Kuwait lies at the head of the Arabian Gulf, between latitude 28 and 30 north and
longitude 46 and 48 east. The land area of Kuwait is approximately 7,500 square
miles, or roughly the size of Wales and is for the most part, flat. It has no rivers and no
lakes. It is bounded on the west and north by Iraq, on the east by the Arabian Gulf and
on the south by Saudi Arabia. There are nine islands, the largest of which are Failaka,
Bubiyan and Warba, although none of them are inhabited. The government has set a
population limit of 1.2 million of which 600,000 will be Kuwaiti. The Head of State is
the Amir, who has appointed a Prime Minister (who happens to be a relative) to
oversee all things political.
The country is split for administrative purposes into five Govenerates, being Capital,
Hawalli, Farwaniya, Jahra & Ahmedi, however a look at a map will see three distinct
areas of habitation, (1) the city and its suburbs, stretching south to the 6th ring road,
(2) a strip stretching from Messilah and heading south to Ahmedi, and (3) Jahra in the
Arabic is the official language although English is very widely used .
English is also the official language for major contracts. Kuwaitis do not
expect westerners to know their language .
The ambient temperature is hot (to say the least) in summer, with official temperatures
of 50°C being registered and 55 being the unofficial high in July and August. Humidity
at this time of year is usually very low, due to the Northwesterly winds being hot and
dry. Southeasterly winds, usually hot and damp, occur during July and October.
Humidity can reach the 90% range at this time, making it extremely unpleasant, and
spectacle wearers should take care when leaving air conditioning as a thick fog soon
appears. What may also surprise you is how cold a winter morning can be. It has been
known to approach zero, however hell very rarely freezes over. Sand storms are
frequent especially in summer. Rain is almost nonexistent and comes in short bursts,
when it can be bothered, and amounts to some six inches a year, Summer is
deemed to run from May to October only dry! As an obvious word of warning, if you
are a little thin on top (or have short cropped hair), wear a hat.
Time and Hours of Business:
Local time is 3 hours ahead of GMT. The Hejira calendar is in use, so the weekend is
Thursday and Friday, however for some companies you can expect to work some of
Thursday. Government departments work 7.00 till 2.00 Saturday to Wednesday
except Ramadan which changes by 11 or 12 days each year depending on the cycle
of the moon, Banks open 8.00 till 2.00 Sunday to Thursday, some also open one
evening a week (usually around pay day) but this practice is variable and taken on
chance. Shop hours are an unknown quantity but core hours are definitely 9.00 till
12.00 and 4.30 till 9.00 Saturday till Thursday.
The larger food stores stay open all day and the Sultan Centres are open 24 hours.
Fixed dates include: New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Kuwaiti National Day (Feb 25),
Liberation Day (Feb 26) Variable holidays are based on sighting the moon and
include: Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islamic
New Year, Birth of the Prophet & Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet).
The local currency is the Kuwaiti Dinar, usually written "KD",,
There are 5, 10, 20, 50 & 100 fil coins and ¼, ½, 1, 5, 10 & 20KD notes. At the
time of writing the exchange rate is approx.
Both cash and traveler’s cheques are readily converted at the various money
changers, but it would help to bring about 20KD in case of any hassle at the airport.
All major credit cards are accepted in most shops (often with 4% surcharge for all but
the large ones), however the Co-op for instance only accepts Visa (with reluctance)
and your cards will work in some ATMs and can be used over the counter to obtain a
cash advance. Expats are actively encouraged by banks to open a local account and
whilst Islam prohibits making a profit from your fellow man, they do offer expat
accounts, which bear interest check the possibility of getting some of your salary paid
locally, as transfer charges can be excessive. The reverse is also true, though to a
lesser extent if you will be salaried in Kuwait but wish to send money home - banks will
Although Kuwait is an Islamic State, unlike Saudi Arabia,we are quite tolerant towards
other religions, some of which are represented in the guise of:
Anglican, St. Paul’s Church, Tel. 398 3252 or 398 5929
Presbyterian, National Evangelical Church, Tel. 243 1087 or 240 7195
Roman Catholic, Church of the Holy Family, Tel. 243 4228 or 243 4637
Church of our Lady of Arabia, tel. 398 2465