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Holidays in Kuwait

Understanding Kuwait

History

The Kuwaitis trace their roots to the Al-Anisa and the Al-Utub tribe from the Najd province, in modern Saudi Arabia They moved to Qatar and then to Al-Qurain The word 'Kuwait' is derived from Koot, the Arabic word for fortress, which is in modern day Kuwait bay around 1710 By 1752, the long term residents of Al-Qurain decided that the instability of the region, caused by warring tribes, called for the establishment of a stable government The Al-Sabah tribe was chosen to rule, and the first Sheikh was Sabah ibn Jaber, who ruled as Sabah I, from 1752 to 1756 The Sabah's were skillful diplomats, and weathered out religious and tribal strifes successfully They dealt with the Ottomans, the Egyptians and the Europeans Mubarak I signed an agreement with the British making Kuwait a British Protectorate in 1899 The British were in Kuwait for quite a while by then, and as early as the 1770's Abdullah I had a contract with the British to deliver mail for them up to Allepo in Syria The agreement gave the British control of the Kuwaiti foreign policy in exchange for military protection In the 20's and the 30's, the chief source of revenue was pearls But around that time the Japanese started flooding the international market with cultured pearls and this source of income was in decline In 1938, oil was first struck at the Burgan oil field in Kuwait, and by 1946, they started exporting it 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 UN 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 demise 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 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 Temperatures range from 15oC in Dec to as high as 50oC in Aug

Terrain

Flat to slightly undulating desert plain Highest point: 306 meters high

Talking in Kuwait

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 Kuwaiti's speak English fluently as there are lots of private English and American schools and universities where all subject are taught in English and Arabic is taken as a subject A lot of Kuwaitis are enrolling their children in these schools

What to see in Kuwait

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 take KPTC ferry from Ras Al Salmiya Ras al Ardh near scientific center or private speedboat near Marina Mall 3 KD 29430592 48270764 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
  • Al Jahra city latitude 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 latitude Mina Al Ahmadi, lying 19km 12 miles south of Kuwait City, is an oil port with immense jetties for supertanker traffic The Oil Display Centre pays homage to the work of the Kuwait Oil Company Reservations needed
  • Kazmah desert cliffs go on Road 80, turn right to Road 801 to Bubiyan, take first exit and turn left 29421867 47684854 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 latitude 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 and sand Certainly this isn't the excitement you'd look for every weekend it's still a nice experience once

What to do in Kuwait

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 Many of the big hotels and spas have reasonably sized pools
  • 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
  • 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

Buying stuff in Kuwait

The national currency is the Kuwaiti dinar KD, KWD At around US$350 to one dinar January 2009, the dinar is the highest valued currency unit in the world, and prices can thus take some getting used to: a 50-dinar hotel room comes out to almost US$200/night

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 While notes have Latin numerals on one side, the coins are entirely in Arabic

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 6 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$80 per day, and you can very easily spend US$200 just on an ordinary hotel room

Tipping is generally not necessary A 12% service charge is tacked onto your bill in expensive hotels and restaurants, but if you want some of the money to actually go to the staff, leave a little extra

Prices on common expenses January 2009:

  • Burger combo meal: KD 125 - 175 Hardee's
  • Hotel breakfast: KD 500 - 625 depending on how new the hotel is!
  • Bunch of Bananas ~1 kg: 450 fils
  • Single-tall latte with an add-shot at Starbucks: KD 125
  • Falafel sandwhich in Hawally: 100 fils

Petrol prices are one of the cheapest in the world and most of the time are cheaper than water, literally!

Don't forget to retain your exit fee of KWD 2 a little more than USD 7 Retain the two "KD" in Kuwaiti currency as you don't want to go to the currency exchange just for that on your way out of the country

Shopping

Kuwait is a tax free country Custom-made items, imported items, and shipping out of the country can be expensive, so shop wisely

Food and eating in Kuwait

There is a huge array of restaurants in Kuwait Because the nightlife is non-existant, people go out to restaurants and malls Almost every cuisine is available in high-end restaurants 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 Movenpick 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 There are few 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 Mosquesand another Kuwaiti restaurant is Ferij Suwailih in salmiya area

Drinking in Kuwait

Alcohol is strictly illegal in Kuwait: it may not be imported, manufactured or served However, some expat-geared restaurants have been known to offer "special" tea, and newspapers regularly report busts of illegal distilleries Unlike neighbouring states; Bahrain, Qatar and UAE Alcohol cannot be even served at hotels or permit holders

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

Accommodation in Kuwait

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 at 4:30AM, again at 5:00AM 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

Working in Kuwait

There are many full service office providers available to businesses within Kuwait such as IO Centers 7 Most of the large companies have high quality office facilities however expect to see a great portion of Kuwaiti businesses operating out of small 3 to 4 people offices These businesses are normally owned by a Kuwaiti and staffed by Middle Eastern or Asian staff and don't normally hire nationals of western decent 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 KD - 800 KD for average middle range positions to 1000 KD - 1500 KD for higher positions such as teaching or consulting 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

Cities in Kuwait

bayan  doha  hawalli  kayfan  

What do you think about Kuwait?

How expensive is Kuwait?
(1 KWD = 3.28 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant1.66 KWD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)13.27 KWD
McDonalds meal1.93 KWD
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.11 KWD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.37 KWD
Cappuccino1.43 KWD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)0.26 KWD
Water (0.33 bottle)0.11 KWD
Milk (1l)0.43 KWD
Fresh bread (500g)0.34 KWD
White Rice (1kg)0.67 KWD
Eggs (12) 0.61 KWD
Local Cheese (1kg) 1.77 KWD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 1.79 KWD
Apples (1kg) 0.85 KWD
Oranges (1kg) 0.58 KWD
Tomato (1kg) 0.44 KWD
Potato (1kg) 0.4 KWD
Lettuce (1 head) 0.71 KWD
Water (1.5l)0.16 KWD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 70.53 KWD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)0.84 KWD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 0.9 KWD
Cigarettes0.65 KWD
One way local bus ticket0.24 KWD
Monthly pass for bus13.8 KWD
Taxi start0.83 KWD
Taxi 1km0.46 KWD
Taxi 1hour waiting1.93 KWD
Gasoline (1 liter) 0.07 KWD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment13.73 KWD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 13.31 KWD
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 306.28 KWD
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 257.97 KWD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 565.89 KWD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 439.2 KWD
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