If you’re a new OFW planning to go or are already staying in Kuwait, there are a handful of things you have to keep in mind. It is a Muslim country, so unless you are already Muslim, you may not be very familiar with Islamic customs, and distinctly Kuwaiti traditions.
Some of these Arab traditions include dressing moderately and not showing PDA (Public Display of Affection). Although majority of the population in Kuwait may be foreigners, it’s good to learn and understand Muslim traditions and culture.
How to Behave in Kuwait
Please be guided accordingly as you may face consequences if you break certain law. So here are 5 tips to keep in mind while staying in Kuwait.
1. Strict Traffic Laws
The traffic laws in Kuwait are strict, and if you get caught in a mishap, it could be very tedious with fines or even jail time. If you drive, put your mobile away, observe traffic signals, and try not to hit or get hit by other cars, as it could be a time-consuming process before either of you can get away. As a passenger, take note of this to avoid any delays.
2. Respect Islamic Customs
As an Islamic country, Islamic customs and Kuwaiti tradition are highly-intertwined. So to avoid disputes or religious police interference; dress conservatively at all times (except in private), don’t speak blasphemies, don’t make public displays of affection (PDA), don’t walk on a prayer mat or in front of someone praying, don’t offer pork or alcohol to a Muslim, and don’t be seen eating or drinking during Ramadan.
3. Use Kuwaiti Etiquette
As a foreigner, use the full name of whoever you are speaking to unless told otherwise. Use the title “Sheikh” with full name when speaking to dignitaries or nobility. Learn proper opening and closing greetings. The most common one is As-salāmu ʿalaykum meaning “Peace be upon you”. The proper reply when greeted with this is Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam meaning “And peace unto you”. If male, shake hands before and after being in the presence of Arab men.
4. Observe Proper Decorum Between Males and Females
It is forbidden in Islamic doctrine (The Qur’an) for men to touch non-related females. Observe this when staying in Kuwait. Each gender has its own transportation cabins. Males are forbidden from staring at women (especially when they are wearing abaya, and burqa, a traditional Islamic dress). And if a Muslim female is in an elevator and a man comes in, she will go out. It is important to take note of this to avoid being considered rude.
5. Attend Diwaniya
Diwaniyas are usually male-only private parties where socio-political issues are discussed. They are often held by important members of society, and especially politicians during election. If you are invited to attend one, make good use of the opportunity since it is a great place to make connections. Diwaniyas are the socio-political lifeline and information hub of Kuwait.
Kuwait still maintains its traditions rich in history and culture so be sure to take care of your necessities besides observing the unwritten codes of conduct in Kuwait. Many Kuwaitis are proud of their heritage and may not be so accepting of foreigners as those from Dubai or U.A.E. So it is important to keep extra care in being polite. Observe Kuwaiti etiquette for a peaceful and prosperous stay!