located at the northern end of the Arabian Gulf and is bordered by Iraq and Saudi Arabia
40% are Kuwaitis and 60% are expatriates
Dinar(KD) There are:
- £1.00 = KD 0.48
- $US 1.00 = KD 0.30
Kuwait is located at the northern end of the Arabian Gulf and is bordered by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The coastline stretches 290 kms and Kuwait is 200 kms from east to west at it’s widest. The country’s 17,818 sq kms is mostly flat scrub desert with only one or two areas of higher ground of which only 1% is under cultivation. Kuwait has 9 offshore islands.
The population of Kuwait has become less quantifiable since the events of the early 1990’s. As of 2014, Kuwait has a population of approx 4.0 million people; around 40% are Kuwaitis and 60% are expatriates. There has always been a perceived need for a foreign workforce. The traditional expatriates have been Palestinians and other Arabs however these have tended to be replaced by Asians over the last decade. Western expatriates have been involved in the oil industry since the 1930’s however there are less westerners here than in other gulf states despite the fact that Kuwait has had less effect here than training of the local workforce has had in other gulf states. The population is predominately Sunni Muslim.
The capital of Kuwait is Kuwait City which is located on the Arabian Gulf approximately midway down the coastline. The population of the city is estimated to be approximately 600,000. Little of the traditional areas remain and the pace of change due to the oil revenue from the 50’s onwards has led to a modern city built in a grid system to accommodate the car and with no discernable city centre. The next largest community is south of Kuwait City at Fahaheel. Also approximately 20 minutes drive south is the self contained company township of the Kuwait Oil Company at Al Ahmadi.
The currency in Kuwait is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KD). The exchange rate is £1.00 = KD 0.48 and $US 1.00 = KD 0.30. There are no controls on the transfer of funds in or out of Kuwait. Time Kuwait is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Kuwait is often viewed as a half way point between the more liberal attitudes of the UAE and the traditional outlook of Saudi Arabia and in many ways this can be said to be the case. Women can drive and are under no obligation to wear a cloak or headscarf and there is a lot more social interaction between the sexes. There are also a number of Christian and Hindu places of worship in Kuwait. Alcohol however is illegal and the importation of items such as Pork products, firearms, drugs (of course) and pornography is prohibited (pornography may be defined as any picture of unclothed or scantily clad people that may be acceptable and appear in newspapers or magazines elsewhere in the world). Videotapes are liable for close scrutiny.
As across the Middle East modest dress for women and men is advisable outside of the main cities and discretion at all times and photographers should ask permission before photographing local women and never photograph military sites or objects.
Entertainments and social activities tend to be more limited than in some gulf states. There are a few cinemas and they will sometimes show western movies alongside Indian, Pakistani and Arabic films. There are numerous restaurants serving Indian, Chinese, Italian and Lebanese food and most large hotels have good restaurants offering Buffet or Al a Carte.
There are few other organised entertainments with much social life revolving around the home with parties and gatherings. As with all expatriate communities there are many clubs and societies organised by the expats themselves or international hotels. Water sports such as sailing, boating, windsurfing, diving and fishing are available as are 10 pin bowling, Ice Skating, horse racing, football, golf, tennis, squash and most other activities. There are a number of small amusement parks for children and most large hotels have beach clubs.
Schooling is available for British, American, Pakistani and Indian Children. The British schools take children from age 5 to age 18.
This information is selective. It provides background and useful details on aspects of Kuwait. It should not be considered the definitive source and further sources should be referred to for other specific information.
Kuwait’s economy as one would expect is based on oil production. Kuwait is the third largest producer in the Middle East and has the second largest reserves behind Saudi Arabia. Kuwait’s wealth has been utilised in providing the infrastructure of a modern state and the benefits of free education and healthcare for it’s citizens. A fund set up in the 1970’s has set aside 10% of the nations oil revenue each year for a time when the oil runs out. Large western style shopping centres selling a range of consumer goods and foodstuffs are common in Kuwait city with many familiar branded goods.
There are English language newspapers and a TV and radio station broadcasting in English. The telephone and postal systems are efficient and the major roadway system is extensive. It is advised that bottled, rather than tap water be used. Electricity runs on 220/240 volts and the British square pin plug is most commonly used. No one who has or has had HIV, Hepatitis A, B or C is allowed a work visa for Kuwait. An allowance is usually paid by employers in Kuwait so employees may rent their own accommodation. Accommodation will usually be flats/apartments.
The climate in Kuwait generally follows the patterns of the rest of the gulf with hot summers and relatively mild winters however the more northerly location means firstly that although the summers can be extremely hot (up to 50 degrees) there is low humidity and secondly that winters are cooler overall. A good range of clothing is deemed sensible including heavyweight items. Rainfall occurs mainly in December and Sandstorms in March.