Kuwaiti blogger sued… for a review…

I just had to mention this. Someone by the name of “Mudeer” posted on the iLoveQatar.net forums and I just had to bring this to the Qatari blogging community. See original post here.

The Kuwaiti blog is actually run by a couple Mark and Nat. Two Lebanese expats living in Kuwait. 2:48AM (I wonder what the history behind the name is) is quite a fun blog to read. It’s well written and (like this blog), aims at being fair and well balanced.

Let’s cut to the chase shall we? Mark visited a brand new restaurant that opened up in Kuwait called Benihana (a popular international franchise). They’re quite famous for doing fancy tricks while cooking the food in front of you. Here’s a video posted by Mark that shows you the experience:

I actually laughed when I watched this! He’s just banging his fork on the table. That’s not entertaining… that’s called ‘giving someone a headache!’.

Now the company that runs Benihana has dug themselves a deep hole (the irony being that the owner must be another form of a ‘hole’ to have done that). Who wants to go to a restaurant that’s publicly saying, “Eat our crap and like it!”. They even went as far posting ‘positive’ comments on this guys blog AND they deleted all comments posted on their facebook page. It looks like all they want to do is silence the public…

This case is going to set precedence in the GCC not only in Kuwait. As we all know, it only takes one GCC country to do something and the rest follow suit…

Good luck 248AM!

Planning on opening an account with QNB? Read my story.

First of all let me say that there are people in QNB that I adore. I think that they are amazing people, but I only wish that the whole organization acted the way that they do. There’s no way I’m keeping this bottled in. Qatar National Bank is a STUPID bank. Now I’ve ALREADY got an account with them, but every time I wanted to check if transfers were made, I had to drive to a branch, wait in a que, then ask for a print out. Why? Because they don’t give you internet banking by default, you have to apply for it, and at the time of joining them they didn’t TELL me that I had to apply for it.

So I finally decided that I was going to get online banking. I stepped into a bank and asked for the service. The man behind the counter told me that I could just register online at home. “Are you sure?”, I asked. “Yes of course”, he replied. So I went home and tried to register. [Please enter your atm number]. I don’t have an ATM card for my companies account… So I finally decide to go back to the bank again and explain the lovely situation I was in. The fun begins. Read the rest of this entry »

The last straw with Zig Zag

I’ve had it. I’m going to sue Al Dar and ecovert and I’m going to sort out a petition

1) 1 and a half years later and they STILL haven’t paid me my penalty (for being 1 year late with handover). They keep lieing and saying ‘Oh the Sheikh is away, he’ll sign the cheques next week’. I wonder if the ‘Sheikh’ knows that Al Dar is making him look like a dishonest person. (I’m sure he’d be very upset that this is happening.)

2) 1 and a half years later and they STILL have the building falling apart, fixing cracks, dull marble, leaks, broken elevator.

3) They gave the services and maintanence contract to a company called ecovert. I didn’t vote for them. MY contract states that the tenants association would be responsible for voting for the company that takes over from Dar 1 year after hand over. I didn’t vote for ecovert. In FACT I’ve spoken to around 19 tenants who all said they didn’t either.

I don’t want ecovert. Their security guards SUCK, useless and RUDE. They don’t fix ANYTHING. Only good for digging holes in the underground parking and wasting water EVERYDAY since they have a burst pipe or something for the past 3 months. (Where’s the government inspections?)

All ecovert has done for us is paint the swimming pool area in vomit colour peach and put up a few cheap carrefour chairs.

4) The alarms go off DAILY. You’re telling me that it takes over a year to fix the damn problem? Their excuse to me was ‘There are indians living in the building that cook with fire’. Ok let’s say that’s true, you’re telling me that they’re cooking with fire at 3am in the morning? You’re telling me you can’t stop them or kick them out for health and safety risks?

5) The gym is pathetic and unhygenic. The equipment looks 10 years old, there’s no sheet that mentions when and who has cleaned the area. It’s also tiny! in fact! Ecovert has gone and taken TWO large offices right opposite of the gym that’s FOUR TIMES bigger than the gym.

6) My apartment still has issues which they keep on delaying or simply don’t take care of. (My main door looks like it’s covered in oil, marble is cracked, wall is cracking, hallway marble is dull, toilet pipes don’t flush well in one bathroom, oh and get this, my apartment has three television satellite ports, they installed a two way splitter so one room doesn’t have access to satellite!!

