Penta Corporation  
   
 
   
  Kuwait       
Home
Services
Clients
Kuwait Info
Contact Us
 

Kuwait Information:

GENERAL INFORMATION
 
Area : 17,818 sq km (6880 sq miles).

Population : 1,984,365 (official estimate 2000).

Population Density : 111.4 per sq km.

Capital : Kuwait City. Population: 28,859 (1995).

Language : Arabic is the official language; however, English is widely spoken.

Currency 
The unit of currency is the Kuwait Dinar (KD): KD1 = 1,000 fils. The denominations of bank notes are: KD20, 10, 5, 1, 0.500 and 0.250; those of coins are 100 fils, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. KD1 is equal to approximately US$3.3.

Time : GMT + 3.

International Airport 
Kuwait International Airport (KWI) is 16 km south of Kuwait City. Airport information desks are located in Arrivals (tel: 180 extn. 1523) on the ground floor of the terminal building, in Departures (tel: 180 extn. 1522) and in the transit area. There are two banks, a fax and telephone office and two mobile telephone rental outlets as well as two restaurants and three cafés at the airport. There are two duty-free shops at the airport and a gift shop. There is a nursery, several prayer areas and a medical centre. There are two first-class business lounges on the first floor with fax and Internet facilities.

All major car hire firms such as Al Mulla, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty are all represented. Car hire desks are located in Arrivals. Taxis are available for hire; the taxi desk is located in Arrivals on the ground floor. A limousine service is also available from Arrivals. Buses (journey time: 30 minutes) depart every 45 minutes 0600-2300 from outside Arrivals to take passengers to Kuwait city.

The Safir Airport Hotel (tel: 472 0079) is located within the airport restricted zone, next to the east part of the runway; it can be reached by courtesy bus, but can only be used by transit passengers.

Transport 
Taxis and buses run 24 hours a day. Although certain taxi fares are fixed, they are generally negotiable. As a visitor you can drive a vehicle with an international driving licence.

Weights and Measures 
Kuwait uses the metric system.

Electricity 
220 volts AC, 50Hz; single phase. UK-type flat 3-pin plugs are used. Converters are available.

 
Business Hours 
Government offices: Saturday to Wednesday; 7:30 am to 2:30 pm 
Banking hours: Sunday to Thursday, 8 am to 1 pm. All banks have 24-hour automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout the urban areas. 
Shopping hours: Saturday to Thursday; 9 am to 1 pm and 4:30 pm to 9 pm. Friday hours vary.

Accommodation 
There are more than 20 hotels in Kuwait, including the transit hotel at the airport. These are officially classified as Deluxe, First Class, and Second Class. The 'Deluxe' category is comparable to the best internationally. A number of buildings in Kuwait City have been converted into furnished apartments. A few of these offer services similar to a hotel but at cheaper prices.

Communications :

Telephone : Full IDD is available. Country code: 965. Outgoing international code: 00.

Mobile telephone : GSM 900 and 1800 networks. Network operators include Mobile Telecoms Co (website: www.mtc.com.kw) and National Mobile Telecommunications Co (website: www.wataniya.com). 
 
Internet : Internet cafes throughout Kuwait provide public access to e-mail and Internet services. ISPs include Gulfnet International (website: www.kems.net/) and Global Net Kuwait (website: www.globalnet-center.com) and QualityNet (website: www.qualitynet.net).

Telegram : 24-hour telegram services are available at the Ministry of Post and Telegraph Offices, Abdullah Al Salem Square, Kuwait City, but must be handed to the post office (opening hours: Sat-Wed 0700-1400; Thurs 0700-1200).

Post : Airmail to Western Europe takes about five days.

 
PLACES OF INTEREST
 
With a history of more than 380 years and a rapid pace of development, which never lost sight of its heritage, Kuwait has many places of interest for both the young and the old.
The Liberation Tower : The symbol of Kuwaiti liberation, the unmistakable sign of the country's resurgence, the Liberation Tower is one of the tallest telecommunications towers in the world.

