Kuwait has grown in popularity as a tourist destination since the political struggles of the 1990s have largely ceased. Adventurous travelers looking for somewhere new to explore are often heading to the Middle East, and Kuwait’s seaside location is appealing. This Arab country is located on the Persian Gulf and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq on its northern borders. Some travelers might be frightened of visiting this region as there is still violence and uncertainty in this part of the Middle East, but nonetheless, travel to Kuwait is occurring with more frequency every year. A great deal of history and growing economy makes this country intriguing for travelers.
Kuwait has had a long and difficult history. During the nineteenth century it was under the control of the Ottoman Empire and after World War I, it came under the protection of the British Empire. Everything changed in the 1930s when oil fields were discovered. In 1961, Kuwait gained independence from Great Britain and the oil industry really took off. Neighboring Iraq invaded in 1990, annexing the country. One reason Americans might think travel to Kuwait isn’t a possibility is remembering this conflict from the 1990s, when the United States led a military intervention. Iraqis set oil fields in Kuwait on fire, damaging their economy during this short occupation.
An interesting fact about Kuwait is that it is one of the smallest countries in the world. Most of the country consists of the flat, Arabian desert. The major city is Kuwait City, located on Kuwait Bay. The climate of Kuwait is seasonal. Summers tend to be very hot while winter experiences cold spells. There are frequent winds in Kuwait, which during June and July result in dramatic sandstorms. The incredible amount of oil reserves in Kuwait has made it a very wealthy country, and its economy is expanding rapidly. The official language of the country is Arabic, but the second language is English. If you plan to travel to Kuwait, you can expect a significant amount of people to speak English.
Americans traveling to Kuwait should be aware that they need both a passport and a visa to enter the country. Unlike other countries where a visa needs to be arranged ahead of time, a visa can be purchased at a port of entry into Kuwait. The cost for visas is approximately $10 and the Department of State urges American citizens to alert their local embassy of their trip including details on flights and hotels. Visitors should be advised that the border between Kuwait and Iraq is often closed, so traveling between the two countries, even briefly, is not suggested.
Most travelers will arrive via Kuwait International Airport, which has direct connections to the US. Alcohol and pork are banned in Kuwait, and your bags will be checked for these items. After all of these practical matters are taken care of, the fun can begin. Failaka Island is home to Bronze Age and archaeological sites that will be of interest to visitors. Other top sites to see include Al Jahra City and the Kazmah desert cliffs. Adventurous travelers will have their choice of activities including horseback riding, golfing, boating, and maybe relaxing in the spa afterwards. There is plenty to enjoy in Kuwait as long as you obey local customs such as respecting the illegality of alcohol.