Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Moving to Kuwait

I received the comment below today from someone and I really thought I should post it as others might be in the same boat as this gentleman. I have seen/heard similar sentiments lately and for the record, I would like to state my opinion and provide information that may be of assistance.


"I read your entire blog... I was planning on moving to Kuwait and I was so excited. I started to read about Kuwait and all I read, not just from you, is NEGATIVITY. Its sad because I got a extraordinary job offer that would make my career take off. It sounds like a nightmare living there. I've lost countless hours of sleep and wasted months of preparation agonizing over this. It makes me depressed, I'm scared to move there and have to drive. I'm scared I might get beat up in the mall.

Best of all... I quit my f-ing job already and can't get rehired due to company policy.

I doubt you will post this, but I wanted you to know..."

Desert Girl:

I have no problem posting your comment, but equally - I will post my reply.

Ok, my posts have been negative of late - in a self proclaimed state of depression - but I gotta tell you, your comments were equally as negative. Didn't you read any of my positive posts if you have read my entire blog? Look right to the right side of this page, at "life in the desert". I WROTE that and I MEAN it.

I come from the Washington DC area. If you don't think there is negativity THERE - in the seat of (American) our country/government, you are sadly mistaken. (New York had major crime problems in the 80's too BTW and several million people managed to live there regardless.) EVERY country in the world has pros and cons. Kuwait is a completely different culture and environment than the country you are coming from and you should expect differences.

In the US, we live in Virginia. It, like other US states, has a concealed weapon law (allowing both bullets and guns to be marketed) which means that if someone gets road rage, you risk life and limb in a shoot out. Neither are legal in Kuwait and those who posess guns are dealt with very severely. I have seen 3 shoot outs at close range in Washington DC between police and average Joe- looking folks of the criminal element.

In all honesty, if I didn't love some aspects of this country, I wouldn't stay here - there would be no reason to. I've been here for 12 years and I took a 2/3 paycut to get here. Why? Because I love the culture, the people, THE FOOD, the laid-back lifestyle, and both the sea and the desert. I learn something new here every single day (positive or negative).

And by the way, I came here to work in 1996 as a single woman travelling alone. In 1996, there weren't a whole lot of resources for people moving here. For that matter - there weren't a whole lot of Westerners here - period. The internet was not what it is now (and neither was the embassy nor other Western organizations). Most people/places didn't have internet or e-mail. (I typed or hand-wrote letters to my family.) When I first arrived, I had 2 suitcases and my teddy bear. I lived in a downtown hotel with NO other woman in the hotel. I worked at a company where I was forced to wear a hejab. Be strong, little buckaroo! If I made it under those circumstances - I am SURE you will do well here in 2008/9!

I mean no disrepect to you, but anyone who would move to a foreign country without visiting it first is taking a TREMENDOUS risk/leap in the dark (unless you are in the military and have no choice - are obligated to move). If you are a diplomat or in the military, you are covered by their security and resources; if you are a civilian and working for a private company, you must work out all the angles by yourself. I don't even want to visit a foreign country before first knowing complete details about it (which I guess you have been trying to gather from blogs). Without being on the ground, you can't get a feel for it. Spend the extra money on a ticket and visit. Then, ask perspectives from different people. I spent a month here living with a Kuwaiti family (on my first visit in 1993) before I ever moved here - and even armed with all the information I gathered during that time, it was still a difficult decision. Knowledge is power.

If, as you say, you got an "extraordinary job offer that would make my career take off" - I am sure you will do just fine and in a few years time, it will look fantastic on your resume. You will look back at your memories of Kuwait and the region and have something to tell (if not bitch about to) your grandkids.

Further, everything happens for a reason. Maybe you were meant to come here; to meet people who (or see a culture/community that) might affect your life in some profound way. Maybe it will take the course of your life to a new and unexpected level. You quit your job and decided to move here, didn't you? Don't doubt the plan at the 11th hour.

Oh, and lease a big car like a Yukon or Tahoe with full coverage if you are worried about the driving. Get something big and safe and intimidating. No problems.

Nobody is going to jump you in a mall unless you jump into a fight. The problems that are happening here are between young Kuwaiti boys (not men). I doubt that anybody is going to steal a man's bling. They've got easier targets.

