Mark Gillett

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Posts Tagged ‘Kuwait

2012 And The Year Ahead…..

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I just came down my stairs this morning full of thoughts about the last year, people I had met and places I had been to.. I wrote to the closest person in my life all these fleeting thoughts to share them… And then I thought I would share a few here…

I have been so lucky for so long even if not always realising it. But one thing I hold dear is the the world we live and the people who make up that world.. In all my travels these last years I have met the most fantastic people in so many parts of the world. This morning I woke to an email form Friends in Yellowstone, a text from the top of Jebel Shams in Oman, a reply about a project in Kampala from a great friend in the US, a message from Madrid where a friend is realising her business dreams and last night I spent time on the phone to AK to sort some of my next project detail with a guy who really has become a great friend too….. Scott.

The last year has seen so many good projects happen but more important are the many relationships I have built along the way.. From the Yukon to the Sahara, Kuwait and Madrid to Cairo and Oman. I met up with my old friend of 28 years ago, Bob Brinker and his wife with a surprise party in Munich.. And I travelled back to another party in Paris of someone very special too…

The above video is just a snap shot of the year we have had making short films.. I have coached a few people around the world too and its been so good to watch their success along the way.. All with so much hard work attached and not always an easy road..

2013 will be another year of coaching and filming projects.. Some carrying on from 2012, some new. But this time next year you will see a different showreel. One that will see our first full length productions come to fruition. One that looks into the lives of some very special people in this world…

I would like to wish everyone who reads my blog, everyone I know or have come into contact with, a great Christmas and a beautiful 2013 and I would like to thank everyone who has worked these projects with me, put up with my grumpy 50 year old bits and given me huge smiles.. In order of projects, Tom, Ariel, Scott, Emily, Rob, Romain, Maite, Brett, Tracey, Becky, Angela, Chloe, Tez, Ines, Teresa, Alfonso, Jaime, All those at Street Child in Seirra Leone and to everyone who has allowed us to film, employed us, been a part of those projects or just simply bumped into us annoying everyone with GoPro’s and DSLR’s… And of course my daughter Emily for letting me be me!

A few more vids are here

Large Format Wall Prints

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Well, I have finally put together a gallery of images that would look good on your living room, bedroom or office wall…  All the prints are available at any size and normally will arrive unframed so you can custom buy to suite your home. The two galleries I have begun with are a general and one specifically of Paris. Email me to get a price.

Go here to view –

And here –

Select and send me the form email with any questions or orders….

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January 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

EyeforLife 2012 – Kuwait

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We have a new EyeforLife coming up in January from 19th to 21st… Contact me for details or go to and book now

New course, new material and all very exciting.

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January 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

Back in a studio……

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It was great to be back in a studio yesterday even if only for 15 mins with a crazy bunch! A few Christmas shoots coming, I think….


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November 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Eye For Life

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Well, I have just completed another EyeforLife and it was a great pleasure to meet so many new photographers… Also the workshop at the Kuwait Journalist Association was brilliant too.

View the images on Facebook and checkout our new vid with some info on me!









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November 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

RT @markgillett538: RT @Aymstrong: Eye F

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RT @markgillett538: RT @Aymstrong: Eye For Life Video about Mark Gillett (@markgillett538) is uploaded. Check it out

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November 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm

“You taught me to find things others could not see”

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This is a quote from a student I recently wrote to complimenting his photography. I did not send him the email looking for this reply, I sent it because I noticed. I noticed how good this young man was becoming as a photographer. I wrote it because I thought he should know. Read the rest of this entry »

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September 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

More on Freedom

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I was in an interesting thread the other day and the topic moved to freedom. Or perceived freedom.

The protests in Kuwait were at the centre of the topic and I just mentioned how I felt the freedoms they had in Kuwait were greater than they believed and that the life in the West under ‘democracy’ was not as ‘clean and fresh’ as they believed.

The protests were peaceful and for their constitutional rights.

