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Kuwait

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The Regency Hotel Kuwait
The Regency Hotel Kuwait - dream vacation

PO Box 1139, Al Bida\'a, Al Tawoon Street, Salmiya

Ibis Kuwait Salmiya
Ibis Kuwait Salmiya - dream vacation

Area 71, Block 8 Salem Al Mubarak Street, Salmiya

Movenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida\'a
Movenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida\'a - dream vacation

Al Bidaa Kuwait Salmiya 22084 13008 Kuwait Kuwait, Salmiya

City Tower Hotel Dasman
City Tower Hotel Dasman - dream vacation

Block 4,Building 20 PO Box22067 Street142, Sharq- Kuwait, Kuwait City

Gulf Rose Hotel
Gulf Rose Hotel - dream vacation

Al Shamlan Masjid roundabout, El Shohadaa Street - Al Al Mirqab - Thawbaan Tower - block 1 - area 9 , Kuwait City

Kuwait (Arabic: الكويت) is a country in the Middle East. It is located at the head of the Persian Gulf, with Iraq to the north and west, and Saudi Arabia to the southwest.

Cities

There are 6 governorates in Kuwait, each of which has several areas in it. Most of Jahra, Ahmadi and Mubarak al-Kabeer are residential with no tourists' attractions.

  • Capital - is where Kuwait City, the capital is located.
  • Jahra - 30 minutes northwest of Kuwait City by car
  • Ahmadi- 30 minutes
  • Hawalli - the closest southern Suburb, about 10 minutes by car
  • Farwaniya - 20 minutes
  • Mubarak al-Kabeer - 25 minutes

Other destinations

  • Shuwaikh - 15 minutes south west of Kuwait city by car. Industrial area with a vast amount of shops, mostly specialising in household goods.
  • Dajeej - 20 minutes south of Kuwait city by car. Industrial area with a wide range of both modern and traditional shops (e.g. carpets, fabrics, household goods).
  • Salmiya - 10 minutes from Kuwait city. Commercial and residential area with a wide selection of malls, restaurants, entertainment areas, and the beach.
  • Rai - where the Avenues, the second biggest shopping mall in the Middle East, is located.

Understand

  • Population: 3,806,616 (June 2012 census), including about 2 million non-Kuwaitis
  • Ethnic groups consist of Kuwaiti 45%; other Arabs, 35%, among which Egyptians predominate; South Asian, 9%; Iranian, 4%; others, 7%
  • Religions: Kuwait ranks among the most liberal Gulf nations in terms of religion. While Islam is the official religion with fully 85% of the population practicing the Muslim faith (and those divided into Sunni 70%, Shia 30%), others including Christians, Hindu, Parsi, make up 15% of the population
  • Electrical current: 220 Volts a/c, plugs are either standard British, Europlugs (2 prong diamond-shaped) or German Schuko variety. Adapters are readily available
  • Emergency telephone number (police, fire, ambulance) 112
  • Airports: Kuwait International Airport (IATA: KWI), Latitude/Longitude: 29.240116 / 47.971252
  • Country is divided to Governorates, which are divided to areas, which are divided to blocks. Knowing the area and block is necessary, as the street numbers may be repeated across different blocks of the same areas. Area names are not repeated across the country, so it would be unusual if you mention the governorate after the area. See the Get around section.

History

The Kuwaitis trace their roots to the Al-Anisa and Al-Utub tribes from Nejd province, which is now in Saudi Arabia. They moved to Qatar and then to Al-Qurain, now in Kuwait, by around 1710. By 1752, the long term residents of Al-Qurain decided that they needed a central authority to tamp down tribal warfare in the area. The Al-Sabah tribe was chosen to rule, and the first Sheikh, Sabah ibn Jaber, reigned as Sabah I from 1752 to 1756. The Sabahs successfully mediated religious and tribal disputes with diplomacy. They also played the Ottomans, Egyptians and European powers against each other while maintaining their autonomy. In 1899, Mubarak I signed an agreement making Kuwait a British Protectorate, with the sheikhs maintaining local control while putting their foreign policy in the hands of the British, in exchange for military protection from other powers. The British had already had a presence in Kuwait for some time: in the 1770s, Abdullah I already had a contract with the British to deliver mail for them up to Aleppo, Syria.

In the 1920s and the 1930s, Kuwait's main product was pearls. However, income from the precious stones took a hit shortly thereafter, when the Japanese flooded the market with cultured pearls. In 1938, oil was first struck at the Burgan oil field in Kuwait, and by 1946, oil exports began. In 1961, Kuwait nullified the treaty of 1899, and became an independent nation.

Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led international coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that completely liberated Kuwait in four days; February 26 is celebrated as Liberation Day. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. It is currently ruled by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah after the death of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in January 2006.

Climate

Dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters. Natural hazards : sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April; they occasionally bring heavy rain which can, in some rare cases, damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August. Common temperatures range from 5°C in Dec/Jan to over 50°C from Jun to Aug.

Terrain

Flat to slightly undulating desert plain. Highest point: 306 meters above sea level, in the al Jahrah desert.

