Kuwait is the third-largest oil producer in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Since the Iraqi invasion of 1990/1991, the country and its economy has gradually recovered, and the recent oil price increases are allowing for further expansion in this rapidly developing and increasingly wealthy country.
Learning to understand and respect Islam and it’s laws and customs is key to settling into life in Kuwait.
Alcohol and pork are both illegal for Muslims and are extremely difficult to get hold of, even for non-
Muslims; public displays of affection are taboo; homosexuality is illegal; the left hand is considered unclean; and clothing should be kept conservative when in public. This is particularly important for women.
As you might expect, oil production and the associated industries account for nearly three quarters of Kuwait’s gross domestic product. Kuwait has huge reserves of oil and an estimated 1.8 million barrels are produced every day.
As a result of this wealth, the cities are a spectacular mix of old and new with modern architecture co-existing with traditional houses and ancient wind-towers.
Quite apart from enjoying the blue skies and sunny weather, there are also plenty of other ways to entertain yourself in Kuwait.
There are numerous cafés and restaurants to choose from, play areas for children, museums, well-tended parks, galleries, water parks and endless shopping opportunities in modern malls as well as traditional markets.
Those who find themselves missing Western comforts will be pleased to find many chain restaurants and coffee shops in evidence on the high streets.
Smoking a shisha (hubbly bubbly) pipe outside one of the many cafés is a experience not to be missed. As is having dinner in the impressive Kuwait Towers (the three towers by the sea with water storage).
Many Kuwaiti men wear a dishdasha, a floor length robe which is put on over the head. This basic garment has changed very little in the last few hundred years.
When in public, most local women cover their clothing with an aba, a black cloak that covers the whole body. Bedouin women may also wear a burka: a short black veil that covers the entire face.
The Islamic headscarf, or hijab, that conceals the hair is not a Kuwaiti garment but is often worn by female Muslim expats.
However, it’s not unusual to see locals wearing more revealing clothing. In particular, Kuwaiti malls are full of young people in shorts and tight clothing. Along with Dubai, Kuwait is one the few Muslim regions where it’s possible to wear shorts and skirts that finish above the knee.
The majority of expats working in Kuwait are male. Wives of expats may often find a restriction in their passport or visa that forbids them from working.
However, this idea is changing gradually and women are becoming more and more accepted in the workplace. Arab women have worked in teaching and nursing for some time, but they’re increasingly also found in other fields such as finance, medicine, advertising, law and tourism.
Many expats report finding it extremely easy to make friends with other expats and say that these relationships provide a source of community and comfort that helps them to settle in and cope with the cultural differences.
All local costs/regulations correct as of November 2011. Fabric and PRWeek endeavour to provide the correct information but accept no liability.