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Kuwait Customs & Etiquettes


Although Arabs are understanding and unlikely to take offence at social blunders, provided they arise from ignorance rather than malice, you will be made far more welcome if you acquaint yourself with local ways of doing things. It's important to remember that you're a foreigner and you must therefore adapt to the customs and social behaviour of the region – not the other way round. In addition to actions and behaviour which are regarded as criminal, there are certain unwritten rules that you must observe in order not to offend local sensibilities.


  • Do expect Arabs to sit, talk, and stand closer than people in the West do. What Westerners consider an intimate distance is here only social and friendly.
  • Do expect to be touched more frequently by members of the same sex. This is an expression of
  • Do accept as normal the occasional use of influential connections to accomplish tasks more rapidly.
  • Do not venture into some of the less western areas wearing inappropriate attire, this also applies to standing outside mosques and visiting the Grand Mosque.
  • Do expect to shake hands much more frequently. On entering a room or meeting a group of people, it is expected that you will shake hands with everyone, except small children. On social occasions, you will probably also need to shake hands again when you leave.
  • Do not expect all promises or decisions to be put in writing. In some situations, you will have to accept an oral promise. This is partly because the written word carries a weight of meaning greater than Westerners are accustomed to.
  • Do not be surprised at being given an indirect answer of insha' Allah (God willing). Insha' Allah usually indicates the good intentions of the speaker.
  • Do accept "chai" - tea when offered - it is considered impolite when refused (note: the cup is usually the size of an egg cup and contains about three heaped teaspoons of sugar and sometimes honey and lemon)
  • Do avoid some subjects in public. Certain topics are generally not considered appropriate or acceptable for discussion in public. These may include political issues, religion, alcohol, total women's liberation, abortion, and male-female relationships, such as dating. Many people are very sensitive about these topics, and problems could arise should you try to discuss them.




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