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Zain – Not Really...


* I took these photos in a hazardous situation since Zain/MTC security came up to me and told me I can’t take pictures of the building from a public road. I wasn’t aware that Zain/MTC is a state secret and you can’t take pictures of the building.

I have been building this up since I’m getting more annoyed with MTC after each and every conversation I have on my cell phone. The company has grown to a multi-national company, they have expanded to many countries across the globe and they are competing with the largest communication carriers. The one thing I don’t understand is why is the cell phone service in Kuwait so bad, and getting worse.

They have increased costs over the past two years for text messages, and they bill you for everything possible. The number of dropped calls with MTC has increased exponentially over the past few years, and the quality of service has been deteriorating. When my phone “supposedly” has full signal it disconnects in the middle of a phone call or it says network busy and my phone call can not go through. Previously that never happened, but now it is happening constantly that my call doesn’t go through. I don’t blame the technical people working at MTC/Zain, I blame the management for not improving the quality of service. They are able to provide more services but they aren’t able to maintain the quality of service. Look at the e-Go, its an inovative product that they rushed to market and so the quality of service is really bad. High speed internet is not meant to be at a snails pace, if you see Verizon or Sprint products the speeds are nothing short of phenominal and it does feel like high speed internet. Even Wataniya’s product is doing better then Zain’s, and Wataniya does have its short comings as well.

Zain is so busy expanding that they have forgotten the local market, and I can understand about globalizing the company under one brand but they should concentrate on the customer. I don’t know what they were thinking or who recommended the logo to them, the name is fine, I think its simple and easy to remember. The colors are something else, who ever put the colors together must have been on LSD at the time and he must’ve been happy with the results. Its annoying and it feels wrong mixing green, purple, and black together to make the logo. I do think they could have done a worse job but this is pretty close to the worst job for the logo. Due to changing all the details from MTC to Zain they have been running around for the past two months making sure its a complete switch over.

I wonder when they will improve their services and we don’t get billed a huge amount of bad quality service. At this rate it doesn’t look like there will be improvements anytime soon.

Small Businesses in Kuwait...


Entrepreneurs in Kuwait have a difficult time getting themselves up and off the ground because of all the rules they make you jump through. There is no incentives for business in Kuwait to start something new, or for someone young to get some help in businesses in Kuwait.

Previously there was an incentive program but then the people in charge took advantage of them, instead of helping people who really want to get things up and going they would help their friends and process their stuff before.

The Baladiya (Municipality) is the worst, they chase after you to try to fine you at every point and when you ask them for the rules that you have to follow when setting up they really don’t help you at all. There is no grace period or warning to get something fixed, there are some gross violations such pollution but if they know the guy they would let it go. It is really frustrating seeing this, and when you are genuinely trying to do something good they hinder you and try not to help you, its frustrating.

I wish there were clear guidelines but you really are on your own in Kuwait and you have to trip to get back up, there really isn’t anyone who can help you out to get things up and going.

Sign Costs in Kuwait...


Just one of things that I have come along over the past couple of weeks, and it was something I was previously unaware of. When your making a sign for your business you are given a certain amount of area by the municipality (baladiya). What I didn’t know is that they measure it and you have to pay for it by the sq. meter and you pay for it yearly. You are charged 15 KD per square meter, and the amount you use is charged yearly.

Tricks to know:

  • If you have a 5 meter by 10 meter that would be 50 sq. meters you would be charged 750 KD yearly.
    • That is if you write across the whole sign, but you should know that.
  • If you just put grey panels across the sign post to clean it up, and write only 1/4 of the sign post then you would only be charged for the amount of writing, not the plain panels across the sign.
  • So if 50 sq. meters were cover with the grey panels and only writing on 13 sq. meters then you only pay for the 13 sq. meters. So you only pay 195 KD yearly instead of 750 KD.

Just some tips as I am stumbling through the loops in Kuwait.

Shadow Shopper...


Usually when you go to banks the service is pretty good at the teller, or they are a bit clueless but they are usually friendly. I was wondering what kind of training they receive or what process they go through. I have been recently enlightened of a process or procedure some of the banks go through to check on employees. What this person does is to go through different steps with one teller and they note everything that person does as well as what the person is wearing, and then they go to another branch and try something else. Its a matter of checking for quality assurance and keeping their employees on their toes since they don’t when it is going to take place and it could be anyone walking in.

I wish other companies that dealt with consumers did this type of live employee review, to keep them on their toes and to have a real report of their actions. Then vehicle dealerships can see the abysmal treatment of customers.

Business Plan Basics – 101...


Recently I have been working on business plans, and I did them a few times before, after some trial and a lot of error I decided to give my best basic overview of how to put a basic business plan together and why it would be useful.

That main purpose of business plan is gather all your ideas in one place and communicating it to another person, so the best thing is to think about it as dialog, you want to answer every possible question that person may have, be thurough and don’t just try filling it up.

