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Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 10/13/2004 7:18 AM

Kuwait is located in the northeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bounded on the north and west by Iraq, on the south by Saudi Arabia, and on the east by the Arabian Gulf. With an area of about 7,780 square miles, it is slightly smaller than New Jersey.

The country is a sandy, riverless desert interspersed with small hills. Vegetation is sparse. Kuwait's climate is typical of the region. Summer (April-October) temperatures often exceed 120 °F, although daytime temperatures of 110-115 °F are more common. Mean annual rainfall is 45 inches and occurs mostly during December and January. Short autumn and spring seasons (November, February, and March) are delightful. During winter (December and January), clear, sunny days are common, but it is often cold enough to require a light winter coat in the mornings and evenings. In the early morning the frost point is occasionally reached. Sand and dust storms occur throughout the year, especially between March and August. Periods of high humidity occur, but during the hottest months (June, July, and August), humidity levels usually remain very low.

Population Last Updated: 10/13/2004 7:20 AM

Foreign nationals comprise about 60% of Kuwait’s population of two million. The largest foreign groups are Egyptians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Filipinos. The largest Western community is Americans (about 12,000), followed by British. French, Germans, and Canadians are also represented. Kuwaiti citizens include recently settled Bedouin and long-established townspeople with antecedents in central Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. This variety of origins is reflected in religion: about 65% of Kuwaitis are Sunni Muslims; the remainder are Shi’ite Muslims. Although Sunnis comprise the ruling elite, many Shi’a have acquired great wealth and the influence money brings.

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely understood and spoken by the younger generation of Kuwaitis. The literacy rate, estimated at more than 60%, is one of the highest in the Arab World, and exceeds 70% among persons under 30. Population growth is 3.5% for Kuwaiti citizens and 2.8% for non-Kuwaitis.

Kuwait’s standard of living approaches that of the most developed Western states in many respects. Most Kuwaiti families own a car. Homes of wealthy Kuwaitis are large and, in some cases, palatial. While there are pockets of relative poverty, Kuwait’s generous system of government social programs guarantees a minimum standard of living that is high by Third World standards.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 10/13/2004 7:46 AM

Kuwait, independent since 1961, is a Constitutional Monarchy governed by a Hereditary Emirate. The Chief of State is the Emir, who selects the Prime Minister in consultation with senior members of the ruling family. Traditionally the Emir’s successor, the Crown Prince, served as Prime Minister, but this link was abolished by Amiri decree in 2003. The ruling family's selection of a Crown Prince is subject to Parliamentary approval. Kuwait’s Emirs have traditionally governed in consultation with members of several commercially powerful families and other influential community leaders. With the emergence of Kuwait as an economically wealthy state, based initially on its vast oil resources and subsequently on its overseas investments, actual power was increasingly centered in the hands of the ruling Al-Sabah family.

Kuwait’s National Assembly, the seat of Kuwaiti legislative power, has served both to institutionalize traditional consultative participation with the ruling family and to act as an outlet for popular expression. Its 50 popularly elected deputies are chosen by an electorate composed of the about 137,000 adult male Kuwaiti citizens who can trace their Kuwaiti ancestry back to 1920. (Kuwait has not granted suffrage to women—the most recent effort, in 2004, failed by 2 votes in Parliament—or to members of the Armed Forces.) The entire Cabinet sits in the Assembly ex officio, although at least one must be a sitting member of the Assembly. The Cabinet approved a draft bill that would grant women political rights. The bill is expected to come before the Assembly during the upcoming 2004/2005 session.

Officially, political parties are banned. Nonetheless, political activity finds an outlet in social clubs and religious societies as well as through family or neighborhood fora, known as “diwaniyyas.” A number of political “groupings,” both secular and Islamic, act as political parties during elections and in the National Assembly. Labor unions are permitted in several sectors but, since they are financed by the Government, seldom act independently.

Kuwait’s democracy, albeit limited, is much more open and participatory than are the regimes of its neighbors. In a single generation, oil-related wealth has brought vast change to the once poor, isolated members of the society. The large expatriate population has also exposed Kuwaitis to numerous social and cultural forces. Through a highly developed system of free education and health care, housing allowances and guaranteed employment for citizens, Kuwait has liberally distributed its vast oil wealth among the population, giving it one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 10/13/2004 7:55 AM

A traditional Arab shaikhdom, Kuwait has a cultural life of its own. Kuwait has several artists who work in their own homes or in government-sponsored art studios and who give occasional public showings.

Arab and Western music is heard on radio and TV and in public settings in connection with special events. Western music is also presented at various times during the year, primarily by performers sponsored by Western embassies, cultural centers, or major international hotels.

Kuwait has made great strides in its pursuit of scientific knowledge. Most scientific subjects are offered at the undergraduate level at Kuwait University, while research is carried on at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and in projects funded by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science (KFAS), whose general aim is to support the efforts for modernization and scientific development within the State of Kuwait. The Scientific Center of Kuwait is the latest KFAS project where visitors to the Aquarium can walk through three major zones that simulate Arabian Gulf ecosystems: Desert, Coastal Edge, Sea.

Education is free for all Kuwaiti children. Most foreign dependents attend private schools that charge rates approved by the Ministry of Education. At the university level, Kuwaiti nationals attend Kuwait University free, while other nationalities pay a fee. Scholarships are available for many students from other Islamic and Arab countries. Kuwaitis who wish to study subjects not offered at Kuwait University are eligible for government scholarships to study abroad, and many other Kuwaitis do so at their own expense. During the 2000-2001 academic year, over 16,000 students were enrolled at Kuwait University, and about 4,000 were studying in the U.S. on scholarship or privately funded programs.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 10/30/2004 8:12 AM

Desert nomads from Saudi Arabia founded modern Kuwait in about 1740, but archeological evidence indicates habitation for over 3,000 years. Because of its Gulf location, fishing, pearl diving, and trading became the most important occupations. Oil was discovered in 1938, but production was insignificant until after World War II. Since 1950, the country has developed rapidly. Today, Kuwait’s prosperity depends on oil and income generated by oil revenues invested primarily in the U.S. and Europe. The oil sector provides more than 92% of Kuwait’s export earnings and a comparable proportion of total government revenues. Many other commercial and economic activities serve the petroleum industry and its employees.

Existing industries include water-desalination plants, oil refineries with desulfurizing plants, an LPG plant, an ammonia plant, a chemical fertilizer factory, a polyethylene plant, cement, brick, and concrete block production, bottling plants, and various light industries.

Kuwait's per capita imports are among the highest in the world. The local market reflects Kuwait’s free trade outlook. Since 1965, the U.S. has been one of the leading exporters to Kuwait, owing to Kuwait’s purchases of American aircraft, industrial equipment, cars, air-conditioners, and other durable consumer goods. However, and primarily due to the jump in international oil prices, the former U.S. trade surplus with Kuwait had turned negative. The U.S. has posted trade deficits with Kuwait in the amounts of USD 1994, 926, and 1197 million in 2001, 2002, and 2003 respectively. A wide range of products from the U.S., Europe, neighboring countries, and the Far East are also available. Kuwaiti importers choose their goods almost entirely by price and local demand, not by national origin.


Automobiles Last Updated: 10/17/2004 8:18 AM

Private cars are the principal means of practical and dependable transportation in Kuwait. Driving is on the right; roads and highways are excellent, and several major highways exist. Most principal roads are divided highways with four to six lanes. Excellent all-weather highways lead south and west to Saudi Arabia. The accident rate in Kuwait is one of the world's highest, due to excessive speed, lax enforcement, and a lack of basic training of many drivers. Practice defensive driving to avoid accidents.

All privately owned vehicles must be imported under the owners’ names and registered and licensed with the Kuwait Traffic Department. Before registration, you must have third-party-liability and personal insurance at a cost of KD 19.500 (about US$66.50) a year for a regular 5-passenger vehicle. Comprehensive insurance is available locally; the price varies according to vehicle, age, value, etc. A vehicle must be mechanically and visually inspected by Traffic Department inspectors; any mechanical problems and/or major dents, cracked windows, missing lights, etc., must be corrected or repaired before the vehicle can be legally registered. The inspection covers the brakes, motor condition, lights, wipers, windows, mirrors, and general appearance of the vehicle. Diplomatic license tags are free; Kuwaiti license tags cost KD 10.000 (about US$35). Diplomats pay KD 0.500 for a temporary Kuwaiti driver’s license, and KD 1.000 per person for a permanent Kuwaiti drivers license.

