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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Time Is Ticking Away

With our impending move now in full swing, plans are now underway for several key events, to mark the end of a successful tour.  Here’s a quick summary.

Our farewell reception is scheduled for mid May.  The guest list is quite lengthy.  In just three short years, my lovely wife has amassed an impressive list of contacts, both government officials/diplomats and expatriates from nearly every corner of the globe.  She is a very popular lady!! 

Neither of us expected to meet so many different and unique people in this part of the world, and from every walk of life. Although I don't have as many acquaintances as she does, those I’ve managed to befriend over the years are mostly women (full time mothers).  Probably close to 80% I'd say.  Not too many full-time fathers in this part of the world.   
In early May, one of the three prospective schools in Berlin scheduled a Skype session with our family.  This is a bit of promising news and we’re extremely excited, and relieved, to know that someone has an interest in giving our child a place at their school.  Between now and then, we’ll work on preparing Christopher for the big interview. 

Immediately following our goodbye party, my wife and I will travel to Berlin to look for a place to live.  That’s if the Foreign Service ever agree on the purchase of a plane ticket for us to go.  In this day and age of budget cuts, it’s all about saving Euros at every opportunity.  Government red tape however, seems to always get in the way of doing what makes sense, even if the price isn't quite right.

Christopher won't be joining during our house hunting expedition in May.  Instead, he’ll stay behind in Kuwait, in school, with a very trusted family.  Their daughter and our son, over the past three years have, become really good friends.  Both kids are excited.   As I understand from the mom, her daughter is over the moon about the idea of having a “pretend brother” around the house.  

And finally...

A week before school finishes, we plan to throw a gigantic pool party for 35 of Christopher’s closest friends.  The pool party will be held at the school, right at the end of the day.  Everyone in his class will be invited, along with a few more from the other two Year 3 classes.  Arranging this party took several months of careful negations between the school and the school’s swimming instructors.  The instructors worked their magic to make it all possible. Both ladies, by the way, are equally responsible for teaching Christopher how to swim. 

Easter break is now upon us. Early Thursday morning, my wife and Christopher will fly to Germany to spend time with her parents.  I'll remain behind to take care of things here.  I think now would be a good time to take a step back from blogging, over the next two weeks.  If something newsworthy comes along, you’ll hear from me.  Have a safe and Happy Easter everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

News That's Making News In Kuwait

Loyal followers of this blog know that I do go slightly off-topic on Thursdays. 


To bring you, my very loyal and faithful readers/followers/stalkers, a quick peek into what’s making news headlines in Kuwaiti print media.  Because a significant portion of my readership is outside Kuwait, a quick snapshot of the region, Kuwait in particular, can be quite interesting.

Just think how well-informed you’ll be about the world around you, after reading this blog! 

Limited news to report this week.  Certainly not uncommon, but it does happen.


Kuwait: No Response to Torture Allegation
April 2, 2014

A Kuwaiti prosecutor’s failure to investigate torture allegations raises questions about whether the alleged abusers of two detained brothers will escape justice.

The detainees, Abdelhakim and Abdul Nasser al-Fadhli, told the investigating prosecutor on their first appearance before him on February 26, 2014, that the police had beaten them in custody, Abdelhakim al-Fadhli told Human Rights Watch on March 25. But neither has since been examined for signs of abuse. The two brothers are active in the Bidun community, people who have lived in Kuwait for many years but are considered stateless. The brothers have been detained since late February on charges revolving around an “unlawful” demonstration in February to support Bidun rights.

“Instead of ordering an investigation when these defendants said they had been tortured, the prosecutor ordered them back to detention,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “When a prosecutor ignores torture allegations, it sends the message to police that abuse will go unpunished.”

On March 31, a judge renewed the detention of Abdelhakim al-Fadhli for another seven days, and convicted Abdul Nasser al-Fadhli of a minor offense. He has yet to be sentenced but the Kuwait Human Rights Society president, Mohammed al-Humaidi, one of the lawyers involved in the case, said that Abdul Nasser al-Fadhli could be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison. Authorities have been holding a third Bidun activist, Abdullah Attallah al-Enizi, since February in connection with the same demonstrations and on March 31 extended his detention until April 6. Kuwaiti law prohibits non-Kuwaiti nationals from holding demonstrations.

Read more here:

Kuwait’s Oil Exports Fall 3% in 2013
By Mary Sophia
March 30, 2014

Kuwait’s oil exports declined to KD30.8 billion ($109.5 billion) in 2013, down by three per cent from 2012, according to a report by National Bank of Kuwait (NBK). 

The fall in the Gulf state’s oil exports were mainly due to lower oil prices in 2013 as the market eased due to surging non-OPEC supplies and a modest growth in global demand. Kuwait’s export crude prices averaged $105 per barrel last year, down four per cent from its 2012 prices, the report said.
Lower oil exports also pushed down the OPEC member’s trade surplus, which fell to KD24.3 billion last year compared to KD25.7 billion in 2012, according to NBK. The surplus is estimated to be around 48 per cent of Kuwait’s GDP in 2013. 

Despite a fall in oil exports, the report found that the Gulf state’s non-oil exports climbed to KD1.9 billion, driven by a rise in exports of ethylene products. Non-oil exports accounted for around six per cent of Kuwait’s total exports in 2013. 

The GCC member’s imports also grew steadily- up nine per cent in 2013, reaching an all-time high of KD8.3 billion, the report said.
Within the non-oil sector, imports in Kuwait’s consumer sector grew the fastest among overall imports. 

NBK estimated the country’s trade balance will shrink further in 2014 but stated that it will still remain substantial. 

Read more here:

Will Kuwait dig deep to realise energy potential?
By James King
April 1, 2014

Kuwait’s recently appointed minister of oil, Ali Saleh al-Omair, has assumed office at a challenging time for the country’s hydrocarbons sector. Tasked with meeting ambitious medium- and long-term production targets for both oil and gas, his ministry is working closely with state-owned energy company Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) on a strategy designed to revitalise the country’s energy industry by 2030. These targets include increasing oil production capacity from the current 3.25 million barrels per day (bpd) to 4 million bpd by as early as 2020, with gas production set to increase from about 1.4 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day to 3bcf by 2030.

Yet the country faces significant obstacles in achieving these ambitions, both politically and technologically. While Kuwait’s long history of oil exploration and production has generated an extensive energy infrastructure, much of it is geared towards the extraction and processing of conventional oil. Similarly, regulations surrounding foreign investment, coupled with a fractious political environment, have stalled a number of key development projects. Addressing these concerns will be paramount if the country is to meet its longer term national and energy development objectives.

In terms of oil, Kuwait’s energy potential is vast. It holds proven reserves of 101.5 billion barrels, according to the 2013 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, or about 6% of the world total. This figure excludes additional reserves of about 5 billion barrels held in the Partitioned Neutral Zone, a contested territory, jointly operated with Saudi Arabia. Roughly half of Kuwait’s current production comes from the super-giant Greater Burgan field, the second largest onshore oil reservoir in the world.

Read more here: