Kuwait is a state (emirate) in southwestern Asia. It is located
on the northern outskirts of Eastern Arabia and borders Iraq in the
north and Saudi Arabia in the south. On the east side it is washed
by the Persian Gulf. Kuwait also has a maritime border with Iran.
The coastline of Kuwait is approximately 500 km (311 miles). Most of
the population of Kuwait lives in the urban agglomeration of the
country's capital - El Kuwait. As of 2022, the population of Kuwait
is 4.45 million, of which 1.45 million are citizens of the State of
Kuwait, and the remaining 3 million are foreigners from more than a
hundred other countries.
A significant part of modern Kuwait occupies the territory of ancient Mesopotamia. Before the discovery of oil fields, Kuwait was a strategic trading port between Mesopotamia, Persia and India. Large oil deposits were discovered in 1938. In 1946, Kuwaiti oil was exported for the first time. The country underwent a massive modernization between 1946 and 1982, largely based on revenues from crude oil production. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced an era of geopolitical instability and economic crisis following a stock market crash and a collapse in oil prices. In 1990, after accusations from Saddam Hussein of illegal extraction of Iraqi oil by Kuwait, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and after a short two-day conflict, Kuwait was captured, and later became part of Iraq as the new 19th province called As -Saddamia. The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait ended on February 26, 1991 after the military intervention of a military coalition led by the United States of America and a number of other countries.
The head of state is the emir, and the Al Sabah dynasty is the ruling family that dominates the political system of the country. The official state religion of Kuwait is Islam. Kuwait is a developing country with a highly profitable economy, which is the sixth state in the world in terms of oil reserves. The Kuwaiti dinar is the most valuable currency in the world. In 2009, Kuwait had the highest human development index in the Arab world. Kuwait has the largest number of stateless people in the entire region. Kuwait is one of the founders of the GCC, as well as a member of the UN, Arab League, OPEC and OIC.
Of course, the capital offers the most to see in Kuwait. Excursions to the north and northeast of the country are also worthwhile, where there is something like a mountain ridge to admire, but also extensive desert sections and deserted beaches.
Fahhaheel south of the capital is interesting. In a relatively original souq there are plenty of shops for everyday needs, as well as many small and large restaurants for every taste.
In addition to a small fishing port, there is a pretty fish market and on weekends a camel market on the southern outskirts of the city near the large gas station.
Inland, the Wafra oasis is also interesting, there are vegetable plantations. Much larger agricultural areas are located in the north around the village of Al Abdali. Here, date palms are grown in huge tree nurseries, and vegetables and fruit come from the numerous greenhouses (which serve to cool and protect the plants from excessive solar radiation).
North of the capital is the small town of Doha. In the vicinity of the power plants there is a tucked away shipyard for dhows, the traditional ships of the Arabian Gulf, with a small museum attached.
In the far south there is a retort city under construction. Here in Khiran - in contrast to the islands that were heaped up in the sea off Dubai - the sea has been brought far inland in kilometer-long channels. With the tide, the water in the canals is completely exchanged, which has allowed countless animal species to settle there. Unfortunately, there is a power plant in the immediate vicinity.
Also in the south of the country are extensive salt marshes, which serve as a resting place for countless migratory birds in winter.
All Swiss, Liechtensteiners and EU nationals (except Croatians) can get a visa-on-arrival when entering via the airport. The passport must be valid for at least six months and must not have an entry stamp from the State of Israel. In order to avoid waiting times, it may make sense to obtain an e-visa (available for the group of people mentioned) in advance. In both cases, the fee of 3 KWD is payable at the airport.
When arriving by land or sea, an entry permit must be obtained in advance.
Consular Section of the Embassy of the State of Kuwait, Griegstraße 5-7, 14193 Berlin. Tel.: +49 30 89 73 00 57. Application form. In addition, a "No Objection Certificate" to be obtained in Kuwait by a local person/company is required, as well as an English-language letter from the German employer. Open: Mon.-Fri. 9.00 - 15.00. Price: single entry € 50, multiple € 100. last change:
Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland:
Consulate General, An der Welle 4, 6th floor, 60322 Frankfurt am Main.
Overstay of stay
The normal tourist visa is for a single trip within one month from the date of issue and is valid for three months from entry. Under no circumstances should you overdraw, as you can only leave the country after paying a fine of 10 KWD per day. However, this cannot be paid at the airport, but must be paid at the immigration office via the coffee shop.
The importation of alcohol, drugs, weapons, pornographic material, pork and pork products is prohibited. Upon entry, baggage checks with x-rays take place.
In most cases, entry will take place via the airport, as tourist transit through Saudi Arabia is almost impossible.
