Kuwait City is the capital and the largest city of the State of Kuwait, a sovereign Arab emirate located on the northeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The city is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
Kuwait City is the country’s political, economic and cultural center, the seat of Parliament, and home to most governmental offices, corporations, and banks.
In the late 1930s oil fields were discovered in Kuwait. The country gained independence from Great Britain in 1961 and has grown steadily to become the world’s eleventh richest country.
The city of Kuwait is a bustling metropolis and a major business destination, full of high-rises and extravagant hotels,
Kuwait has an arid climate characterized by very hot dry summers, with temperatures reaching as high as 42-49°C, even surpassing 50°C during heat waves. Sand storms occur mostly during the summers.
Winters (December - February) are much cooler, averaging 10-30°C, with limited rainfall. Spring and autumn temperatures are moderate to warm.
January average temperature 12 deg Celsius 28 mm rainfall February average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 16 mm rainfall March average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 16 mm rainfall April average temperature 25 deg Celsius, 13 mm rainfall May average temperature 31 deg Celsius, 15 mm rainfall June average temperature 36 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall July average temperature 37 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall August average temperature 36 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall September average temperature 33 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall October average temperature 27 deg Celsius, 6 mm rainfall November average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 19 mm rainfall December average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 25 mm rainfall
Kuwait International Airport is located 16 km south of Kuwait City. It is the hub for Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways, and is also served by several international carriers. Web: www.kuwait-airport.com.kw/Index_e.htm
Taxis are located outside the arrivals hall. Transfers can also be organized via hotels.
Taxis are the best way to get around. They can be ordered by telephone or hailed in the street. There are two types: the orange taxis stop and pick up other passengers en route, while limousines are hired to one party only. Other taxis can be found around major hotels, they are more expensive but also less hassle. Most taxis are not metered so agree on the price before the journey.
The Kuwait Public Transport is inexpensive. Bus lines are available in and around the city, but the schedules are erratic and information scarce.
Car rental is available. You must present an International Driving Permit, on the basis of which you will be, within 5 days, granted a temporary local license valid for one month.
In the sea surrounding Kuwait there are a number of beautiful coral reefs alive with rich and colorful underwater ecosystems. There are many diving clubs with instructors and diving equipment, offering diving courses and certification.
Visiting one of the islands is an ideal day trip and dhows can be hired for a few hundred dinars per day. These can be found in any dhow harbor. Boats can also be hired at sea clubs. Prices depend on the size of the boat.
The Aqua Park, located near the Kuwait Towers, offers a variety of modern rides and pools and provides a welcome antidote for the fierce Kuwaiti heat.
FITNESS AND WELLNESS CENTERS
The city is dotted with exclusive fitness centers located in the hotels, like the Palms, SAS Radisson, and Hilton, among others. There are also several spas and health centers outside hotels, most notably the Ayurmana (Web: www.ayurmana.com), which features a Yoga Studio for women and Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) Center.
Kuwaiti sea clubs offer modern amenities located near the beaches; they include tennis courts, swimming pools, and gyms, as well as other facilities. Several are run by KTEC (Kuwait Touristic Enterprises Company), among which are Fahaheel, Al Shaab, Ras Al-Ardh, B'neid Al-Gar and Bida. The state run sea club is the Kuwait sea sport club.
Kuwait has numerous places to shop, from glitzy malls to traditional souks and many stores have negotiable prices. The Avenues Shopping Mall on 5th Ring Road is the largest mall in Kuwait, and one of the largest in the middle-east. Besides the consumer stores, the huge complex features 35 restaurants, 10 cinemas, and one VIP cinema, with reclining massage seats served by a personal butler! Sharq Souq Mall is among the largest malls in the city, located in downtown Kuwait City. There are also numerous other malls: Marina Mall (in Salmiya), 360 mall (in Jinoob al Surra) and Al-Kout Mall (in Fahaheel). Kuwait is a tax free country. Note that for custom-made items and imported items, shipping out of the country can be expensive.
Kuwait’s top attraction, the three towers play a dual role, being both an entertainment facility and a water tower. The upper sphere of the main tower features an observation deck that has a grand view of Kuwait City and Arabian Gulf. The lower sphere features three excellent restaurants atop a million-gallon water tank. The second tower serves only for water storage and cannot be accessed, while the third one is used to illuminate the other two. The towers were designed by the Swedes and constructed by the Yugoslavs.
Address: Gulf Street between National Assembly and Grand Mosque Open: 8:30 am - 12:30 pm; 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
This was Kuwait’s first museum, comprised of four buildings and a planetarium. It houses the very comprehensive Al-Sabah collection of Islamic art. The museum was looted and burned by the invading Iraqis but great effort was made to restore the most important artifacts. The museum provides a valuable glimpse into Islamic art and culture. Entrance is free.
‘The house of weaving’ is situated right next to the National museum. It houses Bedouin art, decorations, carpets, cushions, bags, tent dividers, etc. The building itself, made of coral and gypsum, is a fine example of the pre-oil era. The establishment is an ideal place to buy Bedouin goods as well as serving as a museum to protect the arts and crafts of Bedouin society.