HH the Amir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, inaugurated this telecommunications tower in Kuwait City on March 10, 1996. This 372-metre structure is about 40 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower! It was named after the multinational coalition that liberated the nation from seven months of Iraqi occupation during the Gulf War. The tower has now become a symbol of resurgent Kuwait. The structure uses ceramic tiles on the facade from the base to the first mezzanine level, which is about 308 metres above the ground. Three light natural shades provide a geometric design from the base. 
The tower and the telecommunications complex is divided into three

working areas : a public communications centre; the revolving observation level and restaurant at 150 metres; and the adjacent plant and equipment structure. There are 18 elevators, two of which are glass enclosed and can accommodate 21 passengers each. They are also among the fastest in the world at 6.3 metres per second. Above the revolving mezzanine, six floors of offices with a total floor space of 12,000 sq m rise up and out in a section encased in anodised aluminum, designed to withstand Kuwait's extreme temperatures.

Kuwait Towers : One of Kuwait's most famous landmarks, the Kuwait Towers are situated on Arabian Gulf Street on a promontory to the east of the City centre in Dasman. The uppermost sphere of the largest tower (which is 187 metres high) has a revolving observation area and a restaurant with access by high speed lifts. The entrance fee is 350 fils per person, or free if lunch or dinner has been reserved. Cameras with zoom lens are forbidden. The middle tower contains 1 million gallons of water. 
National Museum : Located near the National Assembly, the National Museum comprises four buildings and a planetarium. Stripped and burnt by the Iraqi invaders, it house the Al-Sabah collection of Islamic art, one of the most comprehensive collections in the world. Iraq has today returned over 90 per cent of the collection. Other buildings housed pearl-diving relics, ethnographic artefacts and archaeological material from excavations on Failaka Island. Thereare plans to refurbish the old American Hospital building nearby so that some items can be displayed again.
 
The museum also houses the Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah (DAI), an extensive collection of Islamic art, ranging from early Islam to the 18th century. A variety of scholarly and artistic activities revolve around this collection, each requiring a broad and intensive background in Islamic history. The collection itself is organised according to both historical period and geographical region. To give viewers a comprehensive look at the artefacts, the reference library and the various publications of the Hadeeth ad-Dar (the journal associated with the collection) maintain a close conjunction with the DAI.

 
Mosques : The pyramid-shaped mosque in Ras Salmiya and the Fatima Mosque in Abdullah Al-Salem are fine examples of modern architecture. The Grand Mosque, opposite the Seif Palace, is an example of several traditional Islamic styles using modern technology while retaining the local characteristics of Kuwait as well as preserving the Islamic tradition of calligraphy. There are several examples of mosques dating from the last century still in use around Kuwait City.

 
Amusement Parks and Resorts : The government's success in moulding the harsh desert environment of Kuwait can be seen in public parks as also along the sides on many main roads and boulevards. Many of the parks have amusement centres and children's play facilities. There are also several amusement parks dedicated to keeping children actively enthralled for hours at a time.

Recreational Parks : The Kuwait Touristic Enterprises Company (KTEC) manages three recreational parks: at Shaab, Sabahiya and Jleeb Al-Shyoukh. Each park features rides and amusement activities

Entertainment City : Badly damaged during the occupation when many of its facilities were looted and taken to Baghdad, Al-Madina Al-Tarfihiya (the City of Entertainment) is back in business. Run by KTEC and located 20 km from Kuwait City near Doha on the north side of Kuwait Bay, the complex provides a complete range of amusements based on themes from the 'Arab World', the 'International World' and the 'Future World'. It is considered one of the best amusement parks in the world, and the entrance fee is KD3.500 per person, which covers various rides and amusements.

