When eating in Kuwait there are a couple etiquette rules
you must know and follow since Kuwait is a Muslim country. First, dress on the conservatively
side (see our Kuwait Culture Page for
more details). Second, in conservative homes and even some restaurants, it is not
acceptable to eat with a person of the opposite sex unless it is your child, sibling,
or spouse. While this is uncommon in Kuwait today, to some conservative Muslims,
and in some restaurants, this is important so observe the local restaurant's
situation and follow a local's lead. Since sometimes men dine only with men
and women only with women, don't bring a guest of the opposite sex to any meal
unless you are specifically invited to do so.
Try to arrive on time for a meal and if eating in a local's home remove your
shoes at the door if others have done so. Greet the elders first then everyone else
by shaking each person's hand individually. Prior to sitting down you may be
asked to wash your hands or if others wash their hands, follow their lead. Let your
host seat you and when sitting be sure to keep your feet flat on the floor or pointed
behind you as pointing the soles of your feet at another can be offensive.
Once the food is served, again follow your host's lead, but likely you, as the
guest will be served first, followed by the elders. Try a bit of everything offered
as turning down food or drinks can be offensive. Eat as the locals eat: in many
houses this means eating with your right hand (don't touch any food with your
left hand), while in most restaurants this means eating in the continental style
(knife in the right hand, fork in the left). As you finish your food, leave a bit
on your plate to show there was more than enough and place your fork and knife together
in the 5:00 position. However, the meal isn't truly over until the host indicates
it is by standing up.
If dining in a high end restaurant or a hotel restaurant be sure to check the bill
for a service charge. Many restaurants include a service charge that will replace
the tip, but if no service charge is included, leave a tip of 10-15%.
Celebrations & Events
Although numerous small celebrations are cause for traditional foods in
Kuwait, the country has two major religious holidays that are cause for
celebration among all others. Eid al Fitr is an event filled with numerous
foods, which differ from family to family, but generally consist of various meats
and fish as a base with other grains and vegetables on the side. This celebration
occurs immediately after Ramadan, a religious holiday that requires fasting for
The second major Muslim celebration in Kuwait is Eid al Adha,
which is only celebrated after a pilgrim returns from haj, the mandatory
journey for every able Muslim to go to Mecca. Again, this festival contains a large
number of rice and meat dishes, including many of those served during Eid al Fitr.
Kuwait offers all the international favorites, including
coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and juices. Coffee, tea, and juices are the local
favorites depending on the occasion and the season, but nearly any non-alcoholic
drink is readily available in Kuwait.
As a primarily Muslim country, Kuwait has no alcohol available
as it is illegal.
The tap water is generally safe to drink in Kuwait, however
confirm this with your hotel or guesthouse outside of Kuwait City. If you do drink
the water, many people may have trouble adjusting to the local tap water, as it
will most certainly be different from what your system is used to if you are not
from the region.