyrs’ Park, an initiative of the Amiri Diwan. A kilometer from downtown, the 220,000 m2 park is dotted with lawns, water features, pathways and trees, even an outdoor amphitheater. A local youth group, LOYAC, manages the park and give tours of its facilities and its cutting-edge

architecture, which favors flat turf roofs instead of concrete. Al Shaheed Park encourages its visitors to use it as a sanctuary for quiet reflection, a place that provides shade and tranquility not just for residents, but for wildlife, too. Through such initiatives it is hoped the society can grow more environmentally conscious. The Price of Going Green Sadly, the conservation and protection of green spaces comes at a cost. Ironically, Kuwait’s hitherto obsession with grass and ornamental flowers and plants, has led to a sharp decline in renewable water resources. Over the past 15 years, Kuwait has experienced a 150% hike in the demand for municipal water. The country is almost entirely dependent on desalination and has the world’s highest per capita production of desalinated water. The process is expensive, energy-intensive and environmentally damaging. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that Kuwait has one of the world’s highest rates of consumption of water per capita – as much as 500 liters per person per day! Given such a high demand for water, green spaces can only be maintained by adopting alternative methods. Reviving Dead Grass? Green Canary, is a new product invented in California by an environmentalist who served on The White House’s ‘Round Table Green Product Group’. It is a harmless green treatment for discolored, yellow grass that turns it from brown to green in minutes. Derived from the natural green colorants in algae, Green Canary


Al Shaheed Park, Kuwait

SALMAN ZAFAR Salman Zafar is an expert in waste management, environmental conservation, renewable energy and sustainable development in the Middle East. He is the Founder of EcoMENA, a Doha-based popular voluntary initiative, to promote sustainable development and create mass environmental awareness in the Middle East. In addition, he is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed waste management and biomass energy consultancy firm. He is a prolific writer and has authored numerous articles in journals, magazines and newsletters on waste management, renewable energy, conservation and environmental issues. Salman holds Masters as well as Bachelors degrees in Chemical Engineering.


is simply sprayed onto grass, a huge plus is that it’s safe for pets, children and wildlife. It dries within a few hours, leaving a lawn looking completely refreshed.

than half of the treated sewage effluent from the Sulaibiya plant is used for irrigating fodder crops and for landscaping, which is a welcome development.

Green canary not only works to revive grass’s color long-term, but it actually boosts the health of grass with natural nutrients and thus helps save water. It is ideal for large urban parks, playing fields, hospitals and school grounds as well as for residential developers or individual home-owners.

Sustainable Landscaping Kuwait is a desert country marked by harsh weather, degraded soils, and scarce water resources. Landscape design in Kuwait would benefit from adopting more native plants, or those that adapt most easily to the natural environment.

Re-using of Waste Water One way countries can limit water usage is to encourage gray water and sewage water recycling. Kuwait is one of the world’s most prolific per capita waste water generators and produces more than 600,000 m3 of raw waste water each day, 60% of which is treated using ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membrane filtration at the Sulaibiya plant, the world’s largest facility of its kind. The use of gray water for irrigating landscapes is vital to sustain parks, golf courses and resorts. In fact, treated sewage is a better alternative than desalinated water as the desalination process removes vital minerals that plants need for growth. Nowadays, more

Xeriscaping is an example of such design. It makes use of a low-water landscape concept especially developed for use in desert regions. Xeriscaping in Kuwait is focused on the use of aesthetically appealing and drought-tolerant native plants instead of water-thirsty exotic plants. Improving Soil Quality Soil health is also a crucial factor in arid areas like Kuwait. Sandy soils have larger particles and do not retain water well, but provide good aeration. Adding organic matter, such as compost or mulch to sandy soil can improve its quality, enabling better water retention and boosting nutrients. 

Hydroponics are one way to save water Four years ago, environmentalist Hamad Al-Kulaib set up a small shop and nursery in Al Rai, an area in Kuwait famous for its garden centers. He called it Biophilia Hydroponics; as the name suggests, the company specializes in hydroponics - ecofriendly watering systems where the plants are grown in small bags of nutrients rather than in water-guzzling soils. With more and more interest from his green-fingered customers he has moved to Shuweikh Free Zone and includes products such as organically-certified bacteria that create nutrient-rich mulch and compost, and is happy to offer advice on organic gardening techniques. Smart Irrigation Techniques Smart irrigation technology is favored by serious horticulturalists. It is a computer-based system that interacts with irrigation controllers located in parks or other irrigated sites. Smart irrigation systems irrigate only when necessary, using an optimized amount of water in response to the weather and moisture content in

the soil. Such systems can reduce water use by more than 25% without other changes to the landscaping or water systems. GCC countries are plagued by high irrigation water losses in sandy soils, as the plants have little time to absorb moisture before it percolates to the water table below. Innovatory water retention additives that have the potential to cut such losses by as much as 50%. By adding specialized eco-friendly products into the root zone of plants, the water-holding capacity of the soil is increased and the infiltration speed of irrigation water is reduced by up to 85%.

If Kuwait is to embrace green spaces, it must also find new ways to sustain them. If we encourage the re-use of municipal waste water, implement modern irrigation techniques, plant native desert species and make use of innovative soil or grass enhancement products, we can all enjoy a greener landscape - without depleting the earth’s most valuable commodity, water—without which not only will our gardens die, but so too, the entire human species.

Future Perspectives With more public parks and gardens being planned across the country, it is imperative for Kuwaiti policymakers and urban planners to strike a balance between water consumption and the greening of urban habitats, and involve the public in such initiatives.




A BLOOMING BUSINESS TCM speaks to Ahmed Al-Baqmi, General Manager of Bubble Forest® and how a passion for all things green lies at the heart of a small business. TCM: Can you describe the Bubble Forest® concept? Bubble Forest® is essentially an indoor miniature garden, planted within an open or closed transparent glass receptacle sometimes called a terrarium. The Bubble Forests we create are closed. We place carefully chosen plants, for example grasses and mosses, inside different size and shapes of glass vessels and make a perfect little landscape. TCM: How did the idea evolve? BF: Everyone loves to have natural plants around them but their upkeep requires constant tending and nurturing. Since 2009 we started researching terrariums; through lots of trials using different plants, we refined the selection, until we found the right sort of plants to grow in the Bubble Forest®.

TCM: What are the unique advantages of Bubble Forest®? BF: Each miniature landscape in the Bubble Forest® is created individually using moss, grasses and tropical greenery, so no two Bubble Forests look alike. The plants live in an almost totally self-sufficient environment because moisture generated naturally by condensation feeds the plants and this means they only need watering about once a year. It basically means no fuss and no worries about leaving your plants untended or un-watered for long periods.


TCM: What plants grows inside a Bubble Forest®? BF: Each Bubble Forest® is quite different. We choose first the soil and then we select plants that suit the terrarium microclimate, some use short leafy green plants with lovely pink-veined foliage, or we can also create a mini moss garden. It’s not as easy as it looks to create a Bubble Forest® as the humidity levels have to be just right or the plants suffer, and molds grow if the receptacle is not properly prepared. Many people have tried to make them but give up as it takes a real plant-lover to persevere with the creation of a successful and healthy terrarium. TCM: Is Bubble Forest® unique to Kuwait? BF: Bubble Forest® is a registered trademark in Kuwait, however the idea of a terrarium is not new, in fact it can be dated to over 160 years ago when, in 1842 in England, a tiny fern spoor fell by mistake, into a glass specimen jar owned by an insect collector Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward. Terrariums soon became popular in Victorian England but were called Wardian Cases – after Mr. Ward.



TCM: Where should you keep a Bubble Forest®? BF: A Bubble Forest® can be placed anywhere at home or at the office, kitchen, on desk tops or in a diwaniya (reception room). Ideally they should be put in areas where the ambient temperature is fairly stable. They can cheer up a corner of a room or bring a much-needed touch of green to a living room, clinic or shop.

+965 55656553

+965 22202587

TCM: Do you customize Bubble Forest®? How about large orders? BF: Of course, with adequate advanced notice and pre-payment, we can handle large orders. Each ’garden’ is created by hand so it takes time - this is not an industrial ‘manufacturing’ process. We can use special shapes of glass containers and also create customized stands and gift boxes with logos for corporate clients, institutions and large companies, schools and Universities.

