ABOUT KUWAIT

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north.

The name Kuwait is derived from the ākwāt, the plural of kūt, meaning "fortress built near water.

The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 square miles) and has a population of about 2.8 million.
The Bani Utbih tribes were the first permanent Arab settlers in the region, laying the foundation for the modern emirate. By the 19th century, Kuwait came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, it emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's large oil fields were discovered in the late 1930s.

After Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, the state's oil industry saw unprecedented economic growth. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. The seven month-long Iraqi occupations came to an end after a direct military intervention by United States-led forces. Around 773 Kuwaiti oil wells were set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi army, resulting in a major environmental and economic catastrophe. Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt. Twelve years later, Kuwait saw another massive foreign military presence as it served as a springboard for the US-led campaign in 2003 to oust the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Kuwait is a constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system of government.

The country has the world's fifth largest oil reserves in the World. Kuwait is the Eleventh richest country in the world per capita

History

 

In the 4th century BC, the ancient Greeks colonized an island off Kuwait's coast, naming it "Ikaros". It is now known as Failaka. By 123 BC, the region came under the influence of the Parthian Empire and was closely associated with the southern Mesopotamian town of Charax.
By the 14th century, the area comprising modern-day Kuwait had become a part of the Islamic caliphate.

The first permanent settlers in the region came from the Bani Utbih tribe of Najd, who later established the state of Kuwait. The region became part of the Ottoman Empire in the early 17th century. The site of present-day Kuwait City was first settled in the early 18th century and had become a busy trading hub by the early 19th century. In 1756, Kuwait came under the rule of Sabah I bin Jaber as the first Amir of Kuwait, who enjoyed a degree of semi-autonomy under the Ottomans. The current ruling family of Kuwait, Al-Sabah, are descendants of Sabah I. During the rule of the Al-Sabah, Kuwait progressively became a center of trade and commerce. It now served as a hub of trade between India, the horn of Africa, the Nejd, Mesopotamia and the Levant. Until the advent of Japanese pearl farming, Kuwait had one of the largest sea fleets in the Persian Gulf region and a flourishing pearling industry. Trade consisted mainly of pearls, wood, spices, dates and horses.

Oil Reserves

Large oil reserves were discovered by the US-British Kuwait Oil Company in 1937. Exploitation was delayed by World War II, but thereafter fueled the country's development into a modern commercial Centre. A major public-works program me began in 1951; Kuwait's infrastructure was transformed, and residents began to enjoy a high standard of living. By 1952, the country became the largest exporter of oil in the Persian Gulf region. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Egypt and India.

The exploitation of large oil fields, especially the Burgan field, triggered a large influx of foreign investments into Kuwait. The massive growth of the petroleum industry transformed Kuwait into one of the richest countries in the Arabian Peninsula and Kuwait settled its boundary disputes with Saudi Arabia and agreed on sharing equally the neutral zone's petroleum reserves, onshore and offshore. During the 1970s, the Kuwaiti government nationalized the Kuwait Oil Company, ending its partnership with Gulf Oil and British Petroleum.
 

Independence

On 19 June 1961, Kuwait became independent with the end of the British protectorate; the sheikh Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, became an Amir, and the country joined the Arab League. The Gulf rupee, issued by the Reserve Bank of India, was replaced by the Kuwaiti Dinar.
Gulf war and its reasons

In the early 1980s, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the stock market crash and decrease in oil price. This prompted the Amir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to recall the National Assembly in 1981. However, the crisis was short-lived as Kuwait's oil production increased steadily to fill the gap caused by decrease in Iraq's and Iran's oil production due to the Iran–Iraq War. The National Assembly was dissolved again in 1986.

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Kuwait supported Sadam Hussein both financially and strategically. After the Iran-Iraq war ended, Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its US$65 billion debt. An economic rivalry between the two countries ensued after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent. Tensions between the two countries increased further in July 1990, after Iraq complained that Kuwait was stealing its oil from a field near the border by slant drilling of the Rumaila field. Saddam Hussein threatened military action.
On 2 August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait.

Invasion and destruction
During the Iraqi occupation, about 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed and more than 300,000 residents fled the country. The United States-led coalition of thirty-four nations fought the Gulf War to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. On 26 February 1991, the coalition succeeded in driving out the Iraqi forces. As they retreated, Iraqi forces carried out a scorched earth policy by setting on fire or damaging 737 Kuwaiti oil wells as they pulled out. Kuwait paid the coalition forces US$17 billion for their war efforts.

