Kuwaiti culture is characterized by conservative social traditions and values. Kuwait has embraced many aspects of Western culture but Kuwaiti cultural practices remain largely unchanged.
The majority of Kuwaitis are Muslim and Islam largely governs the law as well as social norms in Kuwait. Muslims are required to pray five times a day (at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening).
Strong ties between family, neighbors, and friends are central to Kuwaiti customs and traditions. Special occasions such as Ramadán, Eid el-Fitr, and the Islamic New Year are centered on family.
Kuwait is a fascinating country with a rich history and culture and it is easy to visit there with the Kuwait visa. Before going visitors should be aware of certain laws and customs which are conservative and strict.
Kuwaiti culture and beliefs
Kuwaiti culture is male-dominated. At the heart of Kuwaiti tradition and culture is diwāniyyah. It is a gathering of men in a separate room, where they talk, play games, and enjoy refreshments. Women do not have the right to vote though they outnumber men in the workforce.
Visitors to Kuwait should be aware that the importation and use of alcohol, homosexual acts, pork products, heterosexual couples living together, are illegal. This said, generally speaking Kuwait is a country known for its tolerance of other cultures. Other religious groups are allowed to practice freely.
The holy month of Ramadan is very important and there are a number of Kuwaiti cultural rules which Muslims must follow. They are only allowed to work six hours a day and must fast. This includes no eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum before sunset. Foreigners must not do any of these things in public during Ramadan.
At sunset, families and friends gather to break the fast and the celebrations often continue into the night. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule during Ramadan.
Kuwaiti customs and etiquette
Is Kuwait safe? Kuwait is a safe country to visit and the people are very hospitable as long as people respect the cultural norms in Kuwait. If visitors are unaware of certain Kuwaiti social customs and laws it is very easy to encounter problems.
Although women play a greater role in Kuwait than women in some neighboring countries, men and women rarely socialize together in public. Greetings are therefore generally between members of the same gender.
When they socialize it is a Kuwaiti custom for men and women to be entertained in separate rooms, though this is not always the case. It is polite to give gifts when invited to someone’s home but if a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say it is from his wife, mother, or other female relation.
If you are invited to a Kuwaiti’s home, follow these Kuwaiti social norms:
- Dress conservatively.
- Bring a small gift such as a plant or a box of chocolates. Do not bring alcohol. Hosts do not open gifts the moment they are received.
- Check to see if your host is wearing shoes. Remove yours if not.
- Show respect for elders by greeting them first.
- Turning down hospitality is rude so accept any offers of food and drink.
- Eat only with your right hand.
- Guests are often served the most-prized delicacies which you should eat, it might be a part of an animal which you are not used to eating so be prepared!
- Leave some food on your plate when you have finished eating, otherwise it will be filled with more.
- The meal is over when the host stands.
Popular culture in Kuwait
The national culture is not just about social rules in Kuwait. Those who go there using a Kuwait visit visa have a rich country to discover. Kuwait is known as the “Hollywood of the Gulf” because of the international popularity of its soap operas and theatres.
Kuwait is the only country in the gulf with a theatrical tradition and Kuwaiti poetry film, radio, and television also flourishes in neighboring countries. Kuwaiti soap operas are particularly successful.
Various popular musical genres in the region, such as sawt originated from Kuwait and music culture in other GCC countries has been heavily influenced by Kuwaiti music.
Of particular interest to tourists is Kuwait’s collection of fascinating museums such as bait Al-Othman, the Scientific Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. Visitors should remember to apply for a Kuwait visa in advance of their trip.