Everybody has all the details to a business plan in their heads but they don’t put it all down on paper:

  • What the company is going to do?
  • What problem is it going to solve?
  • How big is the market?
  • What are the sources of revenue?
  • What is your exit strategy for your investors?
  • What amount of money is required?
  • How are you going to market it?
  • What kind of people do you need?
  • What are the marketing risks?
  • What are the technology risks?
  • What are the execution risks?

Have somebody else go over and critique it then fix the points you missed and keep on going over it. This is just a simple way of putting all your ideas and motivation down on a piece paper and communicate it to another person.

Business and more...


I’m always on the look out for business opportunities and how I can go about implementing the business. I’m currently working still working for two companies, one managing the details and the other completely involved in. What I am also looking into is services business in and out of Kuwait, in two different fields.

What you find is the difficulty is all the paperwork and bureaucracy that you have to go through. The permits and different contracts with all the details make it really difficult for a person to get everything up and running. In Kuwait they make it really difficult for a person to start a Small Business with no incentives to start up and even with financial companies there are no real benefits to go with them. In Kuwait if you want the paperwork done for any kind of permit you just pay 600 – 1200 KD for the permit you want to a “Permit Specialist” and he will finish everything up for you without any questions and its all legal. If you do it yourself you will be running around for months within the government departments and all the different branches. Once you get the hang of it you do know your way around, but overall it takes a lot of practice and patience.

One thing is for sure, I really do enjoy seeing young entrepreneurs working on their start-ups and they slowly become successful. Currently most young business entrepreneurs are opening restaurants, interior design, and architecture firms with certain goals they have in mind. A lot of obstacles to face in Kuwait when starting a business but there is a lot of potential in the market once you get over these hurdles.

Moving Stock...


I have noticed this in Kuwait, but a lot of business face this problem when they are trying to move old stock. The way good businesses think is how to get rid of old stock and when it is more useful to discount below cost.

The one thing you notice in Kuwait is that even if something is old they really don’t lower the price because they don’t want to lose a fils on the item. What they don’t take into account is the money they would make from having more stock of a faster or newer item which will make up for the lost. Its annoying when you go buy something old like a game and its still at 20-25KD when its selling for $40-50 online since its release. New sell for more then old and then is something they should take into consideration. That is the same for computer parts, most computer parts move quickly but sometimes there are those which stay for a bit. It applies in different areas but you notice they will always sell for a profit especially with electronics.

Chamber of Commerce...


There was an interesting presentation that was going on regarding a company going IPO, and since a family member was very much involved in it I decided to go. I have to say that I am not very well informed about financial details of companies, its a lot of numbers which requires digesting. I felt like an idiot, but after the presentation I understood more then when I went in which is a good thing. Now I have an idea of how companies go to IPO in Kuwait and what sort of information you need and what shape the company should be in to IPO in the market.


Credit Card Usage in Kuwait...


I hope this would be some useful information to people.

Most people in Kuwait do not use credit, and have never had credit cards. In the middle east most transactions are done with cash one way or another. Loans might be taken for vehicles or other large purchases, but what Im talking about is regular purchases.

In Kuwait if you pay by credit card most places will add a minimum of 3% to your purchase. And even if you pay with a check card(KNET) they might still include a 1% charge to what your paying. I have run into this problem at electronic stores, cell phone stores, travel agencies, and even computer stores at Wala’a complex. I got used to the idea of using my credit card, and paying for the purchase later for the sake of building credit.

The problem we face is simple there is no real consumer rights in Kuwait, the people selling you items can do as they please and they are rarely held accountable. But charging you the percentage for the Knet or credit card charges is ILLEGAL in Kuwait. I spoke to my bank manager about it at NBK, and she told me that if a company is doing that and they have an account with NBK and NBK found out then they will suspend their account until further notice. NBK wants people to report to them if a company is doing that because its something very wrong.

The hard part of going about this is finding out which bank the store has an account with. So you have to contact that bank and tell them what the store is doing. This issue has been pissing me off for the past couple of months. And there are no consumer rights laws clearly written to protect the consumer! Its always about big business, and the ones that do take care of the consumer (which are rare) are the ones that benefit.

Enron Guilty!...

Jeff Skillings found guilty of Fraud and Conspiracy.

Ken Lay found guilty of all six counts. Former Chairmen and CEO of Enron.
Its fantastic! At last justice! After a long four year case they have been found successfuly guilty. This was the biggest white collar case, and the most difficult with the best defense funding. 60 Billion in Market Value lost since Dec of 2001 from Enron, and 5600 jobs lost.

This is a bit personel for me because Enron is what cause the Energy shortage in California! There was no real energy shortage they just caused it and I lived through it.

They are expecting long prison terms for both men. Ken Lay could be in jail for at least 45 years, and Jeff Skilling could also face many years in jail. The terms are still being put together, but this is probably the best win I have seen in a court!

This still isnt enough to compensate for the people that lost so much of their lives, but at least this one part has come to conclusion.

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