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Dear Kuwait (The things I will miss about you)

June 16, 2017 24 Comments

Dear Kuwait,

We have been together since September 14th, 2016. In comparison to other relationships I’ve had, ours seems short lived; however we could both see, from the early months, that this couldn’t possibly be long term. Still, there is no denying that we made the most of the time we had together. I won’t offer you platitudes- yes we are from different worlds, cultures and believe in very different morals. Ialso  won’t lie and say, “It’s me not you” because it’s both of us- we just don’t complement each other.

Friend: Don’t you love your life in Kuwait?

Me: I do.

Friend: And hasn’t Kuwait treated you well?

Me: It has.

Friend: So why can’t you stay?

Me: Because love and compatibility are not the same thing.



I won’t talk about all the reasons I have to leave you. We will discuss that next week. For now, I just want to be honest and thank you:


– Thank you for the opportunity to move to the Middle East. When all other countries were failing to offer me something I could be happy with, you stepped in and rescued me from the professional rut I was stuck in while in South Africa.



– Thank you for the opportunity to travel… so much! Since I landed in Kuwait, I’ve visited 7 different countries, some more than once. A great geographical location and hard earned Kuwaiti dinars have made this possible. You’ve allowed me to fulfill my dreams!



– Thank you for the lessons in patience and humility. From thrusting me into a kindergarten teaching position to endless queues at government departments, you’ve taught me the virtue of being patient and accepting that this isn’t how things should be done yet- this is what I have to accept.



– Thank you for showing me that Arabs are NOT bad people! Although I didn’t have a stereotype about Arabs prior to moving to this region, when I came here, I was really surprised about how negative expats are about the local people. Kuwait, you have shown me that is totally inaccurate. Some of the kindest and funniest people I’ve met in Kuwait have been Arabs. I’ve experienced Arab hospitality and been the recipient of Kuwaiti kindness on more occasions than I care to count. I will leave with beautiful memories of your people.



So as you can see, I’m leaving you having gained a lot. Priceless experiences. There are a few things I will miss about you, kuwait. Things that only you could offer me, not things that I can find in other GCC countries, just pure Kuwaiti things:


  1. Your size. Kuwait you are so small and it is one of your best features. Within a month or two, you’re easy to navigate and you start to feel like ‘home’ very quickly. Travelling anywhere within the country is not more than an hour’s drive (if there is no traffic). So travel to & from work or anywhere else takes no more than 20 mins. There are grocery stores within 100 – 200 m of most residential buildings. Most people, especially families own cars, so it is easy to travel to any part of the country . One does not encounter overcrowded trains or buses, nor does it take several hours to reach work or home. Except for those labourers working in construction or out in the sun, most people work in comfort of A/C, as it is a necessity in the hot, desert climate here.



2. What you show me is what I pay. Although a lot of people are complaining of the rising costs, I believe that living here is still relatively cheaper than U.S. or European nations. For one, we are tax free Kuwait, so our salaries are not taxed. Same goes for shopping and purchases. The price displayed is the price I pay, unlike other countries where one ends up paying almost double after adding all taxes and fees. Most facilities are still subsidized so basic necessities are covered by government. Before I came here, I didn’t know that the government subsidises a portion of the lights, water and petrol prices as well as public healthcare which is practically free. Thanks Kuwait!



3. You make me feel safe. I feel safer here than I do in most other countries. Because of the harsh penalties, the crime rate is very low here. I routinely leave my handbag in my shopping trolley and then walk away to grab something else. I walk around my neighbourhood freely at night and have never felt like I was in any danger. Although the media has sensationalised news about people being attacked in the Middle East, I have never felt threatened or fearful for my life. Or even close.



4. You allow me to get a wax/haircut/manicure at 9pm at night. Looking good is a HUGE part of your culture and salons cater to this by staying open until the late hours of the evening. A friend of mine goes to his barber down the road at 22:30! I myself have been known to enjoy a mani/pedi well after what would be considered closing hours in other countries.



5. 100 fils falafel sandwiches. Everyone here has those months when they’ve sent too much money home or budgeted poorly for their European holiday. The great thing about you Kuwait is that every second suburban street here has a tiny dodgy- looking store that offers cheap but filling falafel sandwiches at outrageously cheap prices. (For South Africans 100 fils is the equivalent of R4!)