Here is the best advice I can give you (or anyone else moving here):

Visit Kuwait first. Invest in your future by coming here before you move. Do not blindly go where no one you know has ever gone before. Some places aren't for everyone. You don't know until you go!
Read travel guides, blogs, forums, books, etc.
Contact business and social groups in Kuwait with questions and become a member to help you transition into life/meet people/network.
Contact your embassy to see if they have any publications and/or advice - perhaps through an public outreach office.
Contact the Embassy of Kuwait in your home country. Ask them for books, pamphlets, information on Kuwait and their advice for people wanting to move here. The Kuwait Information Office in Washington DC does a great job of this.
Ask your new employers what information they can recommend/provide to you to help with your move/transition to Kuwait. Ask them if they know specific people who can assist you. Often, it won't occur to employers that they should provide this information, but if you ask for help, they will be willing to assist (if they are Kuwaiti, then it is cultural and they will feel obligated to help - most especially with newcomers to Kuwait - you will probably receive dinner and wedding invitations!).

If you have problems when you get to Kuwait, I'm happy to help you and anyone else who asks me. I promise. I really hope this helps you, dude!


Stan said...

Thats cho chweeetttt !!!! Kuwait owes u somethin big 4 dis DG ..a Diamond necklace atleast gal !!!

NBQ said...

DG, I think you should consider placing a disclaimer in your blog description for readers to take things with a grain of salt... so as not to depress/shock prospective visitors/residents with some of the negativitiy being reported about life here :).

Purgatory said...

what color were your suitcases and what was/is the name of your teddy? Details, its all in the details.

vinz-Q8 said...

you said it DG.........
Thats one nice post...
He has to decide his road in life.

Desert Girl said...


Teddy BEAR is "Barry Bear" and I have had him since I was 5. He's a Steiff (German brand - exceptional quality) and after all these years, I can't live in a place without him. He was named after a very dear man in Wickford, Rhode Island, who my mother used to hire to drive us (she doesn't drive). He befriended the family and we spent happy times at his home next to sea marshes.

Teddy Lingerie: Red all the way.

Suitcases: I go for either black or red always.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Kuwait, and now live in the US. Trust me, life in Kuwait isn't as half as good as life in the US. In the USA, we can own property, attend colleges, apply for citizenship, etc. We can't do this stuff in Kuwait. Furthermore, I happen to be from India, and my kind are treated like trash in Kuwait.

Anonymous said...

Dude.. I just moved here probably 2 months ago and it is definitely a new experience. But you should definitely try visitng first. I didn't and started reading the blog b4 coming over here. Things have been pretty awesome here. yeah there is a little bit of culture shock and driving is a little fast but this place is pretty humorous in many ways. Just depends on how you look at it. Just go for it and if you don't like after a year move onto another direction. Take it easy man.= Caliboy said...

Bravo! I will come with open mind and arms... Like the arms on my body, not guns! LoL I've already paved the path, now I must walk on it and not second guess myself. I will contact you upon my arrival! (My first request when I arrive: Where do you find the whiskey!)


Thanks for the nice reply


Desert Girl said...

Mike's reply (e-mail): Ok, will do. Thanks. I scared half to death... I'm a nice person and would never hurt anybody... In turn, I don't want to be hurt or driven off the road... I'm thinking about getting a Hummer (No Joke!). That's how freaked out I am! Do you know if you can buy them there? I looked around and couldn't find any information on the internet. What I did find, I wrote them and they never returned my email... Big surpirse, Huh? They are a dime a dozen here in the US, I was going to buy here & ship it. The company allows shipping allowances. Any info would be great.

Anonymous said...

I hail from India and was working in Dubai for the last ten years. I recently moved to Kuwait. I am no party animal or a booze bucket so I do not miss that aspect of Dubai. That said, I get to spend some quality time with my family here as there is very little else to do (in a good way). My evenings in Dubai were spent in cars commuting between the office and home, at times it would take two hours one way.
I have had several instances where I had to deal with the Government departments and ministries here. I was pleasantly surprised by how some of the Kuwaiti's there extended their help (no wasta involved). A aged lady at the Salmiya visa section went out of the way to ensure I got an error free and timely family visa issued. A customs official even told me 'welcome to kuwait' after inspecting my cargo at the port. It is not very often we Indians hear stuff like that in this part of the world.
Coming from Dubai, you tend to keep a certain benchmark..yes things are slow, not very automated and can test your patience.. but eventually things will happen.

Finally, trust me you do not want to move into Dubai now.. if the traffic doesnt kill you, the rents will.

Anonymous said...

