Kuwait is located in the north western corner of the Arabian Gulf (Geographic co-ordinates: 29 degrees 30’N,45’E. Covering a total area of 17,818km2 (6,880 square miles), it has 290km of coastline along the Arabian Gulf to the east and shares a 240km border with Saudi Arabia to the south and southwest. Nine islands are located off the coast of Kuwait – Failaka, Bubiyan, Miskan, Umm Al Maradim, Umm Al Namel, Kubbar, Qaruh and Warba.
3 million approx. (Kuwait Census, 2005).
Kuwait City is the capital (population approx. 1.25 million). Other major centers are Salmiya, Hawalli, Farwaniyah, Fahaheel, Jahra, Ahmadi and Mubarak Al Kabeer.
Kuwait is divided into six governorates: Al-asimah, Hawalli, Farwaniyah, Ahmadi, Mubarak Al-Kabeer and Jahra.
Most of Kuwait is flat desert, reaching a maximum elevation of 306m above sea level near the western border with Saudi Arabia.
Kuwait enjoys long hot summers and short cool winters. Temperatures during the high summer months (June/July/August) may rise to around 50 degrees Celsius. In winter (December/January/February), temperatures average a cool 8 degrees Celsius with rain from January to March. Spring and autumn are especially pleasant.
Fixed holidays: New Year’s Day (1January); National Day (25 February); Liberation Day (26th February). Holidays based on Islamic calendar (lunar): Birth of the Prophet Mohammed; Isra’a Wal Ma’araj; New Hijra Year; Eid Al Fitr (3 days); Eid Al Adha (4 days).
All visitors except GCC nationals require an entry visa. Visas are obtainable from any Kuwait Embassy or Consulate. For nationals of certain countries, visit visas may be obtained on arrival (see http://www.kuwaitiah.net/ministry.html for a current listing).
Official language is Arabic. English is recognized as the second language and is widely spoken, especially in the business, banking and retail sectors.
Local time: GMT/UTC +3 hours.
The Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) is the official currency. 1KD is divided into 1,000 fils. Notes are KD 20, KD 10, KD 5, KD 0.500 and KD 0.250. Coins are 5,10,20,50 and 100 fils. ATMs accepting international cash cards are widely available and major credit cards are accepted in hotels, shopping malls and restaurants.
Islam is the official religion of Kuwait (85%). There are also churches for Christian residents, Protestants, Greek Orthodox and Marinate.
Government and public offices work Sunday through Thursday with the working day usually starting at 7 am and ending at 2 pm. Private sector hours vary from company to company. Shops open from 8 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm every day. Shopping malls generally stay open from 10 am to 10 pm. Banks close on Friday and Saturdays.
The supply is 220-240 volt, AC, at 50 cycles, single phase. American–made appliances may need a transformer.
Getting to/from the Airport
Limousines: A luxury limousine service is available, with prices ranging from KD 7-KD 18 to Kuwait City depending on the kind of car. These operate from a dedicated pick up zone outside the Arrivals Hall.
Taxis: Taxis pick up from outside the Arrivals Hall, and the fare to Kuwait City is approximately KD 5.
Buses: There are regular bus services from the airport to Kuwait City – buses depart from outside the Arrivals Hall.
Courtesy Shuttle: many hotels operate a 24 hour courtesy shuttle to/from Kuwait International Airport.
Getting Around Kuwait
Car Rental: The road system in Kuwait is modern and well-maintained. Driving is on the right, with road signs in Arabic and English. Numerous international car rental agencies have counters in the airport Arrivals Hall and at locations around Kuwait City including hotels. A GCC Driving License or an International Driving Permit (IDP) is usually required for anyone on a visit visa wishing to rent a car (although some will accept a national driving license for some countries so check before traveling). Driving in Kuwait is challenging, so many rental firms can provide a car with driver on request (usually 24 hours notice required). If you drive yourself full insurance (usually valid for one month) must be purchased at the time of renting – the rental company will arrange this.
Taxis: Taxis are plentiful in Kuwait and prices for most journeys are reasonable. It is easiest to get the phone number of one of the large taxi firms from your hotel reception, then call whenever you need a ride. Taxis may also be flagged down on the street. Be sure to agree a fare for your journey in advance with the dispatcher or driver before starting off.
Buses: Kuwait City has an extensive and reliable bus network operated by Kuwait Public Transport Company and City bus.
Ferries: a daily passenger and car ferry service runs between Kuwait City and Failaka Island operated by Kuwait Public Transport Company. The ferry takes 90 minutes and departs from Ras Al Ardh in Salmiya. Check the timetable as departure times vary. There is also a fast-ferry passenger service which departs from the Marina Crescent in Salmiya. Journey time by catamaran is 30-45 minutes