Any employee or dependent over 18 years old residing in Kuwait may obtain a Kuwaiti driver's license, either by presenting a valid U.S. or European license or by taking a driving test. The latter is a long, drawn-out, time-consuming procedure. Non-resident personnel on TDY may obtain a 30-day temporary license on presentation of a valid international drivers license. Four photos (1 ” x 1 ”) are required. The Embassy handles all processing for insurance, registration, and drivers licenses.

SUV’s and large American passenger cars are popular in Kuwait as roads are broad and flat and gasoline is inexpensive. Luxury cars such as Mercedes-Benz are a common sight. Toyota, Datsun, Mazda, BMW, and other Japanese and European-made cars are also popular. Parts and services for GM, Ford, and Chrysler products and for most Japanese and European vehicles are available locally, but parts and labor are expensive. Smaller neighborhood garages are less expensive for repairs, but are not always reliable.

Please note the following Government of Kuwait (GOK) restrictions on imported vehicles:

1). Kuwait does not allow the importation of pick-up trucks as Personally-Owned Vehicles (POV’s). The GOK does not grant waivers to this restriction.
2). Kuwait does not generally allow the importation of vehicles five years or older. Post, however, can request an exemption from this restriction. To request an exemption for your POV, please send a fax to the GSO Shipping Unit, (965) 539-8241 or (965) 538-0282, at least three weeks prior to the vehicle's shipping date. The fax should include a copy of your passport and the make, model, year, color and Vehicle Identification Number of the car.
3. Vehicles with glass tinted darker than international standard AS2 are generally not allowed in Kuwait. However, Post has received a blanket waiver from the GOK to import vehicles with darker tinting. No further documentation from you is required.

4). A vehical Title is required by the Kuwaiti inspection department.

If you are buying a new car for use in Kuwait, you may wish to select one that is light in color to reflect heat and equipped with factory-installed air conditioning.

Local purchase and installation of air conditioning is expensive and may not be satisfactory. Air conditioning is a must during the summer months. Try to bring a vehicle equipped with lightly tinted glass to reduce glare, and cloth materials for the seat upholstery to reduce interior heat. Vinyl or leather seat covers retain heat and are uncomfortable. If you are in doubt as to what type of vehicle to ship, contact the Embassy’s GSO Office before shipping a vehicle

Used vehicles are readily available in Kuwait at reasonable prices. Most Japanese, European, and American (GM, Chrysler, and Ford) companies have new car dealerships in Kuwait. Locally purchased new cars are equipped to run on unleaded fuel and are designed to meet specifications within the Gulf States.

Since the Embassy’s few official vehicles are heavily used for business, ship your car at the earliest possible time as the Embassy cannot provide you with transportation for personal use. As noted above, you may not ship a pickup truck as your POV, as pickup trucks are considered commercial vehicles in Kuwait and consequently can be registered only to businesses.

Routine maintenance, such as lubrication, tune-up, and oil change, is frequently necessary in Kuwait due to heat and dust. Both leaded and unleaded gasoline are available in Kuwait. State-controlled gas stations are conveniently located throughout Kuwait City and surrounding areas. Stations sell 90 octane gasoline at 60 fils per liter (@ $.81 per gallon) and 98 octane at 65 fils per liter (@ $.88 per gallon). The stations will also change engine oil and add fluids.

Lubrication and repairs are done at a garage or at a car dealer providing maintenance service. Obtaining parts or service is generally not a problem.

Duty of 5% of the value of the vehicle is added to the sale of imported vehicles when sold to a person without duty-free privileges. Vehicles depreciate in value just as in the U.S. Four-door passenger models have the best resale value.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:40 AM

Several taxi firms may be called for pickup service. Taxis are readily available only at the airport, hotels, and in the center of the city. Fares are reasonable, and tipping is unnecessary. Public buses provide cheap transportation between the central district and most outlying areas, but poor scheduling, variations in arrival times, and language difficulties discourage use by most Westerners.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:41 AM

For destinations outside Kuwait, air transportation is commonly used, and adequate connections can be made to most points. Kuwait is served by a number of international airlines (see Getting to the Post). For travel to the U.S. from Kuwait, the traveler can connect with American carriers in several major European cities. No train service operates from Kuwait.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 10/18/2004 8:17 AM

Telephone service in Kuwait, both international and local, is generally good however it can be expensive to call the U.S. or Europe. Local (landline) telephone calls are free. A 3-minute call to the U.S. costs about 65 cents a minute and 48 cents for each additional minute.

Calling card service through carriers such as AT&T, MCI or Sprint is not available at present. Most businesses and hotels (certainly all 5-star hotels) have a fax machine.

Cellular telephone service is available. Coverage throughout the country is extensive. A cellular phone can be bought for about $100. Global roaming (GSM) is available at a cost of about $500. A cell phone call costs about 13 cents (US) per minute. Bills are not itemized.

Internet Last Updated: 10/18/2004 8:14 AM

There are several Internet Service Providers (ISP's) and speed options to choose from in Kuwait. Most American employees have some type of Internet service in the residences. Prices vary a bit from one ISP to another but speed, service and line quality can be the most important factors in your choice of ISP's. Signal quality and speeds range from excellent to adequate depending on the neighborhood due to the city's inconsistent telecom lines. A talk with your neighbors will quickly give you good information regarding which ISP works best for a particular area. Many employees use DSL (high speed) connections that range in price from about 18 KD ($60) a month for 64 Kbps service to about 110 KD ($363) a month for 1024 Kbps service. Prices are lower for three-month, six-month and annual subscriptions. Also, dial-up Internet cards are widely available throughout town. Prices for the cards vary and are sold according to the number of hours or days per card, e.g., 10 KD ($33) for 222 hours of use. Dial-up connections are generally good (40-56 Kbps), but access during certain periods, especially after midnight might be limited. Some ISP's offer discounts to Embassy personnel. The CLO section of the Embassy Intranet website ( provides further information about Kuwait ISP's.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 10/13/2004 7:49 AM

Transit time for international airmail letters to and from New York is 10 days. International surface mail takes two weeks.

American personnel assigned to the Embassy are authorized free use of the air pouch for letter mail to other posts, but letters from Kuwait to Washington via air pouch take 8-10 days to clear the Department, and up to 20 days to reach their final destination.

Transit times vary based on what part of the Continental U.S. parcels and letters are mailed to and from. The average transit time for letters is:

Continental U.S. to Kuwait = 85% arrives by 5th day, 99% arrives by 7th day
Kuwait to Continental U.S. = 83% arrives by 5th day, 90% arrives by 7th day

The average transit time for Priority Parcels is:

Continental U.S. to Kuwait = 97% arrive by the 10thday
Kuwait to Continental U.S. = 74% arrives by 7th day, 96% arrives by 10th day

Mail sent via international postal service should be addressed as follows:

American Embassy
P.O. Box 77 Safat
Kuwait 13001

Mail sent by pouch should be addressed

Department of State
6200 Kuwait Place
Washington,D.C. 20521-6200

Mail sent by APO should be addressed as follows:

For personal mail:
PSC 1280 Box ###
APO AE 09880

For official mail:
Office ( MGT, OMC-K,B&F etc...)
PSC 1280 Box ##
APO AE 09880

As a Category “A” post with full APO services, American personnel are required to use the APO, not the pouch, for all personal mail to and from the United States.

Users should not indicate “American Embassy,” “AmEmbassy Kuwait,” or any other such combination in the APO address in order to prevent problems or delays in receiving mail from domestic vendors/addresses in the U.S.

