Transport and Driving in Kuwait
Kuwait is a small Gulf country so expats will find getting around is relatively quick and easy. Public transport in Kuwait is not well developed and consists of buses and taxis. The majority of residents buy or rent a car for getting around, or make use of taxis for short trips within Kuwait City.
Driving in Kuwait
Kuwait has a well-developed road network, petrol is cheap, and as most road signs are in Arabic and English, expats will find that driving there is relatively easy. However, traffic congestion can be extreme during peak times and Kuwaiti roads have a very poor safety record. Expats driving in Kuwait should therefore be cautious; defensive driving is recommended at all times.
The majority of Western expats have their own vehicle for getting around. Both used and new cars are widely available, and new arrivals will more than likely find themselves driving a car far more luxurious than what they had back home.
Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Kuwait. Traffic law enforcement is strict, with the speed limit on major highways being 75 miles per hour (120km/h) and on urban roads, usually 28 miles per hour (45km/h). However, this does not stop many local drivers from racing at high speeds, leading to many accidents.
It’s possible to drive in Kuwait with an international driver’s licence, but once foreigners receive their Civil ID card, they are required to get a Kuwaiti driver’s licence. The process for getting a local licence may vary according to an expat’s nationality and their home country driver’s licence. While most Westerners will be able to easily obtain a local licence, some expats may be required to take a learner’s test and do a driving test.
Expats should note that when their residence permit lapses or is cancelled, their Kuwaiti driver’s licence also becomes invalid. The licence only becomes valid again once the residence permit is renewed.
Public transport in Kuwait
Kuwait’s public transport system is not well developed, consisting of buses and taxis. The majority of residents therefore use their own vehicles for getting around. There is no railway system in Kuwait, although the government has plans to develop a railway and metro system in the near future.
There is an established bus network in Kuwait, with services operated by CityBus and the Kuwait Public Transport Company. Buses operate along set routes (according to a numbered system shared by both companies) around Kuwait City, but schedules can be erratic. Services also run to destinations outside of Kuwait, including Saudi Arabia.
Buses are generally modern, comfortable, and importantly, air-conditioned. To avoid embarrassment, men should be aware that seats at the front of the bus are usually reserved for women.
A ferry network connects Kuwait with other countries in the region, with regular services running to Bahrain and Iran. There are also boat trips to the surrounding islands, for those looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Taxis in Kuwait
Taxis are widely available in Kuwait. They are usually quite affordable and therefore popular among the expat community.
Taxis can easily be hailed from the street, although expats should be aware that a number of unofficial taxis are in operation in Kuwait; these can easily overcharge unsuspecting passengers.
Air travel in Kuwait
As a tiny Gulf country, domestic air travel is not really possible and there is only one major airport in Kuwait City, the Kuwait International Airport. The national carrier, Kuwait Airways, offers daily flights to regional and international destinations, while a number of other international operators, including British Airways, Emirates and Lufthansa, also offer services to and from Kuwait.