Each miniature landscape in our Bubble Forests is created individually using moss, grasses and tropical greenery, so no two Bubble Forests look alike



THE GRASS IS ALWAYS Green lawns and turf are a rarity in desert climes but a new product called Green Canary, invented in drought-ridden California promises an environmentally-friendly way to enhance gardens and green spaces across the GCC. TCM interviews Hassan El Debbes, Project Manager at Al Hamy International, the regional agent for Green Canary. TCM: What is Green Canary? HD: Green Canary is an advanced lawn and turf treatment, developed to address unsightly grass areas; it’s applied in minutes and it actually helps rejuvenates the grass.

Green Canary

@green_canary_q8 @greencanary_q8 +965 98006083 +965 22478378/79


TCM: Why was this product developed? HD: Green Canary was developed in California to transform dry, diseased, or dormant grass into lush turf. It is an eco-friendly product that is compliant with US Environmental Protection Agency specifications. In addition, applying Green Canary to green areas will help to reduce the water consumption up to 50%. TCM: You mention that Green Canary is “environmentally-friendly”, what does Green Canary contain? HD: Green Canary contains a highly concentrated, naturally produced

water-based pigment derived from chlorophyll - the same product that gives plants and algae their green color. It is harmless and is used as a natural green food colorant. TCM: Where in Kuwait would you recommend using Green Canary? HD: Gardens, lawns, parks and playing fields, any public or private lawn or grassy area. TCM: How do you apply Green Canary and how long does it take to apply to an area of 50m²? HD: Green Canary is applied by our professional technical team using hand-sprays designed for the job and to spray 50sq meters of turf will take around half an hour. TCM: Does Green Canary rub off on clothes or pets’ fur? HD: Two hours after applying the

GREENER product the grass will be dry, nothing will rub off on clothes or pets’ fur and pets can use the grass as normal. TCM: How long does it last? What if it rains heavily? HD: On average we can say a single Green Canary treatment lasts for around three months but it depends on Mother Nature. Two hours after application the Green Canary treatment is dry; if it rains after then, it doesn’t affect the color. TCM: What countries in the GCC do you currently serve? HD: Green Canary is available in Qatar KSA UAE Kuwait

Hassan El Debbes

TCM: What advantage does Green Canary have over other products sold in Kuwait? HD: Green Canary is proved to be the only eco-friendly solution to dried, dormant or diseased grass in Kuwait and GCC. TCM: Does it come in other colors for promotional purposes - like in Europe on playing fields? HD: Yes, we can provide special colors if ordered well in advance. We can write Happy Birthday or a greeting on the lawn surface.



A VERDANT VISION FOR KUWAIT Al Shaheed or Martyrs’ Park is a ‘green corridor’ close to Kuwait’s first ring road. It initially appeared on urban planning maps in the early 1950s highlighting the need for an urban ‘Green Belt’ surrounding the old city. Today it is an oasis of lawns, lakes and art installations set against picturesque gardens designed for quiet reflection. On a proposed urban planning map of 1952, at a time when Kuwait’s far-sighted leadership was actively seeking new ways to develop the city yet retaining its original character, British architects Sir Charles Minoprio and Hugh Spencely sketched a vision for Kuwait City. Their proposed map showed the outline of a long crescent of land that had been marked with trees, sandwiched between the first ring road and Soor Street, stretching from Istiqlal Street sweeping west, towards today’s Tijaria Building. Over sixty years later this same green corridor is now known as Al Shaheed or Martyrs’ Park, a newly opened public space boasting over 220,000 square meters of carefully landscaped land dedicated to the memory of those who have died for the nation. Under the direction of the Amiri Diwan the park’s main mission was not just to provide the public with a park of international caliber that honored the memory of the fallen, but a number of centers where visitors could learn about the history of struggle in Kuwait


and study its environment, including its much underestimated biodiversity. Rather than encouraging the park to be used for recreation, the mission was to make it into a place for quiet meditation. Kuwait’s long hot months offer little respite from the stifling desert heat but from late October the heat slowly abates and residents enjoy a balmy Fall and Winter where parks and open space come into their own. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) increasing vegetation in cities by creating or expanding urban parks and green spaces helps counter high temperatures by cooling the air through both shading and evaporation from the leaves of trees and plants. Managed by the award-winning youth community organization LOYAC, Al Shaheed Park’s success is self-evident with Kuwait residents flocking to the park to do yoga on a Saturday. In the Fall the management organized public poetry readings, evening calligraphy courses and private outdoor concerts in the outdoor amphitheater. Meandering through the extensive grounds the landscape includes lakes

HE Ambassador and Mrs. Silliman visiting Al Shaheed Park

and waterways, there are plenty of spots too where locally produced artworks reflect the park’s theme of peace and remembrance. Joggers and walkers can enjoy trails that wind through broad lawns, lush greenery, tall palms and the tranquility of a secluded olive grove, beyond which lies a semi-abstract representation of the nation’s Constitution. Even the park’s simple, contemporary buildings that provide spaces for cafés, education centers, conference halls and art galleries are subtly embedded into this verdant tongue of parkland so they are barely visible. In late October 2015, the United States’ Ambassador HE Douglas Silliman, his wife Catherine, and colleagues from the US Embassy, Kuwait, were invited to enjoy a


Prominent businessman, Mr. Najeeb Almulla, Chairman, Almulla Group enjoying the VIP tour private tour of the grounds in the presence of a small group of dignitaries from the Amiri Diwan and Kuwait’s oldest merchant families. Touring the grounds of the park the distinguished visitors were given a first-hand guide to the monuments and centers by young park guides. At the park’s Habitat Center the guests enjoyed a detailed introduction to the flora and fauna of Kuwait by the park’s environmental specialists. Making use of vivid audio visual displays, life-size scale models, largescale projections and a delightful display of native shore creatures and dried botanical species, the Habitat Center offers a feast of diverse interactive and educational displays that would thrill any child or adult.


For those seeking to know more of the nation’s historic battles the Martyrs’ Museum describes the most important battles of Kuwait, in English and Arabic, and shows the nation’s ascendance with a series of chronologically-mounted historic images. On the windows above the displays, a map of Kuwait has been deftly etched into the glass.

As an urban development project any visitor to Al Shaheed Park will agree that Kuwait has achieved a master stroke with the sympathetic development of this tiny piece of land; indeed, Monoprio and Spencely would be proud that this long established ‘Green Belt’ has been retained and moreover, maintained over six decades of change.

With the preparations to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait in February 2016 there couldn’t be a more poignant place to reflect on the past than Al Shaheed Park — a fact noted by the Ambassador who stressed the historic bond between the US and Kuwait and the “sense of duty and shared sacrifice” that had come from the two nations’ alliance during the invasion.

In essence, Al Shaheed park is not simply a slice of nature in the city, it manages to weave together masterful architecture and open spaces, together with history and environmental initiatives under the main theme of national remembrance. While the parkland and the centers are there to serve the people of Kuwait, we should not forget that its creation means not just open spaces

The park is managed by Loyac:

a pioneer nonprofit organization focused on youth development

The VIP tour of Al Shaheed Park includes the Constitution Monument (below)

and shade for Kuwait’s residents, but it secures a habitat for the local wildlife and above all, thanks to its trees and plants, it provides cleaner air for everyone: all invisible but priceless essentials that go towards enhancing our everyday lives.




Hailing from a Danish design dynasty, Jan Utzon speaks to Charlotte Shalgosky about working with his father, the globally-recognized Jørn Utzon, on his design of the Kuwait National Assembly. Jan Utzon greets me warmly, even in his native Denmark he is strikingly tall. Looking much younger than his seventy-plus years his limber frame and sparkling eyes are remarkably reminiscent of his father, Jørn, with whom he worked so closely throughout his life. Jørn Utzon died in 2008 having won almost every architectural prize and accolade, and having been lauded for his visionary designs. Columbia University Professor, Kenneth Frampton, wrote in the Harvard Design Magazine “Nobody can study the future of architecture without Jørn Utzon”.