Federal Express, UPS, and DHL all have authorized agents in Kuwait, providing the usual express/courier mail services.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 10/27/2004 7:29 AM

TV: KTV has been broadcasting since 1961, and began color transmission in 1974. It is government controlled and operates on PAL 62 lines standard. KTV currently broadcasts on two channels. Channel 1 is exclusively Arabic, but includes a few non-Arabic programs dubbed or subtitled in Arabic. Channel 2 is almost exclusively foreign-language programs, about 90% of which are in English with Arabic subtitles.

Channel 1 begins transmission each day at 4 p.m. (earlier on Thursdays and Fridays), while Channel 2 begins daily at 5 p.m. Both channels finish transmitting at about midnight, later on Thursdays. Each channel carries one-half hour of news nightly-at 9 p.m. in Arabic on Channel 1 and at 8 p.m. in English on Channel 2. Many American programs are shown on KTV, chiefly on Channel 2. They consist mainly of cartoons, family situation comedies, police stories, and wildlife programs. An increasing number of better quality U.S. made-for-TV serials are also beginning to appear on KTV.

Satellite dishes and subscription services are now widely available in Kuwait. Orbit, Star, and Showtime networks are among the more popular English-language offerings, providing CNN, ESPN, US and British dramas, comedies, and serials. Fees, however, can run as high as $100 per month, although the average price is around $60 per month. Dishes and decoders (with installation included) will usually run about $200.

The Chancery compound is wired for satellite TV, and residents there have access to AFRTS as well as BBC World, and CNN International. They also recieve the local commercial channels including Arabic news channels Al Arabia, and Al Jazeera.

Radio: Kuwait Radio broadcasts daily in English, Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. Western rock is popular, and classical music is played regularly on the FM station. Voice of America, BBC, AFRTS, and other foreign radio services can be heard on FM and reception is generally good.

Radio listeners may wish to bring a good short-wave set to post.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 10/26/2004 8:33 AM

The Kuwaiti press has traditionally had the reputation of being the most active and unfettered in the Arab World. Kuwait has three English-language daily newspapers. The Kuwait Times, which caters to the South-East Asian and Western expatriate community, The Arab Times, which is geared toward the western expatriate, and the Daily Star which is a same day translation of the Arabic Al Watan, inserted in The International Herald Tribune. Five dailies and numerous weekly, biweekly, and monthly periodicals are published in Arabic. The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal (European edition), and the international editions of Time, USA Today, Newsweek and many other western newspapers and magazines are available.

American and British books on a variety of subjects are available at selected bookshops at 50%-100% above publisher prices. No public libraries carry collections in English.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 10/20/2004 7:25 AM

A Health Unit in the Embassy compound is managed by a Foreign Service Health Practitioner (FSHP). A Regional Medical Officer (RMO) stationed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is available for consultations and makes an annual visit.

The Regional Medical Officer – Psychiatry (RMO-P) in New Delhi is also available for consults, and will visit post annually and upon request. Several local hospitals can provide basic emergency or routine care. Obstetric care is very good and many embassy women have delivered in country at a recommended private hospital.

Most medical care can be provided in Kuwait. If the care is not available, London is the designated medevac point.

Families with infants and children may wish to bring a full supply of preferred nutritional supplements, fluoride tablets and vitamins, many of which are unavailable in Kuwait.

Bring an extra set of glasses or contact lenses, and have a prescription ready for refill of glasses or contacts. If you or family members are taking a long-standing medication, bring a minimum 6-month supply and arrange beforehand for regular refills.

Community Health Last Updated: 10/20/2004 7:21 AM

Respiratory infections, colds, coughs, sore throats, etc., lead the list of common complaints. Middle ear and external ear infections, sinusitis, and bronchitis are not uncommon. Dust aggravates the respiratory tract, complicating ordinary infections. Allergic and asthmatic persons may also have increased problems due to dust, and seasonal pollen (hay fever) in spring or fall (Feb-April and Aug-Nov). May through September is hot and dry, increasing the incidence of urinary tract infections, kidney stones, heat stroke, and exhaustion. Common sense measures are effective in preventing these conditions. High dry heat can cause serious problems of dehydration if preventive measures are not undertaken. Gastrointestinal infections are not common.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 10/20/2004 7:21 AM

Fruits and vegetables should be cleaned well before eating. Meat should be well-cooked. Fly and insect control is rudimentary. Obtain immunizations for typhoid, and tetanus. Have the basic series given in the U.S. Boosters will be given at the Health Unit as needed. Malaria suppressants are not necessary in Kuwait. No immunizations are required, but it is recommended that childhood immunizations be updated. Additional recommended immunizations are meningococcal and the Hepatitis A and B series.

To prevent sunburn, bring along a strong (SPF of at least 15) sunblock lotion. Local pharmacies carry some sunscreens, but the complete range may not always be available. Protective clothing is also a must, and sunglasses and a sun hat are useful during summer months.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:21 AM

An Bilateral Work Agreement between the U.S. and Kuwait was established in May 1993. Post is seeing more job opportunities on the economy for spouses; however, spouses must be determined and flexible in their job searches and recognize that salaries and the work environments will be different than in the US. Spouses with teaching degrees usually find work at one of the American-curriculum schools. These school also hire spouses without teaching degrees to work as teaching aides and assistants. Other spouses have found work as a programmer, a site manager, a human resources consultant, and a beautician, among other professions. Several spouses have set up their own import/export businesses or have functioned as business consultants. Several spouses have come to post with pre-established telecommuting jobs. Post anticipates the addition of a Local Employment Advisor in the spring of 2005 to assist spouses with job networking on the economy.

At present, dependent spouses are employed at the Embassy as CLO Coordinator and CLO Assistant, Commercial Service Assistant and Secretary, Residential Security Coordinator, APO Clerks, Consular Assistant, and several WAE positions that assist with projects, administrative assistant back-up, Iraq visit support and security escorting. In addition, the Department of Defense agencies, including the Office of Military Cooperation-Kuwait (OMC-K) and DIA Liaison Office, have hired eligible family members as a Secretary and a Protocol Assistant; they continue to partner with the Embassy on advertising civilian job opportunities. Dependents are also occasionally hired for specific limited duration, or emergency hire, jobs at the Embassy. A Summer Hire Program is also available for high school and college student dependents, depending upon the availability of funds and suitable work. In the summer of 2004 post was able to employ all interested high school and college dependents.

American Embassy - Kuwait

Post City Last Updated: 10/27/2004 7:32 AM

Greater Kuwait City extends 15 miles along the Bay of Kuwait and a similar distance down the coast of the Arabian Gulf, where a succession of smaller towns comprise with it a growing metropolitan area where most Kuwaitis live. The old city outgrew its mud walls with the advent of the country’s oil prosperity in the late 1950s, though a few gates have been preserved as historical monuments. The city has continued to expand along the coast, and new suburban communities have grown up adjacent to it.

Security Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:21 AM

Kuwait is situated between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, two environments that currently harbor some of the most dangerous and hostile anti-American terrorist groups in the world. Kuwait's third neighbor is Iran, a frequently hostile force that seeks to exert influence in Kuwait through various means, including subversion of the local Shi'a community. There have been numerous instances in the past year of both the physical and ideological threat from these neighbors crossing the porous land and sea borders and taking root in particular strata of Kuwaiti society.

The primary threat to U.S. personnel in Kuwait comes from cells and individuals with links to Al-Qaeda and regional jihadist networks. In July 2004, Kuwaiti security forces arrested up to 20 individuals who were engaged in recruitment, training, and financing of local youth for terrorist operations in Iraq and Kuwait. There have been further arrests in August 2004, but some terrorist accomplices remain at large and are believed to still be in Kuwait. Among those arrested were individuals who conducted planning for suicide bombing operations and armed assaults against convoys. While their plans were primarily directed against U.S. presence in Iraq, evidence of current plans for terrorist attacks in Kuwait was also uncovered.

Known terrorist operatives have also transited to and from Saudi Arabia across the land border with Kuwait. There is evidence that terrorist elements in Kuwait have established ties to wider regional networks, giving outside groups a platform from which they could attempt to conduct terrorist operations against the substantial U.S. presence in Kuwait.

