Five common misconceptions about Kuwait

Kuwait is a country that people don’t know much about. If they’ve even heard of it or are able to point it on a map at all, their knowledge of the place is often limited and full of misconceptions. Here I have listed the most common.

Kuwait is unsafe

Despite bordering Iraq, home to one of the scariest organizations in the world (IS or Daesh), Kuwait is not unsafe. IS is really, really far away. The only suicide bombing in the last 25 years or so took place last year, and that is definitely not a daily occurrence. Simply assuming that because Kuwait is in the Middle East it is automatically unsafe is over generalizing the situation in the region. Kuwait has more in common with countries like the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar: beacons of stability in an otherwise tumultuous region.

All girls need to wear a veil in Kuwait

“Do you wear a veil when you are there?”. After I have convinced people that Kuwait is NOT unsafe, conversations seem to automatically shift to clothing in 9 out of 10 cases. So once and for all: Kuwait is NOT Saudi Arabia or Iran, the only two countries where wearing a veil is compulsory for women. When I am in Kuwait, I don’t wear a veil. After all, I’m not a Muslim. And be assured, not even all Muslim women wear veils. I know quite a few Lebanese, Jordanian and Egyptian women living in Kuwait who do not wear veils. And neither do the Christian or Hindu girls from South Asia, Europe or the Americas, and there’s plenty of them there as well. Seeing a girl without a veil is not such a rare sight in Kuwait really, even though many local girls do cover their hair.

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Everyone is rich

Kuwait is one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to the oil. In the streets you will see the fanciest cars, and people wear the most expensive clothing. This does however not mean that everyone is rich. Within the Kuwaiti population there are marked differences: some are super rich, others are just well-off. Unlike in Oman you won’t find Kuwaiti taxi drivers, but not all have four sports cars either.

It is always hot in Kuwait

It does get awfully hot in Kuwait at times, so much is true. Temperatures reached 65 degrees Celsius this summer, an absolute record. When people in Kuwait say “the weather is getting better”, they actually mean that it’s getting colder, whereas in Western Europe we would consider warmer weather as better weather. This does however not mean that it is always hot in Kuwait. On the contrary, it gets pretty cold in winter sometimes too. Last year it snowed in Kuwait for the very first time in recorded history, and at some point it was even warmer in Germany than it was in the Gulf. Hello global warming!

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Kuwait is boring

Disclaimer: everything written down here is just the opinion of the author, and no one else. Yes, those who have lived there for a substantial part of their lives often find Kuwait dull. There are no clubs, there is no alcohol, and pretty much everything that is fun is forbidden. For this reason Kuwaitis and expats alike leave the country at the earliest opportunity. Four days off is a good excuse to fly to Dubai or Bahrain, places to be for those looking for escape the strictness of Kuwait. But I don’t consider Kuwait boring. You can go to the beach, eat in many different restaurants, go to the countless malls (and not just for shopping!) and generally, live a very relaxed life. Locals say it takes about six months to get bored of the place. After my six months in Kuwait I never wanted to leave anymore.

 

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15 thoughts on “Five common misconceptions about Kuwait

  1. As you say, Kuwait is a country people don’t know much about. Me included. I therefore found this article very interesting, especially the part about the country’s wealth and safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing a different point of view about Kuwait. So interesting to read about the women and clothing as well as the safety issues. It’s great that you are able to tell the “insider” story and not the media story. Sounds like you enjoyed your stay. That’s awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have visited Kuwait a few years ago and I actually really liked it. The city had some really interesting things to see and do for a visitor, and we really loved the restaurants. So I thought it was an interesting place!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I will admit, I thought that a veil/scarf would be required for women in Kuwait. Always important to do research on a place before you visit, that’s for sure!

    Like

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