Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 96 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. Kuwait's climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country.
Kuwaiti natural resources include petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
strategic location at head of Persian Gulf
Kuwaiti religion is Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%), Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%.
Natural hazards in Kuwait include sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August.
Travel Advice for KuwaitKuwait
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. The overall level of the advice has not changed.SUMMARY
SAFETY AND SECURITY
- You should be aware of the threat from terrorism. Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on Western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.
- In January and February 2005, Kuwaiti security forces mounted operations against suspected militants and discovered bomb-making equipment and material linked with planned kidnaps. We believe that some individuals associated with these incidents are still at large and remain a threat to Western interests.
- You should review your security arrangements carefully and maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations. You should exercise caution if you intend to travel through or to conservative areas such as Block 7 of Fahaheel, and Jahra where there have been a significant number of incidents involving firearms.
- Around 30,000 British nationals visit Kuwait every year. Most visits are trouble-free. The main causes of British nationals requiring consular assistance in Kuwait are road traffic accidents and problems at immigration. Labour disputes are common and the Embassy cannot usually intervene so anyone who is considering coming to work in Kuwait is advised to check the details of their contract thoroughly in advance.
- We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see Travel Insurance.
Incidents of violent crime against foreigners are rare. Some 4,000 British nationals live in Kuwait, and we estimate over 30,000 visit each year. Most visits to Kuwait are trouble-free. However, you should exercise caution if you intend to travel through or to conservative areas such as Block 7 of Fahaheel, and Jahra where there have been a significant number of incidents involving firearms. There have also been reports of recent incidents of threats and stone throwing by youths in desert areas near Mangaf, Egaila and Fahaheel.
Kuwait Country Profile
Developments in Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. You should follow news reports and be alert to regional developments. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations.
Only authorised road border crossing points into Iraq and Saudi Arabia should be used. Any other unauthorised movement in the vicinity of borders is illegal and dangerous: armed guards patrol the border area. If you are planning to cross the border from Kuwait into Iraq you, should ensure that you have the correct paperwork. The British Embassy can offer advice on this.
Landmines and other hazardous ordnance are still present in Kuwait. When travelling outside Kuwait City, you should keep to tarmac roads. Care should be taken when using beaches and picnic spots. Even where officially cleared, there is still a danger from unexploded ordnance. Do not pick up any strange metal, plastic or other objects lying around. Do not souvenir hunt for war memorabilia.
You can drive on an International Driving Licence. Third party insurance is compulsory. Anyone applying for residence in Kuwait can also drive on an International Driving Licence until such time as the residency permit is issued. Thereafter, a Kuwaiti driving licence is required.
Driving is hazardous. Many drivers pay scant attention to other road users; driving in excess of speed limits, switching lanes without warning, frequently ignoring traffic lights and using mobile phones while driving. You should remain vigilant at all times.
If you have an accident you must stay with the vehicle and not attempt to move it. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident before the police arrive.
Hailing a taxi from the road is not advisable in Kuwait, particularly if you are female. There have been a few incidents of passengers being harassed while doing so. We recommend that you book a taxi in advance by telephone, from a known and reputable taxi company.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected; and there have been occasional arrests. Mariners should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or considering visiting ports.
On 30 March 2006, a Dhow capsized in Bahrain. There were 58 fatalities, including 12 British nationals. You should exercise care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. You should also ensure that life jackets are available.LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Local laws reflect the fact that Kuwait is a Muslim country. You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In public, general modesty of behaviour and dress is expected. Women who wear shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention.
You should carry your passport or a Kuwait civil identification card, if you have one, at all times.
The importation of narcotics, alcohol, pork products and obscene material are forbidden and can lead to imprisonment. Penalties for drug trafficking include the death sentence. Drunken behaviour in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a fine or imprisonment and/or deportation and the withdrawal of the driving licence.
Photography near government, military and industrial sites, particularly oil fields, is forbidden.
"Bouncing" cheques is illegal and the law does not provide for offenders to be released from custody on bail. "Post dated" cheques can be banked immediately.
Homosexual behaviour is illegal. So is any public display of affection between men and women.ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Co-habiting in Kuwait is illegal. If you wish to live with your partner in the same house, you need to be married.
British nationals can acquire one-month visit/business visas on arrival in Kuwait. You may be charged two Kuwaiti Dinars (about £4.00) for the visa, but the practice is not consistent. Further information can be obtained from the Kuwaiti Embassy in London. Exchange facilities are available at Kuwait International Airport 24 hours a day, every day. You should have a ticket for travel out of Kuwait. It may speed the processing of the visa if the traveller is able to show a sponsor's letter or confirmation of a hotel reservation.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your intended stay.
If you are planning to enter Kuwait overland from Iraq, we strongly advise you to obtain a visa before travelling to the region. The Iraqi side of the border is dangerous, we are aware of some British citizens having difficulty entering Kuwait from there.
For work or residency visas you should apply to the Kuwaiti Embassy in London.
If you have an Israeli stamp in your passports you may be refused visas/entry to Kuwait.
British nationals intending to apply for a residence visa for their dependants in Kuwait must make sure that they have their original marriage certificates legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country in which they got married. The same procedure applies to their children’s original birth certificates. These documents are a must for processing a residence visa in Kuwait.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Kuwaiti Embassy in London.HEALTH
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see Travel Insurance
There is a state medical service with local clinics and several good hospitals. There are also a number of doctors and dentists in private practice/hospitals. Fees are controlled by the State and are expensive.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk.GENERAL
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
Anyone involved in a commercial dispute with a Kuwaiti company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country pending resolution of the dispute.
It is common practice for the passports of foreign nationals resident in Kuwait to be retained by sponsors. You should keep a copy of your passport.
You are advised to register with the British Embassy.
Kuwait Airways require flights to be reconfirmed at least 48 hours before departure.
ATMs are widespread and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.