Culture

Get in

The nationals of 35 countries are eligible of visas on arrival at Kuwait's airport and land borders. The on-arrival visa is valid for a single entry of up to 3 months and costs KD 3, plus KD 3 for a "stamping" fee (visa and stamping fee not required for Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UK and US, only one fee [3 KD] required for Germany). Those 35 nations include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Norway,Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea,Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vatican City.

All other nationals need advance visas, which require an invitation from a sponsor in Kuwait. Kuwait Airways offices and major hotels can provide invitations, but the process can take up to a week and may require a fee. The Embassy of Kuwait in Japan [1] has some information.

Import restrictions: Visitors should note that alcohol and pork are not legal and may not be imported into the country. If you bring either in, it will be confiscated at the airport and you may be subjected to fines for attempting to import these banned goods. Your bags will be X-rayed and/or hand-searched on arrival.

By plane

Kuwait International Airport (IATA: KWI) is Kuwait's only airport and is served by many international airlines, connecting to the Middle East as well as Europe, Africa and North America directly.

The national airline, Kuwait Airways, serves Frankfurt,Geneva,Rome, Kuala Lumpur, London, New York City, Parisand several other European, Asian, African and Middle Eastern destinations, but is best avoided: a flag carrier with a poor reputation, its planes are old, delays are frequent and customer service weak. You will have to use Kuwait Airways if you are traveling from New York's JFK Airport, however.

In 2005 the Kuwaiti government supported two new airlines as part of its liberalisation programme: premium airline Wataniya Airways ceased operations without notice in March 2011, stranding many customers around the world, while semi-low-cost carrier Jazeera Airwaysprovides a popular alternative for regional flights.

International airlines serving Kuwait include British Airways from London, Lufthansa from Frankfurt, KLM from Amsterdam, Singapore Airlines from Singapore, and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, plus connections through other large Gulf hubs (Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, etc.) are accessible through Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airlines, Gulf Air and many other airlines, There are also some airlines that operate seasonal flights to Kuwait including Malaysia Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Bulgaria Air and Czech Airlines. Code shares with other members of numerous international airline alliances often offer cheaper air fares than the carrier servicing the route to and from Kuwait.

If you need a visa on arrival at the airport, do not head down to Arrivals; instead, look for the "Visa Issuing" desks opposite the Dasman Lounge. Join the mob (no queuing is possible) to have your passport copied and pick up a queue ticket, fill out a visa entry form, and wait for your number to be called. (Be careful, you will only have 2 or 3 seconds to respond before you are skipped.) Payment is accepted only in Kuwaiti Dinar; there are a number of bureau de change in the arrivals area, where the best rates appear to be for U.S. dollars, Australian dollars and Euros. You'll also get an A4-sized sheet entirely in Arabic, which you must keep -- this is your visa! You can now proceed straight through immigration without queuing, just show your visa form at any desk and they'll let you through. Generally, you can pass through the open gate for flight crew and show your visa to the guard just past passport control.

Airport taxis can be found outside arrivals, with the fare to most points in the city being no more than KD 5. Most hotels can arrange a transfer for the same price if not free of charge, which may be safer - especially for single females - and a more comfortable option. When in operation, you can also use the "limousine" service which is located to the right of the outside exit for KD 6. These generally have a reputation as having much safer drivers than the airport taxis (driven by Kuwaiti nationals who usually do not observe posted speed limits and will even drive on the verge/shoulder at 140kmph). It is illegal for a regular taxi to pick up arrivals passengers at the airport so most will refuse to do so because of the fear of hefty fines and possible imprisonment or deportation. Regular taxis are a worse choice in most cases anyway, being driven by chronically underpaid expats from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and usually poorly maintained. Drivers of regular cabs are often totally unaware of how to get anywhere, often speak little or no English and frequently have poor or no concept of personal hygiene.

By car

Kuwait shares its borders with only 2 nations - Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The political situation in Iraq is volatile currently, so it's advisable not to use that route. There are long-distance bus services to Dammam and other points in Saudi Arabia, but you will of course need to have a valid Saudi visa.

By bus

There are 3 bus lines in Kuwait: KPTC, City Bus, and KGL. KPTC, the Kuwait Public Transportation Company, operates only within Kuwait and is used mainly by the poorer expats in menial jobs. Buses are frequently poorly maintained, usually un-airconditioned (and thus hazardous in summer) and best avoided.

KGL is the only one of the three that provides routes to other GCC countries, but visas will probably be an issue for non-GCC citizens.

By boat

Scheduled ferries to and from Iran are handled by Kuwait-Iran Shipping Company, phone +965 2410498, fax +965 2429508. The ferries go three times a week from Ash Shuwayk in Kuwait to Bushehr in Iran. One-way tickets from KD37.

Speedboats also go between Ash Shuwayk and Manama in Bahrain. A ticket is KD45.

Ports and harbors:

  • Ash Shu'aybah
  • Ash Shuwaykh
  • Kuwait City
  • Mina' 'Abd Allah
  • Mina' al Ahmadi
  • Mina' Su'ud

Get around

Kuwait has a good road system. All signs are in English and Arabic. The major north-south roads are effectively freeways numbered Expressway 30, 40, etc. These are traversed by increasingly widely spaced ring roads named First, Second etc., making navigation fairly easy.

