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Kuwait is a Middle Eastern country but the culture here is a mix between the strict Islamic traditions and Western liberalism. Many visitors will begin their trip in the capital of Kuwait City, which has become a modern city reminiscent of those in the west, with plenty of skyscrapers and modern hotels. However, there are also ornate palaces and mosques here that are a permanent reminder of the city’s history and culture.
Kuwait only became an independent state in 1961, when it won independence from Britain. The country has gained its wealth from oil and it is thanks to this that it has a very modern infrastructure. This makes it very easy to get around. The road network is good but the majority of drivers seem to have their own ideas on road safety!
You can hire a car in Kuwait but you should have an international driving permit before you do. Car hire is not the only option though for getting around. There are taxis that can be hired for a whole day but make sure that you agree on a price first. It is not a good idea to simply hail a cab in the street especially for female travellers. Book in advance from one of the reputable firms – your hotel will be able to give you details of a reputable firm.
However, car rental is a good idea if you want to do things like go shopping! There are a couple of large shopping centres which are fairly new. Head for the waterfront in Kuwait City and try the Souk Sharp Complex. Here you will find Kuwaiti stores alongside well-known western brands. Alternatively you can head for the Leila Gallery and the Al-Fanar Shopping Centre. Remember that Saturday to Thursday are the main shopping days and most stores are closed between 1pm and 4.30pm. Some stores do open on Friday afternoon.
When you choose to visit Kuwait you will need somewhere to stay and the hotels here are varied. There are plenty of luxury options for those that have the money, but there are also first and second class accommodations for those who have less money to spend on their trip. Some accommodation comes in the form of serviced apartments and many of the top hotels also have shopping malls, restaurants and sports complexes. Remember that there is a 15% service charge to pay on all accommodation in Kuwait.