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Public Holidays & Annual Events in Kuwait

Public Holidays

Kuwait follows the Hijra calendar and all Muslim festivals are therefore timed according to sightings of specific moon phases. Kuwait celebrates two major religious holidays; Eid Al-Adha (the Festival of the Sacrifice) celebrates Prophet Abraham’s will to offer his son in sacrifice, and Eid Al-Fitr (the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast) is observed at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Eid Al-Adha normally lasts two or three days and Eid Al-Fitr four or five days. However, there’s generally a difference between the duration of holidays in the public and private sectors, government workers generally enjoying longer breaks than those in private enterprise. People dress up in new clothes, houses are decorated with lights, and there are fireworks and great feasts. It is a time for visiting friends and family, and children usually receive gifts of money.

Islamic holidays are determined by lunar sightings but, whereas some Muslim countries use information derived from observatories, unaided observations are preferred in Kuwait, which makes exact dates difficult to predict, as the moon may be obscured by cloud, for example. There’s also a complicated conversion to be made from the Islamic to the Gregorian calendar.

A National Assembly cabinet resolution, passed in 2001, states that, should a holiday fall in the middle of a working week, it will be moved to the following Saturday. Should any of these holidays fall on a Thursday no additional day will be given.

Annual Events

The season for camel racing, a sport which is undergoing something of a revival, is from late winter to early spring. It is a popular cultural pastime with up to sixty camels taking part in a single race of up to six kilometres in distance. Races usually take place on Thursdays and Fridays, the timings of which are printed in the local newspapers. Al Atraf Camel Racing Club.

Hala February, which literally translated means ‘Welcome February’, is an annual festival of cultural and entertainment events during which many retail outlets offer considerable discounts to shoppers. The festival has something for all the family, and allows people to sample real Arabian hospitality.

National Day, although celebrated on 25th February, is actually on June 19th. It marks Kuwait’s independence from Britain in 1961, prior to which Kuwait was a protectorate of the Empire. The occasion is celebrated with fireworks and festivities, with residents wearing their national dress.

Liberation Day (February 26) marks the end of the Gulf War and Iraqi aggression in Kuwait in 1991. It is not officially a holiday in Kuwait although most people treat it as one. The occasion is marked by public get-togethers, but there is a sombre overtone as people remember those that died during the occupation, and the 605 prisoners of war that were captured.

ROPME, the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment, observes 24th April as the region’s Environment Day in order to increase public awareness and renew the importance of protecting the environment, particularly the marine environment. There are regular themed art competitions with which the local schools get involved.

Kuwait International Fairground holds a number of exhibitions throughout the year.

The annual raft race usually takes place at the Messila Beach Hotel, but has temporarily moved to the Aqua Park in front of the Kuwait Towers while a new hotel is built on the Messila site. Although a fun spectacle, the racing is taken very seriously indeed, with significant prize money at stake. There are a number of different classes of rafts, and a series of heats are held before the final championship races take place at the end of the day. This is definitely not an event to be missed, and the day is rounded off with live entertainment and a BBQ. Held in April or May, you should keep an eye on the local media for the exact dates.





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