7) NOW FOR THE BIG ONE. Ecovert is so busy trying to make MORE money rather than fix the damn problem with the service fee that they got (By the way 1% of value of property. So avg of 1m propert X .1 X 750 = 7.5 million riyals a year). They have gym instructors (CLEAN THE GYM!), they have swimming instructors (GIVE US SOME DAMN POOL SIDE EQUIPMENT), they even tried to impose a rule that people can’t invite guests and have a ‘party’ without their permission (yeah right), and they even gave space to QTEL to open up a booth and put up roll-ups!!

BUT that’s not what I’m getting to! Now they’re covering up the Zig Zag with a giant advert! Yes! The one thing that was nice about the Zig Zag was the VIEW. Now they’re blocking it? They didn’t ask me if they could do it. I don’t want my window covered with a semi transparent vinyl coating. As soon as they do, I’ve going to open the window and rip it off.

I’m going to fight to get my penalty fee. I’m going to get rid of ecovert. They’ve messed with the wrong Qatari. Who’s with me?

Note: this is a note someone posted on the floors. At least there is someone else in the building with opinions and a brain.

(Sorry for the rant guys but I’m furious)

2010 and Zig Zag towers still aren’t finished.

You know, sometimes I just don’t understand why there isn’t much thought or heart that goes into projects, especially multi-million dollar projects. Let’s look at the Zig Zag tower. I own 4 apartments in this project. Why did I invest? For a few reasons. I loved the design. It’s a unique building (the world’s tallest leaning residential structure), the views were beautiful, and the location was perfect (close to westbay and the pearl, but out of the way of traffic). Sadly it seems as though that’s the only reason to like it.

We’re now in 2010 and I’m still waiting on it to be finished. I’m going to list a few things that piss me off.

1) The garbage chute room is disgusting. I had to complain directly to Dar because some workers kept using it as a toilet and pissing on the floor! Why the hell would they piss on the floor?! It was cleaned but its filthy again and to be honest, even if it was clean, it still looks ugly. (Cement floor, peeling walls, dents in the metal chute).

2) The underground parking looks like a war zone! There are leaks all over the place, it’s dirty, there’s garbage on the floors, cracks all over, holes in the floor, the parking spaces are cramped, and three out of the four entrances are STILL closed….

3) They made us PAY for a parking spot. Does that make sense? The government should have FORCED them to give us one. The parking spots were 50,000 QR, it’s not like someone would own a place (or even rent) and not have a car in Qatar.

4) I’m still waiting for them to finish fixing issues with one of the apartments.

5) The building gym is smaller than my living room. The equipment is old and useless. It’s not a gym, more like a locker room!

6) I’m tired of smelling the neighbours food through the vents.

7) The quality of fixtures and tiles is poor. The marble floor is made of the cheapest marble money can buy.

8) The hallways look like a 20 year old hospital’s hallway.

9) The damn fire alarms go off 2 times a day for no reason! (Dar says “There’s an apartment with 12 indians living in it and they cook with fire”) What?! It’s against the law to have so many people in there and I DOUBT they’re cooking 24 hours a day!

10) Two to three elevators are always down for maintanence. TWO of them had a sign saying “Down for maintanence due to water leakage on electricity” FOR TWO MONTHS NOW! (It’s also scary that there’s water leaking into the electricity of the elevator.

11) The elevators were advertised as ‘high speed elevators’. They ‘were’ fast… now it looks like they’ve turned down the speed because it’s sooooo slow….

I ended up renovating my apartments so that they’d be at the level I had expected them to be.

Now there’s a few things to talk about besides what I mentioned.

1) Shouldn’t the government get involved to make sure this project is perfect? Why you may ask? Well if this is the first major residential project, if it’s a peice of crap, then won’t investors lose confidence in the quality of other projects?

2) Doesn’t the owner of the project care? If MY name was on it, I’d like people to know they can trust me; I’d like people to know that MY projects were all about quality.

3) Does the company that owns the project REALLY need to cut corners? I feel like the tower is already 10 years old!

I can go on and on… I’ll save my breath for later…

I’ll end this with saying that Zig means ‘to poo’ in Arabic. Zag means ‘Poo’ed’ in arabic. I’ll leave you to think of another word for Zig Zag.

Tekken 6 is out in Qatar! – Sorry, it sucks :(

I’m very disappointed people… I work almost from the morning ’til night almost every day. It’s been very tiring -_-; However the day started with an awesome text message from my cousin. “Tekken 6 is out now! They released it early in Qatar before the rest of the world.”.