- Jan Utzon international architect

But while his name will forever be synonymous with his inimitable Sydney Opera House in Australia, it is the great sweeping strokes of Kuwait’s National Assembly that show his architectonic craftsmanship

and environmental sympathies most eloquently; a building that, when it first opened, epitomized the simplicity and the sensitivity of Utzon’s understated brilliance as much as his love of the Middle East. Even before it was completed, the late British architectural critic Stephen Gardiner wrote “When finished, it will be one of the great buildings of the world”. In 1968, when the competition to design the Kuwait National Assembly was being held, Jan was just starting out on his own career in architecture in Denmark; he had already been working with his father on the groundbreaking design for Bagsværd Church in the outskirts of the Danish capital. Jørn invited Oktay Nayman, a top Turkish architect with whom he’d worked in Sydney, to make the drawings for the competition proposal that


The Utzons, Jørn (left) and Jan (right) he would ultimately win; he asked Jan to make the first model of the Kuwait National Assembly. Speaking to me from Istanbul Oktay says that “From the first sketches, so simple and so beautiful a concept, I thought it was a winner”. He speaks warmly of Jørn’s charisma that in many ways, has been inherited by the following generations of creativelyminded Utzons, “especially Jan”. He recalls Jørn’s own description of the design for Kuwait as ‘the art of noble simplicity’. To formalize the project, Jørn flew to Kuwait to meet HH the Amir. He and Jan were met at Kuwait airport by Geoff Pollitt a young British engineer who had been hired to manage the build. Pollitt warmly recalls the two tall Danes towering over the flowing white dishdashas in the Arrivals Hall. Though Jan and Jørn would work together on the National Assembly from the early designs of the 70s through to the National Assembly’s completion in 1982, it was Jan who did the traveling to and from Kuwait. Pollitt tells how while driving the guests to the Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City Jørn yelled for the driver to stop on a busy roundabout in chaotic


traffic. Jørn leapt from the car and returned within minutes, clutching a large pebble grabbed from the side of the road. Taking out a pen he signed the rock and held it up to his audience jubilantly “That will be the color of the National Assembly building!”

glassware produced by other family members. This meticulous nature could be found in the boat-building techniques and scale models that Aage Utzon created which would influence Jørn immensely. It was Aage who helped Jørn build the first model of Sydney Opera House.

Geoff Pollitt later confesses that there was no way to control the color consistency of the hundreds of precast concrete elements that were being fabricated on site. In the end, the entire building was subjected to the indignity of an allover whitewash.

Aage Utzon’s voluptuous, hand-built sailing boats can be seen at Aalborg’s Utzon Center, surrounded by endless displays of Utzons’ drawings, models and photographs, as well as regular seasonal exhibits. Lasse Andersson, the Center’s Director, points out the delicate curves of the boat’s prow and turns to a small scale-model of Sydney Opera House. The shape of the Opera House roof is unmistakably a reflection and repetition of the shape of the front of the boat, mounted vertically.

Over lunch, in barely-accented English, Jan describes his father’s upbringing in the northern Denmark town of Aalborg and how creativity coursed through two previous generations of Utzons. It was Aage Utzon, Jørn’s father, a highly respected naval engineer who brought his family to live in Aalborg. Aage Utzon was known for his thoroughness and attention to detail – a virtue keenly embraced by the later generations of Utzons, not just in architecture or drawings, but in the textiles, ceramics and

The family had grown up surrounded by nature and Jørn and Jan’s works are deeply influenced by landscape. Though Jørn was not academically gifted, he had barely scraped through his school exams, he quickly became a talented draughtsman. On a trip to the Utzon Center in Aalborg I reflect how the Utzons’ home town shared striking parallels with the

culture and traditions of Kuwait, both places were rooted in historic seafaring traditions, shipbuilding and shellfish, especially oysters, shells of which have been found on 8th and 9th century archeological sites in Kuwait. The tall windows at the entrance of Kuwait National Assembly building allowed the turquoise sea to be seen and Kuwait’s strong sunlight to flood into the building’s main central corridor. Stephen Gardiner claimed this was no coincidence: “…Here there is an echo of the sea; the Kuwaitis lifeline for survival”. Even in his some of his early sketches of the Kuwait National Assembly Utzon incorporated the sea, always connecting man and nature. When Jan visited, he often rented a boat to view the site from the water. Jørn Utzon’s work in Australia and his controversial early departure from the Sydney Opera House project in 1966 produced “extraordinarily malicious publicity and negative criticism” according to American architect Frank Gehry, who went on to praise Utzon for persevering through the vitriolic backlash “to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.” When the Opera House was ultimately finished, it was evident that many of those tiny, but technically brilliant details of Utzonian genius — such as the original plan for the internal acoustics–had been sorely overlooked. After what Jørn himself termed “the scandal” of Sydney, the Utzons relocated to Hawaii. In 1968 Jørn was encouraged by respected British architect Sir Leslie Martin—who, coincidentally had been one of the judges of the Sydney competition,

to consider entering a similar competition to design Kuwait’s National Assembly. Australia’s loss would be Kuwait’s gain. Jørn Utzon’s innate curiosity in different cultures, styles of building and especially vernacular architecture, added to his Scandinavian roots and work in Aalborg shipyards, gave him a vocabulary unlike any other. His early wanderings through Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Iran and his impromptu foray into China in the late 1950s (where he jumped off an official tour and ventured solo into the rarely seen Chinese hinterland) would all profoundly inspire and influence his work, including the National Assembly. Today, perched across from the glittering shores of the Gulf on Kuwait City’s main coastal artery, Utzon’s gloriously serried columns that form the National Assembly’s unmissable exterior façade are juxtaposed with an avenue of interior columns that reflect Chinese bamboo, sliced so as to create a crescent-shape cut-out at its tip. Immense bottle-shaped pillars appear invisibly interlocked with an undulating precast concrete canopy that crowns the porte-cochère, the roof being inspired by the flowing fabric of Bedouin tents. The many modular elements that give the National Assembly’s footprint a mosaic-like effect reflect a concept that has been traditionally used widely across the Far East, South East Asia and the Middle East, where extended families live in shared quarters and spaces, connected to courtyards, pools or gardens. This is the Utzon genius. In an interview Jørn Utzon explained that large structures were “much more easily and naturally managed by building complexes which are divided up into different entities”, and told of

Self-portrait, Jørn Utzon


Precast concrete is assembled in sections his inspiration in part, by the work of the great Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto. This same modular design interspersed with courtyards and colonnades can also be seen in the two homes Jørn built for his family on the Spanish island of Mallorca. In the Jørn Utzon Logbook, Volume IV Prefab, published by Editon Bløndal, Jørn Utzon underlines how the National Assembly in Kuwait needed to incorporate local traditions. “And as a guideline for Jan and me” he wrote, “it was obvious that it had to be the Arabs’ way of life and customs in this place”. To that effect he based the plan of the Kuwait National Assembly on the plan of a Middle Eastern ‘souq’ or market whereby a central axis, or avenue, would form the spine of a grid, from which smaller ‘streets’ radiated at right angles. Offices consisting of a series of square modules would be punctuated with small courtyards. Jørn understood the strength of the Kuwait sun, how shadow was an important element of any structure and how regular repetitions of simple geometric shapes could produce a further dimension to surfaces when sun, or shadow were brought into


play. Thus Kuwait National Assembly brought together a vast array of influences and building techniques that crept into later projects such as the Paustian furniture showroom and restaurant in Copenhagen where we are taking lunch. From the restaurant I find myself facing a strangely familiar white concrete arcade comprising of tall regular columns and a highvaulted, precast concrete canopy. Yet Jørn Utzon’s real passion came from the people, affirms Jan over lunch. He saw the National Assembly building being about the people not just serving a function. Jørn was an architect who was above all inspired by humanity. Since its inception Utzon’s National Assembly in Kuwait has seen a series of modifications and serious damage during the Iraqi invasion. Ever the pragmatist, Jørn himself knew that change would be inevitable, asserts Sheridan Burke, who works with Jan and a small team to conserve the Utzonian legacy in Sydney. The team laid down certain principles in Sydney to ensure the Utzon vision would be honored and the spirit of his work retained. In terms of its legacy, Kuwait National Assembly was not simply a gift to Kuwait but a timeless

contribution to global architecture that exemplified the brilliance of Utzon and the farsightedness of Kuwait’s leadership. Almost a century after his birth, the Utzon legacy lives on in Jørn’s children and grandchildren, who are continuing that creative bloodline. To this day, the Kuwait National Assembly remains an outstanding piece of work and stands together with Utzon's most innovatiove masterpieces: Bagsværd church in Denmark and the Sydney Opera house in Australia. The majesty of the Kuwait National Assembly is tangible both inside and out; the powerful use of the light, the sea and Utzon's beloved linear repetition. In an echo of Gardiner's prophecy many would conclude that not only is this one of the great buildings of the world but, in its original form, it was quite simply, the greatest. A building that encapsulated a love for a region and a profound respect for its inhabitants.


