Taxis are widely available, and a ride from the airport into the centre of Kuwait City will cost in excess of KD5, about $18. The older so-called ‘orange’ taxis seen around the city’s streets will charge KD1-2 for a 10-15 minute trip. Traffic congestion is an ongoing issue and streets in the city are poorly signposted. Most directions will involve providing a local landmark and road.
Most taxis in the city are driven by Kuwaitis. You should not expect all taxi drivers to be fluent in English, or to understand your directions. If your Arabic is poor, carrying a written address or having telephone access to someone who can explain your destination in Arabic can be useful.
Renting a car in Kuwait City is relatively simple and advisable if you plan on being there for more than a few days. The cost of catching cabs quickly mounts up and finding them becomes a chore during periods of heavy traffic, particularly during the summer. You can also hire a driver, and most hotels will be able to provide a car at a cost of about $150-200 a day.
Kuwait International Airport
The main point of entry to Kuwait for most visitors is Kuwait International airport in the south of the city. GCC citizens and residents can go through passport control with their GCC identity cards, while British, American and most EU citizens can either prearrange visas for pickup at the airport or buy visas upon arrival. Most hotels in Kuwait City will arrange visas for clients, but mix-ups do occur, and it is not unheard of for visas not to be waiting at the pickup desk when visitors arrive. Fast-tracked business visas are available on arrival (there is a cheaper visa on arrival, but the wait to get it processed can be lengthy).
Kuwait is planning to expand its aviation facilities to increase passenger and cargo-handling capacity. The scheme, overseen by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), calls for an ultimate capacity of 50 million passengers a year, a target the government expects to reach by 2048. The centrepiece of the plan is a $747m international terminal that, when finished, will increase passenger handling capacity to 20 million, and will be able to receive the new Airbus A380 superjumbo.
The national airline is Kuwait Airways, which currently serves about 40 destinations. The government is in the process of privatising the loss-making carrier, following a restructuring plan. The emirate is also home to low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways, which flies to 19 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
Kuwait has no existing rail infrastructure, but along with its GCC neighbours, it intends to invest heavily in the sector. An extensive network of light and heavy rail is proposed, including a 518-kilometre mainline system to link into the planned GCC Railway and a metro network. The Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) is overseeing both schemes.
In August 2011, US consultancy Booz & Co, with the local NBK Capital, was awarded the transaction advisory contract for the mainline system. US-based Wilbur Smith is technical adviser and Allen & Overy is legal adviser.
Kuwait is also planning an estimated $7bn metro project, which will be built as a public-private partnership (PPP). The network is expected to stretch 160km and have about 69 stations when completed. Phase one covers the construction of 28 stations and about 50km of track, 30 per cent of which will be underground. The remaining four phases will be constructed over a timescale dependent on demand.
Kuwait has commercial ports at Doha, Shuaiba and Shuwaikh. All three are operated by the Kuwait Ports Authority, which is a sub-division of the Communications Ministry.
In 2004, the Kuwait Government announced plans for a new port facility on Bubiyan Island in the north, strategically located between Iraq, Iran and Kuwait. The project aims to turn the island into a naval façade for the country, a centre of shipping activities and part of a multi-modal transport network. Its ultimate capacity will be 2.5 million 20-foot equivalent units a year with 60 berths. This will be carried out over four phases running to 2033.
Considered the main commercial port in Kuwait, Shuwaikh comprises 21 berths and a container terminal area of 26 hectares. The port can receive ships of 7.5-metres draft at all times, and 9.5-metres draft at high tide. Ship repair facilities are also offered.
Shuaiba is Kuwait’s second-largest port and houses platforms for commercial traffic, containers and petrochemicals. The port includes 20 berths, able to receive drafts ranging from 10 metres to 14 metres.
Doha is a coastal port, which is mainly used for fishing vessels and other small crafts. It comprises nine piers of 4.3 metres depth, and houses 8,110 square metres of warehousing on site.
All firms have offices at Kuwait International airport
Tel: (+965) 2 473 5626
Tel: (+965) 2 431 9326
National Car Rental
Tel: (+965) 2 434 3139
Tel: (+965) 2 434 7768
Tel: (+965) 2 473 8205
Tel: (+965) 2 431 6637
Tel: (+965) 2 474 5528
Tel: (+965) 2 473 5419
Kuds Taxi Company
Tel: (+965) 2 241 3414
Tel: (+965) 2 240 0013
Tel: (+965) 2 533 8033 /8044
Tel: (+965) 2 241 1450 /1451
Limousine al-Kuwait Taxi
Tel: (+965) 2 243 8777
Tel: (+965) 2 241 5500