Using Google Maps for navigation is a good option, as it offers traffic and roads, and all major destinations. However, if you need to find a location using its address (which you probably won't need to). Google Maps will even give you wrong address for your current location and places. This is due to how Kuwait addresses work mixed with lack of proper support of Kuwait subdivisions in Google Maps platform. Areas are labelled as neighbourhoods and blocks as sub-neighbourhoods. For example, if you are in Street 1, block 1, Jabriya, your address will appear as Street 1, Kuwait City (since it is the only city in Kuwait, and neighbourhoods aren't supposed to be included in addresses). So if you intend to go/find a place using its address, make sure you install the free and easy-to-use official Kuwait Finder GIS system on your phone from its apps market.

By public transport

Kuwait's public transport is adequate with three companies (KPTC, City Bus and KGL) running dozens of routes in every major city. Waiting times for buses range from one minute for most frequent routes to fifteen minutes for less used routes. All buses are equipped with air-conditioners and usually one can find a seat without much trouble. Although, during peak hours (7-9AM, 2-4PM, 8-9PM)most routes are packed and public transport should be avoided for those seeking comfortable travelling. It must also be noted that although areas with expatriates majority are covered with many routes, Kuwaiti residence areas are scarcely connected with public transport buses and are reachable mostly by taxis only.

By taxi

These are recognisable by orange licence plates and may be hired by the day, in which case fares should be agreed beforehand. Although most taxis have meters these are rarely used as in practice, meters are always "broken", covered, missing or just ignored, and you'll need to agree on fares in advance. Beware that cabbies will often ask for ridiculous prices. Share-taxis are also available. Hailing taxis from the road is the most practical approach. However some sources have reported it was not advisable, particularly for females, and they recommend that taxis are booked in advance by telephone from a reputable taxi company. The cream coloured taxis are the cheapest, but also likely to be poorly maintained and possibly dangerously so, considering the general speed and size of the rest of the vehicles on Kuwaiti roads.

A standard rate is applicable in most taxis, but those at hotel ranks are more expensive. Naive westerners routinely pay 2 to 5 times more than the standard rates which are typically KD 0.500 (500 fils) for up to a 5 minute ride plus about 100 fils (KD 0.100) per minute thereafter. The only exception being airport departures which are approximately 3 KD. Tipping is not expected, however you should negotiate fares before boarding the taxi. It is customary to collect all baggage and exit the taxi before offering payment to avoid conflicts or loss of personal property should a taxi driver demand more than the agreed price after arriving at the destination. This way, the passenger can drop the money in the seat and walk away if necessary.

By hire car

Self-drive is available. If you produce an International Driving Permit, the rental company will, at the customer's expense, be able to arrange the statutory temporary insurance, which is drawn on the driver's visa. If you arrive at Kuwait International Airport, you will find the car hiring companies located at your left after you exit from the baggage claiming area. You can find international companies such as Avis and Budget among others.

However, it should be noted that driving in Kuwait, especially when new to driving in the country, can be extremely chaotic and frightening. Turn signals and lane divisions are effectively optional, speeding and aggressive driving is commonplace, and there is little active enforcement of traffic laws. A law has been passed to disallow the use of cell phones while driving (including but not limited to voice calls and text messaging or SMS.) If driving, ensure you keep out of the left hand "fast" lane unless you are very relaxed about large 4-wheel drive vehicles tailgating you.

If involved in a car accident, do not attempt to move your car until police arrive and have made a report or you will be arrested.

Talk

Arabic (official). Although in schools the classical version of Arabic is taught; and just like everywhere in the Arab world, Kuwaiti’s use the Kuwaiti dialect in everyday conversation. English is widely used and spoken. Most of the traffic signs in Kuwait are bilingual. English is taught as a second language in schools in Kuwait beginning at the first grade. Many Kuwaitis speak English fluently as there are lots of private English and American schools and universities where all subjects are taught in English and Arabic is taken as a subject. A lot of Kuwaitis enroll their children in these schools.

See

See Kuwait City for listings of attractions in the city. Kuwait is not the ideal vacation spot in the region, but if on a business trip, there are some sites worth seeing:

  • Failaka Island, knetmalou@hotmail.com (take KPTC ferry from Ras Al Salmiya (Ras al Ardh) near scientific center or private speedboat near Marina Mall), ☎ 66111924NOCC. A port with many old dhows, Failaka Island can be reached by regular ferry services. There are also some Bronze Age and Greek archaeological sites well worth viewing, including the island's Greek temple. Failaka Island was named Ikarus by the Greeks who, under Alexander the Great, established an outpost in the island. Failaka was heavily damaged during the Iraqi invasion. Plans are currently underway to develop the island into a large-scale tourist attraction. 3 KD.
  • Al Jahra city. Traditional-style boums and sambuks (boats) are still built in Al Jahrah, although, nowadays, vessels are destined to work as pleasure boats rather than pearl fishing or trading vessels.
  • Mina Al Ahmadi. Mina Al Ahmadi, lying 19km (12 miles) south of Kuwait City, is an oil port with immense jetties for supertanker traffic. The Oil Display Center pays homage to the work of the Kuwait Oil Company (Reservations needed)
  • 2 Kazmah desert cliffs (go on Road 80, turn right to Road 801 to Bubiyan, take first exit and turn left). Being one of the few elevations in the Kuwaiti desert these cliffs allow a good view on the bay if the visibility is good. A lot of young Kuwaitis come here on weekends to challenge their Jeeps and Quads uphill.
  • Desert, anywhere (go north on Road 801, west on Road 70 or south on road 306). Although the city keeps growing, Kuwait is still largely a vast and uninhabited desert. Going away from the city many roads will take you to places where there is nothing but sand, sand and more sand. While this may be a form of excitement you'd look for every weekend in the winter as the locals do, it's also a nice experience once if you are visiting during the extremely hot summer.