Hiya, I am an new yorker who lives in london and worked in Kuwait last year for 3-4 months as an architect on a construction site. Moving countries is not easy and i agree with everyone that you should visit before jumping. The environment is different but beautiful. I think you will have a culture shock, but that will happen no matter what - i was shocked when moving to london, and at least i spoke the native language. The food is fantastic (especially after some time in england) and people were generally very helpful and nice. As a woman, working on a construction site, i have never, anywhere in the world, been treated with so much regard and respect. The pace of life is slower, yes. And I was shocked and appalled at the treatment of immigrant workers in general...I think this applies to all services - from what i saw in the hospitals, locals and expats were given priority over indian and bangladeshi immigrant workers as well. That said it was a fantastic experience - it definitely opened my eyes. You cannot change the world, but you can try to help every little bit you can. It is never easy to leave home, but you could do nothing better for yourself in your life. I have to admit, as a foreigner, i did not get into the long term issues such as owning property. But i guess, for me, i do not consider these things because i know that i will move eventually. I would give the move a go (after visiting) - it cannot hurt and you can always leave if it does not suit you - it is not forever. give it a try.

????????? said...

u where forced to wear a hejab ??? thats not true ...

there isn't any company in kuwait that forces women to wear hejab ... they have dress codes ... but no 1 can force anything on any 1...

kuwait is a democratic country .. u can do wat ever u want wear wat ever u want ... but we still have to respect the culture .... meaning wearing hot pants walking in the Avernus is disrespecting our culture ...

the only thing that is illegal in kuwait is pork, alcohol, and prostitution ..... ohh an u can get any off them if u wanted too ... but under the table

so plzz don't give false things about kuwait ...
thank u

liliuokalani said...

Desert girl's blog rocks! ~salutations from Providence, Rhode Island :)!

Desert Girl said...


I'm guessing you are a little young and perhaps immature.

Kuwait is a democratic country. So what? Democracy has nothing to do with specific company policies in any country.

Unless you are actually ME and worked at the company and lived my life for the FIVE years I worked there, you can't really comment on MY life.

Like McDonald's (a US company) where you MUST wear the uniform (including a hat), the company I worked for was an Islamic organization where I HAD TO wear hejab in order to keep my job. It was a uniform. At 5 pm, I took it off.

If you don't wear hejab and you apply for a job at Kuwait Finance House, for example, you won't be able to work there either. (Please, make my day and go there without hejab and try.)

Yes, I CHOSE to work there, but they CHOSE to impose the hejab on women working there. It really has nothing to do with religion or culture - it is clothing at that point.

I respect anyone who makes the CHOICE to wear hejab and wears it religiously from their hearts. I don't believe in it for me personally and I cannot speak for other women.

I Know what it was like - I worked there. Therefore, I have an oppinion (I doubt you worked there, so you don't). I chose not to wear the hejab at a point - at which point I was terminated.

Further, you stated, "wearing hot pants walking in the Avernus is disrespecting our culture ..." 99.9% of the women wearing "hot pants" in the Avenues are KUWAITI. Disrespecting your culture? Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Further, if you want to discuss this more offline, please feel free to send me your e-mail address instead of chosing to hide behind an anonymous comment. The virtues of hejab have very little to do with this post.

Desert Girl said...

Oh - by the way - that same company in 1996 wouldn't allow a woman (company wouldn't allow - NOT KUWAIT) to hold a position higher than the title of "Secretary". I was a Technical Writer by trade/salary, and when I CHOSE to work for the company, I became their highest paid "Administrative Assistant".

Discrimination is global, my dear: wake up and smell the chai 7alib.

My Kuwaiti girlfriends were shocked that a "big company" could have these policies and told me that I could sue them in Kuwaiti courts. Sure I could have - but how long would that have taken and with what kind of wastah? All of their friends are in politics.

Again, if anyone wants to take this off line, I will name Salafi names. Not a problem.

Desert Girl said...

And another thing (yeah biotch has pissed me off this morning prior to my coffee)...

I dress conservatively regardless of where I am. The last time I wore "hot pants" (and where the F do you come from - the 1950's????) I was 10 years old and it was at a family picnic.

I seriously doubt you've ever seen who is dressing slutty in the Avenues because it sounds like you haven't actually BEEN there. If you had, you would know who was behind the shenannigans.

... that's it, I'm going to have coffee and a pancake. I'm out.

Desert Girl said...

liliuokalani - Hey! Thanks for the holla.

I really miss Rhode Island right now - especially in the Autumn when it is apple picking season and the air is turning crisp and cool. I miss going to the shore, standing near the marshes and smelling the salt air.

I went to Lincoln School in Providence, although I grew up as a teenager in Foster. (I was a bad girl so they sent me to an all-girl Quaker school - which didn't help at ALL).

