• Basic Facts


    Country Name:

    • conventional long form: State of Kuwait
    • conventional short form: Kuwait

    Location: Middle East

    Population: 2, 183, 161

    Ethnic Groups: Kuwaiti 45%, Other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, Other 7%

    Languages: Arabic (official) & English widely spoken

    Economy: Kuwait is a small, rich country which houses 10% of the world's reserves of crude oil. Kuwait's dry, desert, climate limits the country's agricultural practice so the people depend almost wholly on food imports.

    Industries: Petroleum, Petro Chemicals & De-salination



    Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. A British-American firm controlled Kuwaiti oil production until 1974. After this Kuwait nationalized most of the oil operations. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Kuwait took part in the Arab oil embargo against Israel. In 1990 Kuwait was invaded by Iraq; Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait as result of the Persian Gulf War.

    Kuwait has a nominal constitutional monarchy, meaning that the monarchy is hereditary and the monarch appoints the two main leaders of the country: the prime minister and deputy prime minister. 


    Family Life

    • The family is the primary focus of loyalty; families are usually considered the pillars of society. Traditionally, the homes of most Kuwaiti families were large and consisted of extended family; currently, families are commonly broken into smaller units who still tend to cluster near each other. It is not uncommon for parents to live with one or more of their children.

    • Marriage is intended for procreation. Marital love and intimacy are of lower priority. Children are greatly valued and not having children is cause for unhappiness.

    • Generally the father is the head of the household, and in many families the primary role of women is to care for their husbands and to raise the children. Women's roles are changing in some instances; some women have the opportunity to work outside the home. This role change is causing the extended family to diminish.

    • There is a direct correlation between the number of children in a family; especially boys, and the amount of prestige to the father and his family.

    • Parents expect children not to interrupt when adults are talking and they may not question rules relating to obedience and authority.

    • Professionals need to have frequent contacts with families to make sure that appropriate actions are being taken to meet the needs of children.


    School System

    There are three basic levels of education in Kuwait: Elementary, Intermediate, and Secondary. Preschool is available for 4-year to 6-year old children. Elementary school begins at age 6. Schooling is compulsory for children 6- years to 14-years-old. All stages of state education including higher education are free. Kuwaiti public schools are segregated by sex starting in the first grade. Class size in public schools is often very large (60 students).

    Many Kuwaiti residents choose to send their children to privately owned schools that are often foreign-sponsored and co-ed. Private education is not free; it is subsidized. Students in all Kuwaiti schools begin to study English in second grade.


    Classroom Applications

    • It may not be appropriate for female professionals to shake hands with Arabic Males. 

    • Some families may be offended if professionals offer their left hand in greeting. The left hand is often considered unclean.

    • When making family contacts, the father is the official liaison between the family and school. Therefore, teachers need to consult with the father first.

    • Professionals may be more successful in communicating with families if they are informal. It is better to be perceived as a friend because it may be difficult for some families to trust those outside the family extended family circle. 

Last Modified on January 4, 2013