Do

See Kuwait City for more activities in the city.

  • Sea Clubs & spas. Many of Kuwait's sea clubs offer a wide variety of facilities and activities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, beaches, tennis courts, gymnasiums, bowling and even karate.
  • Riding. Horse riding clubs flourish in the winter. The Hunting and Equestrian Club is on the 6th ring road near Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Armed Forces Hospital.
  • Golf. The golf course "Sahara Club" is located near the Hunting and Equestrian club beside 6th ring road. It features a five star restaurant and a spa.
  • Swimming and diving. Swimming is allowed on various public beaches along the Gulf Street. Women in swimwear are rare and might offend locals. The beach resorts as Radisson SAS and Palms offer beaches to both genders but will charge. However, since most beach areas are also the dump sites for raw, untreated sewage, swimming near the mainland is not recommended. Few homes have swimming pools and those that do are generally indoors, below ground. Many of the big hotels and spas have reasonably sized pools, but again can be quite expensive for those who are not guests.
  • Boating. Sailing and scuba diving are available. Powerboating is a Kuwaiti passion. Contact any of the hotels located on the beach and they can arrange a trip for you. The best beach front hotels are the Hilton Resort, Movenpick Resort, Marina Hotel and the Radisson SAS. Hiring a boat should be done with caution and the boat should be inspected carefully for signs of neglect before agreeing on a rental. Many unwary tourists have been stranded at sea for hours while the coastguard ineptly attempts a rescue because like automobiles in Kuwait, mechanical maintenance is generally not a high priority for most boat owners.
  • Shopping in Malls. The largest mall in Kuwait is The Avenues on 5th ring road behind road 60. It is one of the largest malls in whole middle-east and features a lot of clothing and electronics stores as well as a Carrefour and an Ikea. Furthermore it offers the best cinematic experience in Kuwait with VIP theatres with massaging reclining seats and a personal butler. Other popular malls include Marina Mall (Salmiya), Souq Sharq (Sharq), 360 mall (includes a 3D IMax cinema, located in Jinoob al Surra between 6th ring road and road 50) and Al-Kout Mall (Fahaheel) which is famous for its orchestra musical fountains.
  • Shopping on Markets. Regardless of the growing amount of malls Kuwait still hosts a lot of small markets. See the buy section in the Kuwait City article.

Buy

Money

The national currency is the Kuwaiti dinar, denoted by the symbol " د.ك" or "KD" (ISO code: KWD).

The dinar is divided into 1000 fils. Notes are available in denominations of KD 20, 10, 5, 1, ½ and ¼, while 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 fils coins are also available. Notes are Arabic in the front and English in the back, with Arabic numerals (the numerals used in English) on both sides.

The Kuwaiti dinar is the world's highest-valued unit of currency. It is pegged to an undisclosed basket of currencies and the exchange rate hovers around 1KD for US$3.30, so a burger that costs 3 dinars will set you back US$10.

Notes issued before 1994, many of which were stolen during the Iraqi occupation, are not considered legal tender. You're unlikely to see these in Kuwait (the designs are clearly different), but unscrupulous dealers elsewhere have been known to try to pass them off. See the Central Bank of Kuwait for pictures.

Exchanging money can be difficult and exchanging travelers cheques even more so. Stick to ATMs, which are ubiquitous and work fine. Higher-end establishments accept credit cards.

Costs

Although Kuwait is a tax haven 0% VAT and 0% income tax It would be hard to manage on under US$100 per day, and you can very easily spend US$250 or more just on an ordinary hotel room.

Tipping is generally not necessary. Taking a service charge recently became illegal in Kuwait.

Prices on common expenses (August 2015):

  • Medium burger combo meal: 1.800KD (McDonalds's)
  • Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course: KD 10 - 12
  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: 1.000KD (Shawarma & Fatayir restaurants)
  • Oranges (1 kg): 400 - 450 fils
  • Milk (1 litre): 300 fils
  • Single medium latte with an add-shot at Starbucks: KD 2
  • Falafel sandwiches: 100 fils (includes chips (fries), salad and tahina, law doesn't permit restaurant to increase that price)
  • Khubiz Irani (flat bread), fresh from the baker: 20 fils

Petrol prices are among the cheapest in the world and most of the time are less than water, literally, which explains the Kuwaiti penchant for huge fuel-guzzling U.S. import vehicles.

