Whats good and whats not for expats in Kuwait

Published:  1 Aug at 6 PM
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Relocation to a new country has its advantages and disadvantages, with being better prepared for the negatives making it easier to adjust.

Kuwait is a popular destination for expats on reassignment from overseas-based companies as well as for those offered an interesting new job with a high salary. The Gulf States in general are unique as regards their geographical situation between desert and ocean, their legal systems based on ancient Sharia religious laws and their almost total dependence on expat workers. As with every other expat hub across the world, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding on accepting a job in the region.

Kuwait’s dependence on skilled expat professionals is now a cause for political discontent as regards the demographic problem caused by the high number of foreign workers compared to the emirate’s local population. For those arriving from Western countries, it’s best to concentrate on settling in and ignore the reports of anti-expat sentiment expressed by a few Kuwaiti lawmakers. Finding a suitable apartment or villa is straightforward due to a boom in construction over the past 10 years, but finding a secure place to park your car can be a problem as car parks aren’t included in new building plans.

If you’re concerned about personal safety, Kuwait’s level of crime is reassuringly low, but it’s recommended foreigners take good note of their surroundings when out alone. It’s not recommended for Western women to walk alone in the city. The downside is that, should the unthinkable occur, Kuwaiti police won’t rush to help. Reporting an incident at a police station is an unrewarding experience unless you have fluent Arabic, and you’re likely to need a translator to avoid rudeness.

As regards living costs, there’s no income tax to pay, but the high cost of importing goods into the emirate means store prices aren’t cheap. For expats bringing their families with them, there’s a wide choice of private education facilities at international schools, but Western style schools are horrendously expensive and the education they provide may not justify the high fees charged. It’s much the same with expat healthcare, with a good number of private hospitals and more now under construction. However, unless medical insurance is provided by employers, prices charged for treatment and medications are relatively high. Public hospitals do exist, but waiting times and quality of service leave a lot to be desired.
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