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Welcome to Kuwait

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world.The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. From a nation of pearl divers and spice merchants to one of the worlds' largest oil exporters, Kuwait has undergone many exciting transformations. Kuwaiti society is truly a cosmopolitan and modern and yet it remains true to its heritage and traditions.A highly urbanised state, Kuwait offers a host of attractions and services to tourists and visitors to the country.

There are nine islands off the coast of Kuwait: Failaka, Bubiyan, Miskan, Warba, Auhha, Umm Al- Maradim, Umm Al-Naml, Kubbar and Qaruh.

Liberation Tower - Kuwait

Liberation Tower - Kuwait

Fast Facts

Official name: The State of Kuwait

Capital: Kuwait City

Population: approximately 3 million

Location: Kuwait lies at the north-west corner of the Arabian Gulf. To the north and the west, it shares a border of 240 km with the Republic of Iraq, and to the south and south-west it shares 250 km with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On the east it has a coastline of 290 km on the Arabian Gulf.

Monetary Unit: The Dinar is the currency of Kuwait. It is sub-divided into 1000 fils.

Language: Arabic is the official language, though English is widely spoken

Religion: Islam is the official religion of the State of Kuwait. However, Christians and many other religious minorities enjoy complete religious freedom in Kuwait.

Time difference: GMT +3

Telephone: 00965

Electricity: Voltage is 220 Volts AC, and 50 Hz, Single Phase. The UK-type flat three-pin plugs are used, and converters are also available. European-style plug with two circular metal pins are also used.

Tipping: Although a 10% service charge is normally included in your bill, follow standard tipping rules and add the same to your bill if it hasn't been added.

Clothing: Business attire in Kuwait is conservative. Men could wear good quality, light-weight conservative suits, while women should take care and refrain from wearing revealing or tight fitting clothing.

Opening hours: Government offices: Saturday to Wednesday 7.30am to 2.30pm.Banking hours: Sunday to Thursday 8am to 1pm (with 24hrs ATMs). Shops: Saturday to Thursday 9am-1pm; 4.30pm-9pm Friday: hours vary.

Climate: Kuwait has a warm tropical climate. Summer, which last from April to September, is extremely hot and dry with temperatures easily crossing 45°C (113 °F) during daytime. Winter season, from November through February, is cool with some precipitation and average temperatures around 13°C (56 °F) Annual rainfall averages less than 127 mm and occurs chiefly between October and April. The spring season in March is warm and pleasant with occasional thunderstorms. The frequent winds from the northwest are cool in winter and spring and hot in summer. Southeasterly winds, usually hot and damp, spring up between July and October; hot and dry south winds prevail in spring and early summer. The shamal, a northwesterly wind common during June and July, causes dramatic sandstorms.

Driving: Kuwaiti roads are of good quality and have traffic signs in both Arabic and English. Cars are driven on the left side of the road. Citizens with a GCC(Gulf Cooperation Council)driver's licence or travellers using an international driving licence can drive and rent cars.

Taxis: There are three kinds of taxi services. The orange coloured private taxis hailed from the roadside. Other orange taxis travel along set routes picking up several passengers at one time, and transport passengers from one area to another. The third kind of taxi service is the radio-controlled call-taxi which can only be used by contacting the company office by telephone.

There are also special taxis which transport passengers from Kuwait International Airport to various districts in Kuwait.

Buses: A public bus service is operated by Kuwait Transport Company ,who provides transport to passengers within the city and long trips to outlying urban areas. There are also express buses on certain routes with air conditioning and fewer stops.

Sharq Mall

Sharq Mall

Kuwait - Bait Al Badr

Kuwait - Bait Al Badr

Kuwait

Kuwait

Places to visit

The Kuwait National Museum is located in Kuwait City on the Arabian Gulf Street between the Seif Palace and the National Assembly (Parliament).The museum reflects the national identity, featuring the social, economic, political and religious life of the Kuwaiti people. Stripped and burnt by the Iraqi invaders, it houses the Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah (DAI) or the Al-Sabah collection of Islamic art, one of the most comprehensive collections in the world ranging from early Islam to the 18th century. Iraq has today returned over 90 per cent of the collection.

