A Guide for Newcomers to Kuwait by Shruti Shah

August 29, 20151 Comment

n2antitledRelocating to a new country can be unsettling. Then again, there’s unsettling and very unsettling. Kuwait is neither a tourist friendly country nor a easy place to live and get by. Nestled in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait (or Q8) has the highest currency valuation in the world. Having lived here for almost 2 months, I have been figuring out how to live happily, easily and better here – and here are a few of my tips. What better way to help out a newbie than through my own experiences? 🙂

Getting to know people

  • Kuwait can seem an unfriendly place at first, but more than half of Kuwait is built of expats – so wherever you have come from, you’re bound to find someone from your home country here.
  • Get acquainted with Websites/ Blogs like 248 AM and Kuwait Upto Date – You’ll know what’s happening in Kuwait – events especially.
  • If you’re a book reader, I suggest going for a book read up organised by Kuwait Bibliophiles. It’s a fun way to meet likeminded people. You can mail them here.
  • You can also check here at Meetup.com – there are many groups that are active – from football fans to hacking. Also, if you’re into cycling – check this out.
  • Most importantly, come to Kuwait with an open mind – don’t have all these preconceived notions in your head about how bad it’s going to be !

Getting around

  • Owning a car may not be easy or even possible – so don’t break your head with it.
  • Cabs are available in plenty – but the average rate for a ride within the same city would be around 1 KD – and while this may seem quite steep, there’s a way to work this out. There are a few cab drivers who’d be willing to make a deal for regular travel with them – so once you feel like you can trust the driver, you can approach them with this idea and exchange numbers.
  • You can also download Careem (similar to Uber) from where you can order a chauffeur driven car – It’s a little expensive, but Careem allows you to book a ride on the go.
  • Public transport exists – but unless you’re familiar with your locality and the roads, I suggest you use cabs.
  • Carpooling works wonders here. Be open, talk and ask questions – colleagues, neighbors, the next door bakkala wala (store), your haris (building caretaker). (not over friendly though, be to the point)

Trying to like your new place

While Kuwait may not have all the glitz and glamour of Dubai, nor the beaches of Jordan, it does have it’s own charm. Some tips to find inspiration here:

  • Spend half a day at the Kuwait Scientific Center – they have a lovely aquarium, an Imax etc.
  • Spend some time at the Souq Al-Mubarakiya or the Souk Jumah (Friday Market) – You can find antiques, jewelry, clothes, electronics – basically everything – new and second hand. Try your luck at bargaining.
  • Indulge in the malls – Oh yes, they exist to no end in Kuwait. Most brands – from Chanel to H&M, from Pinkberry to Potbelly have stores here. Don’t get intimated (and never compare) by the shopping power the Kuwaitis have though.
  • Drive by the Kuwait Towers at night, or watch the skyline from Marina Mall
  • Visit the 360 Mall – it’s so green you’ll be surprised.
  • The Salmiya garden, located in Salmiya, is a pleasant garden, where a lot of people, some serious joggers and athletes included, come to run/ walk. It’s got a 1km track.
  • Indulge and put on some yummy-licious and totally worth it calories here, for Kuwait has some amazing eateries when it comes to deserts. There’s Dean and DelucaThe Cheesecake FactoryPinkberry (I never liked Frozen sweet yogurt, but oh my, I drooled on this one) – actually many more.
  • Visit the Ikea Store at Avenues – and if you’re like me, you might land up spending hours here.
  • Visit the Kuwait Palace (opposite American University of Kuwait), now converted to a hotel. The basement is dedicated to Table Tennis, Pool, Snooker, Foosball and some video games. A good way to spend an evening.

General

  • Other than 4 to 5 months of peak heat when you can’t step out, the weather isn’t all that bad. (You won’t feel like killing yourself)
  • Blogs you can read to feel more comfortable
  • And for all you fashionistas – these are some blogs that will inspire you 🙂
  • And of course, for the travel bugs, check out this one.
  • Instagram is huge here, bigger than Facebook ! (I had no clue about this one)
  • Okay – this is for the vegetarians. Before I came here, I was quite nervous – for my last holiday to Bali, I had trouble finding good veg food – especially the craving kind. And Bali is supposed to be tourist friendly !!!! But I have figured that most eateries here have veg options and point to note, falafel is available here in plenty – and that’s a veg dish. So don’t worry. Also, these terms are very commonly seen in menus – just so you know. (And they’re veg)
    • Za’atar (Spice and herb combo)
    • Halloumi (Kind of cheese)
    • Laban (Buttermilk – my favourite)
  • Download Talabat (similar to Zomato) – it’s a pretty convenient app to sit at home and order in food. Don’t worry, there’s rasam vada too 🙂
  • For classifieds, house help and general info, you could check Indians in Kuwait website – it’s very active.

Okay, I have given an overdose of information and tips. As I said, it’s not easy place to live and be happy, but since life is short, and you know why you’ve come to Kuwait, it’s best to make the most of it !! Have fun, make some new friends and enjoy the desert life.

Written by Shruti Shah (http://shrutidshah.blogspot.com/)


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