Kuwait Information    
 
Money and Finance

Currency

The Kuwaiti Dinar and international transfers

The Kuwaiti dinar (KD) is linked to the US$ and is therefore susceptible to the ups and downs of that currency.

The Kuwaiti dinar (KD) is divided into 1,000 fils. Coins are of 10, 20, 50 and 100 fils, notes in denominations of KD0.25, 0.5, 1, 5, 10 and 20. $1 = KD0.3058 and currently £1 = KD0.4950.
It’s wise to have some local currency when you arrive to cover small purchases and taxi fares, although you might well be met at the airport by your sponsor’s staff or your new colleagues.
Currency exchanges and banking facilities are available at most major airports and many are open 24 hours a day. Exchange rates, however, are unlikely to be favourable at these outlets. More competitive rates can be obtained from city-centre financial establishments. You should avoid changing money at your hotel, as hotel rates are probably the worst on offer.

Importing & Exporting Money

There are no restrictions on the import and export of funds into and out of Kuwait.

Everyone holding a residence visa in Kuwait is allowed to open a bank account and to import and export funds, although it’s unusual for people to bring funds into the country. Accounts held overseas are of no interest to the fiscal administrations in any of the states. No declarations of currency are required when entering any of the territories, so travellers can move currencies in and out without restriction and in any form that they choose.

International bank transfers are an area of local expertise, as handling the outflow of money has been a lucrative industry in Kuwait for some years. The volume involved reflects the large number of expatriates who move to the region and who export the majority of their earnings to their home country. Many open offshore bank accounts to avoid income tax in their own countries.

All the retail banks will transfer money to any destination and in any currency. Many people find it convenient to use their own bank to transfer money overseas, but there are plenty of institutions offering this service, so shop around to obtain the best deal. The main variables involved in transferring funds overseas are the exchange rate offered by the different institutions and any commission charges. The rate quoted might look attractive, but if the combined charges are high, you might be better off elsewhere. At the receiving end, your own bank will undoubtedly make a charge too, depending on the amount involved. Some banks are greedier than others, and loyalty to long-standing customers seems to be a thing of the past.

Apart from banks, there are plenty of exchange companies operating in Kuwait, usually owned by the major trading families, who have long experience in the business and frequently give better rates than the banks. Different transfer systems are available, and the speed of transfer is the main determinant of the charge levied. The methods are postal, bank-to-bank, telex, telegraphic and SWIFT (or similar titles). Banks and exchange houses in Kuwait are generally competitive, speedy, accurate and reliable, but the efficiency of the transaction also depends on the institution involved at the receiving end.

Electronic transfer is usually the quickest method, although long delays can occur if you’re sending funds in, for example, US$ to a GB£ account, and delays can also occur between different banking systems (e.g. if the banks have no reciprocal arrangement). It’s therefore simpler and quicker to send money between branches of the same bank or banks with close affiliations. You should monitor the charges being made at the various stages until the money arrives in your account and query any that you feel are unwarranted or excessive.

If you intend to send significant amounts of money abroad for business transactions, such as buying a property, ensure that you’re given the commercial rate of exchange. The tourist rate or standard rate that you see quoted in your newspaper or posted on the bank’s currency exchange board can be considerably bettered for large exchanges and transfers.

Another way to transfer money is to use a bank cheque or draft, which you can send yourself by registered mail or courier or which can be sent by bank-to-bank mail at a small additional cost. If, however, the cheque or draft is lost, stolen or goes astray for any reason, this can cause you a lot of administrative ‘hassle’. Personal cheques can be sent, although these are subject to delays in clearing. For example, a US$ personal cheque made out to a GB£ account will go from your UK bank to a New York clearing system before the funds finally return to your account, and this can take some time. It’s obviously essential to check that all the details shown on a cheque or draft are absolutely accurate.


Banks

Where to manage your finances

There’s no shortage of banks in the cities, towns and villages of the Kuwait.