It was estimated that by the time Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation, about 5 to 6 million barrels (950,000 m3) of oil was being burned in a single day because of these fires ,Oil and soot accumulation affected the entire Persian Gulf region and large oil lakes were created holding approximately 25 to 50 million barrels. The fires took more than nine months to extinguish fully and it took Kuwait more than 2 years and US$ 50 billion in infrastructure reconstruction to reach pre-invasion oil output. Kuwait has since largely recovered from the socio-economic, environmental, and public health effects of the Persian Gulf War.

Geography
Kuwait is Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. The country is generally low lying; with the highest point being 306 m (1,004 ft) above sea-level.

Area—comparative is slightly smaller than New Jersey

Kuwait is divided into 6 governorates
It has nine islands, all of which, with the exception of Failaka Island, are uninhabited. With an area of 860 square kilometers (330 square miles), the Bubiyan is the largest island in Kuwait and is connected to the rest of the country by a 2,380 m (7,808 ft) long bridge. The land area is considered arable and sparse vegetation is found along its 499 km long coastline. Kuwait City is located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbor.

Kuwait borders the Persian Gulf to the east, with 195 kilometers of coast
Land boundaries - Total: 462 km
Border countries: Iraq 240 km & Saudi Arabia 222 km
Kuwait Coastline - 499 km

Borders
To the south and west, Kuwait shares a long border of 250 kilometers with Saudi Arabia
The third side of the triangle is the 240 kilometers of historically contested border to the north and west that Kuwait shares with Iraq.

List of Islands in Kuwait
Warbah Island
Bubiyan Island
Miskan Island
Failaka Island - is the site of an ancient Greek temples built by the forces of Alexander the Great.
Auhah Island
Umm an Namil Island
Shuwaikh Island
Kubbar Island
Qaruh Island
Umm al Maradim Island

Economy
Kuwait has proven crude oil reserves of 104 billion barrels (15 km³), estimated to be 10% of the world's reserves.
According to the Kuwaiti constitution, all natural resources in the country and associated revenues are government property. Being a tax-free country, Kuwait currently pumps 2.9 million bpd and its full production capacity is a little over 3 million bpd, including oil production in the neutral region that it shares with Saudi Arabia. Kuwait oil production is expected to increase to 4 million bpd by 2020.

However, the country's economy was badly affected by the global financial crisis of 2008. In 2009, the Central Bank of Kuwait devised a US$5.15 billion stimulus package to help boost the economy. Other major industries include shipping, construction, cement, water desalination, construction materials and financial services.

Kuwait has a well-developed banking system and several banks in the country date back to the time before oil was discovered. Founded in 1952, the National Bank of Kuwait is the largest bank in the country and one of the largest in the Arab world. Other prominent financial institutions based in Kuwait include the Gulf Bank of Kuwait and Burgan Bank, which is named after the largest oilfield in the country.
Kuwait's climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. The government is keen on decreasing Kuwait's dependence on oil to fuel its economy by transforming it into a regional trading and tourism hub. The planned US$ 77 billion Madinat Al-Hareer (City of Silk) is the largest real estate development project in the Middle East. The Central Bank issues Kuwait's currency, the Kuwaiti dinar. As of May 2012, the dinar is the highest-valued currency unit in the world till date.

Religion
About 85% of the population in Kuwait identify themselves as Muslims.75%-80% of Muslims in Kuwait belongs to the Sunni and 20%-25% are Shi'as. The majority of the Shi'as follows the Twelvers school. Despite Islam being the state religion, among the non-Kuwaiti citizens, the country has a large community of Christians (est. 300,000 to 400,000), Hindus (est. 300,000), Buddhists (est. 100,000), and Sikhs (est. 10,000).Hindus account for the largest number of expatriates in Kuwait.[Virtually all Kuwaiti Arabs are Muslim.

Culture & Cuisine


While, unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, the Islamic dress code is not compulsory, many of the older Kuwaiti men prefer wearing dishdasha, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton while the minority of women wears abaya, black over-garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is particularly well-suited for Kuwait's hot and dry climate. Western style clothing is very popular among the youth of Kuwait. Before the discovery of oil, pearling formed a crucial part of Kuwait's economy. Pearl fishery, known as ghaus, suffered decline after the advent of Japanese pearl farming. However, Kuwait's pearl industry laid the foundation of its rich maritime history. Dhows, large wooden ships made from teak wood imported from India, became an indistinct part of Kuwait's maritime fleet and dhow building is still practiced in this Persian Gulf state

Seafood has been the mainstay of the Kuwaiti diet for centuries. Traditional Kuwaiti cuisine includes machboos  diyay, machboos laham, maraq diyay laham which borrows heavily from South Asian cuisine and Arab cuisine. Imawash is another popular dish.

