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..."
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!