Shopping

Kuwait is a tax free country. Custom-made items, imported items, and shipping out of the country can be expensive, so shop wisely. Businesses are required by law to allow exchanges on credit cards purchases, and returns or exchanges on non-credit cards purchases for a period of a fortnight. If in a rare case you think a store isn't obeying the laws, don't hesitate to call Consumer Protection Department at 135.

Eat

There is a huge array of restaurants in Kuwait. Because nightlife is virtually non-existent, most people go out to restaurants and malls. A wide variety of international cuisines is available in high-end restaurants, although some heavily pork-based cuisines (German, e.g.) are conspicuously absent. Kuwait is known for its culinary specialties and catering services. Restaurants can be found in food courts in malls, and alternatively many international restaurants are grouped together in certain areas in Kuwait, namely:

  • Behind the Roman Catholic Church in Kuwait City
  • Outside the Mövenpick Resort in Salmiya
  • In the Marina Crescent

Just ask any local where the "Restaurants Road" is and they will guide you to a road in Salmiya packed end-to-end with local restaurants serving a wide array of specialty sandwiches, juices and snacks. Alternatively, head to any of the major shopping malls which are also crowded with restaurants ranging from fast to gourmet food. Every conceivable U.S. chain is represented in Kuwait!

There are still some restaurants that serve traditional Kuwaiti food. Al-Marsa restaurant in Le Meridien Hotel (Bneid Al Gar location) has some traditional Kuwaiti seafood but with a relatively high price tag. A better option is the quaint Shati Alwatia restaurant at the Behbehani Villa compound in the Qibla area of Kuwait City (behind the Mosques)and another Kuwaiti restaurant is Ferij Suwailih in salmiya area.

If you don't feel like going out to eat, just about every restaurant and eatery in the country delivers food anywhere. Order online from a number of sites and enjoy the same selections as at the restaurant itself for a tiny delivery fee (usually 200 to 400 Fils) tacked onto the order total itself.

For general grocery shopping, each district has its own 'Co-operative Society' (Jumayya) which anyone can use, and they usually consist of a supermarket and a general do-it-yourself store. When paying for your grocery shopping the cashier will usually ask if you have a number (which is given to local customers as a way to build up credits). It is also normal that somebody will pack your grocery bags for you and will carry the bags to your car, unless you insist otherwise. It is customary to tip them about 1/2 KD if they do go to your car, although they do not normally wait around for it. Kuwait also offers a wide variety of other supermarkets ranging from local chains of excellent quality (The Sultan Company) to hypermarkets operated by international heavy hitters such as Carrefour, Geant and an Indian chain, LuLu. All of them offer selections of truly international range and usually at competitive prices.

Drink

Tap water is drinkable, although most of it is desalinated and not particularly tasty, and in summertime, you may have a hard time telling apart the hot and cold taps. Bottled water is available everywhere for a few hundred fils.

Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait: it may not be imported, manufactured or served, and newspapers regularly report busts of illegal distilleries.

Sleep

Hotels in Kuwait are expensive, but major Western chains are well represented (see Kuwait City for hotel listings). Light sleepers should bring ear plugs as public announced prayers are broadcast before twilight and several times during the day.

Chalets and other weekend accommodation can be rented in many places along the southern part of the coast.

  • Khiran Resort. Chalets and studio flats, a yacht club and a 240-berth fully serviced marina, swimming pools, playgrounds, sports and health facilities, shops, a supermarket and coffee shops.

Work

There are many full service office providers available to businesses within Kuwait such as IO Centers. Most of the large companies have high-quality office facilities, but expect to see a great portion of Kuwaiti businesses operating out of small 3- to 4-person offices. These businesses are normally owned by a Kuwaiti and staffed by Middle Easterners or Asians and don't normally hire nationals of western descent. If you plan to work in Kuwait, be sure to check the academic requirements of desired positions as in most cases, the Kuwaiti government insists on degrees from accredited universities.

Expect to be paid anywhere from 400-800 KD for average middle range positions to 1000-1500 KD for higher positions such as teaching or consulting. However, domestic maids can earn as little as 50 KD per month, although food and accommodation are usually included with the job. Kuwait is heavily saturated with IT workers (mostly from India) and so wages in the IT industry are very low. If you are looking at accepting a job offer before coming to Kuwait be sure to check carefully how much you will be paid and if your employer will assist you with accommodation. It is commonplace for workers of Asian nationality to fall victim to promises of good pay and provision of accommodation only to find themselves having their passport confiscated and falling under the control of their sponsor. Be sure to check the reputation and creditability of any potential employer before accepting a position.

Any foreign national wishing to work in Kuwait MUST have a working visa under a Kuwaiti sponsor. There is no provision for freelance work and foreign nationals found working without a working visa will be promptly apprehended and asked to leave resulting in a possible ban from returning.

Stay safe

The crime threat in Kuwait is assessed as low. Violent crimes against foreigners are rare, but do occur. Physical and verbal harassment of women are continuing problems. Kuwaiti drivers can also be quite reckless.

