Kuwait has the sixth-largest oil reserves in the world. The exportation of oil and petroleum products has made it one of the richest countries in the world in per capita terms. With the substantial oil revenues, the government provides Kuwait’s citizens with extensive social welfare services, employment, and housing.
Its booming economy has made Kuwait a popular destination for migrant workers and expatriates. Currently, the Kuwaitis only make up about one-third of the total population. The other two-thirds consist of immigrant groups living in Kuwait from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, and many other countries. You’ll be joining 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 will make expat life in Kuwait bearable, even if you are not used to the heat. However, do not forget to pack some warm clothes, too, if you’ll be living in Kuwait over the winter. Temperatures can drop as low as 0° C.
The majority of Kuwaitis are Sunni Muslims. Islam remains an important part of everyday culture and influences most aspects of social and private life in Kuwait. Inshallah — if God wills it — is a phrase you will hear frequently during your daily life in this Muslim country. Note that alcohol, pork, and pornography are illegal.
At the same time, the cultural influences of immigrants in Kuwait can be seen everywhere, from international cuisine to the colorful dresses visible on the city streets. Kuwait has also developed quite an extensive Western-style expat infrastructure. There are many international schools, as well as local and international newspapers and television programs in English. Living in Kuwait, you may not even have to miss out on your favorite international groceries 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 living in Kuwait much easier.
Kuwait has a reputable public healthcare system that provides free or low-cost healthcare to all its residents, including expats living in Kuwait. In addition, some employers offer expatriate employees private healthcare plans as part of their remuneration package. However, the government has approved a proposal to eventually ban expats from using public healthcare facilities in the near future, with plans to build expat-only hospitals charging a considerably higher price.
Medical facilities and treatment at public and private hospitals are usually on par with North American and European standards. For very specialized treatments, however, those who can afford the costs — both expats and citizens alike — often seek medical care outside of the country.
In Kuwait, 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. However, a quick look at the main pharmaceutical ingredients should help resolve any confusion or uncertainty.
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