Think Kuwait, and you may think of the First Gulf War, burning oil wells, or imagine wealthy Arab sheikhs, but dig a little deeper and find that there is more than meets the eye in this little country in the Persian Gulf.
Did you know that the Greeks had a little colony just off the coast? Go visit Failaka Island and discover the fluted Dorian columns of long vanished Icaria. Walk along the corniche at sunset and visit the iconic Kuwait Towers. For some history head to the National Museum Complex, or escape the heat in one of the many malls. Visit the Red Fort in Al Jahra or go inland into the desert. To find out what the Iraqi invasion felt like to the Kuwaitis head to the Kuwait House of National Memorial Museum.
Kuwaitis are conservative and the country is an Islamic Emirate ruled by the Al-Sabah family, but has, for the region, a relatively democratic government.
Entry into the country is straightforward with a visa-on-arrival, valid for three months. Getting around by public transport is hard, but feasible.
While Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken and understood.
Alcohol is prohibited in Kuwait and eating in public during Ramadan is also an offence.
Hints and Tips for Kuwait
- Like most countries on the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is expensive. To reduce your costs, you may consider a hospitality exchange service like couch surfing.
- Public transport isn’t great, if you have a little more to spend, think about hiring a car or getting a taxi. That said, if you are not planning on leaving the city, you can easily get around either on foot or by bus.
- Kuwait is hot! Like elsewhere in the region, the best time to visit is from October to April.
- The government is more conservative than those of the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain, as such, alcohol is completely prohibited, as is eating during Ramadan.
- Tourism is nearly non-existent here, most people come for business, so don’t expect much of a tourist industry. You will have to figure it out for yourself.