The arrests in July and August 2004 indicate the degree to which extremist elements have been able to develop a presence in Kuwait. In 2002 and 2003, small local cells or individuals were able to conduct lethal attacks against U.S. military and civilian contractors in Kuwait. While there have been no lethal attacks in the past twelve months, post assessment is that the conditions in Iraq and the well-known presence in Kuwait of significant numbers of U.S. military and contractor personnel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, have attracted more terrorist recruits in country and have motivated some regional jihadist groups to expand operations in Kuwait. Consequently, the threat of terrorist activity in Kuwait has increased since pre-2002.

Other known terrorist groups have an operational presence in Kuwait, including Hizballah. Kuwait has come under severe criticism from governments in the region and from extremist groups for allowing a large U.S. military presence on its soil and for providing crucial support to ongoing military operations in Iraq. The prospect of these groups conducting operations against U.S. personnel in Kuwait is high.

In conducting official duties, post personnel are frequently required to visit locations outside Kuwait City where U.S. military units operate. Transit to these locations involves movement along the same routes that U.S. military convoys follow. In some cases, daily visits for official purposes to these locations exposes post personnel to the same risks as USG personnel assigned permanently to outlying locations.

Similarly, official duties require that certain employees visit the border region and border crossing points between Iraq and Kuwait. During July and August 2004 there have been confrontations between Kuwaiti and Iraqi border patrols along the demarcated border. Both sides are attempting to construct barriers and facilities within meters of the physical border, significantly increasing the risks of small-scale armed confrontations. U.S. and Kuwaiti military personnel have reported significant smuggling and criminal activity along the border, included carjackings and shootings. The post has placed the border region and other high-risk locations outside Kuwait City off-limits for non-official purposes.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:35 AM

The American Embassy Kuwait is located in Bayan, a residential suburb to the south of Kuwait City. The Embassy compound, completed in 1996, was built on land donated by the Government of Kuwait in appreciation of the United States' role in the 1991 Liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. The compound encompasses the Chancery and Maintenance/Warehouse buildings as well as the Ambassador’s residence, Marine Security Guard Residence with an exercise equipment room, two tennis courts, a swimming and a toddler's wading pool, and a playground. The new basketball court and a volleyball court should be completed before 2005. A courtyard adjacent to the Chancery is surrounded by a large multi-purpose room, a cafeteria, the CLO Library and offices, the Health Unit, a small community room, and locker rooms. The American Embassy Welfare Association occupies a separate building with a bar, gift sales shop, alcohol sales shop, warehouse, and community patio. There are also 24 housing units on the compound.

The Embassy has a resident Ambassador, DCM, and Economic, Political, Political/Military, Consular, Public Affairs, Regional Security, and Administrative Sections. USFCS, the Office of Military Cooperation Kuwait (OMC-K), and the additional DOD agencies associated with it, U.S. Customs Service, and IBB/VOA round out the U.S. Embassy Mission in Kuwait. Total staffing consists of over 180 Americans and 330 FSN/PSC/PSA employees.

The Office of Military Cooperation—Kuwait (OMC-K) is USCENTCOM's principal military representative and advising agency to Kuwait and the U.S. Ambassador. OMC-K’s goals are to promote U.S. defense interests through coordination and planning of U.S./Kuwait military exercises and exchanges, and to provide in-country management of Kuwait’s $5 billion-plus FMS program. The exercise program is one of the most ambitious in the world and the Government of Kuwait is the third largest U.S. foreign military sales customer. The primary weapons systems supported are the F/ A-18 aircraft, the MIA2 tank, and the Patriot Air Defense System. The OMC-K team, which also includes the DIA Liaison Office, two Foreign Affairs Officers, the M1A2 tank TAFT, the Kuwait Armor Modernization Office, an element of the Army's Aviation and Missile Command, and the Kuwait Office of the Defense Contract Management, is composed of 70 military members (all services are represented) and 20 civilians.

The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) of the Department of Commerce is a key link between U.S. and Kuwaiti companies. CS offers a wide range of programs and services such as customized market research, representation identification, contact lists, conferences, seminars, trade missions, and delegations to major U.S. trade shows to assist U.S. companies in doing business in or with Kuwait. The Commercial Service, in coordination with other Embassy offices, advocates on behalf of American companies with Kuwaiti Government officials, as well as with private sector firms on government tenders, major projects, and trade disputes, among other activities. The office web site is:

The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), in accordance with a cooperative broadcasting agreement signed on August 2, 1992 between the Governments of the United States and the State of Kuwait, maintains and operates a transmitting station just 40 miles north of Kuwait City. The basic mission of the Station is to broadcast U.S. Government sponsored radio programs to the north using high powered transmitters tuned to frequencies in the medium and short wave frequency bands. Operations and all transmissions are conducted in strict accordance with U.S. and State of Kuwait Government regulations and in compliance with policy established with the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva. The Station utilizes two high powered medium wave transmitters broadcasting Voice of America(VOA), RFE/RL and Radio SAWA programs on frequencies 1548 KHz and 1593 KHz respectfully. Languages of programs broadcast include English and Special English, Arabic and Persian. The Station also uses three highpowered short wave transmitters to broadcast VOA Dari and Pashto, English language programs to Afghanistan. Frequencies broadcast by these transmitters vary on a seasonal basis through out the broadcast year. Two FM transmitters located in Kuwait City, provide local coverage of VOA and Radio SAWA in the greater Kuwait City metropolitan area. One transmitter broadcasts Radio SAWA Gulf in Arabic on 95.7 MHz. and the other broadcasts VOA programs on 96.9 MHz in English. Both transmitters operate 24 hours daily. The Station also receives and uplinks feeds of Al-Hurra television and Radio SAWA to the AsiaSat, ArabSat and Indian Ocean Relay satellites using frequencies in both the Ku and C bands. These feeds are utilized by Embassies, IBB Affiliate FM Stations and other IBB Stations throughout the Middle East region. The Station employs a staff of 21 FSN/PSC technicians with specialized expertise in the administrative and technical area. The Station is managed by two American Foreign Service specialists.

Office hours for the Embassy are 8 am to 4:30 p.m. with a half-hour lunch, Saturday through Wednesday. The “weekend” is Thursday and Friday. Some OMC-K employees keep a 6-day workweek in accordance with Kuwait Government regulations. A Marine Security Guard is always on duty, and a duty officer is on standby during off-duty hours and weekends.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 10/27/2004 7:32 AM

In most cases, personnel are assigned housing prior to arrival at post and move directly into permanent quarters in Kuwait. If permanent housing is not ready upon arrival, new personnel may stay at good hotels in Kuwait City.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:58 AM

Housing in Kuwait is good and livable, but rental rates are high (US$4,135 per month for a three-bedroom apartment in a good area). All State, DIA, and FCS personnel are provided government-leased or government-owned quarters; KAMO, FAO and IBB personnel are provided government-leased quarters only. The Government of Kuwait provides furnished housing for OMC-K. The Chancery compound has 24 townhouses, in addition to the Ambassador's residence and the Marine House. The townhouses on the compound consist of 6 one-bedroom units, 16 three-bedroom units, and 2 five-bedroom units (all units have a separate den with full bath that may be used as an extra bedroom or as a maid's room). Other personnel live in townhouses and apartments. Most consist of three or four bedrooms, two bathrooms, separate living/dining room area, kitchen, washing facilities, and parking space. Very few have any type of outdoor area such as a yard or garden, although a few have balconies. There is a great deal of space for wall hangings and rugs. Personnel are assigned housing commensurate with family size in accordance with the housing standards of 6 FAM 700. DOD employees are provided comparable quarters and furnishings by the Government of Kuwait.

Storage space is normally more limited than it is in the U.S. No additional government or commercial storage space is available for excess household effects (HHE), nor can the Embassy warehouse accommodate excess HHE.

Furnishings Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:47 AM

All quarters have basic furnishings, including a stove, refrigerator, microwave, vacuum cleaner, freezer, automatic clothes washer and dryer; carpeting is provided. Each residence has one phone; you may bring or purchase extra ones. Living rooms have several tables, and entertainment centers or TV stands are provided.

