Kuwait FAQ - a Visitors Guide
What’s the weather like in Kuwait?
All year round, Kuwait has hot and dry climate. Temperatures in the summer ranges between 30°C and 50°C. In winder, temperature drops to less than 10°C. Humidity rates may range between 75 and 100. Summer starts in Mai and ends in October. The highest rates of humidity are recorded during August and September. During Spring and Winter, the temperature is moderate with cool breeze blowing
What is the local time in Kuwait?
Kuwait is three hours ahead of GMT and the country does not observe daylight saving time (DST) during summer
Where is Kuwait located?
Kuwait is a small state in the Arabian Gulf bordered by Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
What is the electricity supply standard in Kuwait?
The electricity supply in Kuwait is 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. Square three-pin sockets are standard. It is advisable to bring a plug adapter with you, but most hotels can supply you with adapters for other kinds of plug or you can purchase adapters locally
Is tap water safe for drinking?
Tap water is safe to drink in Kuwait, but if you prefer the taste of bottled water, locally bottled mineral water is readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores everywhere
Do malls and hotels have play areas, baby changing rooms and special access for the physically challenged?
Kuwait in general has a very family-friendly environment. Baby changing rooms, play areas and access for those with special needs are commonplace in malls and hotels alike. Kids’ menu, high chairs and play areas are not uncommon in restaurants across Kuwait. Most hotels provide paid child care services, and wheelchair services also come standard in most hotels.
Is the Internet accessible in public places, malls and hotels?
There are a growing number of establishments such as coffee shops and restaurants across Kuwait offer wireless Internet access. Visitors can drop by at any Internet café to check their e-mails or perform other online tasks. Hourly rates at Internet cafes range from 500 fils to 1 KD
How efficient is the local provider’s mobile network?
Kuwait has extensive mobile network coverage with three service providers in Kuwait. With a mobile phone penetration in excess of 100%, mobile phones are indeed very ubiquitous in Kuwait. If you enroll in an international roaming service with your service provider in your home country and if your service provider has an existing international roaming service agreement with Kuwait phone companies, you can conveniently make calls using your own mobile phone while in Kuwait
If you’re travelling to Kuwait on a regular basis and you require extended telephonic communications with local business partners or relatives here during your stay, a more economical and common alternative compared to incurring phone charges in your hotel room or overseas call charges on your mobile phone might be to let your business partner or relative purchase a SIM card from one of the mobile phone companies for your use during your stay here
What is the official religion in Kuwait?
Islam is the official religion of Kuwait, which is widely practiced by Kuwaiti nationals as well as expatriates originating from other Arab countries, Pakistan, Africa and India, amongst others
Are non-Muslims welcome in Kuwait?
Kuwait is tolerant of other religions. Residents and visitors who profess a different faith are allowed to perform their religious duties such as attending worship services or mass in churches or chapels
What might be considered appropriate in terms of clothing for males and females visiting Kuwait?
The dress code in Kuwait is generally relaxed although it is recommended for visitors to avoid wearing very revealing clothes (e.g sleeveless tops or very short skirts or shorts) whenever they are in public places, out of respect to local culture and traditions. However, private beaches attached to the hotels can be used for further relaxed dressin
When is Ramadan and how is it observed in Kuwait?
Ramadan generally falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar year (Al Hijri), where observant Muslims not only abstain from food, drinking and smoking from dawn to dusk, but in general practice restraint from all activities or behaviors that are not compatible with Islamic values. During Ramadan eating, smoking and drinking any beverage in public areas are not allowed until the fast is broken (iftaar) at dusk. Ramadan in 2009 is expected to start on Friday, the 21st of August and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 19th of September
Why are there certain days of the week when some parks and recreation centers are allocated only for ladies and children?
This practice is in line with the local custom where some Muslim women prefer not to be seen in public by men who are not their relatives
What is the local currency and what is its current value?
The local currency is dinar (KWD or KD) which is divided into 1000 fils and is pegged against a basket of currencies. According to the present rates (as of June 1, 2009) the one Kuwait dinar stands at 3.46 US dollars or ~163 Indian Rupee
Can I use my debit and credit cards when shopping in Kuwait?
Most retail shops, hotels as well as casual dining restaurants in Kuwait accept major credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.). It is prudent to confirm acceptance of credit card or debit card payments with staff especially if there is no visible signage indicating acceptance of credit card payment at the store premises or at the till/counter
Do I have easy access to cash while in Kuwait?
Most ATMs across Kuwait bear the Visa, Cirrus, Maestro or Plus logos, which means credit card owners can withdraw cash against their accounts using these ATMs. Hotels also provide foreign exchange services, and foreign exchange bureaus are aplenty across the city
What time do shops open?
Most retail establishments in Kuwait are open between 7am and 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and stay open longer, sometimes until midnight on Friday, Saturday and public holidays. Some shops remain closed from 1pm to 4pm, and most shops open only after 2pm on Friday, which is the Muslim holiday
It is also customary for many retail establishments to remain closed from 1pm to 6pm during the holy month of Ramadan. Most food establishments that are located in public areas generally start serving food only after iftaar, or when the fast is broken, during Ramadan
Are prices of merchandise fixed or can I negotiate for discounts?