There are international, regional and local banks, all well financed, well regulated and well run. Although there have been one or two notorious banking scandals in the region, notably the closure of BICC bank, banks are generally solid and well supported, and both the regulation and finance exist to forestall major incidents in the future.

Banks fall into a number of categories. Some central banks operate as clearing banks as well as being the regulatory institution. There are also corporate or merchant banks, providing venture and investment capital for institutional investors. Investment banks extend their services to individual investors, notably ‘high net worth individuals’ interested in portfolio management. Finally, there are retail or ‘high street’ banks for the masses. There are no savings and loan banks or mutual building societies operating as banks in the region. The services offered in other countries by these organisations are undertaken by the ‘normal’ banks in Kuwait.

An interesting aspect of Middle Eastern banking that you’re unlikely to involve yourself with (unless you’re a Muslim) is Islamic banking. The teachings of Islam ban interest or usury, and Islamic banking involves the centralisation of funds within a bank. These resources are then used, for example, to fund a construction project or other type of investment, which in turn produces returns, which are then shared out in proportion to input.

As a working expatriate, you’re likely to open a standard current or deposit account with one of the many international banks found throughout the region. Banks such as Standard Chartered, Citibank, British Bank of the Middle East and others provide a reasonable service, bank charges are quite low and loan terms are competitive. (Banks are keen to attract customers and therefore eager to issue loans.) Banking in Kuwait has now become highly automated compares favourably with banking in other advanced countries.

Some banks offer drive-in services, although doing business quickly is unnatural to the temperament of the region. Others provide mobile banking facilities for outlying villages and remote areas. Large industrial complexes often have banks on site for the convenience of their workers and this is also the case with some civil service organisations such as police training centres.

If you have a complaint against a bank and cannot resolve it through the bank’s senior administration, the next course of action is to appeal to the Chamber of Commerce for advice, or perhaps the regulatory Central Bank; the civil court is your last recourse, but this is rarely necessary.

Working  Hours

There are variations in bank opening hours throughout the region. In general, banks are open from 8am to 1pm, Saturdays to Wednesdays, when many banks re-open in the afternoon from 4.30 to 6.30pm. On Thursdays, opening hours are usually 8am to noon, and banks (like other businesses) are closed on Fridays. Companies dealing in foreign exchange and money transfers usually work later in the evening, particularly those located in shopping malls and main shopping thoroughfares. At major international airports, bank facilities are usually open 24 hours. Public holidays are observed by banks, which conform to the holiday periods set by the governing administrations for private sector companies

Opening an account

How to open a bank account in Kuwait


The formalities involved in opening a bank account in Kuwait are quite stringent and involve a considerable amount of paperwork.


It’s mandatory to have a residence visa, which demonstrates your right to be in the country. You also require a ‘letter of no objection’ or a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from your employer. The employer’s letter needs to stipulate your salary, to show the amount that will regularly be paid into the bank. Some banks will ask to see your tenancy agreement to establish your residential address, and most will ask for a photocopy of your passport. You should take copies of all these documents, as well as identity photographs.

A worker’s dependants (e.g. wife and family) can open an account with his permission, as he’s in effect their sponsor.

When moving to Kuwait to live and work, it’s unlikely that you will close your bank account at home, particularly if you still have payments to make to cover commitments in your home country. In order to limit your tax liabilities there, however, the funds going into home accounts should be kept to a minimum. It’s almost certain that you will also open an offshore bank account.

Current Accounts

Cash is preferred for everyday transactions in Kuwait, where people are generally suspicious of cheques. In fact, although utilities companies and other major service providers accept personal cheques for regular payments, these are most unlikely to be accepted by local retailers, as they carry no guarantee of payment, even though issuing a cheque without the necessary funds in your account is a criminal offence in the region. Most current accounts are therefore not cheque accounts, although these are also available.