I would just like to point out than Read the rest of this entry »

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June 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

Eye For Life

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I have now been presenting the Eye for Life course for a year in Kuwait. It has been constantly developing and improving and the post on the AYMSTRONG blog sums up what its all about. Read it here and come back and trail through a few post on my blog…. Your “eye for life” is critical for your future…

The next Eye for Life courses are being planned for May. If you would like information, please contact me or Yousef at AYMSTRONG for details.


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March 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

Reconciling Kuwait

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Reconciling Kuwait.

I have changed names in the text.

I have now completed my 3 weeks that turned into 5 in Kuwait.  I find myself on the Qatar Airways flight out to London reflecting on the experience. Freddy asked me last night if I was sad to be leaving. I said no.

But I am not not sad because my time in Kuwait was one I regretted or did not like. Quite the opposite. However, I was so glad to be going home as the power of family is so great in my make up that nothing would be could be better than returning. <–more–>

The sadness I now find myself feeling on the flight is partly induced by the good red wine I had and partly by a good film. But also by the thoughts and memories I have from my time spent in this intriguing country.  The people I met and the values they hold. Values not dissimilar to mine but that seem to have eroded in my own society. Values based on family and faith. Read the rest of this entry »

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June 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Speaking at Australian College Kuwait

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I gave my first talk in Kuwait two days ago at the Australian College. What a beautiful place. The talk was well attended and it was one of the most enjoyable talks I have done. Great students and great place…..

I will post a video soon.

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May 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Living Free..

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Nut and sweet seller in Salmiya

My Laundry....

Being here in Kuwait has made me question so much about our freedoms and democracy in the west and how we all perceive freedom.

This morning I ran and as usual I thought much about my day. What I had to do  and when I would do it.  To blog was one of my tasks so I thought about continuing from the last one. I would walk to my office, Cafe Supremo, and take a few shots on the way. I would focus on people though.  In the end I didn’t take as many shots as I would have liked as I got a disturbing call so that took my focus for a while so I jumped in a cab.  I will shoot more later…

The Kuwait I have seen so far has been beautiful. The people are relaxed, happy, work hard, play hard and generally contented with life. There is certainly a multi-cultural society here too…

In UK we claim to have a multi cultural society but each of the cultures tend not to co-exist but rather set up their own communities in parts of the country or parts of a town. They then keep to themselves and rebuild their own little countries within the UK. Here it is different. Locals live next to Pakistanis who live next to Syrians who live near Lebanese and so on… I am sure there are pockets of cultures but it is certainly not so evident.

Freedom is another anomaly. We here of how the Middle East is not “free”, the things you can’t do but I have not found any of these here or any other Middle Eastern country I have visited. In Kuwait you can’t drink alcohol or openly be affectionate. Adultery is a crime and all the other crimes we know pretty much are the same here. I can’t kill another person or steal from them but as those are all things that I consider crimes too I cannot see that they hinder my freedom. In fact I feel more free here than at home.

In England there is police everywhere, CCTV cameras, your data is held by all authorities, we have huge taxes that we pay but have no idea where it goes other than straight out of a tank barrel or machine gun at 70k a pop in Afghanistan in order to secure better gas prices in the future. NI pays for what? A pension? Our health service is the largest employer in Europe and third in the world. For what? And as I found out more recently we have little rights over our children. We are beholden to a banking system that encourages a debt society in order to keep everyone working and under control and in general we are living with our hands tied. Thats my moan for the day…..

Kuwait has laws that protect people, no taxes as such, no or little CCTV and I can pretty much do what I wish as long as I do not offend other human beings. Business is good and flourishes and people seem to be very happy.

It is not without its issues. Obesity is a problem. Poor general health is a problem as fitness had not reached here until recently. There is an American fast food legacy here where if the packet says its healthy this tends to be believed…..I was asked recently “is Subway was healthy? It must be healthier that a Big Mac, surely? The advertising says it is”. My reply was that it was the equivalent of smoking light cigarettes instead of full strength……He was shocked.  This is not un-resovable and certainly not something that inhibits freedom, though, the original reason for this blog..