6. Your tolerable weather. Unlike surrounding GCC countries, you have a very distinct 4 seasons with all of the weather being relatively bearable. There is NO humidity during hot months which means no frizzy hair, pimples and sticky air. Temperatures in winter range between 3 and 10 degrees which, although unpleasant, was quite bearable at least for the two months it was cold (December/January). In February it hit 15 degrees and by early March I was back in the pool! Summer is hot (40+ degrees) but air-conditioning EVERYWHERE means I survived!



7. Thanks for introducing me to this AMAZING ice-cream brand:



Seriously, its delightful and because it is produced locally, it is inexpensive too! I could always pick up a tub at any supermarket and there are tons of unique flavours. Does anyone know if I can get this ice-cream outside of Kuwait? I am kind of addicted.



Kuwait you will always be special to me because you were my first; the first Middle Eastern country that I called home. It was here that I re-learned how to live alone, live through a dust storm, to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and a whole bunch of Arabic that’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life.


With affection & well wishes,

Expat Panda


All posts


  • thexpatUAE June 16, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Ahhhh hun I love the way you wrote this! So creative and a great read! Where are you off to next?! 💖💖💖

    • Expat Panda June 16, 2017 at 11:08 am

      I am happy you enjoyed it 🙂 I will reveal my next destination in my next blog post and I have a sneaky feeling that you in particular, will be quite pleased 😀

      • thexpatUAE June 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm

        Omg do not get me excited in thinking you’re going to the place I think you’re going to… does that even make sense 😂😂😂

        • Expat Panda June 16, 2017 at 10:46 pm

          I got you 😂 All I can say is, STAY TUNED!!!

          • thexpatUAE June 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

            *stays tuned with eyes and ears open* 😂😂😂😂😂

  • shalini June 16, 2017 at 10:41 am

    U capture everything so beautifully.. Salons open late I am loving that

  • Zoya Kubra June 16, 2017 at 11:06 am

    This post made me tear up (just a bit 😊), it’s a great read. Best of luck on your move xx

    • Expat Panda June 16, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Sorry to make you emotional! Thanks for the well wishes 🙂

  • sumayaparuk June 16, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Always great reading blog posts by a fellow South African, especially one from Durban! Makes us realise what’s possible if we put our mind to it! Thank you for being a great inspiration 💜

    • Expat Panda June 16, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you Sumaya! I tried to visit your site but there is some problem with your address or is it just me? I LOOOOVEE reading blogs by South Africans especially people from Durban but there are so few and the ones there are, the writers are rather unfriendly!

  • paradise366 June 16, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    This is so guileless and I totally love it!

  • thekbyn June 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Ice cream! Dolce Vita!!!! 🙂

    • Expat Panda June 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      Is it available in the UAE? Please say yes 😀

  • justbluedutch June 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Hmmm I really love reading this.There is no perfect destination and everytime we leave, it’s a beginning of a new blessing!

    This is what Expat Life adventures got its meaning! Off to the next adventure and I’m sure looking forward to reading about your next stop…is it somewhere near to Germany? :-))
    Experiencing a life in another country is a luxury as well for many people who never had a chance to work/move to another place. You are lucky that you have this privilege.

    • Expat Panda June 17, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Expat life is always a mixture of good and bad. Sometimes the bad is tolerable or at the very least bearable. This is a post about the good but there will also be a post about the bad! 😇

  • Julz June 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    the mani-pedi-hair cut at 9? i miss that from Jordan 🙂 the falafel as well!! It’s hard to leave a place when you have had a good time!

  • Jeena June 16, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Loved how you wrote this post! I love eating the Moushakle (falfel sandwich) more than a Shawerma! After reading your post, I have been thinking of all the things I will miss about Kuwait!

    • Expat Panda June 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      A future post perhaps? Especially now since you have an expiry limit on your time here😌

      • Jeena June 21, 2017 at 9:53 am

        Yes, but my expiry seems a long way… I wish you were here another year! I love your positive attitude and energy!!

  • anenviablejourney June 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hey, what a delightful post ! I too love travelling and being an Army wife was kind of a travelling life , exploring new places every few years, new experiences, new food, and an exciting life …

    • Expat Panda June 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! There are many struggles to expat life but it’s good to find the positives such as new experiences 🤠

  • Bharti Chopra June 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    You have aptly put all the positives of Kuwait in this post. Number one on my list will be the size, the advantage of reaching from one end to another in 45 mins and hence not missing events.
    The food ofcourse is next.Then the location on the globe.
    Looking forward to the post about your reasons for leaving.

    • Expat Panda June 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      All year I have been so positive and upbeat about Kuwait… I’m kind of looking forward to being a little raw and more honest about some of the challenges about living in Kuwait!

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