Al Bader House,.An old house located next to Al-Sadu house, Bayt Al-Badr was built between 1838 and 1848.It is considered as a model of old Kuwaiti traditions, embodying the economical and social condition of Kuwait's society in the past.

Sadu House.Kuwait's roots are entwined with both the sea and the desert. The bedouins lived a life governed by the rhythm of the seasons. A traditional craft of major importance was Sadu weaving, characterised by geometric designs woven by hand with dyed, spun and coloured wool.Sadu weaving is still alive in the nomadic culture, which gave birth to it.

Kuwait Towers.One of Kuwait's most famous landmarks, the Kuwait Towers are situated on Arabian Gulf Street on a promontory to the east of the City centre in Dasman. The uppermost sphere of the largest tower (which is 187 metres high) has a revolving observation area and a restaurant with access by high speed lifts. The lower sphere rotates every half an hour, providing the visitors with a fantastic view of Kuwait.

The Liberation Tower.The symbol of Kuwaiti liberation,is the fifth tallest telecommunications tower in the world.The tower and the telecommunications complex is divided into three Working Areas: a public communications centre; the revolving observation level and restaurant at 150 metres; and the adjacent plant and equipment structure. There are 18 elevators, two of which are glass enclosed and can accommodate 21 passengers each. They are also among the fastest in the world at 6.3 metres per second. Above the revolving mezzanine, six floors of offices with a total floor space of 12,000 sq m rise up and out in a section encased in anodised aluminium, designed to withstand Kuwait's extreme temperatures.

Green Island. Is an artificial island situated in the Arabian Gulf. It includes a touristic tower of 35 metre height, a children’s castle with water filled trenches and small waterfalls. This island includes all entertaining facilities, in addition to an open Roman theatre with a capacity of 700 spectators for festivals and beauty contests for pets. The island offers a number of restaurants and a classic service centre.

Mosque. The pyramid-shaped mosque in Ras Salmiya and the Fatima Mosque in Abdullah Al-Salem are fine examples of modern architecture. The Grand Mosque, opposite the Seif Palace, is an example of several traditional Islamic styles using modern technology while retaining the local characteristics of Kuwait as well as preserving the Islamic tradition of calligraphy.

The Kuwait National Museum

The Kuwait National Museum

Sadu House

Sadu House

Things to do

Pearl Diving. Pearls (dana),once formed the basis of Kuwait's wealth. Now, annual pearl diving festivals help today's generation experience the excitement and hardship that their forefathers faced. Such festivals are a tribute to men who dedicated their lives to the pearling industry.

Water Sports. For speed boating, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, yachting and scuba diving, tourists have to buy their own equipment from dealers as hiring facilities are few. Boats and equipment usually have to be bought for long-term enjoyment.

Yachting. Kuwait is a sailor's paradise. The seas offshore is seldom really rough, but there is nearly always a moderate breeze. Boats range from small sailing dinghies to large yachts.

Trips to the Islands. Taking a boat trip to one of the islands, such as Kubbar, can be a pleasant one-day experience, with swimming and picnicking on an island or on the boat itself possibly with fish caught by trawl or line on the way out.

Waterboat Kuwait

Waterboat Kuwait

Visa Requirements

Nearly all nationalities, except GCC citizens, require visas to enter Kuwait.

Transit Visa.A transit visa, valid for a maximum stay of seven days, can be obtained from a Kuwaiti Consulate abroad or from a Port Authority in Kuwait. The applicant must have a valid entry visa for his next country of destination.

Banned Items.It is strictly forbidden to bring into the country weapons, drugs and any kind of alcohol. There are no restrictions on currency taken in or out of the country.

Vaccination. No vaccination certificates are legally required for entry into Kuwait. However, passengers arriving from infected areas may be required to report for medical examination within a few days of their arrival. Vaccination certificates against cholera and yellow fever may be required for travellers from areas infected by these diseases. The latest position should be checked with Kuwaiti Consulates before travelling.

Address in Kuwait.When entering Kuwait, a visitor must complete an entry form at the airport, stating where s/he is going to stay. In the case of a business visitor this will probably be a hotel. Any expatriate, whether a visitor or a resident, who changes her/his address in Kuwait, must inform the Immigration Department in the Governorate in which he is staying within 48 hours of doing so.

Where to Stay

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Events

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