Respect

Kuwait adopts a live-and-let-live policy for clothing, and you'll see a wide range of styles: women wear anything ranging from daring designer fashions to head-to-toe black abayas with headscarves, while men can be seen both in T-shirts and shorts or the traditional dazzling white dishdashah. To avoid unnecessary attention, though, women will want to steer clear of showing midriffs. Ironically, low necklines are less offensive. Bikinis are fine at the hotel pool, but not on public beaches. Public nudity is prohibited everywhere and not tolerated.

Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during the holy month of Ramadan or you may be fined or even go to jail. The fine is 100 KD or about US$350. Also, be aware that during Ramadan working hours may be shorter and restaurants will be closed during the day. However, most supermarkets will remain open so food can still be purchased from there. If you are working, many employers will provide a space where Westerners may eat during Ramadan, but if not, it is inadvisable to consume anything in the presence of Muslim coworkers during Ramadan.

Avoid these breaches of etiquette in Kuwait from which tourists and those visiting or expats working here are not exempt or excused:

  • Although Kuwait is a relatively democratic country, the topic of the Emir is sensitive.
  • Do not take pictures of governmental buildings or areas near the border fence.
  • Homosexuality is illegal, although you will frequently observe local men kissing when greeting and also holding hands when walking together, as this is not considered homosexual behavior in Kuwait.
  • Public display of affection between men and women is illegal.

Stay healthy

Public health is entirely supported by the government at local clinics and hospitals, with a 5KD (~US$17.88) fee paid by foreigners visiting Kuwait and 1KD (~$3.57) for expats with a resident visa, or a visitor's visa. Private non-governmental clinics are available as well, but charge much more at 30KD(~$107.31) and upwards. You will be entitled to free treatment in case of an accident or an emergency. In case of an emergency, call 112.

Connect

Phone

The country code for Kuwait is 965. Local phone numbers are 8 digits long. Numbers starting with 2 are landline telephones, while numbers starting with 5,6 or 9 are mobile telephones numbers and numbers starting with 1 are service numbers. there are no area code and dialing within Kuwait will never require an additional 0 in the beginning.

Mobile

Kuwait uses GSM and mobile phones are widely available. The operators are Zain, Wataniya Telecom (Ooredoo), and VIVA. As roaming charges can be very steep, it makes sense to get a local SIM card. a new SIM can be obtained from any of the official branches. A SIM can be bought from most telephone stores, and doesn't require registration. Registration requires the passport of the one who's applying. The prices for a new SIM card are very low:

  • Zain:
  • Ooredoo:
  • VIVA: 2 KD (~US$7) with 1 KD (~US$3.5) balance + 1 KD local talking time.

The charges apply on the caller only.

Kuwait is a small country. The whole country is covered, so don't worry about each operator coverage. However, since VIVA is arelatively new company, you'll get lower signal and even lower LTE signal.

Internet

There are several internet and telecom service providers in Kuwait. The media in Kuwait is among the most outspoken in the Gulf states, journalists self-censor on issues related to royal family. Kuwait is one of the fastest growing ICT markets in the region. Majority of the Kuwaiti population can afford to have Internet services at home, the reason the country has fewer Internet cafes than other Gulf countries.

Major Internet service providers in Kuwait.

  • FASTtelco Tel: +965 22256688 Email: sales@fasttelco.net Website: www.fasttelco.net
  • Gulfnet Tel: +965 1816666 Website: www.gulfnet.com.kw
  • Mada Tel: +965 1822888 Website: www.mada.com.kw
  • Qualitynet Tel: +965 1804444 Website: www.qualitynet.net
  • Zajil Telecom (KEMS) Tel: +965 1820820 Email: info@zajil.com Website: www.zajil.com

Telecommunications

Fixed (Landline) line telephony services are provided by the Ministry of Communications (MoC). To subscribe you need to apply at your local branch of the MoC. Typical documents required are Tenancy contract, employer letter and civil id. Most expats don't tend to bother however and choose one of the 3 Mobile Operators.

Mobile telephony

There are 3 mobile telephony service providers in Kuwait - Zain, Wataniya and Viva. Their presence is widespread in Malls, residential and commercial areas across Kuwait and they are all vying to offer more services.

Blackberry service is available. Voice over IP (VoIP) is illegal in Kuwait so you will find access to these services are blocked by the Ministy of Communications. Here are the major mobile service providers in Kuwait.

  • Viva Tel: +965 55102102 (for international inquiries) or 102 (for local inquiries) Email: customer.care@viva.com.kw
Website: www.viva.com.kw
  • Wataniya Telecom Location: Ahmed Al Jaber Street, Sharq Area Tel: +965 1805555 www.wataniya.com

Zain Location: Safat Tel: +965 24644444 Email: cust_care@kw.zain.com Website: www.kw.zain.com

Due to strict Internet censorship many sites are blocked in Kuwait. It is possible to avoid the restrictions with vpn service. This is secure and safe solution.

Mobile Internet

LTE is available nearly everywhere. if there's no LTE, the connection will be changed to HSPA+, which is very fast. VIVA offers LTE for the same price as 3G. However, their network is relatively slow. Zain's and Wataniya's LTE prices are different from the 3G prices, but their network is fast.