Personnel must provide their own kitchenware, china, silverware, glassware, table and bed linens, towels, pillows, blankets, hanging pictures and decorations, ashtrays, shower curtains, ironing boards, waste baskets, coat hangers, small throw rugs, and other personal items. Two or three transformers are provided to each residence.

The Embassy will provide a Welcome Kit consisting of kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and ironing items, plus a small TV until receipt of your HHE. A few baby cribs are available as part of the Welcome Kit. If you have small children, you may wish to bring small furniture, such as bookcase, chair, bed, etc. These items are not furnished by the Embassy and are expensive locally. A separate layette shipment is authorized.

The Embassy also provides cell phones to spouses.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:56 AM

All quarters have hot and cold running water. All housing has both heat and air-conditioning and is equipped with various security upgrades (smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.).

Electric current in Kuwait is 220v-240v; 50-cycle, 3-phase, AC. Stepdown transformers (220v-240v input and 110v-120v output) are required for American type appliances using 110v-120v/60-cycle current. Stepdown transformers do not change the megahertz. Since the Embassy has a limited supply of transformers, bring additional transformers if you will need them. Irons, hand mixers, blenders, and other small appliances are plentiful in Kuwait and may be purchased at reasonable prices. It is advisable to purchase phones, answering machines, and other small appliances here as the locally-sold products are designed for the power fluctuations common in Kuwait.

In leased units, plugs and outlets are the 3-pronged square British variety. Adapters to convert American-type flat blade plugs for local use are available. Lamps require no transformers, just new bulbs, which can be bought at all major stores in Kuwait. On the compound, plugs and outlets are “U.S. 220v.” Adapters for these types of plugs are not available on the local market but GSO will provide you with several power strips and transformers to convert both your American 110v and European 220v appliances. Kuwaiti phone jacks are a different size, but you can easily find all the supplies you need to convert U.S. jacks here should you choose to bring your own phone or answering machine.

American-made TV sets will not work in Kuwait. TV sets and videocassette recorders ranging from three systems (PAL/SECAM/SC) to 14 systems are sold in Kuwait for worldwide use. Prices are reasonable. The electrical power system is regular, with power failures not a problem. Power surges do occur regularly and regulators (to keep electrical output at a steady level) are necessary for expensive stereo and computer equipment.

Food Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:40 AM

Subject to seasonal variations and occasional shortages, a wide variety of local and imported foods are readily available in Kuwait. The post’s cost-of-living allowance helps offset high costs. Good fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables are available on the local market. Canned and frozen vegetables from the U.S., Europe, and Australia are sold. Frozen meat and poultry are imported from Denmark, New Zealand, the U.S, or Australia. Many American packaged products, eg cereals, are available. Pork products are forbidden in Islamic society, but pork substitutes such as beef bacon, and turkey dogs are readily available. The Kuwait Danish Dairy offers a large selection of ice cream, yogurt, cream, sour cream, and milk with different degrees of fat content. All items are reconstituted and quality is good. Soft drinks are available.

Each district of Kuwait has grocery stores and a larger cooperative shopping center complex. A couple of American-type supermarket also exists. The Embassy does not have a commissary or cooperative buying system, but the U.S. military maintains a small PX (primarily snack foods, electronics, and paper products) about 45 minutes drive outside Kuwait City, in Camp Doha. Camp Arifjan, about 40 minutes south of the Embassy, also has a PX. Some food products that are not available on the economy can be found at the PX.

The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in Kuwait. Importation of alcohol by Embassies and/or diplomatic personnel is also prohibited. This regulation is strictly enforced by customs personnel, when inspecting HHE shipments.

Clothing Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:46 AM

General. Although summers are long and hot in Kuwait, winters are chilly and occasionally rainy. Summer clothing is worn for about 7 months of the year. You will need more than the usual amount of summer clothing necessary in the U.S. During November-March, cold weather clothing is worn, although a warm jacket is usually enough protection.

A wide variety of fabrics are available at reasonable cost, and a limited variety of notions are available. Good tailors and dressmakers are available. Prices are reasonable. Some can work with patterns, but most can work without them.

Many Embassy employees and family members rely on Internet shopping for their clothing needs.

Men Last Updated: 10/25/2004 7:03 AM

Lightweight summer suits for office and evening wear, and slacks and sport shirts for casual wear, will meet summer dress requirements. Acceptable dry cleaners can be found. Occasional formal dances, including the annual Marine Ball, are held each year. Tails and morning dress are not worn in Kuwait. Medium to lightweight American fall, spring, and winter suits are appropriate for cooler months. English and continental men’s shoes, underwear, shirts, neckties, socks, and readymade suits are available, but they can be expensive; the selection of sizes, styles, and quality varies.

Women Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:51 AM

Conservative dress is the rule. Bring summer cotton dresses, slacks, skirts and blouses, and pantsuits for all occasions. Shorts are not worn publicly but can worn at poolside or on private beaches. Sleeveless dresses or blouses are not suitable for street wear; wear short jackets or shawls to cover bare shoulders. For evening wear, cocktail dresses with sleeves are appropriate. Sleeveless dress is okay for events on the Embassy compound.

Kuwaiti women are fashion conscious, and London and Paris designs will be seen at most evening parties. In winter, pantsuits, slacks, dress skirt, blouses, and coats are worn. A floor length dress can be worn to the Marine Corps ball but is not essential. Stores selling women’s clothing offer a variety of European-made dresses, skirts, and suits at medium to high prices. Many women have had clothing made locally.

Lingerie: some American-made is available at reasonable prices, but selection is limited. U.K. brands are prevalent. Nylons are available at reasonable prices. Formal hats and gloves are seldom worn. European shoes are available at varying prices, but most women bring all the shoes they will need with them, supplementing with mail orders. Dress or casual sandals do not last long, but reasonable local replacements are available. Large shoe sizes are difficult to find.

Open-toed shoes are worn for at least seven months of the year.

Children Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:48 AM

Clothing for children and babies is available at reasonable prices. Shoes for children are available but are extremely expensive and tend to be of inferior quality. Some sizes are almost impossible to find, and shoe repair is substandard. Winter coats, jackets, or Windbreakers are needed. Mandatory school uniforms for ASK (navy blue slacks or skirts with white pullover shirts) can be purchased locally. No slipovers or T-shirts can be worn in Kuwaiti schools. Navy blue cardigan sweaters are accepted for in-class wear during cooler months. For outdoors a lightweight, flannel-lined windbreaker for fall and spring and a heavier jacket of your choice for winter is sufficient through the year. Physical education uniforms are blue shorts and plain white T-shirts for boys, and navy blue shorts with white T-shirts for girls. These items may be purchased locally or in the U.S., and are worn for gym only. The English School sells its own uniforms.

Office Attire Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:54 AM

Office attire varies from casual to professional depending on the employee's job.

Employees who have frequent contact with Kuwaiti government officials or business people will want to present a professional appearance. These employees who are men should wear ties and jackets. Women should wear dresses, suits, or dressier pants outfits.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 10/30/2004 7:27 AM

It is said that everything is available in Kuwait, if you look long and hard enough, but supplies are often limited, and particular items may be out of stock at any given time. Despite minimal import duties, prices are high, as overhead and profit margins are large and transportation costs great. Adequate stocks of toiletries, cosmetics, shaving supplies, medicines, and household entertainment needs are available.

Most common brands of American and British cigarettes and some American brands of cigars, pipe tobacco, and smoking accessories are available at prices lower than in the U.S. Readymade table linens are difficult to find at reasonable prices. Linen and damask fabrics are available locally. Prices are usually 30% or more above U.S. retail prices for a quality product.

Bring an initial supply of hobbies, games, books, and toys for children. A small supply of gifts for birthday parties is useful since most toys and children’s gifts are two to three times their stateside price. Several local bookstores are patronized, but prices are 50%- 100% higher than those in the U.S. and selection may not be good. If possible, arrange for periodic shipment of paperbacks from the U.S.