All the standard banking services are offered by Kuwait banks, including cheque clearance, standing orders, direct debits and credit card repayments. A certain number of transactions per year are usually free, after which there might be a charge levied, usually at the discretion of the bank manager. Charges vary between banks, as they do in other countries, so shop around before opening an account with a particular bank. Cash dispenser cards are issued as a matter of routine, with the standard security measure of personal identification numbers (PIN) to allow access to your money through ATMs. Personal credit and charge cards, most of them underwritten by Visa or Mastercard, might also be issued by a bank, but these must be negotiated with your banker and often have spending restrictions.

It might be in your interest to open an account with your employer’s bank: favourable terms might be offered for group accounts and your salary might be accessible more quickly if the accounts are in the same system. If you wish to change bank, it pays to be honest and close your account instead of leaving a small amount in it to keep it active, as you’re likely to incur charges. Current accounts pay little or no interest on account balances and, if they do, you must usually have a substantial balance to qualify. It’s better to keep surplus funds in a savings or deposit account.

The information shown on personal cheques is fairly standard (i.e. the name of the bank, the branch, your name(s), the date, etc.), and the layout of cheques is similar to UK or American cheques. The recipient’s name is written on the top line, the amount written in words on the following line and the amount in figures entered in the adjacent box. You sign the cheque on the line at the bottom.

An important point to remember is that Arab names are very similar, especially in their diminutive form, so you should be sure to write the full name of an Arab recipient. You aren’t entitled to reimbursement for a ‘misdirected’ cheque if you’ve been careless and inaccurate when writing it, although banks are responsible if they’ve honoured a cheque which doesn’t bear your proper signature.

Cheques are available for completion in English or in Arabic (which is read and written from right to left), and bank statements and correspondence can be provided in either language (your bank should use the appropriate language automatically). The business language of the region is English, and you should encounter no difficulties if you can communicate in Arabic or English.

Both crossed and uncrossed cheques are available. Crossed cheques (marked ‘A/C Payee Only’ at 45 degrees across it) can be paid only into the payee’s account and are therefore safer. An uncrossed cheque can be paid into any account, although the bearer is normally asked to endorse the back of the cheque. To ensure that a cheque can only be paid into the account of the payee, you must add the words ‘A/C Payee Only’ between the crossed diagonal lines on the cheque. Uncrossed cheques made out to ‘Bearer’ or ‘Cash’ are treated as currency and can be cashed by anyone.

You should never overdraw your bank account unless you have authorisation from the bank. If you do so and the sum is small, your bank might pay the amount and inform you of the shortfall, or they might pay only the amount held in your account, or they might not honour the cheque at all. The last is unlikely, unless you’re a new customer or have a poor record with the bank. In most cases of an unauthorised overdraft, you will incur a substantial charge and be questioned about the incident.

Note that issuing a cheque without the necessary funds in your account is a serious criminal offence in the region and the police will be notified at the discretion of the bank (or creditor) concerned. Prosecution isn’t uncommon and punishments can be harsh.

A large transient expatriate population means that financial abuses aren’t uncommon, and the banks protect their interests carefully, with the support of the judicial system.

It’s important to understand that, in the case of serious financial difficulties, expatriates are unlikely to receive much in the way of sympathy and understanding, since their services in the country are viewed as expendable. In cases of criminal financial actions, penalties are likely to be harsh and might involve confinement for indeterminate periods while the judicial process takes its tortuous course, especially in the more conservative states.

If your cheque book is lost or stolen, you must notify your bank by telephone immediately and confirm the conversation in writing. Once you’ve informed the bank of the loss, any cheques written after that point cease to be your responsibility. It’s possible to stop payment of a cheque, but you must be in a position to persuade the banking administration that the cause is genuine and pressing.