Bargaining is a time-honoured tradition throughout the souks (markets) of the Arab world and particularly Kuwait. Visitors can get quoted prices almost halved with some serious negotiation. The experience should be treated as fun but once a price has been verbally agreed upon, the customer is expected to buy. However, while bargaining is expected in traditional markets, it is not the custom in shopping malls and centres. Nonetheless, it may still be worth it to ask for a discount, as some shops have some leeway when it comes to prices
What are the best buys for tourists in Kuwait?
If you are looking for gold jewellery and/or exotic Persian carpets and other handicrafts, Kuwait’s souks might offer you the best deal (so long you have good negotiating skills). For shoppers of luxury items, the absence of sales tax or any other type of taxes is an excellent incentive to buy. We also suggest you try the local dates products (fresh, baked or preserved), which are simply irresistible
Is there any return or exchange policies in place for products that have been purchased?
Retail shops have varied return/exchange policies but generally they allow customers to either return or exchange items within a given time frame, and as long as you can produce the official receipt of the purchase transaction
How much am I expected to spend for a meal in a restaurant in Kuwait?
There are endless choices for dining in Kuwait, ranging from fast-food to casual dining restaurants. A Big Mac meal costs about KD 1.5, while an English afternoon tea in a five-star hotel would cost approximately KD 5. Dining in popular Indian, Asian or Arabic restaurants could cost anywhere between KD 4 and KD 8 per person, whilst a full- course meal in a high-end restaurant would cost no less than KD 15 per person, excluding beverages and service charges
How much do I give for tips or gratuities?
Tipping is not expected, but is commonly practiced in Kuwait. Gratuities to staff at hotels are at your discretion. Most restaurants add service charges to the bill. If this charge is not included, add 10% to the total of the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given 250 fils
What are the official working hours in Kuwait?
Offices are generally open from 7:30am to 3pm, Sunday to Thursday, while private companies normally operate between 9am and 6pm. Some establishments have three to four-hour break from 1pm, and resume operations in the evening from 4pm or 5pm until 9pm. It is recommended to visit government offices in the morning and to make a call to confirm an appointment prior to leaving your hotel or accommodation
When is weekend observed in Kuwait?
Weekend comprises Friday and Saturday for government offices and most private companies. There are, however, certain offices that remain open on Saturdays and operate half-day (until 1pm or 2pm) on Thursdays
What is the best way to get around Kuwait?
It depends on how much time you have to stay or to explore the city. If you’re on a brief, two-day trip, your travel agency could organize tours that include transportation to and from the places you would like to visit. If you’re staying for a bit longer, you may utilize the taxi services as long as you are able to speak English and remember the landmark structures within the vicinity of your destinations or your hotel. For unknown reasons, most Kuwait residents are more conversant with landmarks and building names rather than with street or building numbers. Renting a car is also an option for those with an international driving license. Otherwise, the bus network that plies throughout the Kuwait is very efficient
What are the requirements for renting a private vehicle in Kuwait?
Some car rental agencies require a valid customer passport as a deposit when the customer collects the car. Others, however, merely require a copy or impression of the customer’s credit card as well as copies of valid passport and international driving license
What is the average rate per night in Kuwait hotels?
Five-star single room accommodation rates in Kuwait range from KD 60 to KD 2,70 per night, while rates of suites start at KD 120 per night, excluding taxes. Rates may or may not include breakfast, and the wide discrepancy in rates depends on the location, amenities and type (star rating, business or resort) of the hotel. A growing number of hotels in Kuwait are now accepting online reservations and nearly all hotels accept credit card payments
Are there any hotel-apartments in Kuwait?
An increasing number of five-star hotels are now integrating fully furnished hotel apartments into their properties. Hotel apartments are ideal for families or for those who plan an extended stay in Kuwait. Reasonably-priced hotel apartments can be found in the city centre area. These hotel apartments charge within the range of KD 30 and KD 60 per night or KD 500 to KD900 per month for single or double room
Do hotels accept traveler cheques?
Yes, although there are more hotels that accept credit card and cash payments only compared to those that accept all three modes of payment
Is Kuwait safe for tourists?
The crime rate in Kuwait is very low if not virtually zero, and the Kuwait Police has highly efficient law enforcement and emergency procedures in place. Law enforcement officers are also generally courteous and helpful to visitors and residents alike. However, for emergencies you may call the following numbers
777 - Ambulance service
What outdoor and indoor activities can I, or my family, enjoy while in Kuwait?
Kuwait has some well-maintained beaches, resorts and parks, with year-round sunshine to boot. There is no shortage of world-class golf courses or challenging water sports. Neither will you lack finding a comforting spa or beauty saloon before preparing for a night on the town, for some serious shopping, for a movie or fancy dinner and some entertainment.
Visitors should note, however, that certain daytime activities maybe limited during Ramadan due to the prohibition of public consumption of food and beverages during daylight. Furthermore, live entertainment in clubs and restaurants in the evenings are discontinued during Ramadan
When is the best time to visit Kuwait for recreational purposes?
If you’re an outdoors person, you may prefer to visit Kuwait between November and May, when the temperature is moderately warm to cool.