Enjoy world travel with Waterloo Hydrogeologic software trainer: Jacob George

First stop: Kuwait

Wait, Kuwait?

“So, where are you headed next?” is the most common question I’m asked when I tell people I’m a traveling Training and Implementation Specialist. It’s a question I love answering because most of the time my response draws a unique reaction. Recently, when I said my next stop was “Kuwait” – I got a series of interesting comments and questions about Kuwait’s history and culture. Looking back, I realize that I really didn’t know a lot about the place I was about to visit, and I was in for a surprise!

Where is Kuwait?!

I grew up in the Middle East, so I was very excited to visit the region through this training opportunity with the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research. Kuwait, a moderate conservative Muslim country, is culturally very different from Oman; the moderate progressive Muslim country where I grew up. However, some things, like food and local culture, seems to have remained constant regardless of the location. Kuwait definitely does not boast tourism as being one of their fortes, but when you dive into the city streets you really get a sense of the history and culture within this small country. Since the entire country sits on a sea of oil reservoirs, so it’s no surprise that the oil industry is their main focus, and the city is designed to accommodate this ruling industry. Hotels are filled with rig crew members and most of the expats you meet on the street are in the oil industry in some way. Once you get around the city and engage with the locals, you really get a feel for the tourist hot spots and local eatery options.

Getting to Kuwait:

As I mentioned earlier, Kuwait City isn’t really a tourist hot-spot and therefore, the international airport isn’t really a well-connected hub. Most routes fly through Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, or Riyadh. I was lucky enough to fly on one of Emirates’ A380 routed through Dubai. I was excited to fly on the A380 for the first time, but my excitement that was short-lived when I realized that getting sleep on such a large long-haul flight is challenging.

Where to Stay:

I wanted to be close to our client, so I decided to stay at the Free Trade Zone Mövenpick hotel and I’m glad I did. With a chain of hotels in the Middle East and Europe, Mövenpick has a reputation in excellence and quality service. Boasting 4 top-rated restaurants within the hotel, the quality of the food is beyond expectation. Their complimentary breakfast buffet is a great mix of local Arabic and continental food with treats like made-to-order omelets, freshly baked bread, and flavorful hummus. For dinner, I had the choice between Brazilian, Italian, Continental, or traditional Arabic cuisines; without hesitation I stuck to the local choice. Their Arabic restaurant has great middle-eastern styled tents for dinner or a huqqa meet-up that remain open till 12:00 AM! If we were to go back, I’d definitely choose Mövenpick again.

What did you do in Kuwait?!

Old Kuwaiti Souq Market

I visited the souq (Arabic for market) in Kuwait City. It is the best way to immerse yourself into the local culture, especially if you have never been to a souq before. I’ve seen larger and more vibrant souqs in the Middle East, but this souq is really the heart of this city. It’s filled with spices, local food, arts, and fabrics. Despite being a modernized souq on the outside, the inside is a lively spot where locals spend their evenings. Haggling with vendors is a norm and the smells of shawarma, kebabs, and freshly baked kaboose fill the brisk evening air.

Marina World

For an evening close to the water, the Marina is definitely the most happening place to be. It’s more of a one-stop shop deal with one of the biggest malls in the city located across the street, and all the restaurants are at the marina. Ideally set for a night of shopping, dinner, and a night-cap at Starbucks. The view from the Marina is spectacular and city skyline reflects off the surface of the Persian Gulf.

Getting Around:

Getting around Kuwait City is tricky. As I said, the city isn’t really catered towards tourists and the taxis are hard to find unless you are in popular spot. Uber is non-existent as well so you won’t have any luck getting one through a few touches on your phone. Hotels are pretty good about calling you a taxi, but make sure to fix the price before you get in.

See you next time from Prince George, British Columbia – Canada!


 

Our Kuwait training project:

We had the great opportunity of collaborating with Schlumberger S.O. and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on this training project for our proprietary software, Visual MODFLOW Flex 4.0 and AquiferTest 2016.1. What I loved most about this training course were the diverse minds that were present. Our attendees included current graduate students, government engineers, environmental scientists, and groundwater modeling consultants. We conducted a 3-day Visual MODFLOW Flex course followed by a 1-day AquiferTest course to address the various aspects of groundwater studies being done in Kuwait, and KISR were exceptional hosts of this entire event.

Most of the knowledge and tools from our course will be applied towards the aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) system technology in the country. Kuwait was one of the pioneers in ASR systems back in the ’70s and it’s great to see our software used the pave the way in advancing the technology to the next level.


About our trainer
Jacob George, B.Sc. with a Hydrogeology Specialization is the Training Specialist at Water Hydrogeologic. He has multiple years of experience at various technical roles within the groundwater industry and has a published thesis, “Hydrograph Calibration for an Urban Hydrological Surface & Subsurface Model of Laurel Creek Watershed using HydroGeoSphere”. Jacob has instructed various lectures and seminars, and conducted multiple workshops in Visual MODFLOW, AquiferTest, AquaChem and Hydro GeoAnalyst for Waterloo Hydrogeologic. Jacob’s mix of practical problem solving skills and subsurface modeling expertise enables the delivery of cost-effective solutions to complex problems.