Living in Kuwait?
Driving and Transportation in Kuwait
Driving in Kuwait — With Heavenly Gas Prices
Cars are easily the most popular way of getting around in Kuwait. Many expats enjoy the cheap gas prices in Kuwait when driving, which often would be much more expensive back in their home countries. Most cars in the Gulf region are equipped with a heavy duty transmission, a large radiator, and a very effective air conditioning system.
Gas stations in Kuwait are operated by the state. With 70 fils (around 0.23 USD) per liter, Kuwait has gas prices most of us can only dream of. Kuwait also has a well-developed infrastructure of urban expressways. Nevertheless, traffic can be heavy during peak hours, and accident rates are relatively high.
When they first arrive in Kuwait, expats may drive a car if they have an International Driving Permit. Once your new Kuwaiti Civil ID has been issued, however, you are required to obtain a Kuwaiti driver’s license. However, recent measures have made it more difficult for expats to acquire a local driver’s license. The new conditions take the following factors into account: age, health, fitness, passing driving tests, holding a valid iqama for at least two years prior to application, holding a university degree, and receiving a minimum monthly salary of 600 KWD.
Buy a Used Car
Expats are not permitted to bring a car with them from their home country. Only Kuwaiti citizens are allowed to import cars. Most expats recommend buying a used car upon arrival, since new cars tend to be very expensive. And — considering local driving habits — they don’t look all that new after a while, anyway.
If you buy a used car, make sure to have it inspected by a mechanic. Stories by expats about broken-down cars and tedious repair problems are numerous. In fact, your best bet would be to buy a car from an expat about to leave Kuwait. Since cars bought in Kuwait usually don’t meet other countries’ emission standards, most expats sell their cars again prior to their departure.
Leasing or renting a car from a local agency is a popular alternative to buying one. In this way, you avoid having to deal with the hassle of repair problems and potentially unreliable mechanics.
Taxis — A Good Alternative to Your Own Car
Rather than buying or renting a car, a growing number of expats in Kuwait rely on taxis for getting around on a daily basis. Taxis in Kuwait are generally reliable, and prices are reasonable. Once you get to know a driver, he might even give you his personal phone number. Otherwise, you can always ask for a specific driver when calling for a taxi.
Keep in mind that taxis in Kuwait often do not use taximeters, even though they are obliged to use them by law. Therefore, always agree on the fare before you actually get into the taxi. Most taxi companies have zone-based fares and this may be a problem if your destination is relatively close but lies in a different zone.
There are a lot of unofficial "taxis" roaming the streets of Kuwait, too. They usually just honk when passing someone and offer a ride. However, their fares are not subject to any regulation, and it is best to avoid them.
Ticket to Ride: Public Transportation in Kuwait
Though there are plans to build a railway and metro system in the future, buses are currently the only means of public transportation available in Kuwait. The two public bus companies are the state-owned Kuwait Public Transportation Company (KPTC) and CityBus. Their routes cover most of the state’s more densely populated areas.
Buses in Kuwait are generally very safe and reliable, and they run approximately every ten minutes. Buses are air conditioned, and fares range from around 200 to 250 fils (around 0.50 to 0.70 USD) per ride, depending on the distance traveled.
Men, be aware that seats at the front of the bus are usually reserved for women. This does not mean that women have to sit in one of these seats. However, they can ask men to leave if they occupy a seat in that particular section.
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