Flag of Kuwait
The flag of Kuwait was adopted on September 7, 1961, and officially hoisted November 24, 1961.
Before 1961, the flag of Kuwait, like those of other Gulf States, was red and white with the word “Kuwait “in the middle. The present flag is in the Pan-Arab colors’, but each color is also significant in its own right.

State of Kuwait General Overview

Area: 17,820 square kilometers

Population: 3,582,054 (official estimate approximate)

Capital: Kuwait City
National Day:25th February
Liberation Day: 26th February 
Geography: Kuwait shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. To the southeast lies the Persian Gulf, where Kuwait has sovereignty over nine small islands (the largest is Bubiyan and the most populous is Failaka). The landscape is predominantly desert plateau with a lower, more fertile coastal belt. Click Here.
Language: Arabic, but English is widely understood, especially in commerce and industry.

Time: GMT + 3
Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz; single phase. UK-type flat three-pin plugs are used.

Kuwait Weather Overview
While temperatures can cook during Kuwait summers with days often topping 50°C or more in June, July and August, the humidity inland is not so bad. On the coast you trade cooler temperatures for higher humidity. The winter months are often pleasant, featuring some of the region's coolest weather, with daytime temperatures hovering around 18°C and nights being quite chilly and cold around 5°C but never literally freezing. The occasional annoying sandstorm occurs throughout the year but is particularly common in spring.
 

Visas Overview
Everyone except nationals of other Gulf States needs a visa to enter Kuwait. Kuwait has recently changed its visa entry requirements so that many countries can now obtain visas on arrival. There are currently 33 countries {The United States of America, The United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, The Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea & Poland}. Other countries will need to arrange a visa prior to arrival. You could always contact our office for visa information & assistance.

Getting Here & Around Kuwait Overview
Kuwait International Airport is 16km south of Kuwait City. There is no airport departure tax in Kuwait. From the airport, taxis charge a reasonably steep flat fee to the city; buses make the trip a lot cheaper. Kuwait has a very cheap and extensive system of both local and intercity buses. You can also use local taxis to get around, though these have no meters, so get a firm price before starting out. If you are renting a car and you hold a driving license and residence permit from another Gulf country, you can drive in Kuwait without any further paperwork. Otherwise you can drive on an International Driving Permit or a local license from any western country, but you'll also be required to purchase insurance for your license. There is a good road network between cities. Driving is on the right. Bus: Kuwait Transport Company (KTS), City Bus and Kuwait Gulf Link (KGL) operates a nationwide service which is both reliable and inexpensive. Taxi: These are recognizable by red license plates and may be hired by the day, in which case fares should be agreed beforehand. Share-taxis are also available. Taxis can be phoned and this service is popular and reliable. A standard rate is applicable in most taxis, but those at hotel ranks are more expensive.

Airlines that get you here
Kuwait’s national airline is Kuwait Airways (KU) but other airlines serving Kuwait include Air Arabia, Jazeera Airlines, British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Middle East Airlines, Etihad Airways, Egypt Air, Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Martin Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Bahrain Air, Air India Express, Sri Lankan, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Jet Airways, Turkish Airlines, Iran Air, Ethiopian Airlines, NAS Air, Mahan Air and Syrian Arab Airlines.

Facilities at Kuwait International airport
Airport facilities include restaurants, shops (grocery and electronics), cafes, banks, exchange offices, major car rental companies, visa counters, hotel counters, DEBENHAMS, VISITOR, travel agencies (last minute bookings), and much more.

Sea Trade & Traffic
More than 30 shipping lines call regularly at Kuwait City, Kuwait’s major port in Shuwaikh. Most traffic is commercial but sometimes cruise liners call in Kuwait and have shore-excursion tours which are handled by our company. Dhows and other small craft may be chartered for trips to the offshore islands.


Accommodation
Hotels range from deluxe to first and second class. Many top hotels in Kuwait City feature sport complexes, restaurants, cafes and shopping malls. Serviced apartments, some with hotel-style room service, are also available. Prices are generally differ. All rates are subject to a 15 % service charge.

Food & Drink
There is a good choice of restaurants serving a wide choice of International and Arab cuisine, prices are reasonable. Typical middle-eastern food includes hummus, falafel and foul. Everything is eaten with Aish or Kabbos (Arabic flat bread). Alcohol and drugs is totally prohibited in Kuwait.
 

