Kuwait at a Glance
Living in KuwaitiStockphoto
Islam plays an important role in Kuwaiti society.
Kuwait has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. The export of oil and petroleum products has made it the eleventh richest country in per capita terms. With the enormous oil revenues, the government provides Kuwait’s citizens with extensive social welfare services, employment and housing.
Its booming economy has made it a popular destination for migrant workers and expatriates. Currently, Kuwaitis only make up just over one third of the total population of Kuwait. The other two thirds consist of immigrant groups from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria and many other countries. In Kuwait, you’ll join a large, professional expat community.
Kuwait is basically surrounded by desert. The average annual rainfall is about 115 mm. During the summer months, temperatures can climb up to 50° C in the shade. Nevertheless, extensive use of air-conditioning makes expat life in Kuwait bearable even for those who are not used to the heat. However, do not forget to pack some coats for the winter, too. Temperatures can be as low as 0° C in the winter.
Culture and Everyday Life
The majority of Kuwaitis are Sunni Muslims. Islam remains an important part of everyday culture and influences most aspects of social and personal life in Kuwait. Inshallah – if God wills it – is a phrase you will hear frequently during your daily life in this Muslim country. Alcohol, pork and pornography are illegal.
At the same time, the cultural influences of immigrants in Kuwait are visible everywhere, from international cuisine to the colorful dresses visible on Kuwait’s streets. Kuwait has also developed quite an extensive Western-style expat infrastructure. There are many international schools, English-language newspapers and television programs. Living in Kuwait, you may not even have to miss out on your favorite groceries from home, either.
New arrivals in Kuwait are advised to familiarize themselves with the most important Islamic traditions. Learning some basic common phrases in Arabic will also make everyday life much easier.
Healthcare in Kuwait
Kuwait has a reputable public healthcare system which provides free or low-cost healthcare to all its residents, including expats in Kuwait. In addition, some employers offer expatriate employees private healthcare plans as part of their remuneration package.
Medical facilities and treatment at both public and private hospitals are usually comparable to North American and European standards. For very specialized treatment, however, those who can afford it – both expats and citizens alike – seek medical care outside of the country.
Vaccinations are available free of charge at public clinics. All children need a tuberculosis vaccine in order to attend school while living in Kuwait. Pharmacies are usually well-equipped, though they may sell medication under different names than you are used to. A quick look at the main pharmaceutical ingredient should help resolve any confusion or uncertainty.