By Ben Garcia

Is your laptop fan whirring? Or your desktop won't start? Are you struggling to get your phone charger to work? Our reliance on electronic devices has become near universal, but these devices don't always work, and when they stop, we are suddenly in urgent need of expert support.

In Hawally, an entire street is dedicated to shops for fixing computers, laptops and mobiles. Anyone driving along Ibn Khaldoun Street will find sign after sign advertising such services, and for those in need of technical expertise, this street is the first resort.

One such expert is Pakistani resident Mohammad 'Abid' Usman, known as the "Hinges Man". He specializes in fixing hinges of all kinds, from the type found on the back of photo frames to the hinges holding doors in their jambs. Abid, 53, started with a small kiosk - just a table and chair - and opened for business with a focus on hinge repair. Over time, he expanded from fixing doors, gates and lids to laptop hinges and other computer-related services.

Abid worked for Dell in Karachi before accepting a job in Kuwait. "I came to Kuwait in December 2006. When I came, I didn't have an employer or job waiting for me, so I stayed with my elder brother in Mangaf. After three days, I saw a mobile shop and offered my services to the shop owner. The owner immediately handed me seven mobile units, and I repaired them all. So he asked me to work in his shop. After working for a few days, I asked for payment, but the man wouldn't pay me. It was a waste of time working for him without a salary, so I moved to Jahra and found work at an electronics shop there," Abid told Kuwait Times.

After two years, he managed to set up his own shop in Lulwa Complex on Ibn Khaldoun Street (shop number 22). "One shop eventually led to a second and a third. But during the pandemic, I closed the other two shops, because I couldn't pay the rent without any income. I kept this shop because I need to work and feed my family," he said.

"This pandemic has taught us so many important lessons in life - everything we have is merely temporary. One day, it will disappear just like that," Abid said. "I was very lucky to save at least one shop. Some people working with me left for Pakistan. Others transferred to other businesses because I could no longer pay their salaries. From five people I am down to just one now - back to where I started."

During the height of his business, he was able to secure his children's future and purchase properties and a few businesses back home. Abid admits his business has not fully recovered, but believes his repair business will rise up again. "There were so many challenges in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. The closure of our business for around six months in 2020; the curfews and lockdowns affected us, as customer traffic reduced. But I can say that we are slowly recovering. Maybe when schools reopen, jobs and business will follow," he concluded.