The grand mosque is one of the largest in the region, beautifully decorated with calligraphy both indoors and out. The façade is decked with natural stone of various shades and the interior is made with marble and natural stone. Of the mosque’s expansive 45,000 square meters, the building itself covers just 20,000 square meters and the rest is taken up by gardens, fountains, and waterfalls, as well as a vast courtyard.
THE LIBERATION TOWER
The tower stands as the symbol of Kuwaiti liberation. It is one of the tallest telecommunications towers in the world and can be accessed 150m off the ground at the revolving observation deck and restaurant.
Kuwait city caters to all tastes and offers a large selection of restaurants where all but pork is to be found, and eating out is a national pastime. You can choose from international cuisines among which Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian are the favorites, as well as local food from all over the Middle East. People usually eat late and restaurants stay open until midnight.
Al Boom Grill, SAS Hotel
This restaurant is on the costlier side and offers first class service and the specialties are steak and seafood.
Casar Sultan,Medan Hawalli
The establishment offers typical Arabian food is noted for the beautiful décor.
Five Star Thai, Kuwait City
The elegant establishment offers beautifully prepared Thai food.
Sala Om-Habib, Kuwait City
The venue possesses an authentic atmosphere and serves delicious Middle Eastern fare.
The Dar Bar, Benid Al Gar
This restaurant provides delicious Indian food, and a pleasurable atmosphere.
The Horizon Le Cafe, Kuwait Towers
Combine lunch and sightseeing at this upscale tower coffee shop, 82 meters above ground.
Japanese restaurant located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
An American restaurant serves all time greats such as the steak burger and strawberry milkshake.
This is one of the city’s most popular festivals. It is a vibrant and colorful event celebrated with a lot of pomp, featuring several festivities in different parts of the city; it includes a musical program, literary discussions, and poetry sittings.
Eid al Fitr
The holiday celebrated at the end of Ramadan, when people prepare for community meals and family celebrations.
Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday
The birthday of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated with processions, singing and dancing, amongst colorful lights and decorations.
Date: 26 February
The festival marks the day Kuwait was liberated from Iraq, on February 26, 1991.
The island north of Kuwait’s coast, now called Failaka, was colonized by the ancient Greeks in the 4th century BC, who called it Ikaros. The island served as a successful trading post but permanent settlement was later abandoned, the reasons lost to history. The modern history of Kuwait starts in the 18th century, when Kuwait City was established by the 'Anizah tribe of central Arabia. By 1756 it became an autonomous sheikdom. 'Abd Rahim of the al-Sabah became the first sheik, and his descendants continue to rule Kuwait today. During the peaceful period that followed, maritime trade developed, turning Kuwait into one of the best harbors in the Persian Gulf. This strategic position also aided commerce in the caravan trade and smuggling into Ottoman territory. In the late 18th century the sheikdom belonged to the fringes of the Ottoman Empire but the settlement found itself under threat from the Ottoman Turks and other powerful Arabian Peninsula groups in the 19th century. Kuwait sought protection from the British.
MODERN (20TH CENTURY)
Oil was discovered in Kuwait in the 1930s and it became clear that Kuwait possessed 20% of the world's known oil resources. At that point the government tried to set the first internationally recognized boundaries. In 1922 the border with Saudi Arabia was established, along with a Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone, comprising of 5,180 sq. km, running along the Kuwaiti southern border. Kuwait gained independence from the British on June 19, 1961. The period that followed was marked by prosperity, during which time Kuwait signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia, dividing the Neutral zone, so that both countries could tap into the zone’s petroleum. In August 1990 the country was attacked by Iraq, setting up a pro-Iraqi provisional government, and draining Kuwait of its economic resources. The Iraqi forces were driven out by a coalition of Arab and Western military forces in just four days, from Feb. 23–27, 1991, thus ending the Persian Gulf War. As the Iraqi army retreated they set 773 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire. This resulted in a major environmental and economic catastrophe, greatly damaging Kuwait's infrastructure.
In 1999 women were given the right to vote and run for parliament but later that year the decree was annulled. This again changed in 2005, when the first woman was appointed to the cabinet and in 2006 women voted for the first time.
Kuwait is 85% Muslim so be modest and conservative in your behavior. People greet by shaking hands although men and women do not greet by touching at all. Dress conservatively. Women should never wear revealing or tight clothes. Kuwaiti women wear head scarves and/or abaya (body covering) although some, more progressive women wear loose fitting clothes and no head scarf.
Never eat with your left hand. After eating, leave some food on the plate to signal that you are full; otherwise your plate will be refilled. Leave a tip of 10 to 15% at restaurants. Tipping taxi drivers, however, is not customary. Pointing fingers at people is seen as rude.
The OK gesture means ‘evil eye’ here and should be avoided.
Avoid smoking, eating or drinking in public places during the time of Ramadan.
Public displays of affection are considered inappropriate and offensive.
The best time to visit Kuwait is during the cooler period that spans from November to April, the temperatures are most pleasant in May and October. It may be especially interesting to visit during the winter (November to February,) when Kuwait experiences snowfall.