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Living in Kuwait

Kuwait is a civilized country and everything essential to modern comfortable living is available. Healthy food in plenty of variety, clothing of latest design and fashion, house hold items from furniture to electric accessories, cars, motor boats, toys, sports goods, in short practically anything and everything from all over the world is imported into Kuwait. The prices are also reasonable because the import duties are very low.

Setting up a home in Kuwait is quite easy. Practically everything that you may need for the home is available and shopping is quite convenient. English is spoken in all the larger shops and communicating is not a problem.

Food & Water
Most food is imported and subject to stringent testing by the Ministry of Public Health. Shops are inspected regularly by the Ministry and, provided normal domestic precautions are taken, the food in Kuwait is quite safe to eat.

Kuwait’s water supply consists of distilled sea-water and is ‘soft’. Water filters, which require regular cleaning or changing, are standard fittings in most homes because, though the water is clean when it leaves the pumping stations, impurities are sometimes picked up in the distribution pipes. Water filters are commonly used to remove these impurities, which makes the water perfectly safe for drinking and does not need to be boiled. For the overcautious, mineral drinking water is commonly available in 1.5 litre plastic bottles at a cost of 150fils or so a bottle.

Furniture & Consumer Durables
The range of furniture available is vast and caters for all tastes and price ambitions. New furniture, either fully-built or self-assembly, is available in Shuwaikh and in the other main shopping areas. Credit terms can be arranged. Furniture can also be rented.

With a constant turnover of expatriates there is plenty of second-hand furniture around for sale. This is usually advertised by word-of-mouth or in the daily newspapers and free weekly advertising tabloids. Used furniture can also be bought at the Friday open air markets, and during the week at the second-hand market near the nurseries at Al-Rai on the 4th Ring Road.

A wide range of TV’s, videos, stereos, refrigerators, micro-waves and other consumer durables are available from all the main Japanese, Korean, American and European manufacturers at reasonable prices.

Kuwait’s TV system is on the PAL standard but most of the TVs sold in the country are ‘multi system’.

Clothing & Decorum
There is a wide variety of cloth and dress material available. Readymade clothing in Kuwait ranges form cheap quality items to very expensive designer couture. Styles reflect the multinational nature of Kuwait’s population.

Tailors and dressmakers abound. Materials are plentiful and reasonably priced.

Laundry and dry-cleaning services are fairly plentiful.

Though Kuwaitis are by and large liberal and broad-minded, Islamic traditions dictate clothing decorum. Beachwear, worn by either sex, is strictly for the beach or home and will cause offence in the suqs and on the street. Even without the traditional black aba (cloak), the fashionable clothes worn by Kuwaiti ladies will not reveal shoulders and upper arms and usually stretch down to mid-calf at least. Formality of dress at work varies among different companies and occupations in Kuwait, but styles are always modest.

Religious Worship
There are over 800 mosques in Kuwait. Members of other faiths have freedom of worship and there are quite a few Christian churches in the country. Kuwait’s Catholic cathedral is in Watya (near the Sheraton Hotel), and next to it there is a Coptic church, and about a block away a Presbyterian church. There is an Orthodox Church in Co-operative Street in Salwa (opposite the Universal American School), and in Ahmadi, a Catholic church and an Anglican church.

Where a marriage involves a Muslim male, the couple are required to go to the Marriage Section, in the Ministry of Justice (Courts Complex - Al Rigaii Area) to legalize their marriage contract. Each of the couple must produce proof of their capacity to marry. Other documents required are copy of passports and civil ID cards. Two male witnesses are required. The marriage contract is signed and the exchange professed in front of a qadi (judge). The Marriage Section (tel:882200) is open 8:30am to 1:30pm Sunday to Thursday. Stamp charges are KD1.

Christians must get married in church and then have their marriage certificate attested at the Notary Public Department at the Ministry of Justice in the Ministry Complex on Soor Street. A form of civil marriage is also available in the Notary Public Department, on Sundays and Wednesdays only. Expatriates need to bring along two witnesses plus a certificate from their embassy showing their capacity to marry, or other evidence such as validated divorce certificates, as well as their passports and civil IDs. Stamp charges are KD1.

The attested marriage contract is in Arabic. Couples wishing to register the marriage in their own country usually need to take the contract to a government licensed office for translation and then to the Ministry of Justice for authentication before taking it to their embassy for registration. Couples married outside Kuwait must have their marriage certificates attested by their embassy in order to use the certificate for legal purposes.

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