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Overview

Kuwait's unassuming capital Kuwait City doesn't attract anywhere near the number of tourists that nearby Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha do, yet for the expats who have made Kuwait their home, the Gulf city offers an easygoing low-key alternative to the other fast-paced Arabian metropolises. With roots in Bedouin culture and a lifestyle split between the desert and sea, the livelihood of Kuwaitis was based on fishing and pearling until the Japanese developed cultured pearls in the 1930s. Kuwaitis still maintain a strong connection to their pearling past and maritime history, and traditional songs and dances based on their seafaring heritage ...

Kuwait's unassuming capital Kuwait City doesn't attract anywhere near the number of tourists that nearby Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha do, yet for the expats who have made Kuwait their home, the Gulf city offers an easygoing low-key alternative to the other fast-paced Arabian metropolises. With roots in Bedouin culture and a lifestyle split between the desert and sea, the livelihood of Kuwaitis was based on fishing and pearling until the Japanese developed cultured pearls in the 1930s. Kuwaitis still maintain a strong connection to their pearling past and maritime history, and traditional songs and dances based on their seafaring heritage remain part of contemporary culture. At charming Sadu House, you can get a taste for traditional heritage and culture, while age-old boat-building techniques can still be appreciated at Al Jahrah. With the discovery of oil in the 1940s and independence from the British in 1961, Kuwait developed into a quintessential wealthy Arab oil state, ruled cleverly by the enterprising Al-Sabah tribe, its riches evident in the luxury hotels, sumptuous shopping malls, and fine-dining restaurants. The only downside is that a meal at the latter can't be enjoyed with wine; alcohol is forbidden in Kuwait.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Lara Dunston for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Language: Arabic (official), English widely spoken
  • Currency: Kuwaiti Dinar
  • Research: Kuwait | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter (December-February) is pleasant although a little chilly; spring and autumn are bearable, but avoid March and August, infamous for sandstorms. Summer is sweltering and definitely best avoided.