About Kuwait

Overview

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is located  in the northern edge of  Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Arabian Gulf.  It shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.2 million people; 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 2.9 million are expatriates.

Oil reserves were discovered in 1938. From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq. The Iraqi occupation came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by coalition forces. At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a high income economy backed by the world’s sixth largest oil reserves. The Kuwaiti dinar is the highest valued currency in the world.  According to the World Bank, the country has the fourth highest per capita income in the world. The constitution was promulgated in 1962, making Kuwait the most democratic country in the region

Seventy percent (70%) of the population are expatriates, while only  thirty percent (30%) of the population are Kuwaiti citizens.  From 2001 to 2009, Kuwait had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the Arab world.  Kuwait ranks highly in regional metrics of gender equality,  as it has the region’s highest Global Gender Gap ranking.

Currency and Foreign Exchange

The official currency of Kuwait  is the Kuwaiti dinar (abbreviated to KD). It is currently pegged to a basket of currencies  and averages an exchange with the US dollar of 1 KD equals on averages between US $3.30 –  US $3.50.   There are no restrictions on the import and export of funds into and out of Kuwait. Credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club, are widely accepted in Kuwait.

Telecom and Internet Services

There are three major mobile phone providers in Kuwait:  Ooredoo,  Viva, and Zain. Each of these companies provides similar services such as voice mail, SMS and mobile internet.  Blackberry service is available.  Voice over IP (VoIP) is illegal in Kuwait so you will find access to these services are blocked by the MoC.  All of the telecom providers have offices located at the airport and throughout the city in various malls and offices.  Either pre-paid cards or post paid contracts are offered.  A valid passport with a valid Kuwaiti visa, either visit or residence, must be presented to purchase a sim card.

Dress Code

Kuwait  is generally conservative but tolerant when it comes to dress code. The attitude to dress is relaxed, but visitors (both men and women) are advised not to wear excessively revealing clothing in public places, as a sign of respect for local culture and customs. This also applies to public beaches, where swimmers should avoid excessively revealing swimming suits. Unless otherwise indicated, official events usually require non-locals to wear formal dress; a suit and tie for men and an evening dress for women.

As for the weather requirements, lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year (summer, spring and autumn), though a light sweater or cardigan could be handy when visiting a shopping mall, hotel or restaurant where the temperature might be kept too low to counter the outdoor heat. Warmer clothes are needed for the short winter season, especially in the evening.

Driving

Visitors to Kuwait  can rent or drive a car in the county if they have a valid international driving license issued by the country from which their driving license has been granted with a minimum validity of six (6) months from date of issue. International license must be accompanied by a copy of the visit visa and passport for all non-residents of Kuwait. Visitors are not allowed to use their country’s national driving license during their stay in Kuwait. Note must be made that while the law allows visitors to drive privately registered vehicles, some insurance companies will not cover accident claims, as they only insure vehicles for drivers holding a valid Kuwaiti  driving license.

Nationals or residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries do not require an international driving license, and can drive or rent a car in Kuwait  using their GCC-issued driving license for the duration of their visit in the country (up to three months).

Climate

Kuwait has an arid climate. Kuwait has a huge temperature difference between winter and summer. Rainfall in the nation varies from 75 to 150 millimeters (2.95 to 5.91 in) a year. In summer, average daily high temperatures range from 42 to 50 °C (108 to 122 °F.   The summers are quite long, punctuated mainly by dramatic dust storms in March and April when northwesterly winds cover the cities in sand. In late summer it is more humid. By the end of October all of the hot weather is over, and colder winter weather sets in, dropping temperatures to as low as −6 °C (21 °F) at night. On the other hand, daytime temperature is between 10–17 °C (50–63 °F).   During this time, there are brief but strong thunderstorms. Frost occurs when the temperatures drop below 5 °C (41 °F).

Kuwait’s winter is colder than in other Persian Gulf countries.  Kuwait experiences colder weather because it is situated farther north, and because of cold winds blowing from upper Iraq and Iran. In Kuwait, precipitation usually occurs from October until April (mostly in November).

Visitor requirements

Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Kuwait. U.S. citizens can obtain visitor visas at the port of entry in Kuwait, and at this time, U.S. citizens are not charged a fee. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Kuwait, otherwise travelers risk being denied entry. The Government of Kuwait has advised that they will not accept limited-validity (emergency) passports and bearers of such passports will not be granted visas at the airport. U.S. citizens with residency in Kuwait must obtain prior approval from Kuwaiti immigration authorities to enter on a temporary passport.