8 Reasons Why Kuwait Was Named Worst Country for Expats | ExpatWoman.com

8 Reasons Why Kuwait Was Named Worst Country for Expats

Kuwait ranked the worst country for expats to live in by an Expat Insider Survey. We take a look at the reasons behind it.

Posted on

5 December 2016

Last updated on 16 July 2017
8 Reasons Why Kuwait Was Named Worst Country for Expats

In the recent 2016 Expat Insider survey, Kuwait ranked the worst amongst 67 best and worst countries to live in as an expat. The survey takes a look at the quality of life, ease of settling in, personal finance and working abroad. Kuwait has been at the bottom of the list for three years in a row now and ranking worse every year. 

It’s common for unhappy expats to be told “if you’re unhappy, leave!” However, it’s not always so black and white. Many don’t have much of a choice, such as having to join a family member or being the only income provider for a family and not finding work elsewhere. Some others just love the country and want it to be better. Criticising aspects of a place doesn’t necessarily mean you hate it, but rather that you wish it could improve.


Kuwait certainly has much to offer and has hosted millions of expats over the years. While there are undoubtedly many happy expats in Kuwait, here we’ll take a closer look at what could make it a struggle for many other expats.

Quality of Life – #65 out of 67

Leisure options
As a small country, Kuwait is not known for having many things to do. There are a selection of restaurants and shopping malls, but not much nightlife or activities be done.

Kuwait public transport is limited to buses and taxis. Driving can be intimidating as they have a very poor safety record on the roads. Traffic congestion can be extreme during peak times.
Bad driving

If you don’t have comprehensive medical insurance, public hospitals and clinics can be a nightmare. They're not free and the waiting time can be extremely long, especially since Kuwaitis will always get priority.

The Kuwaiti government has started the implementation of segregation for local and expat patients, as well as local and foreign medical staff, such as reserving certain times (ie mornings) for Kuwaiti nationals only. 


Personal happiness
Common courtesy is often overlooked. It’s not uncommon to find yourself waiting in line for a while and then have someone just cut in line in front of you. Many expats are treated like second-class citizens and racism is widespread. 

SEE ALSO: 5 things I wish I knew before moving to Kuwait

There have been many reports of Kuwaiti police mistreating expats, especially if they don’t speak Arabic. Kuwait is also the only country that takes DNA samples from anyone who is living in or visits the country, sparking a lot of controversy about freedom and privacy.


There is a significant litter problem in Kuwait. Many people tend to throw things out from their windows and you’ll often see garbage overflowing into the streets of residential areas as the garbage bins aren’t large enough to accommodate the amount of people there. 


Ease of settling in – #67 out of 67

Feeling welcome, friendliness and finding friends

Aside from co-workers, many expats struggle to make friends in Kuwait as the social life here is limited. Talking to strangers is somewhat frowned upon. Expats tend to be blamed for a lot of problems in the country by the locals, which could translate into an unwelcoming feeling.

In recent years, due to anti-foreigners backlash from locals, the Kuwaiti government has pledged to push out a large number of expats in the country, 100,000 per year for ten years to be specific.


Working Abroad – #61 out of 67

Job & career and work-life balance

The work week is usually 48 hours, with many working 6 days a week. Big companies are known to break labour laws and getting away with it. Kuwaitis will usually be given preference for higher up positions, so it’s not easy to advance in your career.

SEE ALSO: Need advice? Check out our forum

Additionally you cannot own a company by yourself, you need a Kuwaiti partner who takes 51% of the company.

Overworked what weekend

Personal Finance – #56 out of 67

Saving and cost of living

While the rating is better than all the other categories, personal finance and cost of living is still ranked quite low. Housing, education, clothing and basic goods are relatively expensive.
price shocked