About 15 km outside of Kuwait City is
Kuwait Airport (مطار الكويت الدولي, IATA: KWI) Fly Dubai does not fly from the General Terminal. By the standards of the Arabian Peninsula, the airport is below average. The new terminal, started in 2012, should be ready by the end of 2016. In fact, the construction contract was only awarded that year, and completion is expected in six years.
Kuwait is flown to from Frankfurt with Lufthansa, various German cities with the Turkish Pegasus with a change in Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen.
The airport can be reached by bus lines (4.30-23.45); 13, 99 and 501. The fare (2016) is 250 fils.
There is no railway in Kuwait.
Arrival by bus is not possible.
The border with Iraq is closed to civilians. Leaving Kuwait and entering Iraq is only possible with a special permit from the Kuwaiti interior authorities. Arriving by car only makes sense in exceptional cases. Entry is currently only possible from Saudi Arabia.
In the Arab world, it is common that the visa is only valid for entry by plane, so it is essential to coordinate an arrival by car with Kafeel.
Although entry by ship is possible in principle, it is practically out of the question as a travel option from Europe. Saudi Arabia's use of desert ships will also generally encounter obstacles.
Persian Valfajr 8 Shipping Co. (☎ +965 2410498) ferry from Khorramshahr-Kuwait (5-6 hrs): departs from there Saturday and Wednesday from 11.00. In the opposite direction Sunday and Thursday from 10.30 a.m. Prices (2016): 2nd class per person around €65, 1st class around 10% more. Return tickets slightly cheaper.
Western travelers should take a rental car, the bus connections
within Kuwait are bad and hardly recommended for western travelers,
especially since they are mostly without air conditioning.
Taxis are also available, the phone number for the taxi company should be inquired in advance as there is no regular service, meaning waiting on the street for a taxi is almost always unsuccessful.
There are several rental car companies in Kuwait, driving a car is not a problem once you get used to the adventurous driving style of the local drivers. Orientation is more difficult since almost everything looks the same. A map and a mobile phone are therefore mandatory equipment.
It is a good idea to memorize the map BEFORE you travel and understand the location of the Ring Roads in relation to your destination before venturing within Kuwait City.
Trips to other towns are easier to plan, but the same applies here: the detailed navigation at the end of the trip is the problem.
In Europe, usual designations for street names are rather unknown. When you give an address, you describe how to get there from a known point. No one takes it amiss if you get lost and let yourself be guided by mobile phone.
The fuel supply is naturally good, even if the number of filling stations is rather too small. It is advisable to fill up during the day and not in the evening, because then all of Kuwait suddenly has long queues at the gas stations.
Most petrol stations are closed during Friday prayers, so plan ahead.
The official language of Kuwait is Arabic, but enough English is
spoken almost everywhere so that you can move around the country without
The road signs are bilingual, Arabic and English. If the signs are only in Arabic, you've lost your way. :-)
1 KWD = €2.89 (July 2020)
Kuwait is one of the richest countries on earth, so you can buy almost anything. The food supply is very good, almost everything is available that does not violate the rules of Islam. Alcohol and pork are naturally not available, and products made from blood (blood sausage, for example) would also be against the rules of Islam.
The huge shopping malls on the 5th and 6th Ringroad (The Avenues, 360) are worth seeing.
Groceries are easy to buy in supermarkets:
They are divided into the semi-public coops and a few private supermarkets (e.g. Sultan Center or Lulu Hypermarket). French supermarket chains such as Géant and Carrefour, where you can also find mostly European groceries, have spread into the large shopping malls.
While you can buy practically all everyday groceries at very moderate prices in the coops, the selection is there for more special things, e.g. B. Cheese, but very limited. Apart from melted cheese in the form of corners or slices, don't expect much. Even if the cheese counter is gigantic.
However, each coop has its own program, so it's worth visiting different shops and browsing. In general, the vegetables and meat products in the coops are excellent and there is a good selection.
The Sultan Center is a superlative supermarket and also has a lot of European groceries. If you are looking for a German butter cheese or a gorgonzola, you will find it here. However, at a rather high price level.
But everything is very clean and well sorted.
You don't need to worry about grocery shopping. The food is well controlled by the state and is therefore in no way inferior to the food in Europe in terms of quality. On the contrary, when British beef was on the market in Europe despite BSE, Kuwait had long since closed its market.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can shop for fruit and veg practically outdoors in the Shuwaikh district. There is a wholesale market under small roofs. You can buy fruit and vegetables in larger containers at a good price.
Bargaining is of course a matter of honor and experienced buyers know that the large, well-formed pieces are in the boxes on top, while the less attractive specimens are hidden on the second tier. But shopping there is always an experience.