Connection points

  • Shopping malls: Fastelco, one of the ISPs provide you with one hour of free high speed Wi-Fi each day. KEMS, another ISP have a lot of access points, but their internet isn't free.
  • Cafés
    • Starbucks: Starbucks's Wi-Fi is free for an hour but requires a Starbucks card. However, connection speed in Starbucks is limited to less than 512Kbps, so it's not recommended. Also electricity sockets aren't available if you plan to charge your device while using it.
  • Hotels

Home Internet

If you already subscribed to mobile phone internet, you can always turn on the portable hotspot in you phone and then connect to the internet in you computer/laptop, tablet or any other device.

Internet is available via different ways, the most stable and popular way is via ADSL subscription. Subscribing to ADSL service requires a landline. Internet access starts at 39 KD (~US$138) a year at 1Mbit/s. ADSL connection are mainly available via annual subscription. However, 1 month, 3-month and 6-month subscriptions are also available.

Some people may choose to use an LTE mini routers or CPEs (fixed routers) and use mobile internet services from Zain, Wataniya (Ooredoo) and VIVA, this is a good option if you're planing on staying for a little time. However, connecting this way is capped.

Another recommendation is to try a relatively new service - "Mada". This service is Wimax and up to 10Mbit/s download speed (although the speed never reaches this rate, and in some areas it will not even reach 1Mbps). the cost is 40 KD (~$140) for the main router and 25 KD (~$89) per month.

Websites containing adult content are censored by all of the internet providers by direction of the Minister of Communications. Skype is legal in Kuwait. All other VoIP clients like Line, Tango and Viber and Skype can easily be download from phones' applications' markets (e.g. Appstore or Google Play).

Telephone

Kuwait has high international call rates. Although calling overseas is also very cheap It's recommended to use apps and services like Line or Skype to call overseas. For home usage, Phoneserve cards are available (mostly in Hawally) that can be used for cheap calls worldwide. Users with credit cards use Skype and Yahoo Voice for communication as well, but skype website is banned now (However, the app can be used).

Some traditional corner-shops called "Baqqalat" (singular. Baqqala) sell an international calling card called Big Boss which offers good rates to Europe but only when calling landlines. For the rest of continents the rates are decent even when calling mobile phones.

Go next

Like when entering Kuwait, most people leaving will probably do so by plane. Thus, you can choose among several interesting small Gulf states including the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain reachable by plane in just one hour or so. Iran and Oman are also close by.

Going elsewhere overland can be a bit tricky. Saudi-Arabia requires virtually all foreigners to obtain a visa and doesn't issue them for just "tourism". In the same way practically everyone needs a visa to enter Iraq, and while you probably could get a tourist visa, consider that Iraq is one of the world's most dangerous countries. By boat, you can reportedly travel to Iran and Bahrain.

KUWAIT Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Kuwait

CIA

A brief yet detailed report on the country of Kuwait with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

Kuwait Complete Residents' Guide

Explorer Publishing

Overflowing with facts and fuss-free advice, the Kuwait Explorer is the ultimate guidebook for residents, short-term visitors, business people and tourists.Following the winning formula of the bestselling Dubai Explorer, which to date has sold over 130,000 copies, the Kuwait Explorer is packed with page after page of information, advice and insider knowledge, as well as an impressive selection of full-colour photographs and satellite maps. Produced by a resident team of researchers, writers and photographers, the Kuwait Explorer is the ultimate insider guide to getting things done and living life to the full in Kuwait.

Relocating to Kuwait – from visas and areas to setting up home Living and working – education, health, money, hobbies and activities Shopping – the lowdown on the best streets, malls and souks Going Out – find the poshest restaurants and liveliest cafes Maps – detailed city maps and a country overview map Exploring Kuwait – covering the city and further afield, plus daytrips and weekend breaks

Lonely Planet Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar

Gordon Robison

Includes extensive up-to-date political, historical and cultural notes; extensive accommodation and restaurant options for all budgets; helpful advice on getting around, including visa information; helpful tips on what to buy and where to buy it; and a useful Arabic language chapter.

Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore ancient souqs in labyrinthine alleyways; dine in the world's tallest building; and feel the allure of Arabia's desert dunes; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - culture, history, religion, art, literature, music, dance, architecture, politics, cuisine Over 70 maps Covers Bahrain, Manama, Kuwait, Kuwait City, Oman, Muscat, Dhofar, Qatar, Doha, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula, our most comprehensive guide to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Check out Lonely Planet Dubai & Abu Dhabi for a comprehensive look at all Dubai and Abu Dhabi have to offer, or Pocket Dubai, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip. Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Middle East for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Kuwait Travel Journal: Perfect Size 100 Page Travel Notebook Diary

CreativeJournals

Lightweight and perfect for traveling, this soft cover notebook Kuwait travel journal is ideal for tucking into a full bag or suitcase. The cover is a glossy finish so that you can easily wipe it off (if it ends up covered in something delicious-tasting, or lands in a mud puddle ;) Keep your memories for longer by journalling them in your Kuwait travel journal. A nice affordable travel notebook designed with the traveler in mind. This would make a great gift for the traveler in your life. Bon voyage!