Restaurants
The standard of food is generally good. There are a wide variety of restaurants available, new ones are opening all the time. These fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Johnny Rockets, HARD ROCK Café, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday's, Hardees, Baskin Robins, and many more. In addition there are other fine dining restaurants serving international cuisine - Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, French, Oriental, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, American, etc. The costs vary according to the type of restaurant and also the location you will be in.

Shopping


Numerous large shopping complexes have recently been built. The Avenues – Mall is the largest shopping mall located in the city area and a must see. Other malls like Sharq Waterfront Project Shopping Complex & Marina Mall is an extensive center near the waterfront in the City and contains Western chain stores as well as Kuwaiti shops. There are other shopping centers spread around the city that sell all the basic and most luxury goods. One of the famous Traditional Markets is known as Souk Al Mubarakiya which is located in the heart of the city which caters to all kinds of visitors where you can find the Old & New market, Gold market, women’s market, Fruit & Meat market, local restaurants & cafes, Spice shops, antique items, traditional carpets & rugs, money exchange shops, playground for children, clothing & cosmetics, electronics and much more to explore.

Shopping hours
Sat-Fri 0830-1300 and 1600-2200 (Souk al Mubarakiya). All shopping malls are open daily from 1000 – 2300 while the cinemas last show is normally at 0030.
 

Kuwait Social Conventions
Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. It is quite likely that a visitor will be invited to a Kuwaiti’s home, but entertaining is also conducted in hotels and restaurants. A small gift promoting the company, or representing your own country, is always welcome. The visitor will notice that most Kuwaitis wear the national dress of long white dishdasha’s and white head cloths, and that many women wear yashmaks. It is important for women to dress modestly according to Islamic law. Men do not usually wear shorts in public and should not go shirtless. All other Islamic rules and customs must be respected. It is greatly appreciated if visitors learn at least a few words of Arabic.

Business & Economy Overview
Kuwait’s considerable wealth is the result of the country’s vast oil deposits, estimated at 100 billion barrels (9 per cent of the world’s total known reserves). With production of over two million barrels daily, oil now accounts for about half of total output, 90 per cent of export income and three-quarters of government revenue. The economy has long since recovered from the extensive and systematic looting conducted by Iraqi troops during the occupation of 1990-1. This was estimated to have cost Kuwait US$170 billion, and the extent of the reconstruction was reflected in the fact that Kuwait was obliged to liquidate a large proportion of its overseas investment portfolio. These holdings, which are administered by the Kuwait Investment Office, are used partly to meet the country’s running costs (free education and social services) and partly lodged in the Fund for Future Generations. During the 1990s, Kuwait, not surprisingly, invested large sums in building up a military apparatus. There has been some diversification of the economy, promoted and funded by the government. Heavy industrial projects have been eschewed in favor of light manufacturing industries such as paper and cement production. There is a small fishing industry and some agriculture. The government has tabled a privatization programme both as a means to raise revenue and as an instrument of economic policy. A free-trade zone has also been established. Kuwait is a member of OPEC and of the Gulf Co-operation Council. The re-emergence of OPEC as a major influence appears to have triggered some disputes inside the Kuwaiti government over oil production and pricing policy. Japan, The Netherlands and Italy are the main markets for Kuwaiti oil. The principal exporters to Kuwait are Japan, the USA, Germany and the UK.
 

Business Language
Men are expected to wear suits and ties for business and formal social occasions. English is widely spoken in business circles, although a few words or phrases of Arabic are always well received. Visiting cards are widely used. Some of the bigger hotels have translation and bilingual secretarial services.

Money & Currency Overview


Kuwait Dinar (KD) = 1000 fils. Notes are in denominations of KD20, 10, 5 and 1, and 500 and 250 fils. Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 fils. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Government office hours: Sun-Thu 0730-1430 (Friday & Saturday are official government holidays)
Private Companies Office hours: Every private company has different office timings & off days but the most common is Sat – Thu 0800 – 1800. Some private companies consider to give their employees an additional off day on Saturday with a half day on Thursday. While travel agencies, some restaurants and shops work on break shift from Sat – Thu 0800 – 1230 and then 1630 – 2030.

Our Daily Newspapers
Hotels, local supermarkets, bookshops and many neighborhood shops known as “BAKALA’s provide local and international newspapers and magazines. Some of the local Arabic dailies are Al-Rai Al-Am, Al-Qabbas, Al-Watan, Al-Anbaa, and Al-Seyassah. There are also English newspapers like Arab Times, Kuwait Times, The Daily Herald, & The Times.

 
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