Is Kuwait a Good Travel Destination?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

Brief answer: Yes.

Detailed answer follows.

Arabia, the exotic land of legends, land of far stretching sands, land rich in culture. And a land rich in oil.

Kuwait is a part of the Arabian peninsula - a very small part in terms of dimensions but a big one in terms of economics. Kuwait is one of the five richest countries in the world. Kuwait's oil production is 10 percent of the world oil reserves. The annual gross domestic product (GDP) of this country is about US$ 30 billion.

The country's area is 17,818 square kilometers (6880 square miles) with a population of about 2 million. Kuwait is a monarchy. The present ruler is Sheikh Jabir Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. A legislative assembly and a cabinet of ministers help him in ruling the country.

With its wealth and with its lack of industries, it is one of the best markets for export of items like oil refinining machinery, building materials, furniture, household appliances, clothing, computer and peripherals, automobiles and automobile parts, from North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

Kuwait is also a good prospect for export of services.

Import of certain goods is prohibited in Kuwait. These include pork and pork products, alcoholic beverages and products containing alcohol, gambling machines and pornographic material. Products from Israel or from companies affiliated to Israel are also prohibited.

The currency of the country is Dinar. One Kuwaiti Dinar is approximately equivalent to three US Dollars. The smallest currency unit is the Fil. There are one thousand Fils in a Dinar. The currency conversion sometimes may cause some confusion to the first time traveler due to the fact that the Dinar is represented with three decimal places as opposed to the two decimal places of the Dollar or Sterling.

Kuwait's culture is what anthropologists call a close culture. (Another example of a close culture is the Japanese culture). Personal contacts count a lot. Word of mouth is almost as important as written word. In such a culture, it is difficult for business relations to form and survive without personal contact. In this context, travel to Kuwait becomes quite important to business executives.

Except for the nationals of the other Gulf Cooperation Council states (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman), all others require entry visas for Kuwait. These visas can be obtained from Kuwaiti embassies and consulates or through a sponsor in Kuwait. Most hotels can arrange visas for their guests.

The flight to Kuwait from North American cities is a long one. It takes about 17 hours in most cases. There is no direct flight. Most of the airlines give a free stopover for a day or two, inclusive of food and accommodation. All business travelers are advised to take a laptop and/or a couple of good books with them to while away the time.

Kuwait has a number of world class hotels like Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, etc. Most of the hotels have their own sports complexes, restaurants and shopping malls. Room rates are high and can range for about US$200 to US$500 per night per single room.

Kuwait is extremely hot in summer, but almost all business places, airport, hotels and malls are fully air conditioned. However, the best time to travel to Kuwait is from October to April.

The capital of Kuwait is the Kuwait City. No matter what mental image you have of Kuwait, your visit is sure to bring you some surprises. Kuwait is a strange mixture of traditional and modern. You will find the most modern departmental stores side by side with traditional covered malls calls souks. Dish-dasha, the male dress, is a common sight and so are the most modern brand name 3-piece dinner suits. Doha Entertainment City is a vast and well-constructed amusement park. The newly built telecommunication tower is one of the five tallest in the world. But of course, the most important sight to see is the desert itself, that surrounds the Kuwait city from three sides (the fourth side being flanked by the sea).

The predominant religion is, of course, Islam. The official language is Arabic but English is quite common, so communication is not really a big problem. As said earlier, Kuwait is a close culture. Almost everyone knows almost everyone else by name. The basic cultural unit is the family. Local family names are extremely important and can be traced back several decades into the local history. Most businesses carry the family name. Word-of-mouth advertising plays a great role in the marketing strategies applied here.

The country is almost crime free. Sale and use of alcohol is banned, and so is pornography and gambling. The education system is quite good.

submitted by Ahmed A. Khan