Top tips


Most Kuwaitis are Muslims, and Islam governs all aspects of their business, personal and economic lives. The extended family forms the basis not only of the country’s social structure but of individual identity too.  Foreigners doing business in Kuwait need to take account of religious and cultural sensitivities in order not to cause offence.

Friday is the holy day and much activity is curtailed during the month of Ramadan. Alcohol and pork products are not allowed and some restrictions on women apply.

While Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken in the business community. Negotiations may take place in English but contracts are normally in Arabic. Business talks only take place once an atmosphere of friendship and trust has been established.

As a foreign company, your initial dealings in Kuwait may be conducted by a non-Kuwaiti Arab or other expatriate. It is often necessary to work your way up through a series of junior- and middle-managers before reaching a Kuwaiti company’s decision-maker. Sometimes junior managers will avoid saying "no" directly, leaving you with the mistaken impression that a deal is only a handshake away.

It is vital to remain courteous, polite and punctual whoever you are dealing with.  Impatience or inappropriate remarks can easily scupper deals. You are likely to be under close scrutiny.

Long before the oil boom, Kuwaitis were renowned for their business acumen and financial acumen, and the current generation of Western-educated Kuwaitis are especially shrewd.  An aggressive, hard-sell approach cuts no ice; a more subtle approach involving small talk, patience, low-key presentations, desk-top videos, specimens and samples are essential tools. Don’t take a hurried approach.

Telephone David Attia on 0845 034 7200 or email for advice.

Useful links


British Embassy in Kuwait

Arab-British Chamber of Commerce

Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Kuwait webpages

Department of International Trade - Kuwait webpages