The following items are sometimes hard to find, so bring them from the U.S.: disposable baby bottles and liners, hair coloring products, makeup for medium-to-light complexions and suede cleaner. Baby furniture is not up to current American standards (beds, cribs, playpens, car seats, highchairs, etc…).

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/2/2004 7:57 AM

Several satisfactory women’s beauty shops exist. A shampoo and set costs $20 and up. Women’s haircuts range from KD10 ($34 US) to KD15 ($51 US). There are several American-style nail bars; a manicure and pedicure costs $25 and up. There are also several spas that offer massages and facials; treatments are expensive, beginning at $50.

An AEWA sponsored barber is available at the embassy once a week for men and children. The charge is KD 1.500 (about $5.00).

Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:53 AM

Most Embassy employees hire a domestic employee on at least a part-time basis. Many families employ a single full-time maid, whose duties include cleaning, laundry, cooking, and child- or pet-care. Most of these maids live in the family’s residence. Houses on the economy provide adequate quarters for a maid; however, it is difficult to house a maid in the newer apartments on the economy and in the housing units on the Embassy compound. Full-time maids, whether they live in or not, make an average of $365 per month and work 5 to 6 days per week. Employers pay for food and personal care items for live-in maids. Employers who act as sponsors also pay a small annual fee for health insurance. There are no taxes or social security benefits to pay for an employee. Part-time maids and gardeners make an average of $6.50/hr.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:58 AM

Protestant and Catholic services are held at the US Embassy every Friday. There are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Gospel, and Latter Day Saints services held at Camps Doha and Arifjan. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has its own facility in a Kuwait City suburb for its Friday services. In downtown Kuwait City there is a large Catholic Cathedral that offers daily mass. There are also National Evangelic and Episcopal services at locations in the outlying suburbs.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:56 AM

At Post Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:51 AM
Most Embassy children attend the American School of Kuwait (ASK). ASK is a privately owned, American-curriculum school, offering Pre-kindergarten though Grade 12. ASK has a policy of accepting all US Embassy dependents who can be served by its programs.

The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The high school curriculum is college-preparatory and offers 14 Advanced Placement courses. French, Spanish and Arabic are offered. Arabic is mandatory for elementary students; but, it is not available to all high school students. Most teachers are American or American-trained educators. School facilities include two libraries, an auditorium, a swimming pool, and two gymnasiums.

The majority of students are Kuwaiti; approximately one third of the students are Americans. ASK has a dress code with standardized shirts and navy blue pants or skirts. The school website is

Approximately one-third of the Embassy children attend The English School (TES). TES offers Pre-kindergarten through Year 8 (the equivalent of Grade 7 in the American system). The curriculum is British based. TES has been open to accepting American students; however, its mission is to serve the British expatriate community and has strong ties to the UK Embassy. Parents are encouraged to apply early; there is no guarantee of acceptance for American students. Students are required to wear standardized uniforms. The school website is

The Embassy contracts for bus service to ASK and TES.

Away From Post Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:52 AM
Award From Post Education Allowance (boarding school allowance) is approved for Grades 9-12.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:54 AM

The Fawzia Sultan International School is an American-curriculum school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties and other educational challenges. The school accepts children ages 4-19. Children are assigned to a class based on age. An Individual Education Plan determines the instruction for the individual student. High school graduates receive American high school diplomas. The new, modern school facility includes several computer labs, a library, a gymnasium, an exercise room, and a swimming pool. The Embassy contracts for bus service for Mission children who attend Fawzia. The school website is

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/2/2004 6:57 AM

The American University of Kuwait opened its doors Fall 2004. AUK is comprised of a College of Arts and Sciences, a School of Management and Business Administration, and a Continuing Education Center. It has an agreement with Dartmouth College for curriculum development. It is actively recruiting graduates of the American School of Kuwait. AUK is located in a renovated building in shopping area often frequented by foreigners. Classes are segregated by gender. The university website is

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 10/25/2004 5:40 AM

Soccer and basketball are the only major sports in which Kuwaitis participate regularly. Competition in soccer is between Kuwaiti and other national teams, and is not open to U.S. employees and their families. Ice hockey teams have been formed and include skaters from the U.S., Sweden, and Canada. U.S. personnel enjoy swimming, scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, tennis, bowling, horseshoes, softball, squash, jet skiing, running, golf, water skiing, and sailing, although care must still be taken in water sports due to polluted water within the cities limits. Many people play tennis, even in midsummer. The Embassy offers a swimming pool, wading pool, tennis courts, and newly constructed basketball and volleyball areas. The Marine house has a gym that includes a large assortment of aerobic and muscular fitness equipment, and is available to all Embassy employees. For other sports, you must go outside the Embassy community. An ice skating rink is available, and horseback riding is available.

If foreigners are discreet, photographs can be taken in Kuwait. Some Kuwaitis, especially women, object to being photographed. Local police might warn against picture taking in the souk (market). In certain areas, including military compounds and ports, photography is prohibited, and in a few cases, film has been confiscated. Muslims regard all things pertaining to their religion as sacred; this applies to mosques, and you should therefore seek permission to enter or take photos of Kuwait’s many mosques. No objections arise when photographing at private parties or outings where only friends are present.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 10/25/2004 5:47 AM

Many touring and outdoor activities were curtailed after the Gulf War because of the presence of unexploded ordnance throughout the country. Desert camping is not recommended to U.S. Personnel.

There are several museums that offer a look at Kuwaiti arts and culture. The Tareq Rajab collection is privately owned and open to the public at the Rajab Museum in Jabriya. This collection is Islamic with emphasis on ceramics, early Korans and historical documents, and the tracing of the trade routes through jewelry. The Bedouin Jewelry Collection (mainly silver) is one of the most extensive in the world.

One of the most unique cultural places in Kuwait is the Sadu House, the center for traditional Kuwaiti Bedouin weavings. On certain days visitors can watch the women weave. The house also offers a short film on the history of Bedouin weaving, a research lab, and a number of exhibition rooms.

Green Island, enclosing a large lagoon, is constructed out into the sea. A fun place to bring children, it features an observation point, paddleboats, and a scaled-down ruined castle surrounded by a moat. Another fun place for children is the small but pleasant Kuwait Zoo.

The Kempinski Resort, lies about 45 minutes outside of Kuwait City. A newly built beach resort, it offers bungalows and villas for rent, a large swimming pool, a playground, a restaurant, and beachfront recreation areas.

The Kuwait Towers, Kuwait’s most identifiable landmark, serve as an excellent vantage point overlooking the rest of the city. The top sphere has a snack bar with a revolving observation area; there is also a fancy (non-revolving) restaurant.

Three of Kuwait City’s gates and a section of the mud wall remain as a reminder of the Wahhabi and Saudi invasion of Kuwait over 65 years ago. The wall, constructed in 1920, remained standing until 1957.

Al Jahra lies about 78 miles west of Kuwait City and was the scene of a famous 1920 battle between Kuwait and Bedouin forces. On Fridays a large and active camel market is held in the center of town. Nearby is the Red Palace, an old fortress of the village.

Another popular Friday activity is the Friday souk (which is also open on Thursday!), a Kuwaiti-style flea market with a traditional open market flavor.

Entertainment City is a theme park that has a variety of well-maintained rides, including a large carousel, roller coaster, and water log ride.

Indoor gardening is a satisfying outlet for apartment dwellers. Most have found that anything that will grow and flourish in the ground can be coaxed to thrive indoors as well. Nurseries and flower shops are abundant. Potting soil is expensive. Prudent care and programming can assure continuous enjoyment of some kind of flowering plant year round. Limits to indoor gardening are dictated only by light available within a given area and your imagination and perseverance. Outdoor gardening is practical during winter since the weather is cooler and damper.

Although the above activities are interesting and diverting, they provide no relief from Kuwait’s climate. For this reason, Kuwait has been designated an R&R post. This means that most personnel will have their fares paid to and from London or New York once in a 2-year tour. Egypt has been a consistently favored vacation spot for Embassy personnel in recent years, but many apply their London round-trip R&R fare to trips elsewhere in the Mediterranean, the U.S., or Europe. Many U.S. Personnel take extended weekend trips to relatively closer locations, such as United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman.