Saudi Arabia & Kuwait Travel Reference Map 1:1,750,000/1:390,000

ITMB Publishing LTD

Saudi Arabia remains a unique entity in today's world, steadfastly governing itself in splendid isolation and fighting hard to keep 'modern' influences at bay. However, it has modern trappings such as an excellent road system, even though women aren't allowed to drive, and modern cities, even though women won't be allowed to vote in local elections until 2015. The cities of Medina and Mecca are closed to infidels. Kuwait, its immediate neighbour to the north is an open society and is included on this map as a very large inset, with a separate inset of Kuwait City. Central Riyadh is also included as an inset map, showing mosques, hotels, banks, and shopping areas.

Kuwait Travel Guide

Patricia Sue McDonald

Kuwait Travel Guide is the guide for you if you are vacationing or retiring in the middle east. This guide is actionable contains all the necessary information phone numbers and addresses to give you a leg up as a native or a visitor.

City Maps Al Ahmadi Kuwait

James McFee

City Maps Al Ahmadi Kuwait is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.

Exercise a high degree of caution

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Terrorism

There is a constant and high terrorist threat throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan. From time to time, reports emerge that terrorists plan to attack specific locations in one of these countries. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice. Exercise caution in commercial, public or tourist areas frequented by foreigners, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times.

Crime

The crime rate is low and violence is rare, including against foreigners. However, you should avoid secluded places or non-residential areas after dark.

Report any suspicion of being followed or unexplained loitering to the local police. Locals have sometimes followed Westerners home after dark and then vandalized their parked vehicles.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Women’s safety

There have been reports of physical and verbal harassment toward women. Travelling alone, especially after dark, is not advisable. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Road travel

Accidents are common and due mainly to unsafe driving practices such as reckless driving. Exercise caution when driving after dark.

In the event of an accident, do not attempt to move the vehicle, even though it may impede traffic. Kuwaiti law states that the driver must wait for the police to make an official report. Be aware that digital cameras register traffic violations.

 Off-road driving can be hazardous. Undertake off-road driving in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide only. Leave a travel itinerary with a family member or friend. Be well prepared and equipped with gasoline, water, food and a cellular phone.

Use only officially marked taxis and pre-negotiate fares.

Air travel

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Sea travel

Consult the Ministry of Interior of the State of Kuwait for instructions and regulations for sailing in Kuwaiti waters.

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the islands of Abu Masa and the Tunbs, as both Iran and the UAE have claimed sovereignty over the islands.

General safety information

Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes at all times.

Unexploded munitions from the 1991 Gulf War pose hazards in rural areas, picnic spots and beaches. Monitor children closely. Do not touch suspicious unfamiliar objects.

Weapons are readily available, and accidental shootings have occurred.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for police, fire department or ambulance service.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Modern medical care is available through government-run clinics and hospitals. Immediate cash payment is often required.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Suspects as well as witnesses to incidents may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials. If access is granted, it may be severely limited by the Kuwaiti authorities. Authorities may withhold the passport of an individual involved in legal processes, pending resolution of the case. This could result in the delay of a planned departure.

Illegal activities

Criticism of the Emir is not permitted by Kuwaiti authorities.

Religious proselytizing is not permitted.

Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and are subject to severe punishment.

Penalties for possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, lengthy jail sentences or even the death penalty. The possession of drugs, even a very small amount, could result in arrest and imprisonment.

Possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. Alcohol cannot be legally purchased or imported into Kuwait, and the penalties associated with the possession of alcohol include heavy fines, imprisonment or deportation.

There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Consequences include heavy fines, imprisonment or deportation.

Importation and consumption of pork products is illegal.

It is illegal to possess pornographic material.

Photography of government buildings and military or industrial sites, particularly oil fields, is forbidden. Do not photograph people without their permission.

Fraudulent practices

Fraudulent practices, for example, writing cheques without sufficient funds and non-payment of bills, are regarded as extremely serious offences and may result in imprisonment and fines. Temporary release pending legal action may be granted in minor cases if the passport of the accused and the passport of the guarantor are surrendered to the authorities.

Dress and behaviour

Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour. Men and women should dress conservatively. Men must wear pants and a shirt in public. It is uncommon for Western women to cover their head in Kuwait. Dresses and skirts are permitted, provided they cover the shoulders and knees. Shorts and short skirts are considered inappropriate.

Exercise particular care in your behaviour with others, especially officials, to avoid offending local sensitivities. Verbal insults and obscene gestures may be considered a criminal act and, if found guilty, you could face deportation, fines and/or a prison sentence.

Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Child custody

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for a Canadian woman, even if she is a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through Kuwaiti courts. Regardless of their parents' marital status, minor children with a Kuwaiti father may not leave Kuwait without his permission.

Money

The currency, the Kuwaiti dinar (KWD), is readily convertible to U.S. dollars. Credit cards and U.S. dollar traveller's cheques are widely accepted, and automated banking machines are available nationwide.

Climate

The rainy season extends from December to January, often resulting in flooding.

High levels of humidity and severe heat occur from June to September.

Severe sand and dust storms also occur.