On my run, I started getting angry.  Cross with what we are led to believe by what we see on the news, what we read and what we are taught in school.  How we lead our lives without real personal responsibility but reliant on rules and laws that control and inhibit us. Rules here are more set by personal discipline. That of Islam as well as the legal system. But you are free to be non religious, not attend the mosque or lead your life as you wish but with personal responsibility.

One funny example I have seen here everyday is in the driving. Hugely funny, hugely scary at first but then quite ok once you see how it works – a bit like La Place de La Concorde or l’Arc de Triomphe roundabouts in Paris!. Each time I have taken a taxi or a lift from a friend I notice the roundabout discipline. At first I thought there was none….  Then, with a friend, having put my hands over my face, screeched inside and burst out laughing probably more from fear, I asked “Shaikh, whats the protocol on a roundabout?” His reply was curt and needed no clarification….. “first one goes!” And it really is.  If your headlights are in front its your right of way! I have now seen this many times.. I have seen no accidents and in the same time in Paris I would have witnessed a few!  In London there is no such disorder. But here is works. Drivers are careful and it reminded me of an experiment in Holland where in a town roads were paved and pedestrians and drivers had equal rights of way. Because of this, the drivers drove slowly and carefully. Sometimes at walking pace weaving in and out of the pedestrians who wandered from shop to shop. There were no accidents and it was proven to be very successful. The roundabout protocol is similar here in that you take more care and traffic just flows.

There is so much to say about Kuwait and I have more on this subject too. I like it here a lot and resent more the lack of freedoms we have in the UK. Paris first showed me this and Kuwait even more so. It provides a good income for many people. Its safe, you can sunbathe, swim, run, walk the streets, write, photograph without being harassed, go home and watch a good movie. It’s very family oriented and a fun place. It does not have places to get drunk and be abusive to fellow human beings and does not tolerate that either.  So what? You can “do and be” here very safely.

The images above are of a couple of places I visited on the way this morning before my call that distracted me. My laundry man and  a shop that sells nuts, coffee beans and sweets. The latter wanted to sell me two kilos of coffee beans and if I had such a machine I would have bought them. He was Egyptian and very kind. Both were very happy, chatted for a while and went on with their lives once I left.

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May 10, 2010 at 9:43 am

Kuwait City

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Most cities are full of contrasts. So are countries and Kuwait is no different..  Yesterday I strolled the streets and here is what I noticed……

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May 8, 2010 at 9:05 am


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Wandering back across Kuwait. Great light and the thought of a good steak tonight. Its amazing how you can pretty much walk “as the crow flies” without paths or roads! Love it.

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May 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Its the weekend!

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Its Friday which means its the weekend here in Kuwait.  I needed the day off, I needed to just think and write as the week has been so full on and I have not had the time to post properly, so here is todays……

I lazed around for a couple of hours this morning, tuned into to Radio 5 Live and listened to some jabbering about British tennis…  I have heard most of what was said so many times but really I wish them all luck. Cinically, I know its the next bunch who will be gone in around 4.5 years…

I then tuned into Radio 4 as I thought that as a British citizen I should know the results of the elections..  Not being a fan of politicians, I cringed at each of their spoken words, promises of how they would fix the economy. How the other party would fail us. All smelling of bull shit really and very sickening to hear most of the time. But I listened all the same because we do have that luxury of voting that so many countries still don’t have although I am also wary of a system so rife with hidden corruption and deals that I sometimes wonder what democracy actually means.

Anyway, I couldn’t listen for long. I was eager to get out and walk. Walk the city of Kuwait and explore a little. It is only 38 degrees today so not too bad and definitely walkable.  I needed to think of home and not work.  I have been Skyping home each day which is beautiful but not enough. I needed to give home some real time.

I also need to capture what is around me. Kuwait is a strangely beautiful city. It is old and new. Its dirty yet clean. Its full of character and yet can be boring if you do not open yours eyes…..  The contradictions here are what make it so interesting. My walk has taken a break…..

