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Country Reports

Kuwait Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The government is trying to implement an austerity budget aimed at reducing state subsidies on fuel and energy to reduce Kuwait's budget deficit. However, policy slippage and overall political deadlock are likely given significant parliamentary opposition to austerity measures. Disputes based on vested business interests, fears of nepotism, opposition corruption allegations, and re-election considerations of members of parliament (MPs) remain high risk factors capable of frustrating even high-profile contracts. There is an elevated risk of suicide attacks, including targeting publicly accessible security buildings, venues serving alcohol and/or frequented by Westerners, including hotels and bars, as well as shooting attacks targeting Shia officials, MPs, and members of the businesselite.

Last update: November 29, 2018

Operational Outlook

The adversarial relationship between the government and the parliament presents a high risk of tit-for-tat stalling of reforms, as well as the revision and cancellation of contracts with foreign firms. The causes for the existing parliamentary deadlock – competition between rival branches of the ruling family and disagreement over austerity measures – are unlikely to abate. This undermines Kuwait's business environment despite the Foreign Investment Promotion Law 2013. Kuwaiti bureaucracy is notoriously slow, and corruption remains a problem. Kuwait's labour laws have seen reform in recent years, but enforcement is often lax.

Last update: October 25, 2018

Terrorism

Elevated

The risks of Islamic State-affiliated IED and shooting attacks on Shia targets are elevated. Successful attacks against Shia targets have the potential to be highly destabilising, given the political activism by Kuwaiti Shia. An escalation in government crackdown on individual financiers of terrorism would increase the risk of jihadist attacks on government targets. There is sustained moderate risk of jihadist attacks against US military personnel and other Western expatriates, most likely from shooting or vehicle-based attacks, particularly around military bases. The risks of attacks by Iran's proxies would increase in the event of US or Israeli strikes on Iran.

Last update: October 25, 2018

War Risks

The United States' more aggressive posture towards Iran and its opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement have increased the risk of interstate war to moderate levels. Such a war would pose a severe risk of Iranian retaliatory missile strikes on energy and marine assets in Kuwait. The risks of war with Iraq, Kuwait's traditional aggressor, have diminished considerably following the removal of former president Saddam Hussein by the US in 2003. Despite a decline in Iranian naval harassment in the Gulf since 2017, further contained incidents involving Iran-aligned non-state armed groups or the IRGCN on the Iraq-Kuwait border are likely, particularly near the Khor Abdullah waterway

Last update: October 25, 2018

Social Stability

Elevated

The extensive Al-Sabah patronage system and high standard of living among Kuwaitis reduce the risks of prolonged protests capable of challenging the emir's power. The opposition's parliamentary gains in November 2016 reduce the risk that it would resort to organising mass protests to express its grievances. The risk of economically motivated protests would increase should the government apply significant fiscal austerity measures, such as cutting public-sector wages across the board. In the event of sustained protests, an internal coup by the ruling family to ensure the survival of Al-Sabah dynasty would be the most likely outcome.

Last update: October 25, 2018

Health Risk

Elevated

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: December 2, 2013

Natural Risks

Very high

Finally, summers in Kuwait can be extreme; temperatures occasionally rise above 50°C (120°F). Similarly, the country is occasionally affected by sand storms which reduce visibility and thus disrupt driving. Torrential rains are common from November to March and sometimes lead to flooding due to a lack of infrastructure, including proper drainage systems, to deal with excess water. In October 2015, violent flooding hit parts of the country leading to road and school closures, including in the capital, as well as flight delays and cancelations.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Transportation

Moderate

Kuwait International Airport (KWI) is the only commercial airport in the country. Security is problematic, although security measures are improving.

Although Kuwait has a bus network, the car remains the main mode of transportation. Taxis are available at the entrance of major hotels and at the airport. Roads are in good condition but driving can be dangerous in Kuwait as locals drive fast and aggressively. According to a report by the Interior Ministry, about 500 people die on Kuwaiti roads each year. These accidents are less due to the state of the roads, which are well-maintained, and more to blame on reckless drivers and heavy traffic.

Desert excursions should be avoided due to the presence of unexploded mines left after the First Gulf War of 1990-1991 (Iraqi invasion of Kuwait).

In the case of an accident, contact the police, whose phone number is 112.

Surrounding waters are heavily militarized. Maritime boundaries are yet undetermined in the northern Persian Gulf (i.e., the area between Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait) and any boat in the area may be detained and/or searched at any time for security purposes.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Practical Information

Climate

Kuwait has an arid climate. Summers (May to October) are very hot (40°C) with high levels of humidity; during this time the Shamal, a violent and dusty wind, can provoke sandstorms. Winters (November to April) are milder (8°C to 19°C) with cool, even cold nights and low levels of rainfall.

Useful Numbers

Country Code:  +965
Emergency Services:  112
Police-Emergency:  538 20 00
Civil Defense:  539 51 31/32/33/34/35

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 11, 2018