When buying a major item such as a car on credit, the bank funding the loan is likely to issue you with a series of post-dated monthly cheques, to be passed to the vendor, who will present the cheques on the appropriate dates for settlement. You should ensure that the cheques are correct in every detail and that you keep any receipts issued. Make sure also that there are sufficient funds in your account to meet the payments. If you’re unable to meet a payment, you must notify your bank in advance to make an appropriate arrangement. Banks are usually helpful in such cases (as no bank wants to acquire second-hand cars in default of payment). In the case of a motor vehicle purchase, the official registration of the vehicle might show the bank as the official owner until the loan has been repaid in full.

For utility bills, direct debits can be arranged with your bank to cover regular payments, but make sure that you check your statements to ensure that these instructions are being carried out. Alternatively, you can pay utility bills in cash at any bank, irrespective of whether you have an account there.

You can of course pay cheques drawn on foreign banks in major currencies into your local account. You might be credited with the amount straight away, but some banks wait for clearance, which can be a lengthy process. If you’re expecting regular payments of this kind, check whether your local bank has correspondent status with the foreign bank involved, which will precipitate payments. If not, you might need to find a quicker method of being credited with the money.

Savings & Deposit Accounts

You can open a savings or deposit account with any retail bank in Kuwait. There are no specific savings banks such as thrifts or S&Ls in the USA or building societies or ‘mutual companies’ in the UK. Although savings accounts offer lower interest rates than deposit accounts, they have the advantage of easy withdrawal at any time. Savings account holders might receive a passbook in which financial transactions can be recorded, but more usually a monthly statement is issued in order to record the progress and details of the account. Holders might also be issued with a cash card for use in ATMs, a cheque book and a credit card, depending on the type of account.

There are many types of deposit account available, offering varying rates of interest according to the amount on deposit and minimum deposit period. This is usually a month, although some banks pay interest after a week – generally on large amounts only. High interest accounts are available but require substantial amounts to be deposited in order to qualify for the higher levels of interest. Some banks offer standing order facilities with these accounts and issue cheque books, but there might be maintenance charges and a limit on the number of cheques that can be issued annually.

In many banks, you can open savings accounts designed for major foreign currencies, predominantly US$ and GB£. Most expatriates, however, wish to export the majority of their income to accounts outside the region.

 Kuwait Banks

http://www.kuwait-info.com/sidepages/eco_banking_cbk.asp
http://www.kuwait-info.com/sidepages/eco_banking_kfaed.asp
www.kuwaitse.com  Kuwait Stock Exchange
www.kia.gov.kw  Kuwait investment authority
National Bank of Kuwait www.nbk.com
Kuwait Finance House   www.kfhonline.com
Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry www.kcci.org.kw
Kuwait Free Zone    www.kuwaitfreezone.com

 

Debit and Credit Cards

How to use cards in Kuwait

All banks in Kuwait offer customers cash and debit cards, which can be used at any branch of the same bank and, by arrangement, at other banks.

Purchases and cash withdrawals are automatically debited and deducted from your savings or cheque account and details of withdrawals are shown on your monthly statement. You ’re limited to the funds in your account and may not overdraw your account.

Cards usually have a limit on the amount that can be withdrawn in any one day from ATMs: generally around $450 to $700 (£300 to £500) in local currency. Account balances and mini-statements can usually be obtained from these machines. Most ATMs accept a substantial number of both regional and international cards, invariably illustrated on the machines themselves, although there’s usually a fee for using ATMs operated by banks other than your own. There are plenty of ATMs throughout the region: as well as those inside and outside banks, you will find them in shopping malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Most machines provide instructions and information in Arabic and English. Note that with some machines you must remove your cash quickly or it will vanish before your eyes, back into the machine! If you request more than your current account balance, you will be asked to request a lesser amount or the transaction will be terminated. Transactions will also be terminated and an appropriate message displayed if you select a service that’s unavailable. You can use the ‘cancel’ button at any time to terminate a transaction. Your card will (hopefully) be returned to you and you can start again, if needed. If you lose your card during a transaction (or at any other time), you must notify your bank as soon as possible. Take note of the name of the official that you notify and the time and method of notification. You will probably be asked to come to the issuing bank and complete an appropriate form in order to obtain a replacement card.

