By Jenna Jolie
Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the country, but Kuwaiti Arabic is the most-used variant. Visitors will find that most Kuwaitis are able to communicate well in English as it is mandatory to be taught in schools. All road signs are bilingual, and Kuwaitis don’t expect visitors to know Arabic, but any effort is appreciated.
The local currency is the Kuwait dinar, written as KD. Banks and licensed currency exchanges are easily found, and travelers’ checks can be exchanged, as well. Most major credit cards are accepted at ATMs, with those on banking premises the safest option. Payment by card is okay at most places with the exception of the markets and souqs. Having a combination of plastic and cash is your best bet.
Kuwait Standard Time is GMT+3.
Electricity in Kuwait is at 240V/50Hz and sockets are the British-style three square pin plugs. For US visitors, both an adaptor and a voltage converter will be necessary unless electronic equipment such as laptops is set up for dual-voltage usage.
The international dialing code for Kuwait is 965, followed by a single digit area code and then a six or seven digit phone number. Cell phones are a newer fad, and charges are surprisingly cheap, with Wataniya Telecom the main GSM network with good coverage in 3G. Prepaid Kuwaiti SIM cards are easily available, although your home cell phone will need to be unlocked.
Visitors to Kuwait should remember that it is an alcohol-free zone and importing alcohol is forbidden by law. Visitors may bring in 500 cigarettes duty-free, but DVDs and books are subject to censorship. Those returning to their home country will not be able to buy duty-free alcohol before their flight, with US visitors only allowed 200 cigarettes and gifts up to a value of $400.
Touristic Enterprises Company, Kuwait: +965-1-806-806 or www.kuwaittourism.com
Embassies in Kuwait
US Embassy, Kuwait: +965-2-259-1001
Australian Embassy, Kuwait: +965-2-322-422
Canadian Embassy, Kuwait: +965-2-563-025
UK Embassy, Kuwait: +965-2-997-1170
Emergency services: 777