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/2/2004 8:01 AM

Kuwait has few indigenous cultural activities accessible to non-Arabic speakers. Musical and artistic groups periodically come to give performances to residents of all nationalities. Public lectures in English are provided occasionally by guest lecturers at Kuwait University. Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyah houses the valuable collection of Al-Sabah Islamic Art, one of the most comprehensive in the world. It holds frequent seminars and invites world-renowned scholars to give lectures on a wide range of topics. These lectures are advertised and open to the public, though often not in English. Most cultural activities are do-it-yourself. An amateur theater group performs about four times a year; an amateur choir meets weekly and performs occasional concerts.

Kuwait has no professional orchestra. Bring recordings and record catalogs to post since supply is limited. Many public movie houses in Kuwait show mostly Indian and edited English-language films. Bridge is a popular pastime.

Eating out is also a popular form of recreation and entertainment in Kuwait. Restaurants generally are expensive. All 5-star international hotels (Sheraton, Safir, Crowne Plaza, Radisson/SAS Hotel, and Meridien) have dining rooms plus coffee shops. These establishments regularly offer specials on food from foreign countries. In addition to up-scale restaurants in hotels, there is a vast range of reasonably priced restaurants offering varied cuisine. Indian, Lebanese, Turkish and Chinese restaurants are inexpensive.

Many people find that various fast food places (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Baskin-Robbins, Hardee’s, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Burger King) are excellent and maintain good food and health standards. Kuwait also has many “franchise” restaurants: Chili's, Fuddruckers, TGIFridays, Applebby’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Johnny Rockets, to name a few, which are quite popular.

Many Embassy members pursue personal hobbies, such as quilting, painting, textiles, model building, and playing the piano or other musical instruments. Those with a creative bent and a willingness to draw on their own resources for entertainment will find many in the community eager to reciprocate. Mahjong and bridge players will find many opportunities to play.

Shopping seems to be a national pastime in Kuwait. Oriental carpets and gold jewelry are a few of the things that can be found in Kuwait at reasonable prices.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/2/2004 8:12 AM
The Embassy swimming pool and tennis courts are utilized by many Embassy personnel and their families year round. A new basketball court and vollyball court will be completed in the Fall of 2004.

The American Embassy Welfare Association (AEWA) offers membership of its services and facilities to employees and dependant of all agencies, including military personel, who are perminantly assigned to the American Embassy Kuwait. In addition to sponsoring weekly Happy Hours, the association also sponsors parties, recreational activities, and special events. AEWA operates a full service cafeteria that offers Breakfast and Lunch. There is also an AEWA concession shop that offers a variety of Embassy gift items as well as a dry cleaning service, and a growing DVD library.

The American Women’s League is an association of women who are U.S. citizens or are married to U.S. citizens. Social in nature, since fundraising for charitable causes is not deemed necessary by the Kuwaiti Government, the league holds monthly meetings throughout fall, winter, and spring and features general-interest programs. Occasionally, it organizes barbecues, outings, fashion shows, and other similar activities.

The Embassy compound serves as a center for recreation for children and adults throughout the year. Parents are urged to include in their shipments a good supply of hobby equipment for their children, as these tend to be expensive and in limited supply. Kuwait is an excellent place to begin or continue tennis instruction; prices are comparable to those in the U.S. Bike riding is limited because paved areas on the compound are minimal, and traffic is hazardous on public roads. Since the birthday party circuit is heavy and toys are expensive, a supply of suitable gifts is a good investment.

Younger children have few adjustment problems in Kuwait, even though the range of activities for them is limited. There is, however, an active Little League, which begins with T-Ball. The school provides a variety of social, athletic, and extracurricular outlets. On weekends and evenings, social life is limited to shopping, movies, video, TV, and swimming (in season).

Older children find that Kuwait offers fewer activities than the US, although there are numerous "gatherings" on the weekends. Teens tend to go out in large mixed groups to eat, smoke shisha, see movies, or gather in one of their homes. There are numerous taxis that cater to the teens are are safe for them to use to get around.

Satellite TV is readily available. Expect to pay around $60 per month for a subscription package that includes some regional Arabic stations, a news station rotating coverage among NBC, CBS and ABC, CNN, a channel with U.S. soaps and series, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, ESPN and CNN, BBC, and several movie channels. DVDs are are sold on the economy. AEWA has a DVD rental shop.

International Contacts Last Updated: 11/8/2004 6:46 AM
Social life is an integral part of a Kuwait tour. In a small community where public entertainment is limited, the social pace can become frenetic. Those whose jobs do not involve them in official functions still find their calendars full, as entertaining is everyone’s pastime.

Most entertaining is informal. Buffets are the most common form of dinner party. Sitdown dinners are a hazard unless you know your guests, as Arabs are casual about accepting invitations or sending regrets. The formally set table frequently may have several empty places—or may be squeezed to add two more—by the time dinner is served. Cocktail buffets are a common way of handling large groups.

Kuwait’s traditionally family-oriented, cosmopolitan society offers opportunities to form excellent professional and personal relationships. In addition, both Arab and other expatriate communities are active socially, and Embassy personnel often find friends among them. The diplomatic community is large, active, and socially accessible.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/8/2004 6:46 AM

Most formal functions given by Kuwaiti Government officials or the diplomatic community are either receptions or buffet dinners. Dark suits for men are the usual dress. Informal entertaining takes place in the evening, at official or private residences. Dress on these occasions is a suit and tie for men and cocktail-length dresses for women.

Evening social gatherings known as diwaniyas are an integral part of Kuwaiti social life, and are fairly unique to Kuwait. These are usually weekly gatherings, hosted by an individual, family or group of friends. They are generally not mixed-gender, but in some of the more progressive diwaniyas, women are welcome. Diwaniyas can be an important place to meet people, catch up on the talk of the day, debate political ideas and more.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/8/2004 6:47 AM

Social calling is limited, except during the month of Ramadan and the two major Islamic Eid celebrations. Incoming personnel may find it useful to call on their diplomatic counterparts and on individuals with whom they will have business dealings. Calling cards are rarely used. Officers will find a business card (preferably in Arabic and English) essential. Printing is available locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 11/8/2004 6:47 AM

Kuwait is a modern, progressive, and in many ways a Western-appearing country. The rules of common sense and politeness will enable a visitor to enjoy Kuwait. The religious heritage of Islam forms an integral part of Kuwaiti society.

Hospitality is the basic rule of life in the desert, and this custom has been carried forward. Avoid overly admiring or praising the private belongings of your host, or the host may feel compelled by the dictates of his culture to make a gift of the object you admire. You should not refuse an offer of food or drink unless it is necessary. Shopkeepers sometimes offer tea or coffee to shoppers while they are browsing.

Males should not inquire or appear curious about women members of an Arab family. Western women should dress modestly and be discreet whenever they go outside their homes.

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset. During the day, it is not permissible for anyone—including non-Muslims—to eat, drink, or smoke in public (which includes while driving your own car).

Related Internet Sites Last Updated: 11/2/2004 8:13 AM

Kuwait Pocket Guide

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 10/17/2004 8:22 AM

Travel to Kuwait is usually by air. There are direct, nonstop flights to Kuwait on most days of the week from London and Paris, with less frequent flights to Bangkok, Rome, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Athens, Geneva, New Delhi, and Mumbai. Some of the more popular international airlines serving Kuwait are Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Emirates Air, Air India, Gulf Air, and Olympic Airways. The most direct route from the U.S. east coast to Kuwait is via the Atlantic with connections made at any of the European cities serving Kuwait. This is the safest and surest way of travel.

You can drive by car from Europe and other points in the region, but do not use public overland transportation. Personnel travelling by car must show proof of vehicle ownership and possession of an international driver’s license. Visas are required at border points. When they are issued in Washington, few, if any, problems are encountered. The process may be more difficult or time-consuming when issued elsewhere, since Kuwaiti Embassies must request approval from the home government, in Kuwait. Other documentation may be required at border points. If you must travel by car, inform the post well in advance, giving the proposed route, arrival time, and detailed information about your vehicle.