Resorts and Chalets : Chalets and other weekend accommodation can be rented in many places along the southern part of the coast. Khiran Resort is a KTEC facility with several hundred chalets and studio flats, a yacht club and a 240-berth fully serviced marina, swimming pools, playgrounds, sports and health facilities, shops, a supermarket and coffee shops.

Sea Clubs : Many of Kuwait's sea clubs offer a wide variety of facilities and activities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, beaches, tennis courts, gymnasiums, bowling and even karate. Five sea clubs -- Ras Al-Ardh, B'neid Al-Gar, Bida, Shaab and Fahaheel -- are run by the KTEC. Each club has a special day or time for women and children only; Ras Al-Ardh is reserved exclusively for women and children.

The Kuwait Sea Sports Club is government-owned and has facilities for all major sea sports. There are also several private sea clubs.

Bayt Al-Badr : An old house located next to Al-Sadu house, Bayt Al-Badr was built between 1838 and 1848. It possesses a fine example of the famous front doors of old Kuwait. Local handicrafts are sometimes displayed here.

Science and Natural History Museum : The museum contains displays relating to the petroleum industry, natural history, aviation, machinery, electronics, space and zoology, as well as a health hall and a planetarium. Much of the Science and Natural History Museum has been restored since Liberation. Located on Abdullah Mubarak Street, the Science and Natural History Museum is open from 9 am to 12 noon and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm from Saturday to Wednesday. Entrance fees are 150 fils per adult and 100 fils per child.

Liberation Monuments : The site of a bloody battle between the Kuwaitis and the Iraqis just before Liberation, Al-Qurain House is now a museum dedicated to those who laid their lives. It is situated in the new Qurain housing area. A mounted Iraqi tank at the Jahra Gate roundabout at the end of Fahd Al-Salem Street is a reminder of the folly of war. Another such monument, next to the main entrance of the Ministry of Information in Soor Street, has a walkthrough pictorial display of scenes from the Iraqi occupation and is well worth a visit. There are several other such monuments around the City and the country.

 
Municipal Gardens : The Municipality maintains several public gardens around the country. One of the most popular is in Fahd Al-Salem Street. All the gardens are well designed with naturally shaded areas.

Zoological Park : Located in Omarrya on the Airport Road, the Kuwait Zoo covers 180,000 sq metres of parkland. Very few of the zoo's animals survived the Iraqi occupation but through a dedicated reconstruction programme the zoo reopened in February 1993. Today it houses 65 species of animals, 129 species of birds and five species of reptiles, apart from other animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, etc.

Musical Fountain : Located near the Ice Skating Rink on the 1st Ring Road, and badly damaged during the Occupation but now fully refurbished, the Musical Fountain provides a unique and delightful sight and sound show of musical fountains, every night during summer from 6 pm to 10 pm. Entry fees are 200 fils per adult; 100 fils per child.

 
Other Activities 
Visitors interested in more intellectual leisure pursuits will find plenty of opportunities in modern Kuwait.

Kuwait Science Club : Open to members of all nationalities, the Science Club is situated on the 6th Ring Road. Managed by a group of enthusiastic amateurs, the Club's amazing range of facilities and the latest in scientific hardware includes the Aujairy Observatory. The Club aims at creating an informal environment where people of all ages, can develop their scientific hobbies.

Art and Artists 
The government of Kuwait has, over the years, actively encouraged the development of artistic talent and has provided funding for artists to study abroad. 
In Kuwait, the Free Atelier was founded in 1960 to provide technical help and professional instruction to students and its full time artists have their studios on the premises on Arabian Gulf Street. Visitors are welcome between 9 am and 1 pm every day except Thursday and Friday.  
There are several commercial international art galleries in Kuwait, notably in Salhiya Complex and in Salmiya. SHE Art Gallery in Salmiya, near the Zahra Complex, displays art works by Jose Fernandez, a Spanish artist and art critic who has several other outlets in major capital cities. Those interested in Arabic themes executed by renowned Spanish, Italian and French artists, such as Marian Ribas, Calderon, Anthonio Arias, Suarez, etc, will find this shop interesting as all works are original and commissions can be accepted to order.