Credit & Charge Cards

A credit card provides access to funds on credit up to a particular limit, upon which an interest charge is made, depending on the particular conditions of repayment.

A charge card offers a similar facility but restricts the credit period (usually to a month). Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards worldwide and are the most commonly issued by banks in Kuwait. The presence of the Visa or Mastercard name on an unrecognised Arab bank card is important when travelling to other regions. Charge cards such as those issued by American Express and Diners Club are also available in the Gulf and are fairly widely accepted, although less so than the major credit cards, mainly because of the higher commission charged to the supplier of the goods or services.

The annual fee for a credit or charge card varies with the issuing bank but is usually around $15 (£10) for a standard card, fees rising for gold cards, which provide higher levels of credit. Some cards come with additional benefits, such as travel insurance or life insurance when the card is being used for travel arrangements. Others offer a points system that increases with the amount of purchases, the points being redeemed for consumer goods, travel discounts, etc.. Using a credit or charge card in some countries offers protection against a company going bust or the purchase being faulty. Most major purchases should be transacted with a card if this type of protection is offered. Shop around, as fees, interest charges and benefits vary enormously.

When making purchases in the Middle East, haggling is invariably expected. But the production of a credit or charge card will wipe out any beneficial terms that you might have negotiated. In fact, there might actually be a surcharge if you want to pay with a credit or charge card, particularly if you’re buying from a small trader.

You can of course use a foreign credit card in the Gulf and you might benefit from delayed charging, but not if you withdraw cash, for which charging starts immediately. You might, however, find it more convenient to receive your bills in local currency and pay from local funds, rather than to be subject to fluctuating currency conversion rates. The western practice of major department stores issuing their own credit cards is uncommon in Kuwait, largely because of the cash culture that still prevails in the region.

All credit and charge cards allow you to access cash from ATMs and you might gain some advantage from the rate of exchange between the tourist or commercial rate, although you’re likely to incur a charge for a cash transaction. There are also occasions when a credit card isn’t only useful but a necessity, for example when renting a car or booking into a hotel.

If your card is lost or stolen, make sure that you report it immediately by telephone to the issuing company or bank and confirm it in writing or in person. It’s important to keep the telephone number of the card company to hand for speedy notification. Your liability is usually limited until you report the loss; after that, no liability applies. In the case of theft, you should also report the matter to the police.


Cash & travellers' cheques

How to use them

Cash is widely used in Kuwait, although credit and charge cards are also popular. As in many countries, the quickest way to draw cash is to use an automated teller machine (ATM), found at banks and shopping malls.


Withdrawals of cash from an overseas account can be made using an international network such as Visa or Mastercard. It’s also possible to withdraw cash using a credit card, although this incurs high charges. Foreign currency can be changed at many outlets in Kuwait, although, as mentioned above, it’s inadvisable to change currency at your hotel, where the rate will invariably be much less favourable than at a bank or bureau de change. The country’s bureaux de change usually offer competitive exchange rates, but you should check to see if commission applies, and it’s worthwhile shopping around. Most airport exchanges handle major foreign currencies, but for obscure currencies you may need to make special arrangements.

Carrying travellers’ cheques is more convenient and generally safer than carrying a lot of cash. However, at certain times and in some places it can be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. Shops and restaurants, for example, don’t readily accept travellers’ cheques. As well as banks and bureaux de change, most hotels change travellers’ cheques, but at much poorer rates of exchange. Banks charge a small commission for exchanging travellers’ cheques and the exchange rate is invariably better than that offered for the conversion of banknotes. Proof of identity (e.g. passport) is required.

Always keep a separate record of travellers’ cheque numbers when you cash them, noting when and where this takes place. Most cheque issuers offer a replacement service for lost or stolen cheques (although there’s little danger of theft in Kuwait, where the crime rate is low), but the time taken to replace them varies significantly. American Express claims to have a free, three-hour replacement service at any of their offices worldwide, provided that you can supply the serial numbers of the cheques in question. Without the serial numbers, replacement can take some days.

