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Driving Etiquette - Kuwait

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The roads of Kuwait are mostly straight, flat and, under a hot glaring sun, very reflective. The three lanes on the motorways allow you to drive in relative comfort at 70mph in the lane of your choice. The reason why you can chose any of the three is that whichever lane you choose, someone else will overtake you.

When travelling in the centre lane, it is possible to be overtaken simultaneously by a top-of-the-range Rolls Royce being driven by an Arab (or more likely his chauffeur) in one lane; and a Bedouin driving a clapped-out old heap that would have failed an MOT1 test in England, but still manages to beat your 70mph, belching out poisonous exhaust fumes as it passes you.

Basically, there are no rules. That is to say there are rules, but every other driver on the road ignores them. Kuwait is the undisputed champion out of all of the Arabic countries for sheer lunacy on the roads. There are more dead bodies and mangled traffic wreckage seen here than anywhere else.

Road Signs

Give Way

If you stop at a Give Way sign, you run the risk of the driver behind you running into your vehicle, as he has no intention of stopping. Proceed over the Give Way with caution, but do not stop altogether.


Take a deep breath upon approach, hold your foot over your brake but continue at the same speed and drive straight onto the roundabout. If you stop, you take the same risk as at the Give Way sign. The 'roundabout of fear and loathing' at the end of the 5th ringroad is one of the scariest places in the driving world.

Pedestrian Crossings

There are some, but no notice is taken of these. A pedestrian wishing to cross a road and preferably still be alive when he reaches the other side, should only cross when the road is empty.

Traffic Lights

Although it will cause you a great deal of stress, upon approach to traffic lights, look in your rear view mirror and try to judge whether you can safely stop at red lights without the person immediately behind you ramming into the back of your car. Your brake lights may be working, but his almost certainly aren't, so even if he notices you stop, and he stops, the car behind him will have no way of knowing that the car in front has braked.


Drive as fast as you feel comfortable with. Should you notice a police car in your rear view mirror, flashing its headlights at you, just move over. It is almost certainly on its way to a fatal accident. There are an average of three fatalities per day on the roads in Kuwait; two thirds of these are pedestrians.

Some Good Points

For this Researcher, the number one bonus was the cost of petrol; at around 5p a gallon in 1996. Every garage had attendants and mechanics, your windscreen was washed, the oil checked (topped up if necessary), without the need to leave your vehicle. If you asked for your spark plugs to be changed and your tank filled you could expect change from a 5 Kuwaiti Dinar note (approximately £10).

Final Caution

Beware of drivers beckoning you, the pedestrian, to cross the road in front of them...

1An annual car safety/road worthiness test for cars.

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