We live in a global village, don't we? :)

Desert Girl said...

?????????? - I got your comment and I don't choose to publish it. I don't cater to cowards. Like I said - take it offline.

Desert Girl said...


Why don't you start your own blog so you can state your very obvious dislike of me - and other foreigners like me? Kuwait is democratic - go for it.

Stan said...

hey DG who is dis creep ???? post his comment online so we'll all jack him up together...these guys are just full of lame excuses..freaks blame others for their freakin short comings...just don't bother him much gal..

Anonymous said...

Getter Done!!!!! Don't let this dude get you all fired up over nonsense - Caliboy

Desert Girl said...

Dear Stan and Caliboy -

Thanks y'alls for coming to my rescue. :) I have a feeling this person is female, however. I just sense an undertone of feminine.

Either way, he/she (shim) is the reason I added the comment disclaimer.

Lili3 said...

Wow! you are really have a great courage to start living on your own in a new country, I always I admire those who live by themselves! partly because I cant imagine myself away from home for 2 days :S

Anonymous said...

to sum up, i guess it is fair to say!

Anonymous said...

On a different topic! took the ghazali express as usual to work! so traffic was hell as usual! anyway out of no where Madame X with a F%*#&@#$ GMC decided to hit me. not once ...not twice ! but 3 F#@#$cking times! Guess why...she apprently was too tired to see that she was Frigging hitting the accelerator instead of the brakeS! so 3 f$#%$#@ times. My toyota is F*#$@#$@! The F#@$#@$ bitch decided to sit on her big fat ass and not practice common courtesy by coming out and appologisin! instead called her husband who came to Crime scene and denied the entire F#@@# thing and decided to be God and say that i was at fault since i must have hit the brakes and provoked her to hit the brakes thrice in the process(YEA RIIIIIGHT!!!!!---how stupid am I)HEY why is it that we expatriates are often called Maskeen! This F#$@#$# Bee@@ch didnt even offer to settle the balance amount after insurance claims !!! why coz supposedly its my F#@$#@# fault that i was destined to be the vitcim today!!!

P.s im just an expat who loves this country but hates certain elements/people of it!

Desert Girl said...

That's why I pay the big bucks for the full coverage insurance. They shout in my face to the point where I can count the fillings... and I smile my best F U smile and say, "Just gimme the accident report. Don't really care, my friend."


Chirp said...

First off I'd like to say I really really love your blog, I dont think I have ever commented before, but I read it and it really makes me laugh.
I think what you said is right,it is really hard moving from one place to another especially when its a completly different culture than what people are used to. In general I realized people in Kuwait are pretty friendly ( I may be biased bcuz I am kuwaiti) but everyone I know is extremly helpful and nice, but just like everywhere in the world you get the psychotic mean ppl.
Although I complain about life in kuwait sometimes, I love it, I wouldn't want it any other way (well maybe a little changes haha).
Hot shorts are now known as booty shorts ... I think.

Anonymous said...

What do we have to do to get a decent FM station here..? Pretty sad when the DJ besides hosting the show also has to do the voice-over for the commercials that sponsor that show!!!
Dubai has around six reasonably good English FM stations. Wish one of them had pan GCC coverage!
Till that happens, I guess it is going to be BBC.. BBC.. VOA.. BBC.. VOA.. BBC..

Desert Girl said...

Purple - Kuwait needs more private radio stations. Anything that the Ministry of Information produces is going to be low-budget. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Many of the DJs are not qualified/educated as such and I don't believe that they are even provided (written) guidelines. Obviously, being drunk on the air is a no-no, but beyond that.

Also, I don't believe that it is fair to compare Kuwait to Dubai: Dubai is forward-thinking and progressive, whereas Kuwait....

Anonymous said...

I am assuming the hazzles of setting up a private FM station must be mind boggling... otherwise for sure we would have had a Virgin FM or a Capitol Radio in Kuwait.. same goes with the English newspapers.. why don't these mainstream papers do a reader's survey to find out what people want rather than just cut and paste articles from International publications...
The layout in Arab Times can really confuse a reader.. and it looks so bland.

Anonymous said...

Kuwait has become a bigger s#$& hole than ever in my 10yr here. They want to "raise the cost of healthcare for expats to represent the level of care"
ha ha ha, it should be free then ! They want expats to pay for housing and services at real world costs and pay tax, so gas will go up and food even higher ? Its over, don't come here, go anywhere else, the greed and corruption here was only workable due to " acceptable living costs", now its not going to be worth it. I out in June and I am so so so happy now that the decision is made.