Kuwaitis are well known for their hospitality and generosity. So expect to be treated well when visiting Kuwait.
Kuwaitis show their affection by their unique daily greeting, which is comprised of a hand shake and a kiss or two on the cheek. The greeting also includes a series of questions asking about ones health, family and so on. Being one of the few cultures still holding tight to religion and tradition, men and women who are not related to one another are usually segregated, and it is culturally not acceptable for them to kiss on the cheek 1.
|A Mosque in Kuwait-Photo from Flickr-Psycho Milt|
Kuwait is predominantly an Islamic country where over 80 percent of the total population and 95 percent of Kuwaitis practice the religion 2,3. There are mosques in every town and city. Mosques are the Muslims' place of worship where people visit every day to do their five daily prayers as a united group. Every day when the sun rises, around noon, in the afternoon, at sun set and at night, the prayers are called in every mosque in Kuwait. It is just breathtaking to listen to the prayer, which basically reminds all Muslims that it is time to pray. Click here for a clip of a prayer being called. Below is the translation obtained from www.Islamonline.com
Food plays and important role in the Kuwaiti culture. There is no such thing as Kuwaiti restaurant anywhere in the world—Kuwaiti food can only be eaten at Kuwaiti homes. the most popular dish is the "Machboos", which is chicken, beef or fish over a specially spiced rice. Lunch is the main meal in Kuwait, and it is extremely important for families to feast together—It is like Thanksgiving everyday.
Kuwaiti tea is usually served after lunch. Kuwaiti tea is just regular hot tea, but many families add some flavors to it such as saffron or mint. Arabic coffee is also very important especially when Kuwaitis have visitors. Traditionally, when people visit, the first thing served should be the Arabic coffee.
Kuwait has a semi-Islamic constitution, and in Islam alcohol is prohibited. Most Kuwaitis are so proud that their country is one of the very few countries outlawing the consumption and sale of alcohol. With that being said, one might wonder how do people have fun?
Some people are outdoorsy, and like going to the beach or desert. In the beach one can fish, boat, swim, jet ski or water ski. In the desert one can camp, hunt, ride buggies or hike
|An outdoor scene from Marina Mall -Photos from Flickr-Manal Almokimy|
|AL Fanar Mall|
Kuwait has so many beautifully decorated malls, and many Kuwaitis—especially women—like to hangout there. Going to the mall is usually a group thing, where families or friends bond with one another while shopping, dining or simply walking around. Many malls have movie theatres in them, so many people spend some time in malls before they go see their movie.
|Chicken Shawarma skewer- Photo from Flickr-Ahmad ALnusif|
As mentioned in the food section, food plays an important role in the Kuwaiti culture. Kuwaitis usually have lunch at home, but dinner is most often eaten outside. There is variety of restaurants and cuisines to choose from. Everywhere you go there are small sandwich restaurants selling sandwiches like falafels and shawarmas (shredded beef or chicken). These restaurants are usually called Arab or Kuwaiti fast foods. They are not as unhealthy as American fast food, but they are surely cheap and tasty.
|Fridays in Kuwait|
Kuwaiti men like to hang out in Diwaniah's, which is a gathering place in a house. Diwaniahs are usually held in the evening, and every group of family members or friends have their diwaniahs in a day of the week. On average, a Kuwaiti man attends at least two diwaniahs a week. Diwaniahs are unique institutions, in that no other Middle Eastern country has it. It is a place where men gather and discuss issues about life, culture, sports and most importantly politics. Talking about politics is what makes it unique, because in almost all other Middle Eastern countries criticizing the government is illegal and could get you in trouble. According to Wikipedia, "Diwaniahs can be called a symbol and proof of Kuwait's democracy where people are free to discuss whatever they like without the fear of persecution" 1.
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Although Kuwait embraces many facets of Western culture, the country remains culturally conservative. Its Arab-Islamic heritage permeates daily life. As in much of the Middle East, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1970s and ’80s was reflected in a general return to traditional customs, as seen in the public dress of women, who began wearing the ḥijāb, or veil, far more than in the past. The right of women to drive automobiles and to work outside the home is generally accepted and has not been a matter of public debate, yet the question of granting women the right to vote has divided Islamists, some of whom seek to enforce even more conservative Islamic standards such as those found in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Daily life and social customs
At the heart of traditional Kuwaiti culture is the institution of the diwāniyyah, a regular gathering of men—usually in a tent or a separate room of the main house—which serves as a time to gather, enjoy refreshments, talk, or play games. Kuwaitis observe all major Islamic holidays, including Ramadan and the two ʿīds (festivals), ʿĪd al-Fiṭr and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā. The country’s Independence Day and Liberation Day (from the Iraqi occupation of 1990–91) are important secular holidays.
Fūl, falafel, and hummus are the cornerstones of Kuwaiti cuisine, though Western fast-food restaurants abound in Kuwait city. Fūl is a paste based on fava beans, with garlic and lemon added. Formed from fried balls of chickpeas and spices, falafel is often served in unleavened bread (khubz) with vegetables. Chickpeas are also used to make hummus, a dip for vegetables and bread. The traditional Kuwaiti meal consists of spiced rice topped with meat or fish or shellfish taken from the Persian Gulf.
Kuwaiti folk arts remain important, and Bedouin crafts are the most prominent. Though few Bedouins now inhabit Kuwait, their art traditions, especially weaving, have been maintained. The intricately woven fabrics are made on a sadu, a Bedouin loom, and are common sights in souks (bazaars). Sadu House, a museum for Bedouin crafts, offers classes on weaving. Also popular are traditional dances, including the ʿarḍah, which features swords and poetry singing. The government supports the preservation of folk arts and funds numerous organizations, as well as several troupes that perform across the country.
Kuwait has numerous museums, but the Iraqi invasion had a disastrous effect on many institutions. Many artworks were stolen by the Iraqis, and some buildings were severely damaged. The National Museum of Kuwait, which once housed a comprehensive collection of Islamic art, was looted and set ablaze; only a small portion of the building has been renovated and reopened to the public. The loss increased the importance of the Tareq Rajab Museum (Matḥaf Ṭāriq), a private collection that features paintings, pottery, metalwork, jewelry, and musical instruments, among other items. The Seif Palace—which was built in 1910 and later underwent numerous renovations and repairs—is one of the ruling family’s official residences and is a popular tourist attraction noted for its Islamic architecture.
Sports and recreation
Kuwait’s sports culture, like that of other gulf states, combines the traditional sports of nomadic Arabian society with contemporary sports of Western origin. Traditional sports of enduring popularity include camel and horse racing; Arabian horses are held to be among the finest in the world. Falconry is enjoyed primarily by wealthy sheikhs, although the overhunting of game and, after 1990, the presence of unexploded land mines in the desert have reduced its practice. Kuwaitis have competed at the national and international levels in the country’s two most widely played sports, football (soccer) and golf. Oil revenues have enabled the government to support sports generously, and the country boasts a number of stadiums capable of hosting international competitions. The country first participated in the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, but it has never competed at the Winter Games.
Media and publishing
The Ministry of Information runs the government press and the radio and television broadcasting stations. Much of the print media receives financial support from the government. Although the constitution guarantees freedom of the press, this right has often been suspended. In 1992 print restrictions were relaxed on the condition that the media sources monitor themselves. Direct criticism of the emir, however, is still prohibited.