No way, I thought, Qatar… first…? I’m not complaining! So I rushed off to the store after work and bought it for 240 QR. Got home and was ready to play as my favourite Character Lei Wulong. My heart was torn out… they ruined the game… this is the SIXTH installment and they ruined it….

Now I’m a Street Fighter and Tekken Fan. When Tekken 5 came out they had already changed Lei’s moves a bit but I adapted easily, but with Tekken 6 they’ve near changed him into a completely different character. Circle, X then hold up used to do three triple acrobatic kicks in a row, now it’s Front, Circle, X, then keep tapping circle for example.

1) I don’t like the new menu
2) Most characters speeds have been changed (Lee is slower, Lei is slower, Bruce is faster, Gun Jack is TOO fast etc…)
3) Lei’s moves have changed! The essential buttons are no more… meaning I have to learn new combos
4) Theres a stupid new ‘Rage’ bar, that makes you stronger when you’re life is low meaning that a beginner can end up getting smashed, get rage, and then kill you…
5) Lei doesn’t kick people up high anymore for a combo unless you change your ground stance, which takes too long.
6) There are too many juggles
7) Seems like the only playable character is a Fat guy named Bob that moves faster than a ninja….
8) A stupid new character who’s head is a bomb, has jetpack wings, can shoot off her arms, and also eject a chainsaw…
9) The distance between characters is unmeasurable… you get hit even though the opponent doesn’t touch you ‘physically’….

I know I know, I usually talk about some important stuff… but this got to me… I hardly play games anymore but this was supposed to bring back memories :(

Qtel’s Mobile Broadband… is crap.

I’m on the phone right now.  Oh it’s alright I’m on hold again. I’ve been calling Qtel so that I can get them to sort out my Mobile Broadband.

Here’s a riddle, when is mobile broadband, not mobile broadband? Think about that one for a while. I waited on the phone for 15 minutes (my times are not exaggerated) until someone answered the phone. When I did get an answer, I explained that I was paying 400 QR for the unlimited package and had only downloaded around 6gb (in almost a month) and my internet speed was down to 800bytes (yes! 800 super fast bytes!). I was supposed to be getting 3g speeds 3.2mps. I wasn’t.

I couldn’t even stay connected to messenger without it disconnecting every few moments. I couldn’t even upload an image to change something on the website because it was taking so long.

So the guy tells me that he checked the system and everything is fine. What IS this ‘system’? QTel always talks about the ‘system’ like it’s some super omnipotent being…. “I don’t care what the system says, I’m telling you that it’s taking me 10 minutes to load up google.”. Alright sir, can you please check www.speedtest.qa ? (Qtel obviously thought ‘hey let’s set up a speedtest.net server and brand it). I did, it was telling me that my internet speed was 1mbit. NO FREAKING WAY. So I explain that it doesn’t make sense to test a server in Qatar, how many websites are in Qatar? Unless I’m going to be surfing Qtel.com.qa every day, it’s useless! I also found it strange that when I’m on the phone with the guy it gives me good speeds.

The guy explains that he can’t help me and that he’ll connect me to a technician. While on hold (for 10 minutes), I decide to re-run the speedtest. Guess what? 560ms ping and .08mpbs. Oh that’s more honest now. The phone is finally answered. It took me almost 10 minutes of repeating to explain to him that he’s reading me the manual for windows and that I was on a mac. Yep if you thought these guys were thinking, you’re wrong, they just flip to Chapter 9 “How to answer a question without knowing what’s going on.” and read it.

So the guy then tells me that I should try flipping to 2G. I don’t know how 2G is going to be faster than 3G but maybe he wants to test if it’s a 3G thing. Nope. Doesn’t work. So on minute 59 he tells me that today’s friday and that the network is being hammered. Wait what…? I ask him if every Friday was going to be like this and his response? “Was it like this last Friday”. I actually almost laughed a bit because his sarky response (I like sarcasm). “Alright, well I dont want to call back tomorrow and he says “it’s Saturday” and I call on Monday and he says “It’s September”.” So I ask the guy to put a note on the system so I don’t have to go over all of this again and again.

Problem? Solved? Nope. Just wasted an hour. Not like I have a life or anything right?

How long did my phone call last? 1 hour and 34 seconds.

