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All About Kuwait

All About Kuwait

History

The State of Kuwait is officially a country in Western Asia, located in the Northeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia (1600). As the early 17th century, known at the time as al-Quran, it was under the control of the house of Khaled, who dominated the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The name Kuwait, which is derived from Kout (fort).

In the 18th – 19th century, control of Kuwait was threatened by the Ottoman Turks and other groups located on the Arabian Peninsula. A group of families migrated from Central Arabic and settled in Kuwait, the Al Sabah emerged as the dominant clan and were formally established as rulers of Kuwait in on account of his wisdom and good repute in 1972. Since then the Al Sabah family has continued to rule by succession up to this day. Kuwait gained independence from the British protectorate, modern Kuwait was born (1899-1961).

Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family returned to power in 1991 and reconstituted the parliament, which dates back to 1962.

The country witnessed the historic election in 2009 of four women to its National Assembly. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs, known as Bidoon, staged small protests in early 2011 demanding citizenship, jobs, and other benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals. Other demographic groups, notably tribal Bedouins, soon joined the growing protest movements, which culminated in late 2011 with the resignation of the prime minister amidst allegations of corruption. Demonstrations renewed in late 2012 in response to an Amiri decree amending the electoral law that disadvantaged tribal Bedouins.

The opposition, led by a coalition of Sunni Islamists, tribal populists, and some liberals, largely boycotted legislative elections in 2012 and 2013, which ushered in a legislature more amenable to the government’s agenda. Faced with the prospect of painful subsidy cuts, oppositionists and independents actively participated in the November 2016 election, winning nearly half of the seats. Since coming to power in 2006, the Amir has dissolved the National Assembly on seven occasions (the Constitutional Court annulled the Assembly in June 2012 and again in June 2013) and shuffled the cabinet over a dozen times, usually citing political stagnation and gridlock between the legislature and the government.

Area: 17,820km

Islands: 9

Population: 4.5 million people (1.3M are Kuwaitis and 3.2 are foreigners)

Official Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam

Nationality: Kuwaiti

Ethnic Groups: Kuwaiti, other Arab, South Asian, Iranian, other

Languages: Arabic (Official), English

Industries: Petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing, construction materials

Agriculture: Practically no crops; fish

Currency: Kuwaiti dinar (KD)

Government type: Nominal constitutional monarchy

Capital: Kuwait

Independence: 19 June 1961 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 25 February (1950)

Important Facts To Know About Kuwait

  1. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became the first Emir of the country after its independence. Succession is restricted to descendants of “Mubarak as-Sabah.” “The Great” was the seventh ruler of Kuwait, whose reign lasted from May 18, 1896, until his death on November 28, 1915.
  2. Kuwait’s oil reserves are the world’s sixth largest oil reserves in the country discovered in 1934.
  3. The Kuwaiti Dinar, the official currency of Kuwait, is the highest-valued currency in the world. One Kuwaiti Dinar equals 1,000 fils. Their currency is available in both coins and notes in different denominations.
  4. Kuwait’s national anthem is called Al-Nasheed Al-Watani and the lyrics were written by poet Ahmad Meshari Al-Adwani first played in 1978.
  5. Kuwait is the first country to introduce camel racing in 2006 with robotic jockeys on board the animals.
  6. Kuwait has the 15th-tallest sculpted tower in the world – The Al Hamra Tower. Located in Kuwait City, it is also the country’s tallest tower and the 23rd tallest in the world. It took almost six years to complete. It is 414 meters tall with 80 floors.
  7. Liberation Tower, which is one of the world’s tallest towers, is the second-tallest structure in the country, measuring 1220 feet. The tower has a revolving restaurant and an observation platform.
  8. Kuwait’s economy is mostly petroleum based. Fertilizers and petroleum are their main export products.
  9. Falcons are found in various places throughout Kuwait. Kuwaiti stamps and currencies always contain falcon imagery. The falcon is its national bird, which is why it is so dominant.
  10. There are more than one million non-nationals living in the country, citing better trade and job opportunities.
  11. There are no railways in Kuwait.
  12. Kuwait is the only GCC country besides Bahrain to have a local Christian population who hold citizenship.
  13. Direct contact between women and strange men is avoided at all times and the homes are also built in such a way that the privacy of the inhabitants is preserved at all times.
  14. In April 2006, women voted for the first time in Kuwait after the country abandoned its ban on women’s suffrage (the right to vote in political elections.)
  15. Kuwait has 10% of all the oil reserves in the world. The sale of oil to other countries is responsible for almost half of Kuwait’s income.
  16. Because of difficult climatic conditions in the country, farming is not possible. Instead, Kuwait buys food from other countries and catches fish on its own.
  17. Despite the fact that Kuwait had seen difficulties due to war with Iraq; the country has a high standard of living.
  18. Sadu is a traditional form of Kuwaiti handicraft weaving. The cloth is generally created in the colors of red and black.
  19. Kuwait University (opened in 1966) is the country’s only university.
  20. There are no natural forests in Kuwait. However, there are billions of barrels of oil available to the country in its underground reserves.
  21. Kuwait has no rivers in the entire country, so they rely on water desalination as a primary source of fresh water.
  22. There are currently more than six desalination plants and Kuwait was the first country in the world to use desalination to supply water for large-scale domestic use.
  23. Kuwaiti men wear a traditional dress called Dishdasha which is white in the summer month and made from wool in dark colors during the winter.
  24. Kuwait also has one of the largest per capita incomes in the world. Qatar and Luxembourg are among the top five nations on the list.