A few lines down there are also chicken eggs for sale in bulk, I can't say anything about the quality as I've never bought eggs there.
Very close by, a few streets away, you can also buy meat, the mutton is hanging in the shop windows.
In small chicken farms you can choose a chicken, which the seller then discreetly takes to the back and slaughters according to Islamic rites. You can't buy chicken any fresher.
In Al-Kout in Fahaheel you can visit a fish, meat and poultry market. In addition, Al-Kout invites you to linger in the spacious pools with water features and music. Numerous restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors are grouped around the water basin.
In the city center by the sea is the Fish Market, which was completely renovated in the mid-1990s. In the early evening, around sunset, the fishermen come and deliver their fish. It's often so fresh that it's still wriggling on the sales counter. Local delicacies include Hammoor, a very fine fish and Al Hambra, a red fish that is just as good in quality as Hammoor but is considerably cheaper.
In general, fish is surprisingly expensive in Kuwait, but connoisseurs also like to buy roe, squid or shark, which are available at lower prices. The shrimps are particularly good and inexpensive, but you can only buy them in winter.
The Friday market near the nurseries at the Ministry of Electricity and Water is a particular hit. There you can buy practically everything on a huge square under high shady roofs, from cleaning buckets to carpets to complete living room furnishings. For us Europeans things tend to be in bad taste, but who likes it. Most of the stuff comes from China, India or Bangladesh.
Occasionally you will find something in old objects. There are all kinds of oriental knick-knacks and some things are really exciting. The department with second-hand goods is also nice, where you can get everything from broken washing machines to four-poster beds. Next to the Friday market is a huge animal market. You can buy everything from ornamental fish to camels. The animals are in a comparatively good state of health, which is directly connected to the market by a state veterinary inspection and clinic. Within sight of the animal market is a row of shops where you can buy incredible furniture, but also general stores where you can buy ceramics and small wooden souvenirs at reasonable prices.
In the center of the capital is the old souq. Visiting it is a special experience and should not be missed on any trip to Kuwait. Almost everything can be bought here, from cloth for tailoring to mysterious spices. There is also a large building with countless tailor shops where you can have shirts, jackets, trousers or full suits made for you quite cheaply. For a complete suit - in addition to the cloth - about 15 - 20 dinars are usual.
Very close to the souq is the gold market. There is unimaginable amounts of gold made into jewellery. Most of the pieces are too heavy and ostentatious for our taste, but with a knowledgeable guide you can also find shops that have goods that appeal to Europeans.
You buy European furniture at IKEA. There are quite a few furniture stores near the airport, but the goods are of dubious taste and quality.
Kuwaiti cuisine is a blend of Arabic, Persian, Indian and
Seafood is a very important part of the Kuwaiti diet, especially fish. Local favorites include hamour (grouper), which is typically grilled, fried or served with biryani rice for its texture and flavor, zbaidi, safi (harefish) and sobaity (bream).
The traditional Kuwaiti flatbread is called Iranian khubz. It is a large flatbread baked in a special oven and often topped with sesame seeds. Numerous local bakeries are scattered across the country, the bakers are mostly Iranian (hence the name of Iranian khubz bread). The bread is often served with mahyawa fish sauce.
Due to Kuwait's international workforce, there are many other cuisines to choose from. Eating pork is forbidden to Muslims in Kuwait, in accordance with Sharia, Islamic law
A well-known dish in Kuwaiti cuisine is machboos, a rice-based specialty usually prepared with basmati rice, various spices, chicken or mutton (pork is severely restricted for religious reasons).
Biryani (Arabic: برياني) - a very common dish consisting of heavily seasoned rice cooked with chicken or lamb. It originally comes from the Indian subcontinent.
Gabout (Arabic: قبوط), - stuffed dumplings in a thick meat stew.
Harees (Arabic: هريس), - Wheat cooked with meat then mashed, usually coated with cinnamon sugar.
Jireesh (Arabic: جريش) - a puree of cooked spelled with chicken or lamb, tomatoes and some spices.
Mashkhool (Arabic: مشخول) - white rice cooked in a pot where there are onion rings with turmeric and black pepper at the bottom, sometimes potatoes and eggplant are also added.
Marabyan (Arabic: مربين) - a rice cooked with either fresh or dried shrimp.
Maglooba (Arabic: مقلوبة) - a rice, cooked with meat and potatoes and eggplant.
Margoog (Arabic: مرقوق) - Vegetable stew, usually containing pumpkin and eggplant, cooked with thin flatbreads of dough.
Mumawwash (Arabic: مموش) – Rice cooked with green lentils and often topped with dry shrimp.
