Doing Business In Kuwait

Visa Information

Visa requirements for Kuwait have relaxed considerably in an effort to encourage more people to visit the country. It is now possible – indeed easy – to obtain a visitor visa at Kuwait International Airport on arrival for nationals of 34 countries including Australia, Canada, the EEC, New Zealand and the USA. A visa costs KD3, except for the citizens of the UK, USA, Italy, Norway and Sweden for whom entry is free. The five-star hotels listed in the sleeping section of this chapter are usually able to sponsor guests not eligible for a visa at the airport, if they intend to stay at the hotel.
Visitor visas are valid for 90 days from the date of issue and allow a maximum stay of 30 days from the date of entry.
Anyone holding a passport containing an Israeli or Iraqi stamp will be refused entry to Kuwait.
Multiple-entry visas are only valid for business requirements. They are valid for 12 months but need to be applied for in advance.
Transit visas
A transit visa can be obtained from any Kuwaiti consulate or from the Kuwait Port Authority if you arrive by sea; it is valid for a maximum of seven days and costs KD2. To be eligible, applicants must have a valid visa for their next destination and a confirmed onward ticket.
Visa extensions
Up to two one-month visa extensions are possible. To do this, an application needs to be made to the Immigration Department (28 Street, off Airport Rd) in Shuwaikh before the existing visa expires. There is a hefty fine (KD10 per day) for overstaying once the visa has expired.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

. Since Kuwaitis prefer to do business with those with whom they have a personal relationship, they spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you process. 
. You must be patient since impatience is viewed as criticism of the culture. 
. Kuwaitis judge on appearances so dress and present yourself well.
. They respect education, so carefully mention if you have an advanced degree, especially if it is from a prestigious university. 

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Try to schedule meetings in the morning when meeting with government officials, since they are restricted to a 6-hour day. 
. Many businessmen prefer to meet in the early evening. 
. Do not try to schedule meetings in July and August as many Kuwaitis leave the country during the worst of the summer heat. 
. Meetings may be interrupted if they interfere with prayer times.
. Meetings are generally not private unless there is a need to discuss matters confidentially.
. Expect frequent interruptions. Others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves. 

Business Negotiating

. Business will only be discussed once an atmosphere of trust and friendship has been established. 
. Kuwaitis are event rather than time-driven. The event of getting together is more important than the timeliness of the meeting or the outcome. 
. Kuwait is a hierarchical society. Many companies are structured around the family. Decisions usually come from the top after determining a consensus of the various stakeholders. 
. Decisions are reached slowly. If you try to rush things, you will give offence and risk your business relationship. 
. Kuwaitis are shrewd negotiators who are especially interested in price. 
. Do not use high-pressure sales tactics. They will work against you.
. Repeating your main points indicates you are telling the truth. 
. There is a tendency to avoid giving bad news and to give flowery acceptances, which may only mean "perhaps". 
. Problems may be discussed outside the meeting in a one-on-one situation rather than in the group meeting room. 
. If you change the lead negotiator, negotiations will need to start over. 
. Proposals and contracts should be kept simple. 
. Although negotiating is done in English, contracts are written in Arabic. If there is both an English and Arabic version, the Arabic will be the one followed. 

Dress Etiquette

. Business attire is conservative. 
. Men should wear lightweight, good quality, conservative suits, at least to the initial meeting. 
. Women should avoid giving offence and refrain from wearing revealing or tight fitting clothing. Although they do not need to wear skirts that reach the ground, skirts should cover the knee and sleeves should cover the elbow and fasten at the neck. 


. Titles are important. Use the honorific "Mister" and any academic or political title and the first name. 

. Do not use only the first name until expressly invited to drop the titles. 
. The title "Sheikh" denotes that someone is a member of the royal family. It is also used for old men.

Business Cards

. Business cards are given to everyone you meet. 
. Have one side of your card translated into Arabic. Be sure to check the translation carefully as there is often confusion with the order of western names. 

General Business Hours

Banks 8am to 1pm Sunday to Thursday


Government offices 7am to 2pm Saturday to Wednesday


Internet cafes8am to 10pm


Post offices 7am to 2pm Saturday to Wednesday, 7am to noon Thursday


Restaurants11am to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm


Shopping centres 10am to 10pm


Shops 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm or 8pm Saturday to Thursday.