For those of us piqued with an extreme wanderlust, some edges of the world harbour a mystique. When prompted by doubters who ask: “why would you go there?”, the boldest travellers are only further entice by the proposition. If you possess a curiosity about venturing to Persian Gulf or the Middle East, but struggle to find an accessible compromise between the known and unknown, Kuwait – and particularly Kuwait City – have abetted this dilemma. The city is enticing enough to be entertained for a long vacation, while the culture is alluring to those who are unfamiliar.
Kuwait visas for Americans citizens are surprisingly easy to come by. You can apply online through the government’s official website, and the process is not nearly as restrictive as it used to be. A transit visa is awarded to any Americans with proof of travel plans, granting them free roam around the country. Yet, the flexibility continues; if you decide you want to stay longer, you can apply for an extension while still in the country. The procedure is not as common as you’d think; Japan, for example, requires a traveller to leave the country once the visa is up, and only then can they reapply for entry while outside of the country. While the flexibility can prove to be the difference between a stressful and relaxing getaway, it’s still advisable, as is the case anywhere, not to push your luck.
If you apply for an extension to late in the duration of your stay, given that the process usually takes a few days, you may catch yourself in between visas while in the country. This could result in expulsion from Kuwait, or even a ban from entering the country for a number of years, handed down by the country’s immigration agencies. Yet, every case is treated differently to some extent. When it comes down to it, immigration and immigration policy is focused on the nationality of the people in question. And let’s face it: Kuwait visas for American citizens are so easily obtainable because American passports are the golden ticket in so many parts of the world.
With so many friendly international relations across the world, combined with the reputation as the richest country in the world, a country’s immigration policy, if concerned at all with the tourism industry in their country, will see an American walking through customs as someone ‘made of money.’ Under what circumstances, then, would they be turned away? Problems only arise when Americans try to overstay their welcome; no longer exist in the economy as tourists but as disruptive locals. Then immigration enforces more strictly.
Renting a car is cheap in Kuwait, and the public transit is sub-par, so it may be a preferable wy of getting around, especially when venturing outside of Kuwait City. However, beware of the traffic, and plan your itineraries around being on the road during odd hours. Traffic is not one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of Kuwait — such as with Los Angeles, for example — but the code of conduct for a Kuwaiti driver follows a guideline far less strict than in Western countries. Visitors describe their roadways during their busiest hours as a ‘colosseum’. Drivers maintain a lax code of conduct on the road, cutting people off without warning and running through intersection with mere inches separating collision. One has to maintain an attitude of aggression.
The Persian Gulf as a whole has a taste for expensive, silky fabrics,; and if not made of actual silk, then thin and smooth materials. Similar to Dubai, Kuwait City combines Middle Eastern tradition with Western influence, and nowhere else is this more evident than in their style of clothing. Since many tourists hail from non-Muslim majority countries, they will find an exuberant and breath-taking selection of premium head scarves made from the most revered fabrics. Kuwait City has open markets that sell this along with other clothing, and bargaining is permitted, but don’t get carried away.
If this wasn’t a reason for coming, it will become one of the main takeaways when describing the beauty of Kuwaiti architecture. When compared o Dublin, whose architectural beauty lies in its staggering skyscrapers, Kuwait has skyscrapers alongside some of the oldest, most decorated mosques in the entire world. Regardless of denomination, one can appreciate Rome for its extravagant architecture in much the same way one will be awed by the mosques in Kuwait City. Remember though, when visiting a mosque it is important to respect the customs of the people there, who also treat it as a community centre and a place of worship. Always follow the guidelines laid out for tourists and do not say or do anything disrespectful. With that being established, many mosques have unfathomably rich histories and traditions. Catching a glimpse it’s like viewing the world through the past while in the resent, and it leaves travellers awestruck. Below are some of the most highly-recommended mosques to visit in and around Kuwait City, for either its history or its architectural beauty.