Expats moving to Kuwait were once welcomed to the oil-rich emirate with open arms. However, in recent times, the government has begun to limit the number of foreigners living and working there, and lucrative relocation packages are far more difficult to come by. Nevertheless, Kuwait still has a large expat population and around 70 percent of the country’s workforce is made up of foreigners.
Although Kuwait is an Islamic country, expats will find that Kuwaiti culture is strongly influenced by Western traditions. While the country is not quite as conservative as neighbouring Saudi Arabia, expats should always show respect for Arab traditions, including dressing moderately and not displaying affection in public.
Arabic is the official language of Kuwait, but English is widely spoken and the official language of business. Expats should have no problem communicating with the locals.
While there are a large number of multinational companies operating in Kuwait, finding a job is not easy and this is often a very real problem for the trailing spouse. The majority of Western expats moving to Kuwait do so to follow lucrative employment packages in the country’s booming oil industry. Its financial sector is also thriving.
Expats moving to Kuwait with children will be glad to know that education in the country is of a very good standard and literacy rates are high. However, expats wanting their children to attend certain international schools should be aware that waiting lists can be long. Therefore, it is best to apply well ahead of time to secure a place.
Expats are not entitled to the generous benefits afforded to all Kuwaiti citizens such as guaranteed housing and free education and healthcare. However, expats moving to Kuwait will benefit from excellent medical facilities, which are on par with private hospitals in Western Europe and North America.
While new arrivals may have to deal with an element of culture shock and accordingly make some lifestyle adjustments when moving to Kuwait, they're likely to settle in quickly enough and start enjoying the luxuries associated with expat life in the Middle East.
"Salmiya is a great place to live because it is right in the middle of the country, so you are never far from anything." Allyson, an American expat, gives her side of things about life in Kuwait.
"I love the sunny skies of Kuwait, and being able for most of the year to wear summer clothes and not have to worry about rain!" British expat Gemma shares her experiences of Kuwait here.
"Living abroad allows you the opportunity to be part of a more international community of people with fascinating tales of their home countries and travels". British-born Avril Bailey provides a detailed account of what life in Kuwait is like here.
►For information on the job climate, see Working in Kuwait.
►Doing business in Kuwait provides information about the business world.
Are you an expat living in Kuwait?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kuwait. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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