*Featured image credit: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com
When traveling to a different part of the world, it is always important to first take the time to brush up on your knowledge of the local culture and customs. While Kuwait may seem like quite an international destination, Arab customs are very much the norm in this Middle Eastern country, making it essential to know exactly what you should and should not do.
While some Middle Eastern countries may require a more Islamic dress code, this is not the case in Kuwait. However, traditional Islamic outfits are still often worn, from the white ankle-length cotton shirt for men to the concealing black over-garment for women. While Western clothes are commonly worn, the more modest styles are chosen, and it is often not considered respectful for a woman to be baring her shoulders, thighs or cleavage. Even as a tourist, it is important to stick to these guidelines, opting for lightweight and loose clothing that does not show too much skin. While you do not need to keep your hair covered, it is still recommended that you keep a headscarf with you, just in case you want to visit a mosque or a culturally sensitive area.
Alcohol and Pork
The Kuwait government banned alcohol in all forms in 1964, meaning that not only is it illegal to purchase alcohol in the country, but you are also not allowed to bring any in, and doing so could result in severe penalties. Pork is also forbidden, so be sure not to ask about it at any restaurants, or at the house of a local.
In addition to the bans on alcohol and pork, there are a few other dining etiquette tips worth knowing. If eating at the house of a local, be sure to try a bit of everything that is offered to you, as turning anything down can be considered offensive. Kuwaitis also only use their right hand to eat, as the left is considered unclean, although at most restaurants, the Western style of eating with a knife and a fork is adopted.
Blasphemy is something that is frowned upon in many Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, as is shouting and acts of aggression, making it important to be fully in control of your behaviour at all times. Pointing your finger at someone is also considered to be extremely impolite. You should also be extra aware if you are traveling to Kuwait during the month of Ramadan, which is when Muslims, which make up 95% of Kuwait’s population, abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. During this time, you must not eat, drink or smoke anywhere in public where you can be seen by the locals, and you should also refrain from kissing or embracing others in public.
Kuwait is a stunning country, with a strong sense of heritage, history and culture. In order to fully enjoy all that this destination has to offer, it is important to be respectful of local etiquette and customs, and, if you are, you will notice that the locals will be extremely appreciative of this.