Muaddas (Arabic: معدس) – rice cooked with red lentils and topped with dried shrimp.
Mutabbaq-samak (Arabic: مطبق سمك) - Fish served on rice. The rice is cooked in well-seasoned fish stock.
Quzi (Arabic: قوزي) - Kuwaiti dish consisting of a roast lamb stuffed with rice, meat, eggs and other ingredients.
sauces and soups
Daqqus (Arabic: دقوس) is a type of tomato sauce served with rice
Mabboj (Arabic: معبوج) is hot sauce, made from fresh red or green hot peppers seasoned with coriander, garlic, salt, cumin and various spices. The brown version consists of green chillies and additional tomatoes
Marrag (Arabic: مرق) this is a kind of broth with tomato paste and various vegetables.
Asida (Arabic: عصيدة) - consists of wheat flour, additive and butter or honey.
Balaleet (Arabic: بلاليط) - sweet saffron noodles served with egg omelettes on top
Bayth elgitta (Arabic: بيض بيض) - a fried dough filled with a mixture of ground nuts and rolled in powdered sugar. It was named after the sandgrouse's egg (which is common in this area) because of its similar shape.
Darabeel (Arabic: درابيل) - made with flour, eggs, milk and sugar in very thin rolled layers. Cardamom or cinnamon are sometimes added.
Lugaimat (Arabic: لقيمات) - deep fried yeast dumplings doused with sugar syrup (sugar, saffron).
Gers ogaily (Arabic: قرص قرص) - a traditional cake made with eggs,
flour, sugar, cardamom and saffron. Traditionally served with tea.
Zalabia (Arabic: زلابية) - deep-fried dough soaked in syrup (sugar, lemon, and saffron) and twisted into a round shape.
Ghraiba - delicate pastry made from flour, butter, powdered sugar and cardamom. Usually served with Arabic coffee.
Khabeesa - Sweet made from flour and oil.
Sab Alqafsha (Kuwaiti Arabic: صب القفشة) - similar to Lugaimat but with added saffron and cardamom syrup.
Elba (Arabic: ألبة) - Kuwaiti milk pudding with saffron and cardamom.
The beach promenade in the Salmiya district invites you to stroll and linger. A popular meeting place are the restaurants and (shisha) cafes around the marina.
Hotels are very expensive in Kuwait. It's almost impossible to get a room for less than €100. 4 and 5 star hotels often charge significantly more. Opened in 2017, the Four Seasons is the best property around. Another Grand Hyatt is scheduled to open in fall 2022[obsolete].
learning and studying
If you want to work here, you have to get a work visa in advance through a Kuwaiti sponsor. It is impossible to find a job without a work visa.
If you rent a car as a tourist, even for a day, you have to buy a Kuwaiti driver's license for 10 KWD, which is easy to do when you present your home driver's license.
Apart from the dangers of heat stroke and traffic, Kuwait is a very safe country to travel to.
There is an isolated danger from mines along the Iraqi border - however, only the very least travelers will come to these remote areas.
Water should never be drunk from the tap in Kuwait, as this is desalinated seawater.
Kuwait is one of the hottest inhabited areas on earth in summer. In
July and August, midday temperatures of around 50°C in the shade are not
uncommon, sometimes even hotter.
Already in the morning at 8 or 9 a.m. the thermometer rises to over 40°C and during the night it hardly cools down.
But the heat is bearable because it is very dry. The main wind direction is north-east, so Kuwait has a continental climate, the wind comes from the expanses of Iran across the small Gulf and the air hardly absorbs any significant moisture over the short distance.
In September, the wind turns to the southeast and brings a few degrees of cooling, but also a lot of humidity. The weather then gets really muggy and unpleasant.
In October the moisture problem subsides and until about mid-December the climate is similar to what we know from very hot summers in our latitudes.
The rainy season in Kuwait begins in mid to late December. Although there is no land rain for days, but frequent showers, which can also be very heavy.
January and February then become cool with cold nights. During the day you rarely have more than 10°C to 15°C with mostly bright sunshine, at night it can cool down to freezing point. Living without heating becomes difficult. From the end of February to mid-March it will be a bit rainy again. Then a trip to the desert is worthwhile. The plants there bloom like crazy on the few wet days and enchant the desert with a carpet of flowers.
Then from March it gets warmer again and air conditioning is required during the day but can rest at night. April and May then correspond to hot European summers and also require adequate air conditioning at night. A rule of thumb says that you should have your air conditioner ready by National Day, February 25th at the latest.
June, July and August are unbearably hot again. No wonder that during these months the wealthy Kuwaitis leave the country and vacation in Europe or America.