It’s unlikely that you will be able to purchase travellers’ cheques in Kuwaiti Dinars, and, as the currency is tied to the US$, you should use US$ cheques (or cash) in preference to any other in order to avoid possible exchange fluctuations.

Don’t change travellers’ cheques to any currency other than that of the country you’re in. For example, if you’re travelling between different Gulf states, resist the temptation to change your money in one place to meet your needs in all the different states that you’re visiting. If you do, you’re likely to find that the exchange process takes two steps: if you’re buying Saudi riyals in Kuwait, for example, your dollars will be converted to Kuwaiti dinars and then from Kuwaiti dinars to Saudi riyals. Although the currencies are linked, there will be a commission charge on each transaction.


Foreign & Offshore Banking

Where to keep your money abroad

In many cases, foreign workers in Kuwait find that they’re able, for the first time, to save part of their income for the future.


You should therefore investigate the best ways to obtain (safe) returns on the money invested and (legal) ways to avoid tax. Before leaving your home country, declare your trip to your home tax authorities. Provided you establish non-resident status in the Gulf country in which you’re working, you will normally be outside the remit of your home country’s tax regulations and will therefore minimise (or avoid altogether) tax penalties. If you keep your home bank account open in order to pay expenses (e.g. related to a property), the money that you remit to this account should be kept to a minimum. If you’re also earning income in your home country (e.g. from property rental), you may be liable for tax on this and you should check with your home tax office or a financial adviser. US citizens must also pay home tax on their overseas earnings.

An offshore bank account may be advantageous if you want to earn interest while keeping funds reasonably fluid in the short to mid-term. An offshore account can be used as a central source from which to send funds to other locations, including an account in your home country. Other attractions are that money can be deposited (and maintained) in a wide range of currencies, customers are usually guaranteed anonymity, there are no double taxation agreements, no withholding tax is payable and interest is paid tax-free.

There are over 50 official ‘tax havens’ offering offshore banking, including the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and the Virgin Islands. A large number of American, British and other European banks and financial institutions provide offshore banking facilities in one or more locations. Most expatriate financial publications, such as Resident Abroad, carry advertisements for offshore banks and their services.

Most institutions offer high interest deposit accounts for long and mid-term savings and a variety of investment plans. Accounts have minimum deposit levels that usually start at around $1,500 (£1,000), with an upper limit of around $150,000 (£100,000), above which you may be able to negotiate a special interest rate. The major disadvantage of offshore ccounts is that there are usually stringent conditions relating to withdrawal periods and penalties for early withdrawals. You can deposit funds with instant access or for a fixed period, for example from 30, 60 or 90 days up to a year or more. Interest is usually paid monthly but can be paid annually, in which case interest payments are slightly higher. There are usually no charges if you maintain the minimum balance in the account. Some accounts offer a cheque book but are likely to impose a limit on the number of cheques that you can issue in any year, after which you must pay charges. Cash or credit cards are frequently offered, usually underwritten by Visa or Mastercard, and these can be used in ATMs worldwide.

When reviewing financial institutions and offshore banking centres, your first consideration should be the security of your money. Offshore branches of larger companies are in most cases separately formed companies, with rules and regulations applying to the countries in which they’re formed and operate within. In the event of any difficulties, the parent company is likely to bail out its subsidiary, but might not be legally required to do so. Nevertheless, big is generally best when it comes to selecting a home for your money. The major international banks are hardly likely to fold and you might feel more comfortable with those that you already know. If you’re offered unrealistically high terms of interest, the chances are that they’re just that – unrealistic. However, some of the northern European banks, e.g. those in Finland, offer much higher rates than average, presumably to attract funds, and they’ve been operating safely for a number of years.