DO’S And DON’T’S IN VISITING KUWAIT

On planning a trip to Kuwait, it is essential to be aware of the general laws of the country. The State of Kuwait is a conservative country and many things which are part of everyday life in the west which are illegal. As a visitor or an expatriate in Kuwait, you are subject to follow the laws of the country.

Here are some of the basic “Do’s and Dont’s” guidelines to observe when visiting the state of Kuwait.

  1. Always carry your passport or a Kuwait civil identification card, at all times.
  2. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. It is forbidden to Muslim and non-Muslims to eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public and those who can be fined or imprisoned for violating the ban.
  1. Don’t walk on a prayer mat or in front of any person at prayer and try not to stare at people who are praying.
  1. Don’t try to enter a mosque without first asking permission. It’s unlikely that you will be allowed in
  2. In public places, visitors must always observe general modesty and act accordingly especially your behavior in dressing. Women wearing shorts or tight-fitting clothes, particularly in downtown areas are likely to attract unwelcome attention.
  1. You should accept refreshment whenever it’s offered by using your RIGHT hand. Take note that, in Kuwait, it is considered unclean to use your left hand for eating and drinking.
  1. When sitting, avoid crossing your legs and must keep your feet flat on the ground. It is highly offensive for them showing the soles of your shoes or feet, which implies that you regard other people like dirt.
  1. Upon accepting an invitation to the home of an Arab, remove your footwear before entering the reception. However, you should avoid making religious or political subject matters of discussion, your opinions might be regarded as ill-informed or even offensive, even if they seem acceptable to you from a western perspective.
  1. It is important to keep in mind that importing alcohol, narcotics, pork products and obscene material cross-dressing, and pornography is forbidden and can lead to imprisonment. Drug abuse can lead to imprisonment up to five or ten years, apart from a heavy fine. Bail is usually not granted for such offences.
  1. Co-habiting of unmarried partners in Kuwait is illegal. If you wish to live with your partner in the same house, you need to be married.
  1. Drunken behavior in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is a punishable offense and attracts fine and imprisonment or deportation and withdrawal of driving license.
  1. For visitors or expatriates in Kuwait, entry, and photography near government, military and industrial and other restricted areas, particularly oil fields, are forbidden.
  1. If you’re involved in a commercial dispute with a Kuwaiti company or individual, you may be prevented from leaving the country pending resolution of the dispute.
  1. Issuance of bouncing’ cheques is illegal or is a grave violation of the law. The law does not provide for offenders to be released from custody and cannot be granted bail.