Theatres and Musical Societies 
The first amateur plays were performed in Kuwait in 1922. In 1945, the first group of Kuwaiti drama students went to study at the Egyptian Higher Institute for Acting. When they returned, they formed the nucleus of the Acting Society. This in turn became the foundation of an extremely popular form of entertainment, playing in theatres in Kaifan, Shamiya and Dasma. In 1959, the Institute of Theatre Studies was founded in Kuwait. In the 1960s a number of theatrical troupes, such as the Arab Theatre and the Popular Theatre were founded. Today, the continuing popularity of Arab theatre in Kuwait is impressive in view of the strong competition from videos. 
 
Before the invasion there were at least four English language theatres in Kuwait, providing a high standard of plays, pantomimes and musicals. 
 
Established in 1952, the Kuwait Players has resurrected itself very successfully after Liberation, and puts on nine or 10 superb shows (dramas and musicals) each season. These are advertised in the daily newspapers. Established in 1948, the Kuwait Little Theatre in Ahmadi, which produced plays professionally, was almost totally destroyed by Iraqi vandalism in 1990. In 1994, the company rebuilt itself and now, with its premises refurbished, is in a position to produce musicals and dramas throughout the year, as well as its traditional year-end pantomime. The Kuwait Singers is composed of a group of music lovers. With at least a dozen different nationalities in the group at any one time, they perform a series of shows per year, and are always interested in welcoming more singers. 
With a small core of active musicians, the Kuwait Folk Club welcomes newcomers. Music played is mainly acoustic European folk music and R&B using guitar, fiddle, harmonics, etc.

Sadu House : Kuwait's roots are entwined with both the sea and the desert. The bedouins lived a life governed by the rhythm of the seasons. A traditional craft of major importance was Sadu weaving, characterised by geometric designs woven by hand with dyed, spun and coloured wool. Sadu weaving is still alive in the nomadic culture, which gave birth to it.  
In 1979, a few citizens got together to form the Al-Sadu Society, dedicated to infusing this part of Bedouin culture with vitality as well as protecting bedouin crafts from total extinction due to the onslaught of modernisation. In 1980, their efforts led to the establishment of the Sadu House. By the end of 1984, there were nearly 300 bedouin women registered with the centre producing 70 products a week.  
 
Several chambers of the Sadu House are decorated with pottery and construction material depicting Kuwait's old houses, mosques and storage places for water and bread. Another section has been transformed into Al-Baraha -- a roofed playground meant for children in the old days. Visitors can relax at Abu Adnan cafe, cosily decorated with wooden benches and colourful woven pieces.

The Scientific Centre : This is the largest Aquarium to be built in the Middle East by Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of the Sciences (KFAS). Visitors can focus on the natural habitats of the sea, with underground passages rich in marine life, natural habitats of the coastal edges and the desert of the Arabian Peninsula, watch a motion picture projection in the IMAX Theatre, visit the Dhow Harbour and explore childhood skills in the Discovery Place and take a break at the Scientific Centre restaurant.
The Tareq Rajab Museum : The Museum is the private collection of the Rajab family. The collection was started in the early 1950s and was opened to the general public in 1980. The Museum is divided into two sections. One Section deals with calligraphy, pottery, metalwork, glass, wood, ivory and jade carvings of the Islamic world. Early calligraphy is presented in a separate small room, showing pages from the Holy Qur'an, dating back to the first three centuries of the Islamic period. It also contains an early dated Qur'an written on parchment, dating to 393AH/AD1002. Later examples display calligraphic panels., inscriptions which were cut, or in brail script. The second Section of the Museum deals with the costumes, textiles, embroideries and jewellery of the Islamic world, but also includes relevant objects from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

 More Information About Kuwait.

 
t
 

Copyright © 2007 Penta Corp. All rights reserved.