I am currently in a cafe that I walked to from my apartment. It took around an hour to get here (although I was told yesterday it was a 20 minute walk!) On the way I felt like I was in Baghdad, then India, then the Middle East, now I could be on the Champs Elysee. Well, almost. My cafe is very French, with Asian waiters and waitresses, a mix of strong French Culture with Asian mixed in. Its full of French, Arabic, English, Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanians. Opposite me on the other side of the highway is an old Kuwaiti building with a beautiful wind tower.  Looks a bit like a municipal building of some kind.  The streets are full of families, people shopping or returning from the mosque. Its beautiful. I just looked through my lens and its a supermarket!

I have now been here a week and I have so much to explore and find. The people are lovely and the culture is very different to what I expected.  I looked out of the window this morning and was surprised to see the beach filling up at around 0830 with families, water scooters and normal things you would find on any beach.

There are some very “not normal” things here too! One of my funniest moment this week was driving into the American Univeristy and parking yesterday. I was in shock for a few seconds. Surrey Univeristy near where I live in UK is full of 10 year old plus cars, VW’s, Skoda’s, old Land Rovers, Minis and so on.  This car park was like a display room for Hunters in Guildford or in Mayfair London.  I think the smallest car I saw was a GMC Yukon! C’est la vie! Student life in Kuwait looks good…..

Kuwait has it all.  Really just about everything.

I am off now to complete my journey for the day. I will post later with some images too….  Have a good weekend..

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May 7, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Leaders in Arts and Culture

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Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman... A masterpiece in architectural design.

I have travelled and worked in the MIddle East since 1983. First for a long period, then expeditions and now I find myself travelling back and forth to a region I love for many reasons. It has changed much since the 80’s and continues to change at an unbelievable rate and in a way that the World can learn so much from.

It has obviously been a region of much controversy for many years. Mention the Middle East and people think of Beirut wars, Palestinian conflicts, Israel and Gaza. Oil, OPEC, Sheikhs and and huge money. Most, though know very little about it. Yes, it produces much of the worlds oil and therefore has gained huge financial wealth but that is really a small part of this world

The wealth has undoubtedly helped with the progress but what is important is how the Middle East or Gulf states have dealt with wealth. For many countries money just encourages corruption and only a few get to gain from it. In so much of Africa there has been as much opportunity as there has been in the Middle East; Diamonds, gold, minerals and so on but the wealth is directed into a few pockets and the masses continue to suffer. Or it is directed out of the country by those who mine it….. Not here in the Gulf. The wealth has been used to educate the population, maintain a local business infrastructure that benefits the nationals and not sell out to corporates from abroad or allow them to remove most of the revenues out of the country. It invests cleverly in western business and property and then uses that to boost its revenues from oil and underpin its already healthy economy.

Where the middle East stands out now is the amount of energy and time being spent on arts and culture. I see it every day. I read about it frequently. The tourist boards are all driven to get people to understand the Middle Eastern heritage. Oman is surging forward. Abu Dhabi is on a mission to change and invest in its heritage. Dubai is Dubai! Its like the region has grown up, caught up and even over taken the world in many respects. There are universities everywhere. Schools, libraries, internet centres, book stores, museums and cultural centres, theatres and now Oman has its own Opera house nearing completion. The medical centres are so well equipped that it makes our National Health look like a dinosaur…..

I am here in Kuwait and it has got to me. Its people are lovely, its welcoming and fast developing in the same way. Arts culture and education are at the forefront of the development. Its safe, people are working hard, business has suffered like the rest of the world but they are rebuilding, working new strategies to get out of the crises. It is not unique and has not missed the recession by any means.

Having wealth is only important if you use it well and will only last if its nurtured and used to educate. If not it will be short lived. This region is showing up the rest of the world in so many ways…….It is also at the forefront of developing new technologies in renewable energies too.

Here is a report on Abu Dhabi and this stuff is happening everywhere here…

I will watch this region grow for many years. It has always interested me and I know I will travel here on and off for many years to come. And the call for prayer always makes me feel good too, I hear it right now…..

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May 3, 2010 at 10:01 am