The QNB Story

73910-QNB_new_logoSo let me start this off by saying that I worked with a great team. I worked for a subsidiary of QNB. Independent (to an extent), challenging, and did I mention that there were great people to work with?

My issue is probably with the bank itself in ‘essence’. I cannot find fault with most people (note I said most). However since joining, there was always the feeling of confusion, no not from my end, but from QNB itself. Nobody really knew what they were doing completely; I talk about the people I interacted with of course and this post is only meant to highlight my experience.

What made the experience a bit sad was that QNB actually treated staff worse than customers. Now if the level of service given to customers is quite low, you can only imagine what staff get. No special rates, hardly any exceptions, processes are a bit more difficult and you have to pick up your account debit card 4 months after you apply in a leaky toilet under head office. Alright so I made the last one up, but that’s how it feels.

After quitting, I decided to take the professional route and stay a month in order to take care of the work left over and to ensure that the projects (and clients) that I had on my plate were completed and/or handed over professionally; after all, that is the right thing to do. Many Qataris simply leave the next day, but oh no, I had to let morals get in the way. It was a foolish mistake.

I had left to Japan when I had the lovely surprise of seeing that my cards were canceled. Yep, I had a month left, went on leave for a few days only to find that I couldn’t use my cards half way through. After returning to Qatar, I saw that I couldn’t use any of my cards! Calling up customer service was of no help because they simply said they didn’t know what the problem was.

So I waited a bit over a week and then finally decided that I didn’t want to have my money in a hidden account and went off to the main branch to set up a new account. They gave me a few papers to sign, signed them, and left with the card. Not bad, I get a debit card on the spot. The next few days didn’t go on too well since it took a while for it to link up to my online banking. It was a hassle, I had to create a new account and transfer funds, but it was over and done with. The end of the month came and my team gave me a nice lunch to say goodbye. That’s pretty nice.

Last pay and I’m out of there. Nope. No pay. Yep no pay for me. QNB didn’t put me on the pay roll. They told me that they would pay my salary 21 days after I quit. Wait what?! I have a mortgage to pay… I worked for a whole month for what? To get paid two months later? I tried called the AGM since he was a friend but he was on vacation for 3 weeks.

So I send off an email to a person I considered a friend at HR and ask him to please ‘help a brutha out man!’ He was always friendly to me, and in fact, he told me to call on him if I ever needed help. I explained the situation and got an reply “Isn’t this your signature”, with an attachment to an account cancellation form. The form was dated the 19th! They canceled my account BEFORE I signed that form. I was GIVEN that form when I created a new account! Plus canceling my original account is against policy! It should have been converted to a customer account… Guess they follow policy when it suits them.

I explained that to him and he cced in someone saying “please follow up”. Nice…. thanks Qatari bro. You really helped me out there. //end sarcasm. So the guy (who also works in QNB HR) goes an reactivates my old account… no I don’t want my old account reactivated… Just send my salary to the new one… No he can’t do that… So Saturday comes a long and I get a text that my account is 10+k overdrawn. What? Wasn’t my account reactivated so that I could get my salary and now I’m overdrawn?

The geniuses reactivated an empty account which automatically charged me an ‘empty account’ fee, then charged me some sort of interest, and then pulled out the mortgage. To make matters worse, the mortgage statement didn’t even reflect that! What the hell?!

So the office manager sends an email to HR on my behalf asking them to please sort this out. What does she get as a reply? “It’s a customer account now so it’s not our business. Let him go to main branch.”. What the F~~~~~ I don’t even want to waste a badword on them.

So now I have to go BACK to the main branch, get them to waive these fees and sort crap out. How nice of them! Who wants to bet I’ll be speaking to someone who either a) doesn’t care or b) ‘can’t do anything because it’s out of his hands’.

Moral? Sometimes you just can’t be too nice…  *sighs* No regrets from leaving a bank that couldn’t at least show me an inch of compassion. I guess I stayed as long as I did because of a few reasons, the CEO was an interesting person, one of the GM’s was a supporting individual, and I met some amazing staff at the bank. It’s thanks to them that I cannot say that all my time was a waste.

Note: Let there be no misunderstanding. My time in my line of work was great. I learned from my team, I managed to work on fantastic and amazingly huge transactions, and I was able to get a new understanding for the way the banking ‘game’ is played, it’s just that I wish things went a bit easier. We return to that classic sentence which is meant to be words of support but often get considered words of despair “Life’s not easy”.

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.