When finished, it will be one of the great buildings of the world. - British Architect and Critic Stephen Gardiner



Sketch by Jørn Utzon 2000

Here there is an echo of the sea; the Kuwaitis lifeline for survivaL - British Architect and Critic, Stephen Gardiner 54

“Nobody can study the future of architecture without Jørn Utzon”. - Ware Professor of Architecture Columbia University New York, Kenneth Frampton




Geoff Pollitt (Chartered Engineer; C. Eng; M.I.Struct.E) is a British-born engineer who arrived in Kuwait in September 1978 to work on the Kuwait National Assembly, a project that design aficionados regard as a global architectural icon. He ended up staying over 35 years. This is how he became part of architectural history.


“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Jørn Utzon, the famous Danish architect who some years earlier, had designed the Sydney Opera House in Australia. To me, Sydney was, and of course, still is, one of the world’s most beautiful iconic pieces of architecture. It was Utzon’s far-reaching project, the Kuwait National Assembly (KNA) that brought me to Kuwait.

then with his son Jan, whose role was to implement the design through the entire construction phase.

Over the years, what started as a professional relationship would develop into a deep, personal friendship initially with Jørn, and

My initial role on the Kuwait National Assembly was as Assistant Resident Engineer, then later, Resident Engineer, for the construction on-

I had convinced my wife and twin daughters to come with me to Kuwait just for the duration of the project which was planned to be 32 months … almost 40 years later I am still in Kuwait and my family has grown up here.

site and off-site of the many huge, precast concrete elements of which the Assembly is composed. On leaving the UK, I first travelled to Zurich to meet with Jan Utzon and the Structural Engineer for the project, Max Walt and his team. I was briefed on the different aspects of the building and got to grips with the complex design of the building and the cutting-edge construction methods, of which I had very little experience at the time. The day after arriving I started work in the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) offices in Kuwait City. While waiting for all project drawings to be delivered to Kuwait from the architect in Denmark and structural engineers in Switzerland, I was asked by the MPW Project Engineer if I would review the structural drawings for the Kuwait Grand Mosque. Upon a cursory review of hundreds of drawings I discovered a number of errors in the structural details. My report was sent to the designer who received my report warmly and was extremely grateful for my input. The drawings for the Assembly Building eventually arrived in crates from Denmark and Switzerland. My first task was to catalog all the drawings to ensure they were complete. As well as representing Utzon, my job description also included representing the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), with whom I would build up an enjoyable relationship.

In those days Gulf Road was right on the edge of the shore, so the site looked directly onto the water. Jørn Utzon capitalized on this amazing location where, when completed, the tall columns of the façade would be mirrored in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and the bright light from the sea would flood through into the interior through tall windows. Jørn Utzon had travelled extensively in China, the Middle East and North Africa and had taken much of his inspiration from indigenous architecture he had seen in the Middle Eastern and Persian souqs and the deserts of North Africa, where he had photographed the sloping, canvas tent roofs that would ultimately give him the idea for the Assembly’s iconic roof - except that we had to recreate these ideas in precast concrete. The huge curved roof beams were cast in concrete in-situ. All precast elements for the project and for the roof beams were cast using giant steel molds which were so huge they dwarfed the men working on them. Each element was made from first pouring concrete into the steel mold, and then shifting it into place using a special track.

Following the erection of the columns and the curved roof beams, a procedure known as post-tensioning was carried out. In layman terms, this technique is performed by steel cables passed through the individual elements, tensioned by hydraulic jacks and carefully anchored - so all the elements act as one unit. Although post-tensioning is used to fabricate individual structural elements, to my knowledge these structural design features had not been used before in Kuwait or in the Middle East for building structures. This challenging build, originally planned for the duration of 32 months, actually took six and a half years, due to the addition of a multi-story car park. It would teach me a range of complex technical construction methods and cross-cultural communication skills that I still use today. My experience on the KNA was a great boost to my career and working with both Jørn and Jan Utzon was a life-changing experience. Compared with my project and management experience in England, the assignments I went on to do in Kuwait were not just of greater magnitude but much more prestigious, giving me great job satisfaction. Moving to Kuwait is something I never regretted.

The majority of the building superstructure consisted of precast concrete columns and beams with all structural connections visible. The featured columns supporting the curved roof beams over the Assembly Hall and the Public Square adjacent to the Gulf Road were to be formed from individual variableshaped precast elements.


siting the National vi ah ab S lA h la ul bd A ldA The late Amir Shaikteh Snuaare as Crown Prince and Prime Minister Assembly during his I believe the key benefit for any young engineer fortunate enough to work in Kuwait is the opportunity one is granted to gain valuable experience of the entire project throughout its life cycle. Following my tenure on the National Assembly building, I was appointed Assistant Project Manager for the Kuwait University Building Program. Upon completion of the project, I joined a major consulting office Assistant Technical Manager until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when I relocated to Bahrain as Technical Manager of the consultant practice. After my time in Bahrain I moved back home to Kuwait where I was appointed Resident Engineer for the Kuwait University Administration and Library building. During the next years, my career brought me numerous exciting projects, including the Kuwait University, Gulf Investment Headquarters, Hilton Resort, Arraya and Courtyard Marriott, Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) building and Mowasat Hospital and Clinic. I also worked as a Project Manager for the Amiri Diwan and Bayan Palace as part of a consortium. More recently I was Project Manager


on a project known as the Kuwait Compensation for Environmental Remediation and was involved in the updating of the Kuwait Airport Master Plan. These are just a small sample of the kind of opportunities that working here in Kuwait has offered me both as a Project Engineer, and as Technical Manager in one of the largest of the major Kuwaiti design consultant practices. Kuwait has now become home. There is a great social life with other expatriates and I have many close Kuwaiti friends. Working in Kuwait for almost four decades has given me many business contacts and permitted me to develop professional working relationships with colleagues in the Ministries, local institutions, developers, local and international consultants and local contractors; looking back I am very satisfied with my career and all the jobs I have been involved in. Having said that, I have also witnessed international consultants who are reluctant to pursue projects in Kuwait due to the bureaucracy and constant delays and postponement of planned projects. From my discussions with the Kuwait

Municipality, the Consultant Selection Committee (CSC) and the MPW, I have been told the introduction of new international companies is always welcome; however a good deal of patience must be practiced by these new companies. Consultants from overseas need to embrace the fact that projects although planned, do not happen overnight. Even after a project is awarded, it could still take up to a year or more for the project to actually start due to the bureaucracy and lengthy government procedures. Hopefully the authorities can endeavor to resolve these issues in time to encourage more new international talent to bring their respective expertise and innovative designs to Kuwait, which will further enhance the nation’s reputation for cutting-edge architecture. When I left England all those years ago I could not have imagined the opportunities that lay ahead. With courage, expertise and patience any good engineer will find that Kuwait is one of the most dynamic nations in terms of its engineering and construction opportunities and that life here can be extremely enjoyable�.





The Correspondent Magazine talks to GARY HANEY, Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Design Partner in New York on today’s challenges and his work on award-winning supertall buildings and sustainability TCM: You have worked in a number of countries, what are the key challenges you have faced in Kuwait, in particular, those relating to terrain and climate? Are there any challenges that you feel are unique to the country? GH: The key challenges are mitigating the effects of solar heat gain, sand infiltration/accumulation, and salt laden air — each of which presents a significant design challenge. TCM: What were the major influences that inspired the unique design of Al Hamra tower in Kuwait? GH: The project’s site and the desire to make this building as sustainable as possible were the major drivers for the design of Al Hamra. With the aim of maximizing Gulf views and minimizing solar heat gain on the office floors, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south facade, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower.