All personnel arriving at the airport are met by a member of their section and/or an expeditor. If the contact is missed, call the Embassy's Post One at 539-5307/8 x2355. No airport bus or limousine service exists.

In most cases, arriving personnel will be taken directly to permanent quarters. An Embassy Welcome Kit is available until your effects arrive. Complete kits may not be available during the height of the summer transfer season, so you will want your airfreight as soon as possible. Ship it early, as typical transit and customs clearance time takes a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

Newly arrived personnel will spend the first day completing check-in formalities. A courtesy call upon the Ambassador and DCM should be made at that time or as soon thereafter as possible.

Shipping Information. Customs does not routinely inspect the HHE and airfreight shipments of Embassy personnel. However, it is essential that prohibited items (pork products, alcohol, materials that might be deemed pornographic, firearms, and ammunition) not be included in these shipments.

Markings and consignment for airfreight, HHE, and privately owned vehicles should read as follows:

American Embassy
Kuwait, State of Kuwait
(For: Employee’s Name in Full)

Airfreight and HHE must be declared as used personal effects for personal use on all Airway Bills (AWB) and Bills of Lading. Packing lists must be attached, along with the AWB or Bill of Lading. Contents may be described in general terms. To facilitate Government of Kuwait clearance prior to arrival of any shipment, send the Airway Bill number (for airfreight) and bill of lading number (for HHE) by fax to GSO Shipping at (965) 539-8241 or (965) 538-0282. Forward the original and two copies of the bill of lading to:

General Services Officer
American Embassy Kuwait
Al Masjid Al Aqsa Street
Plot 14, Block 6
Bayan, Kuwait
Tel: 539-5307/8

The bill of lading for HHE should include a copy of the itemized packing list. The bill of lading for a vehicle should include the following information: make, model, color, and chassis number. The Embassy cannot over emphasize the need for accurate information on shipping documents. If the chassis number is inaccurate by one digit in the bill of lading, clearance of the vehicle may be delayed up to two weeks as a revised bill of lading must be issued.

Some shipping lines entering Kuwait use containers for vehicles and other bulky goods. No limitation is placed on the size of lift vans that can be handled in Kuwait. Although pilferage and breakage in shipments have been minimal in the past, obtain marine insurance. Before you start packing and making arrangements for shipping, cable the Embassy for shipping instructions as provided in 6 FAM 161.24, since Government of Kuwait customs regulations change periodically.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 10/17/2004 8:23 AM

All diplomatic personnel have duty-free privileges during their entire tour of duty on Kuwait. Non-diplomatic personnel are accorded free entry of their airfreight, HHE, and vehicle within their first six months of arrival at post. No restrictions are placed on importing and/or exporting currencies, traveler's checks, or other dollar instruments.

Passage Last Updated: 10/11/2004 6:18 AM

All personnel arriving in Kuwait must have Kuwaiti visas. Beginning the summer of 2004, assigned personnel and tourists can now obtain a single-entry visa at the airport, valid for 30 days. Personnel may still request a single entry, or multiple entry visa in advance at a Kuwait Embassy. A multiple entry visa is helpful for individuals who anticipate traveling to another country within the first week after arriving in Kuwait. After arrival, the Embassy will obtain a residence permit.

Pets Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:39 AM

Pets may be brought to post, but obtain a veterinarian's certificate of good health and rabies vaccination before the animal is sent and have them with you when your pet arrives. You or your sponsor should arrange for an import license before the animal arrives in Kuwait. To obtain an import license, your sponsor will need a copy of your passport and information about the pet, as well as a fee of KD 2.000 (@$6.50).

If you plan to bring a pet to Kuwait from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India or Sri Lanka, inform GSO six months in advance.

No restrictions are placed on entry of pets and no quarantine is required. The climate is severe for pets. If you plan to bring a pet, inform the post in advance. Veterinary services in country are limited, so have your U.S. veterinarian recommend medications that your pet may need. Since pet supplies and toys are limited, bring a good supply with you. Pet food and kitty litter, however, are readily available. A pet must have a valid government ID card for presentation when the owner wishes to take the pet out of Kuwait. Veterinarians can provide such identification documents.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 10/17/2004 6:57 AM

Because of burdensome and time-consuming import and registration procedures, no firearms and/or ammunition may be brought into the country. For hunting enthusiasts, Kuwait affords no real hunting of game, and the deserts are no longer safe for sporting activities.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:16 AM

The unit of currency is the Kuwaiti dinar (KD), which is issued in notes of 20, 10, 5, 1, 1/2, 1/4 KD. The Kuwaiti dinar is divided into 1,000 fils and currently is equivalent to about US$ 3.39.

Foreign banks are not permitted in Kuwait. The Embassy has an agreement with International Financial Line whereby an employee will come every day to exchange money. Traveler’s checks can be cashed without difficulty.

Kuwait uses the metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline is sold by liters, temperature is cited in degrees centigrade; distances are measured in kilometers

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 10/17/2004 7:17 AM

No taxes or excise duties affect Embassy personnel in Kuwait. Mandatory automobile insurance (third-party and personal) is in effect, and non-diplomatic personnel must pay a small fee for car registration and drivers licenses.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 10/30/2004 6:23 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Gordon Robison, Paul Greenway. Lonely Planet: Bahrain, Kuwait, & Qatar, Lonely Planet Publications: Hawthorn, 2000
Abu Hakima, Ahmad. The Modern History of Kuwait 1795-1965. Luzacs: London, 1983.
Al-Naqeeb Khaldoun Hassan, Society and State in the Gulf and the Arab Peninsula: A Different Perspective, Routledge: New York, 1990.
American University. Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington D.C. 1985.
Atkinson, Rick, Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War, Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1992.
Cordesman, Anthony: Kuwait: Recovery and Security After the Gulf War, Westview Press: Denver, 1997.
Crystal, Jill. Oil and Politics in the Gutr.. Rulers and Merchants in Kuwait and Qatar. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1990.
Dickson, Violet. 40 Years in Kuwait. Allen and Unwin: London, 197 1.
Graz, Liesl. The Turbulent Gulf. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 1990.
Hewins, Ralph. A Golden Dream — The Miracle of Kuwait. W.H. Allen & Company: London.
Ismael, Jacqualine, Kuwait Social Change in Historical Perspective. Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, 1982.
Ismael, Jacqueline S., Kuwait: Dependency and Class in a Rentier State, 2nd Ed., University Press of Florida, 1993.
Joyce, Miriam, Kuwait: 1945-1996: An Anglo-American Perspective. Frank Cass and Co: Ilford, 1998.
Kaplan, Marion. Twilight of the Arab Dhow. National Geographic Magazine. September 1974.
Kuwaiti Documents Project. Kuwait: State-hood and Boundaries. Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences: Kuwait, 1992.
Levins, John, Days of Fear: The Inside Story of the Iraqi Invasion and Occupation of Kuwait. 1997
Rush, Alan, Al-Sabah: History and Genealogy. Ithaca Press: London, 1987.
Schofield, Richard. Kuwait and Iraq: Historical Claims and Territorial Disputes. Royal Institute of International Affairs: London, 1991.
Slot, II.J. The Origins of Kuwait. E.J. Brill: Leiden, The Netherlands, 1991.
Woodward, Bob, The Commanders. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1991.

Following are some suggested websites for further information on Kuwait. These sites are provided as a general indication of the material available on the web. The addresses were current as of December 15, 2000, but may been changed since that time. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial websites.

American Embassy Kuwait

General Information

Economics and Commerce

Kuwaiti Missing and POWs

News Site in English

News Sites in Arabic

Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/8/2004 6:27 AM

For 2005, local holidays are as follows (American holidays are also observed, with Monday holidays observed on Saturday).

Kuwait National Day Feb 25
Kuwait Liberation Day Feb 26
Eid AI-Adha* Jan 22-24
Islamic New Year* Feb 10
Prophet’s Birthday* April 22
Ascension Day* Sept 1
Eid AI-Fitr* Nov 3-6

Approximate dates, since these religious holidays are based on the lunar month. These dates also advance about 11 days each year.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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