Many banking centres offer a protection system whereby a percentage of bank deposits up to a maximum sum is guaranteed in the event of a financial institution becoming insolvent (Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and other offshore centres operate such a protection scheme). You can check the level of deposit insurance offered by the various financial institutions with Moody’s Investor Service or via your financial adviser; you can also verify their credit ratings. All banks have a credit rating, from the highest of triple ‘A’ downwards, and most are happy to tell you about it, particularly if they have a high rating. Ratings just below ‘AAA’ don’t necessarily mean that the financial institution’s status is doubtful.

Some people regard savings and deposit accounts as attractive only to the smaller investor. Those with larger amounts to invest, who are seeking greater returns, might consider other types of investment.


Cost of Living

How much does living in Kuwait cost?


The overall cost of living in Kuwait is similar to that in most European countries, if you’re living in the style of the average western expatriate.


But the general lack of taxation has a significant impact on the cost of certain items, e.g. cars. On the other hand, the cost of accommodation is sometimes high, as is that of certain food items, particularly imported foods. If you buy internationally recognised branded foods and household goods, you might pay higher prices than in your home country, but there are usually plenty of cheaper locally and regionally produced alternatives that are of excellent quality. Clothing can also be expensive if you favour designer labels – this isn’t peculiar to Kuwait – although there’s little need for winter clothing.

The price of wines and spirits, where these are permitted, is slightly lower than in the UK but higher than average European prices. Electronic goods, such as televisions, hi-fis, DVD players, photographic equipment and computer hardware and software, are generally less expensive than in Europe, mainly because of lower import duties.

Utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, are subsidised to some extent by the region’s governments, which own the services (except for bottled gas supplies) in order to provide inexpensive electricity and water, mainly for the benefit of the local population. Utilities are therefore cheaper than in most European countries. However, at the height of summer, air-conditioning costs will escalate, rather as the cost of heating increases in winter in colder climates. Newcomers sometimes make the expensive mistake of keeping their air-conditioning on even when they’re out, but this is unnecessary, as air-conditioning systems reduce the temperature in your accommodation quickly when activated on your return home.

You should also allow for the cost of international telephone calls, although these are kept low by Kuwait’s government, who wants to encourage international business and investment in the region.

Your cost of living will obviously depend on your lifestyle. When you’re negotiating a work contract, it’s usual for your prospective employer to produce detailed cost of living figures for his country, which are useful in helping you to decide whether the proposed job is financially attractive or not. Average monthly major expenses for a single person, couple and family with two children are shown below (numbers in brackets relate to the notes following the table).

  Monthly Costs ($/£)
Item Single Couple Couple with 2 Children
Housing (1) 900/600 1,050/700 1,200/800
Food (2) 450/300 750/500 1,050/700
Utilities (3) 225/150 300/200 450/300
Leisure (4) 450/300 450/300 600/400
Transport (5) 75/50 150/100 150/100
Insurance (6) 100/65 150/100 225/150
Clothing (7) 150/100 300/200 450/300
Totals 2,350/1,565 3,150/2,100 4,125/2,750

  • Rental costs for a one-bedroom apartment in a modern block, probably unfurnished, a two-bedroom apartment in a similar block and a two or three-bedroom apartment or a modest villa. Apartments might have air-conditioning included in the rent. Satellite television is probably provided but is unlikely to include all channels. A swimming pool and/or gym are usually provided.
  • Doesn’t include luxury food items or alcohol.
  • Includes electricity (and air-conditioning), water (and usually sewage if charged in conjunction with the water, as is normal) and an allowance for telephone charges.
  • Includes entertainment, dining out, sports, newspapers and magazines but not holidays (air fares are often included in work contract terms).
  • Includes running costs for an average family car plus third party insurance, petrol, servicing and repairs, but excludes depreciation and credit purchase costs.
  • Includes private health, travel, car and contents insurance. Note that property is rented, so building insurance is usually unnecessary.
  • Lots of clothing is unnecessary in the region’s hot climate. Office wear for men is a shirt and tie, except for formal occasions.