Where this part of the building was extracted, a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall is revealed, framed by the graceful, twisting ribbons of torqued walls. TCM: What special or unique techniques were employed in the design and construction of Al Hamra by SOM to mitigate problems such as gravitational load imbalance, excessive light and heat, subsidence from building on sand? GH: The foundation system consists of a pile-supported raft foundation to minimize settlement. The building’s piling layout includes a zone of longer piles incorporated into the specific areas of the foundation in order to support the concentrated loads of the super-tall structure. Unbalanced gravity loads in the superstructure induce a twist into the building; this twist increases over time as the concrete creeps.


To address this, the structural analysis considered both the short-term elastic and longterm creep effects of the unbalanced gravity load. Once the expected movements were established, a construction geometry corrections program was developed to install an ‘opposite twist’ in the building structure during construction. A laboratory concrete creep testing program was initiated prior to construction so that actual creep data could be used to verify the theoretic values and update the corrections program if required. The displacements of the building were monitored during construction to confirm that the corrections program was properly implemented and that the movements during construction were as anticipated. TCM: What are the benefits and problems posed by mega towers? GH: Some benefits of supertall towers include: creating an iconic presence on the skyline, maximizing Floor Area Ratio (FAR), and providing exhilarating views. Some challenges include: providing efficient vertical transportation; distribution of Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) services and façade maintenance. TCM: What does SOM bring to builds that other companies or practices cannot? GH: SOM brings innovative sustainable design, in-house multidisciplinary coordination, and a wealth of knowledge and experience with the entire design process from concept through construction. SOM is responsible for the design and construction of several of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – the tallest building in the world – and the 109-story Willis


Tower in Chicago, and One World Trade Center in New York City – the two tallest buildings in North America. TCM: In layman’s terms what is Sustainable Design? How does SD translate in concrete terms in the construction industry? Can you give examples of SD relating to Al Hamra tower? GH: Sustainable Design is a design approach for buildings, building systems, and landscapes that considers and enhances the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability. This design approach reduces negative environmental impact through skillful, sensitive design and the integration of new technologies. Buildings greatly benefit from an integrated design

process that considers sustainable design principles. For example, buildings that are designed to manage daylight energy appropriate to their context and climate can significantly reduce lighting and mechanical loads, thereby reducing the size and cost of electrical service.


GARY HANEY With over 30 years of experience at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), Design Partner Gary Haney’s work spans a broad range of commercial, government and hospitality projects located throughout the world. His process incorporates extensive materials research, environmental simulations, and computational scripting to test and challenge the physical, structural, and programmatic parameters of a given project.

Recently he led advanced design seminars in Efficiency and Tall Building design at Northeastern University in Boston and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Mr. Haney holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Environmental Design Degree from Miami University of Ohio.

His projects include the Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City; the LEEDÂŽ-certified US Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland and the recent BBVA Bancomer Operations Center in Mexico City. Mr. Haney serves on the Board for the National Building Museum, Washington, DC and has participated in architectural studio juries at schools such as Columbia University, Catholic University, and North Carolina State University.



THE PERILS OF SOFTWARE PIRACY Aisha Y. Salem, Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa US Embassy Kuwait discusses the perils of software piracy and why it represents a very real threat to society and what you can do to protect your business and your family. by Aisha Y. Salem, Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa

What is software piracy? Software piracy is the copying, distribution, or use of software without permission from the copyright owner. When we think of software piracy, we usually think of downloading unauthorized copies from the Internet – illegal copies of software are often sold online but can also be found in physical retail outlets such as flea markets. However, unlicensed use – installing a single authorized copy onto multiple computers – can also be a form of software piracy. Another form of piracy is the unauthorized installation of software onto new or used computers, usually done by a retailer to sweeten the deal of the computer sale. Why is pirated software dangerous? Some might think software is too pricey, so they opt for a less expensive version of a program or operating system. However, more often than not, these inexpensive versions are pirated and can cause more damage than one might think. The security risks associated with


using pirated software far outweigh the few dollars saved when using pirated software. It can cost your business and your family.Pirated software often contains viruses and other malicious code, which can wreak havoc on individual computers and entire networks. It can cause a computer to crash, which can result in huge costs – both in time and money spent – associated with repairs and potential loss of files and data. Pirated software also does not come with support and maintenance from the software developer. Patches and updates are not available for illegitimate copies, which can leave a computer vulnerable. According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), malware problems associated with pirated software cost organizations nearly $500 billion in 2014, and the International Data Corporation estimates that users worldwide will spend 1.5 billion hours identifying and repairing the damage caused by malware from pirated software. Use of pirated

software can also lead to invasion of privacy and identity theft. Illegal copies often contain spyware that loads onto a computer and records personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, and contacts, all of which can be used to steal a person’s identity. According to Credit Sesame, a US-based credit monitoring service, the global cost of identity theft is easily in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and clearing up disputes related to identity theft can often take years. Also keep in mind that many organized criminal enterprises fund their operations through the sale of pirated software and other illicit goods. According to the BSA, the most profitable software pirating operations are controlled by criminal syndicates with networks of distributors throughout the world. These criminal gangs use this illicit trade to launder money and fund other illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and even terrorism. What can you do? There are many ways to avoid being a victim of pirated software. For businesses, the BSA recommends all companies institute a formal software policy and maintain careful records.

They also suggest instituting strong software asset management (SAM) programs that follow internationally accepted guidelines. SAM programs provide a comprehensive view of what is installed on any given network, which helps organizations avoid security risks and ensures they have the appropriate number of licenses for their users. Both businesses and individuals need to keep a sharp eye out to avoid obtaining pirated software. For example: • Make sure you buy software from reputable retailers. • When shopping online, make sure the website is legitimate and secure.

• Keep track of your installations and your licenses and make sure the numbers match. • As a developer or business, you can also contact the USPTO Strategy for Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) program—a one-stop shop for businesses to protect their intellectual property at home and abroad – at learning-and-resources/ip-policy/ enforcement/strategy-targetingorganized-piracy-stop. • Most important of all, rely on your common sense: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

• Pay attention to the packaging to make sure it looks legitimate. • When you buy software, pay attention to the license agreement and only install as many copies as are allowed.



PROFITING FROM PRUDENCE With an estimated aggregate net worth of US$209 billion, the Middle East’s affluent are the perfect target for business scams. The services of a Corporate Private Investigator can save investors from losing millions. Since the world first began trading, commerce has been underpinned by one very simple notion: trust. Over time, as society and commercial interactivity became more complex, other driving factors have come into play, such as opportunity and profit. All investors working in today’s complex business world can find and seize opportunities across cultures and continents, a number of the successful ones will turn that opportunity into profit by finding a great partner with whom to collaborate. And yet, prior to signing that multi-million dollar deal how can you really know who you are partnering? Protecting a person or company’s interests requires thorough, unbiased investigation. Executed properly, these background checks may save the person or company not just from a disastrous investment, but engaging with disreputable, embarrassing or ethically- or financially-unsound organizations or criminal gangs. People who use internet search


engines such as Google to do basic ‘searches’ will not always be accessing material that is corroborated, fact-based – or even legally verified; furthermore these are not tools with which one can validate a business offering or investment opportunity.Thus a company on the cusp of signing a deal with an overseas partner may not even have verified whom their partner really is and what their liabilities are. It is not just whether the company has ongoing or past lawsuits; have there been criminal charges made against the company, has the company been found to engage in bribery or corrupt practices, or are its members laundering money, guilty of poor employee practices, or could they be funding terrorism? The company may even have produced false financial statements or business claims, making the business deal extremely vulnerable. Imagine if they do not wholly own the patent they claim to own, that the

