#44 New Arrivals guide to Kuwait – getting around

When we move to a new country we think of the obvious – what to pack and make a list of things to do there and visit but we never really think about the simple things that will make our lives a lot easier such as where things are, how the taxi system works or what the names of places are to tell the taxi driver.

It’s also the type of information that is difficult to find online such as how much should you pay for things, when should we tip etc. So hopefully this post will make your life a little bit easier on your arrival into Kuwait. I hope it also inspires some of you to have a go at learning Arabic as it’s honestly such a beautiful language to learn and despite a lot of people speaking English here I always say its important to try and learn the language of the country you are living in.

Transportation in Kuwait

You will be able to find taxis in most places in the country however some of them will come more frequently than others. It also depends on the time you are searching too. Of course if it is late at night / early hours of the morning you are best to order one from the careem app which is like uber that we have here. It will give you a price once you set the destination in so you know how much it will be.

When getting in a taxi make sure to sit in the back of the taxi and not in the front next to the driver if you are a woman. However if there is four of you then ofcourse sitting in the front is fine. You may find the odd ocassion (especially if you are alone) the driver asking you to sit in the front of the taxi…this is a big no no and usually I would say find another taxi instead.

If the taxi has a red light on top displayed this means its already taken/has passengers inside. Taxis should also display their civil ID cards at the back of the seat.

Last advice would be to never use the meter that you might be used to in other countries. You should negotiate a price before getting in to save any problems/disagreements. I usually spend 2kd to get to places sometimes a little more if I’m going towards mangaf way which is a lot further out. To get a rough idea of prices see below. Taxis waiting outside Avenues Mall will often like to charge you double the amount…simply decline, say the correct price and if there is no agreement wait in the parking for a taxi to come by.

It’s advised to not use the buses, especially if you are a woman! Stick to taxis.

Marina Mall in Salmiya to Kuwait City – 2kd

Salmiya to Hawally – 1 1/2 kd depending on where you are

Khaitan to Salmiya/Kuwait City/Salwa – 2d

2kd is just less than 5 pounds so if you are with other people as well it is actually cheap to get around in taxis.

If you ever fancy taking a more luxurious ride instead of using the local taxis or the careem app there is the Ride Rode app you can download. This is perfect for any business meetings you may want to attend to or simply go out to fancy restaurants in the evening.

https://www.riderove.com

Giving directions in Arabic

First off a simple greeting is always polite when getting in a taxi. You can just say Hi/Hello or Halla which is what Kuwaitis will often say. You can also use Marhaba or Salam/As-salamu alaykum

Simple directions to say if the driver doesn’t know the exact place:

  • Right – Yameen يمين
  • Left – Yisaar يسار
  • Straight – sida سيدا
  • U-turn – fawq taht فوق تحت
  • roundabout – Dawar دوار
  • traffic light – ishara اشارة

Areas in Kuwait is divided into blocks. So if you say I want to go to Salwa, they will ask which block? and then which street etc

Block in Arabic is Qata’a قطعة

Street in Arabic is Shaari3 شارع

Other useful words you can use

. Here – hun هون
. near here – qariib min hun قريب من هون
. at which time? – fi ay waqt? في أي وقت؟
. Thank you – shukran شكراً

Places you may want to go to

Hotel – funduq فندق and then give the name etc

Restaurant – maT3am مطعم

School – madrasa مدرسة

park – hadiqa حديقة

shop – mahhal محل

small grocery shop – baqala بقالة

coffee shop maqha مقهى

ATM Sarraaf aali صرّاف آلي or you can just say ATM

Hospital – mustashfa مستشفى

Petrol station – mahhaTa banziin محطة بنزين

Pharmacy – Saydalia صيدلية

Where to do your food shopping?

You will be able to find most things in Kuwait that you are looking for a part from the odd things. Be mindful that the prices will be a bit higher than you are used to because they are imported. Here is a quick breakdown of the supermarkets here

. Sultan Centre – This is in my opinion the best but also the most expensive place to shop for your groceries etc. You will find them all over in Salmiya, Hawally, Kuwait City etc. I have noticed they sell gluten free foods, they have an excellent bakery as well as hot food options to take away too.

. Lulu Hypermarket – Another great supermarket to find everything you need as well as home items. I find here is a slighter cheaper price than what you find at the Sultan Centre. Again you will also find these all over.

. Finally Carrefour which is the cheapest of them all. A smaller supermarket but still has a good range of items to choose from. I’ve rarely gone here but sometimes it can be handy if you just want to do a quick shop.

There is obviously other choices to choose from I just find these to be the most popular and frequent supermarkets you will see when out and about in Kuwait. Sometimes you may find these within the malls too.

Moving away from supermarkets you will have what is known as a baqala (see above) a small grocery store that is found all over the country. The best place in my opinion to get your drinks from and small bathroom items etc. These are open till late too! So if you needed somewhere close by to get some drinks from you can simply just say to the taxi can you take me to the nearest baqala but most will be in walking distance.

When you shop at the big supermarkets you will notice often some staff such as those packing your bags at the till will want to take your trolley to the car/taxi and put your bags in the boot. This is fine but if this happens you are expected to give a tip to them out of respect. Otherwise you can simply say it’s okay thank you and take your own trolley. There will also often be people outside waiting for customers to take in their taxi. This is fine as long as you negotiate the price before getting in. However be a bit more careful when it comes to around the Avenues where some are not actually taxi drivers and will just take you to their car in the parking lot lol I did this once…thankfully I survived and still here today to advise you all 😀

ID with you at all times!

This is incredibly important in Kuwait. Whether it is your civil ID or a copy of your passport, by law you should always travel with ID on you. If the police happen to stop you and you don’t have any ID with you then this can be a problem.

So for those about to fly out to Kuwait I would recommend taking at least a couple of photocopies of your passport with you.

If you do get stopped it goes without saying to just be polite even if you feel it’s wrong to stop you without no reason. If you talk back you will only make something into a situation that didn’t need to happen. For women they are also not able to search you without a female officer.

Lastly, don’t rely on the embassy to get you out of any kind of trouble which hopefully none of you will experience lol. The embassy will not be getting involved.

Deliveries

The two most popular apps to download for deliveries are Talabat which is what I always use and Deliveroo

Don’t expect the drivers to be able to speak English fluently if at all, some will and some won’t and that’s fine because we are in an Arabic speaking country! After a few back and forth miscommunication he will most likely find an English speaker nearby to help out.

Useful words for you to know to make it a little easier:

I am here – Ana mawjood (m) mawjooda (f)

You are here? – Inta mawjood?

how much? – Cham?

floor – dor

Which floor ? – Ay dor ? (be careful with this one as you will likely think they mean door. But door in arabic is baab.

Apartment – shaqa

number – raqm

The driving in Kuwait

The amount of people that warned me to be careful of the driving here. Honestly when you have lived in Lebanon there is no comparison. Kuwait seems a lot safer than when I was in Beirut or Cairo. Having said that it’s still not the best and there can be a lot of traffic at certain times of the day but then again nothing in comparison to the countries I’ve mentioned.

Let me know if there any specific things you want to know that I haven’t already mentioned, either by leaving a comment on here or reaching me through twitter/instagram 🙂

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