Kuwait Travel Information
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240 volts, 50Hz. Both the UK-style three-pin and European-style two-pin plugs are in use (Type G and C).
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely used and understood; a compulsory language in secondary schools. Other widely spoken languages include Farsi (common among Iranian expats) and Urdu (common among South Asian expats).
No vaccination certificates are required for entry to Kuwait, but inoculation against typhoid is advisable for travellers eating outside of major hotels and restaurants. General vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid and MMR updates (measles-mumps and rubella) are also recommended. There is a risk of diarrhoeal diseases, which are common in the country. Tap water is safest when boiled, filtered and disinfected, and, while many people consider it relatively safe to drink, most visitors stick to bottled water. Medical fees are high and medical insurance is recommended; many doctors will expect payment in cash regardless of whether you have medical insurance or not. All prescription medicines must be accompanied by a doctor's letter detailing exactly why the medication is required and be sure to check the list of medical contraband to avoid importing banned prescription drugs (e.g. drugs containing alcohol).
A service charge of 15% is usually added to bills in restaurants and hotels; if not a tip of 10% is acceptable. Additional tipping is only expected in more expensive hotels. Taxi drivers appreciate a small tip for long journeys. Baggage handlers, petrol attendants and assistants can also be tipped a small amount, which is common practice for many people.
Authorities are of the opinion that there is a high general threat of terrorism against western targets in Kuwait and other countries in the region. Visitors should remain vigilant, especially in public places and where westerners gather. This has, however, changed with the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the region. ISIL claimed responsiblity for a bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Kuwait City, which took place on 26 June 2015. It is evident that both western and non-western targets are currently under threat of terrorist attacks in Kuwait and travellers should be wary of further threats from ISIL.
The country is regarded as trouble-free as far as crime is concerned, but, while unorganised protests are illegal, visitors should avoid sanctioned public gatherings and demonstrations as well, as some have turned violent in the past. When travelling outside Kuwait City keep to tarmac roads and take care on beaches and picnic spots because landmines and other unexploded ordnance still litters the countryside. Driving in Kuwait is hazardous, local drivers being negligent and reckless, so constant vigilance is essential.
Being a strict Muslim society dress in public should be modest, and formal attire is always preferable to casual. Male homosexuality is illegal and the legal status of female homosexuality is ambiguous; any public display of affection between men and women, beyond married couples holding hands, is punishable. Some hotels allow unmarried couples to share a room, but unmarried couples are not allowed to stay together on a permenant basis. Alcohol is not permitted in Kuwait, and the use of this or the importation of obscene material can be punished with imprisonment. Touch between the same gender is allowed, but not between opposite genders; verbal greetings are customary.
Photography near industrial, military or government buildings is illegal, including oil fields. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet, as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture and punishable by law. It is important to carry identification at all times.
Most aspects of the business culture are conservative. Dress should be formal and conservative (particularly for women). There is often accompanying small talk when meeting someone for the first time. Be sure to adhere to local customs. Affection between opposite sexes is not shown in public and in general take the lead from a woman when greeting her. Most business is conducted in English, although using a few words of Arabic (particularly for titles) will be appreciated. The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday; business hours vary, but are usually from 7am to 1pm and 4pm to 10pm. Government offices and banks are usually open from 8am to 2pm.
The international dialling code for Kuwait is +965. Full international direct dialling is available. Local mobile service providers operate on GSM networks, which have active roaming agreements with most international mobile phone operators. All telecommunications services are of a high quality in Kuwait, however, there are occasional disruptions to internet connections nationwide. Internet cafes are available throughout Kuwait.
Travellers to Kuwait do not have to pay duty on 500 cigarettes, or 2lbs tobacco. It is prohibited to enter the country with alcohol or narcotics; milk products and unsealed salty fish; mineral water, unsealed olives and pickles; homemade foods; fresh vegetables; shellfish and by-products; and fresh figs.
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