product contains toxic ingredients. Nowadays, it is becoming easier to fabricate facts or to create false realities through online websites and fake business profile data. Corporate Private Investigators (CPIs) are seasoned professionals specializing in corporate-related searches, commonly known as due diligence. These offer vetting services for both businesses and individuals alike. CPIs work in similar ways to Private Investigators, with full accreditation, they have much greater access to reliable and necessary documentation than lawyers therefore their background searches can be far more revealing. They are able to verify vital information such as assets allocation, patent claims, identity checks and credit checks, as well as offering a lengthy checklist of services that anyone considering a business partnership should consider. It is a CPI who can gather documented evidence that can ultimately evaluate the trustworthiness of a potential partner and prove whether the business opportunity is authentic. The CPI can also gather information that may even challenge the future of the prospective partnership – especially useful if the business is between two international partners. The Middle East offers plenty of high net worth individuals. According to a 2014 Forbes survey the region is home to 78 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of US$209 billion; it makes it a perfect place for scams by unscrupulous businesses. No matter where they are based, investors need to check up on potential partners and though searches can take a few weeks to

complete, the time spent is worth it. Results can solve many questions and change the entire validity of a deal. The objective of a CPI is to provide clients with the maximum background information they need to reach a better understanding of business partnership viability. One client described the CPI’s research as like “finding a lost piece of a puzzle that made the whole picture complete”. From the CPI’s findings companies can undertake more informed decisions about entering a new market or territory, partnering a company they don’t know or entering into a deal with a person of ill repute; in sum they are decreasing their risk of seeing their prospective partner default and the deal collapse. Many business deals may look great on paper but the best need to be put to the test. As successful Dutch HR expert and entrepreneur Marieke Stoop wrote, “Never assume. Always ask for verification”.

KASH KANNAITI Kannaiti is a Canadian international business specialist with expertise in deal-brokerage in addition to structuring business and management services. His experience, spanning over twelve years, and his exposure to markets in North America, Europe and the Middle East has given him a unique standing.



SWEET SUCCESS As the global chocolate industry sees consumers moving towards finer, artisanal brands, the launch of corporate gifts by Dolce Antico has seen mouthwatering results. by LYNNE DAVIS, additional reporting by CINATRA FERNANDES Fine chocolate is a booming niche market that competes against the multibillion dollar, mass market chocolate industry dominated by US companies like Hershey’s and Mars, and European brands such as Ferrero and Nestlé. Chocolate is a product that sells even in hard times, in 2012 when the global recession was slowly ending, US brand Mars still netted a sweet US$16.8 billion. Trends show that our love of chocolate is growing, the US alone expects to see chocolate sales reach an estimated US$19.3 billion by 2018. In a UK report compiled by industry analysts KPMG entitled ‘A Taste of the Future’, the document underlined the expected growth of the Middle East and identified luxury branded chocolate as the fastestgrowing market segment globally.


Here in Kuwait, the gift of chocolates – like the rest of the world – is a celebratory custom and at the big annual festivals such as Ramadan and Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, it seems consumers cannot resist. At the same time, exclusive luxury brands, banks and hotels now seek to reward their high-performing staff or high-spending clients with something more meaningful than a branded pen. The gift of chocolates is popular but how can a high-end luxury brand stand out from the fray when choosing chocolates for its discerning clients? According to those who work in the fine chocolate industry, choosing quality over mass-produced chocolates is key. High-end companies need to source unique brands that personify the same luxury, prestige and standing as their own brand. “Fine chocolate products should be unique and exciting; they should not conform in terms of flavor nor texture to chocolates that cater to the less discerning mass market” states the one of the websites highlighting the fundamentals of the fine chocolate industry. It continues “Chocolate aficionados can easily differentiate true chocolate artisans from those companies that are simply looking

to profit from a growing trend in fine chocolate. Moreover, consumers can immediately taste the difference between a lower quality bar in pretty packaging, manufactured by a large, publicly-traded company, and an individually-wrapped praline, made by hand, by a family-owned, conscientious chocolate maker with over a century and a half of expertise”. The rule is simple: large corporate brands need to stand out, selecting small-scale or ‘artisanal’ (hand-made), chocolate brands that are based on time-honored quality and tradition. In Kuwait, Dolce Antico is a boutique chocolatier unlike the rest. Its woodpaneled premises in Hawalli recall the mahogany interiors of an 1880s European confectionery shop typical of the grand European café era. Here, exquisite chocolates, fruit jellies, multicolored beans and candies are on display together with delightful gold-embossed boxes and baskets of all sizes. The brands sold at Dolce Antico are all known by chocolate connoisseurs worldwide for their quality. As the name suggests, Dolce Antico, (meaning old fashioned-style sweets in Italian) sells products with pedigree.

These recipes have been hand-crafted and perfected over years in Italy by master chocolate-makers. Among the most renowned flavors is the delight known as Gianduia, made from rich chocolate and smooth hazelnut purée. This product has just celebrated 155 years of success in the world market and the best is made by Caffarel, the pioneer of Italian cioccolata, whose products were a favorite of King Victor Emmanuel. There are an abundance of treats like the mini tartufo dolce, each one beautifully wrapped. It is made by the celebrated Tartuflanghe chocolate atelier whose extensive range includes creamy milk chocolate to extra-dark flavors, and comes in delectable combinations that infuse each piece with flavors such as pistachio or caramel and sea salt. Specialties from another much-loved master confectioner Vannucci, are also on offer in a delightful assortment of pralines, dainty bite-sized blocks called ‘Neapolitans’, single chocolate bars as well as fruit jellies and candies. Unlike many brands, each chocolate is beautifully wrapped individually so that nothing can taint the flavors.


These are chocolates that are bound not only for the traditional baby shower, wedding celebration or graduation party, but increasingly, for high-end companies, five-star hotels, banks, luxury car showrooms, fashion brands and fine jewelry boutiques. “Today, discerning companies need to find exclusive giveaways. More than ever they see the benefit of avoiding mainstream brands that are now getting commonplace” says Dolce Antico Manager, Saeed Ahmed. “We are small, but we produce only the best, this the key advantage here at Dolce Antico. Hand-made Italian chocolates with unique flavors, some of which have been specially tailored to the Kuwaiti palette, make a bold statement”. Saeed readily admits his delightful traditional confectioner can receive a single order in excess of KD400 during Ramadan. However, he also points out how his clientele enjoy not just the exclusivity, but the individual attention. “We can spend a lot of time with one client just to get it right”. He refuses to disclose who purchases his hand-made chocolates but shyly concedes they are the crème-de-la-crème of Kuwait high


society. “Some order thirty or forty boxes at a time” he says.Personalized wrapping or customization using a company logo are just some of the services available on request. “We want our customers to know their gift is one-of-a-kind” he adds. “There is too much mass-produced chocolate out there, we aim to be different.” Dolce Antico’s gift ranges can comprise of just a few dozen, to a few hundred chocolates; these are arranged in sumptuous goldembossed boxes, elegant trays and brightly-colored, customized gift bags, or sent with fresh flowers. There are giant, gourmet gift baskets that include the full selection of Gianduia, pralines, fruit jellies, and jars of Italy’s much loved chocolate hazelnut spreads, jelly beans and shiny, sugar-coated chocolate almonds known as dragées.“We even work with Italy to develop flavors especially for the Middle East such as the milk chocolate with rose, saffron or cardamom” says the affable Saeed, whose brand knowledge is extensive. “The crunchy pistachio filled chocolates known as Piedmontina are also very popular”. Indeed, there is much to choose

from, chocolate in infinite shapes and forms, from petite, foil-wrapped eggs to large quacking chocolate ducks! There is no doubt that Dolce Antico caters to real chocolate aficionados; those in search of quality have an extraordinary selection from which to choose. Whether for a corporate gift to VIPs, a luxury product launch or a thank you to the company’s top performers, Dolce Antico only offers the finest.

@DolceAntico @DolceAntico +965 22650828 +965 22662467

Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world. MILTON HERSHEY Saeed Ahmed ends with a word of advice: “We know our products are the finest. We don’t have to prove it, the customers know it once they have tasted our chocolates – after this all other brands becomes ordinary. Our quality is outstanding”. While the test of the finest chocolate is therefore in the tasting, of course the ultimate joy must come from the giving. But a final word of advice from Milton Hershey, founder of the American chocolate brand Hershey’s: “Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world.” Saeed Ahmed clearly agrees with Hershey.




