Life in Kuwait: Hitting the Halfway Mark
It’s been a while since I wrote a personal post so I figure that it is time for an update on my life. As of tomorrow, I will have officially hit the halfway mark of my time here in Kuwait (I leave Kuwait in June and don’t ask me where my next destination is- I have no idea yet) so here is what has been going on, now that that I have done blogging about all of my recent travels & experiences.
Something I have noticed during my time here is that despite being a country made up of 80% expats, Kuwait doesn’t seem to want to attract people to or keep its expat population happy.
It takes ages to get simple yet necessary things done in Kuwait, and often involves greasing palms and using influence (wasta). For example, from the time I arrived it has taken:
Residency permit in passport: 4 months
Civil ID: 5 months
Driver’s license: Too much of effort to do mandatory driving lessons and book a test so I can’t be bothered to start the process now. Kuwait is one of the few GCC countries that require expats to redo a driving test even when they already have a valid driver’s license from their home country.
Once I finally received my civil ID card, I could:
– Open a bank account (The one the school opened for me was rubbish)
– Get my own modem (This has made blogging a pleasure again!)
– Visit a doctor (Which in my case, meant starting laser hair removal)
So really, I only had any sort of identity after 5 months of living here and plodding along uncertainly. By the way, I know people who arrived in Kuwait before me and STILL don’t have their ID cards.
In terms of things to do in Kuwait, yes there are some things to see and do but honestly, you could probably exhaust all of those options within a month or two of living here. I know that within my year here, I would’ve done everything that there is to do. Unlike Qatar or the UAE, there is not even a whiff of progress indicating that the country may have more to offer in a few years time. It’s sad because honestly, Kuwait has a lot of potential and I highly doubt that the country lacks for funds but somehow… it lies lifeless in stagnation.
Kuwait is also the first country I have encountered where they seem to actively discourage tourists. Other than a small handful of 1st world countries, most nationalities require a pre-approved visit visa. No problem; I am South African- I am used to applying for visas. But this was the first country where I learnt that only a person living in Kuwait could sponsor your visa- either a hotel or a resident. Not even an airline like what Qatar Airways or Emirates offer their customers. So once I received my civil ID card, I set about finding out how to apply for a visit visa for my husband. And since it is Kuwait… it wasn’t simple at all.
The whole process involves English to Arabic translation of documents, a letter from the embassy, queuing up at immigration at the early hours to deal with surly government workers and heaps and heaps of paperwork in both Arabic and English. It was a nightmare. Eventually I had to hire an agent to assist me, something I have never done for any visa, not even for a work visa… and this visa wasn’t even for me! It cost me a huge chunk of money too but the important thing is that:
EXPAT FOX IS COMING TO VISIT ME IN KUWAIT!
Can you imagine how exciting it is to see your spouse after 5 long months in the desert (double entendre intended)?
While Fox is in the Gulf (he lands on Friday), we will be doing a little bit of traveling within the Middle East so stay tuned for news on that! I cannot wait to keep you all updated but don’t miss me too much while I am away enjoying husband & wife time!
P.S. I am not trying do any Kuwait bashing in this post; I just want people to know the realities of living here especially if they’re coming over for the first time and are left in the dark wondering when they will get their life sorted out!
P.P.S. By the way, if you are new to my blog or find yourself missing me during my not-too-long absence, please don’t forget that you find me on Instagram and Snapchat!