The Language Barrier in Kuwait
English is widely spoken in Kuwait, as it’s the compulsory second language taught in schools. It’s for this reason life for expats isn’t too difficult when it comes to language barriers. Having said this, Arabic is the official language in Kuwait – therefore learning some helpful words and phrases would definitely be worthwhile.
Weather & Climate
Situated between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is largely comprised of inhospitable desert land. There is very little – if any – rain and temperatures drop to 10°C in January, and reach highs of 42°C in August.
Kuwait’s land is flat and is therefore protected from many natural disasters. The largest natural threat in the region is sand storms and drought.
British Embassy in Kuwait
|Address:||Arabian Gulf Street|
|Phone:||(+965) 2259 4320|
|Fax:||(+965) 2259 4339|
|Office hours:||Local Time|
Sun-Weds: 730am – 3.30pm
Thurs: 7.30am – 1.30pm
Emergency Services Contact Information in Kuwait
|Emergency Service||Contact Number|
Health in Kuwait
It’s recommended that those travelling to Kuwait visit their GP before doing so, to obtain the latest medical advice. In addition to ensuring the UK’s standard inoculations such as MMR and Tetanus are up to date, a medical professional might recommend additional vaccinations for travel to Kuwait. This may include Hepatitis A and B, and Rabies, depending on the type of travel and locations you will visit.
Medical services in Kuwait are of an excellent standard. They are free for Kuwaiti nationals, however expats must pay a flat rate per visit. At the time of writing this is KD10 (around £25). Out-of-the-ordinary treatment or services such as x-rays are charged at an additional cost.
Driving while Living in Kuwait
Driving in Kuwait can be a considerable challenge for some expats. This is mostly due to the fact that local drivers do not always abide by the local law. It is common to see drivers speeding and overtaking with no warning, and many ignore traffic lights and use their mobile phone. Because of this, expat drivers need to remain alert and try to pre-empt the behaviour of drivers around them.
While the legal driving age is 18, only those aged over 21 are permitted to hire vehicles. There is usually congestion in the built-up areas of Kuwait, meaning the driving speed remains low. Outside of these areas, however, the roads become clear and pace much quicker. Along with reckless drivers, a main concern for anyone driving in Kuwait is sandstorms. Unfortunately these occur fairly frequently, and with little warning. If you find yourself driving in a sandstorm, your visibility will be hugely impaired, so make sure your lights are on, reduce your speed, and make sure you switch in-car ventilation to internal rather than external.
Getting your Driving Licence
It’s legal to drive in Kuwait with your own national licence or an International Driver’s Licence, until the point of becoming a resident. Expats who plan to stay in Kuwait should obtain a local licence. General rules say that to obtain a Kuwait driver’s licence, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Have resided in Kuwait for at least two years
- Have a university degree
- Earn a salary of KD 600 (£1512) per month minimum
Expats with certain professions may be exempt from one or more of these rules.
To apply for a licence, applicants must supply:
- Blood type certificate
- Original and copy of Civil ID
- Original and copy of passport
- 2x passport photos (with blue background)
- Written letter from residential sponsor (for expats)
They must also pay the relevant fee, get a medical check-up carried out, and complete the application form. Those who have a doctoral degree need only pass a vision exam before they are given a Kuwaiti licence. Anyone else must take a theory and practical exam.
Kuwait has a right hand-side driving network, with many of its own unique rules. For example, drivers must come to a complete stop at roundabouts, rather than simply give way. Seat belts are mandatory, handheld mobile phones are banned while driving, and all relevant driving documentation (licence, registration, and insurance) must be carried at all times.
All children under the age of ten must travel in the back seat, either in a car seat or held by an adult. Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait, and as such driving under the influence is strictly prohibited and will be met with severe punishment.