LYNNE DAVIS discovers how London printers and bookbinders Barnard & Westwood meld ancient craftsmanship with high-tech. In a quiet English street in the London Borough of Bloomsbury lies a small courtyard hidden by a high brick wall. Behind it lies the inconspicuous premises of Barnard & Westwood, a small, bespoke printers and bookbinders, where traditional crafts still play a vital role in producing the world’s most beautiful, hand-crafted books as well as delicately embossed gilt-edged stationery and superb leather-bound albums. The studio is a veritable treasure trove; a museum of curiosities where state-of-the-art digital printing equipment oversees stately cast-iron printing presses dating back to an era when King George V was still on the throne and when the current monarch, Her Majesty The Queen, was known as Princess Elizabeth. Over half a century later, it is still to Barnard & Westwood that HM Queen Elizabeth II and her son, HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales come for their stationery. It is here that countless printed items are painstakingly created for State occasions and important commemorations such as HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and major Royal events such as the invitations Barnard & Westwood created for the wedding of HRH Prince William and Ms. Catherine Middleton.


So illustrious is the handiwork, members of other Royal families from the Middle East also count amongst their customers. Barnard & Westwood was founded in 1921 in England by World War I veteran Albert Reginald Barnard. Twenty years later in 1941, the family of the current Managing Director, Austen Kopley, first became involved when Albert Barnard brought in Eddie Kopley, who had been running the International Master Printers’ Federation, as a partner. It is Eddie Kopley who is credited with creating the set of core values that are still so much in evidence to client and visitor alike. Today, Barnard & Westwood has an annual turnover of £1.5M (KD700,000) and employs 20 staff and four trainees. This small company is famed for the quality of its products and has held a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen since 1986, and from HRH Prince Charles since January 2012 - no mean feat for a company of its size. Somewhat surprisingly the Royal Warrants are not held by the company, but by a nominated grantee whilst they are working at the company. Currently this is Austen Kopley. The warrants are seen by many customers as the ultimate stamp of approval.

HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York recently visited this historic printing studio. The Duke was given a personal tour of the premises and had the opportunity to take a closer look at aspects of the successful integration of the modern and traditional. Clearly keen to learn about the variety of crafts still employed by the company Prince Andrew met craftsmen who explained the technical aspects of their work: hand case binding, die stamping, foil blocking – skills which the company is determined to keep alive and to pass on to the next generation through an internship program in which apprentices are inducted into these age-old techniques. His Royal Highness was also given a briefing by the inventor of the revolutionary Lumejet S200 printer which underscores the company’s ability to adapt to new technologies. Austen Kopley has much to be proud of; successive generations of family ownership have nurtured and developed a hugely successful company and it is a legacy that he is determined to secure. During the course of 2015 Kopley oversaw the transition of Barnard & Westwood from a historic family-run company to a 100% employee-owned

The ancient art of bookbinding


HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, on a visit to Barnard & Westwood


The Executive Editor visiting Barnard & Westwood enterprise. The move saw the existing shareholders sell all their shares to the Barnard & Westwood Employee Ownership Trust. The five-member Trust holds 100% of the shares in Barnard & Westwood Ltd. on behalf of the employees. Austen Kopley is confident that this is the way forward if the company is to continue on its prosperous path, and retain a competitive edge. “We believe the new structure gives us a real opportunity to grow Barnard & Westwood in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved in the business” he explained. “Longterm planning is something that often passes small and medium businesses by and we were determined that we should put in place a plan that went some way to guaranteeing the legacy of the company.” Given Barnard & Westwood’s track record of excellence, Austen Kopley’s optimism about its future is unlikely to be misplaced, even in an industry that has come under increasing pressure and in which it is becoming harder to stand out from the crowd. Kopley affirms that the emphasis of the company is placed on meticulous attention to detail, a highly-trained staff and capital investment in

Barnard & Westwood team a supportive, nurturing work environment. He adds that it has stood it in good stead for generations and it is now well-positioned to continue that trend.

trend, its personalized luxury printed items are not just prized products they are, in their own way, invaluable pieces of art, quite literally, fit for a Queen.

Barnard & Westwood is a fine example of a small enterprise that has embraced its heritage and yet still adapted to keep up with modern times. It fosters the very best from its employees who in turn provide their clients with exquisite, master-crafted products fit for a modern world. Today in a world where crafts are declining, and increasingly mechanized mass production is seen as the way to higher profits, the publishing industry is rarely able to showcase artistic individuality. Barnard & Westwood bucks this




KNOW YOUR “NICHE” Canadian Social Media guru Jeff Roach talks to TCM about Snapchat, Instagram and the fear of getting personal It’s a natural human phenomenon the desire to be liked, to be popular, but there’s a good reason why typical social media measurements are called “vanity” metrics and there are even better reasons why businesses need to ignore them. Put simply, a business should care most about those who are most likely to care about them. So what should businesses do if their potential consumers are mostly found on Facebook or Twitter? Are these forms of social media now outdated? Should businesses consider only the latest channels? The sky will not fall if you don’t use what the cool kids are using, especially if the cool kids aren’t interested in what you sell in the first place! The latest, greatest social media channel is only good for your business if the people you hope to reach can be found there. Today the hottest social media app is Snapchat, but please don’t take my word for it - ask the kids. Is Snapchat the ‘new black’? Snapchat is only the new black – meaning the hottest thing on the market - if your target audience is hooked on it. It can be used by businesses to join in the social circles of its target


customers and it can be used to stay relevant to those who care most about what is current and new. The first question that needs to be asked is whether or not Snapchat users are your target audience, or are likely to become your potential audience soon. Considering how young the user demographic is for Snapchat, the answer is a resounding yes if your target audience is youth. If the youth market is NOT what you are chasing, think again.There is another argument to be made in the GCC context: Snapchat is the champion of the temporary, untraceable, instantlydeleted social conversation and the opposite of social media as we have come to understand it in recent years. This is appealing to many who fear sharing their true opinions on public and/or controversial matters. It also means posts do not end up looking tired, or out of date. However the opportunity to be seen by many on this private channel is minimal for most of us, despite the massive successes of a few. How much are you willing to invest in small odds? The next ‘Big Thing’ People are constantly looking for the next big social platform to overtake

the status quo. There is a temptation to dive right in because a service is new. Assess the true value of jumping in early on the next social platform try to think hard where it will take your business – is this going to appeal to your target market? It is perhaps much wiser for businesses to see the myriad of social networks and platforms as home to particular niches - or if the appeal is particularly narrow, specialized niches. A business needs to be where their target audience is, and while Snapchat might be a hot new channel for teenagers, it is still pretty much unheard of among the business elite and would almost certainly not be used by most of them. The right social networks depend on who you want to reach and what kind of content you want to provide them with. Despite how dominant Instagram has been in the Arabian Gulf and especially Kuwait, there will be some consumers who may be better reached by Twitter or Google. If your business is appropriately targeted and you understand the niche behaviors of your consumers already it goes without saying that your choices of platforms and methods is much easier.

The key is go to where your community is.We all know examples of people and companies who have used social media to great effect. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife followed up on their announcement of the birth of their first child with an announcement regarding donating their millions to charity and why they chose to do this - it went viral. Nonetheless compared to the millions of businesses and leaders that use social media, the number who use social media platforms WELL is very small. They, more than all the others, know who their customer is on a personal level, and manage to speak only to them. The social media world is becoming a world of niches. What is popular is now more fleeting now than ever and offers less advantages compared to what mass broadcast media did for advertising in the 1990s, for example. If Apple computers can become the largest company in the world by focusing entirely on the minority of people who adore them, that same simple, personal concept can mean growth and profits for any business that understands social media.

If you’re speaking to everyone, then you are speaking to no one. Snapchat and Instagram might be the right platforms for your business. But you need to know your target customer to find out.

JEFF ROACH The author is on the cutting edge of social media and is a social media educator. He is the founder of Sociallogical, a consulting agency to help businesses determine the significant changes in how businesses engage their people, inside and outside the company, brought on by the emergence of social media. Jeff Roach advocates the growth of businesses through their own people when they get social online. He has coached leading companies in understanding and using social media.



TREASURE TROVE The outstanding artifacts seen at "The Charm of Islam" exhibition in Rome proves the enduring appeal of The al-Sabah Collection. In July 2015, the cultural cognoscenti of both Italy and Kuwait assembled in Rome’s beautiful former palace, Scuderie del Quirinale, to witness the opening of the glorious exhibition entitled al Fann or "The Charm of Islam: The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait" or Arte della Civilta Islamica. La Collezione al-Sabah, Kuwait. The opening of this unique exhibition brought crowds of elegantly dressed officials who had flown in from all over the world. First to visit was Italian President Sergio Mattarella, escorted by the former Italian Ambassador to Kuwait, Mr. Fabrizio Nicoletti. The President enjoyed a private tour led by HE Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem al-Hmoud Al-Sabah, Minister of Information and Minister of State


for Youth Affairs, who is also Director General of the National Council of Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL), they were joined by Secretary General, Ali Yoha; NCCAL Assistant Undersecretary Abdulkareem alGhadban and Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah of Dar al-Athar alIslamiyyah, co-owner of The al-Sabah Collection. Italian native and curator for the exhibition, Giovanni Curatola enthusiastically provided most of the tour’s narration. A press conference, attended by Italy’s premier media outlets followed. Sheikha Hussah and Giovanni Curatola were joined by Innocenzo Cipolletta and Mario De Simoni representing the delightful host venue. The exhibition, featured in newspapers across the country,

Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, (pictured above, second from right) Curator and co-owner of The al-Sabah Collection with distinguished guests in Rome.

explored more than 1,000 years of Islamic art and culture. Celebrated Italian actor and producer Andrea Occhipinti and actress Simona Marchini joined political and cultural leaders from both countries, as well as honored international guests of Sheikha Hussah who were mesmerized by the vast array of treasures that appear in the exhibition which showcased more than 350 objets d’art. Visitors heralded the exhibition as an unrivalled success and all agreed that by showcasing a range of unimaginably beautiful and rich objects crafted centuries ago, the show helped them define a new face of Islam hitherto unseen.

HE Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs at the Rome event.


Guests and dignitaries admire the al Fann exhibition in Rome Sheikha Hussah stated that her desire to bring the exhibition to Italy was in order to “extend a hand of openness to other human civilizations" and the motive came from a wish to promote "the values of dialogue and fruitful cultural interactions". In Kuwait, the astonishing splendors of The al-Sabah Collection can be viewed at the lovely old Amricani hospital building, close to the national Assembly, on the Seif Waterfront. These priceless objects span an extraordinary period of time and showcase the most sumptuous artifacts from the Islamic world and show the legacy of exceptional craftsmanship that have endured for many millennia. The magnificent al Fann exhibition is expected to come to Kuwait in April 2016







Whether they are cars driven by the nation’s leaders, or models featured in James Bond movies, Kuwait’s Historical, Vintage and Classic Car Museum in Shuweikh showcases vehicles with extraordinary history. From the earliest bone-rattlers to top-of-the-range Aston Martins.

TCM: Where did the inspiration for a car museum come from? What are the museum’s aims? AA: Many people in Kuwait are not just passionate about classic cars, there are a good number of people interested in cars with historic connections, or beautiful vintage cars that show the huge advancement of design and automotive technology over the last century. Our museum was founded with the aim of serving this audience and providing a stage for superb automotive examples to be seen up front and for people to learn more about historic automobiles. This project was created by His Highness Sheikh Nasser AlMohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who is himself a car connoisseur. His Highness gathered together


groups of classic car aficionados and the idea of creating the museum was born. TCM: How many cars do you have on display in total? AA: The museum currently houses fifty cars of all shapes and sizes. Some of them represent a piece of Kuwait’s history, like the 1962 Ford Lincoln Continental owned by HH the late Amir, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, the man we refer to as “The Father of the Constitution”. It was used by him on official occasions. We have a superb 1921 Model T Ford, which is an example of the first automobile to have been massproduced in the USA on a moving assembly line. It made the fortune of its manufacturer, Henry Ford. Another curiosity is a pale yellow 1957

BMW Iseta, a three-wheeled, singlecylinder car, its door opens at the front! There is a wonderful collection of historic American Chryslers and Cadillacs along with a sleek 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL model, the first in Mercedes Benz’s long line of SL sports cars. And for those who prefer two-wheeled transportation, there is a shiny, beautifully restored 1948 Harley Davidson Panhead. Of course there are cars that are almost celebrities in their own right, like the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. This outstanding British brand is recognized worldwide and epitomizes elegance, speed and refinement. Today it has become a global icon thanks to the fictional spy character ‘James Bond’ or ‘007’. The Aston Martin first appeared as a Bond car in the film ‘Goldfinger’, it became regarded as 007’s car. The brand was used in the latest Bond movie: ‘Spectre’. Aston Martin is of course favored by British royalty, in 2011, Prince William drove off from his wedding in his father’s Seychelles Blue Aston Martin. Prince Charles

had received the gift on his 21st birthday from his mother, HM The Queen. TCM: Which is the oldest car in the collection? AA: The 1904 Minerva Type-A is the oldest car in the museum. The company was founded in Antwerp Belgium in 1883 and initially made motorized bikes before venturing into four-wheeled vehicles around 1902. TCM: Are all the cars in working order? What technical problems do you face when dealing with older cars in terms of restoration, spare parts or the way they were built? AA: All the cars are working

perfectly, but the biggest problem we have with the oldest cars is rust, and the difficulty in finding spare parts, especially when we need to do maintenance or restoration work. TCM: Your museum has a range of categories including historic, vintage and classic. What do these categories comprise of? AA: The display in our museum is divided into four categories. The first category showcases the cars once owned by Sheikhs of Kuwait, the second category is for historic cars that belonged to princes and presidents from all over the world, the third category showcases cars belonging to members of the


museum – this allows us to rotate our exhibits every three months to keep the exhibition fresh and interesting. The fourth category is devoted solely to the UK brand Aston Martin. TCM: In terms of automotive history which car has the most important historic significance to Kuwait and why? AA: The Minerva, because it was the first car to arrive in Kuwait and in fact the entire Gulf region, during the era of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Kabeer, who was known as “The Lion of the Arabian Peninsula”. It is for this reason that we have chosen the image of the Minerva for our museum logo. TCM: Which car is your personal favorite in terms of its sheer beauty? AA: My favorite car is the Aston Martin Lagonda. Like the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 it is of special interest because it was manufactured specifically for the Kuwait Concours d’Elegance 2015 and it’s the only one of its kind in the world.


TCM: Why do you think Kuwait has so many people interested in automobile heritage? AA: That Kuwaiti people love tradition and heritage and those of them who can afford it, go in for collecting vintage cars or limited-edition cars. And of course, the rest of us love to look at them! It’s safe to say, Kuwaitis are true car enthusiasts.

For more information see:


The main aim of establishing the museum was to document and to provide a focus for the history of Kuwait and the automobile, and to connect current and future generations to their past

The Historical, Vintage and Classic Car Museum of Kuwait first opened in October, 2010. The opening of its doors was the culmination of many men’s dreams – that Kuwait would once again stand at the head of the region’s classic car community and be able to share with the world its rich cultural traditions and heritage within the automobile sector. The main aim of the museum was to provide a focus for the history of Kuwait and the automobile, and to connect current and future generations to their past. For the founders of the museum, it has many aims, but the main goal is to secure the preservation of vehicles linked

with Kuwait history, and with key events in the nation’s past. The museum would not have been established in its current form had it not been for the kindness, benevolence and passion of His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Muhammad Al-Ahmad AlSabah. A true car aficionado, His Highness had the wisdom and the foresight to see the value a classic car museum would add to the cultural landscape of Kuwait. The museum is also deeply appreciative of its Board of Trustees for their guidance and advice in regard to the establishment and operations of the facility.Today, the museum includes a wide range of support facilities.



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ABOUT THE CORRESPONDENT Launched in 2015, The Correspondent magazine is a quarterly magazine penned by recognized journalists serving the business community in the GCC and beyond. It provides a dynamic, integrated platform for business and trade. Showcasing compelling news and interviews across all sectors.

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The Correspondent - Winter 2015  

Featuring business, current affairs and culture from Kuwait and beyond.

The Correspondent - Winter 2015  

Featuring business, current affairs and culture from Kuwait and beyond.