Learn all about the general business etiquette in Kuwait for meetings, negotiations and interviews.
17 July 2013| Last updated on 4 July 2017
For most businesses the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, but for some this may be extended to a 5.5 or 6 day week, with Fridays being the rest day.
Working hours vary too, a straight shift could be 8am or 9am to 4pm or 5pm, with Government hours being 7am to 2pm. A split shift may begin between 8am and 9am through to 12 or 1pm, resuming between 3pm and 5pm to 6pm or 8pm. Private companies often offer 30 days leave per year and the Kuwait Labour Law guarantees a minimum of 14 days holiday a year with an increase to 21 days following the fifth year of continuous employment.
Arabic is the official language of Kuwait, however English is widely spoken and roadsigns and the like are in both languages. English is also a compulsory second language in the government schools and is hence spoken widely.
Both English and Arabic may be spoken at work, depending on the sector, with Arabic being widely spoken within the Government departments and English being prevalent in most international companies. Smart business dress and traditional dress is essential.
There is a very specific meeting etiquette in Kuwait and if followed correctly the Kuwaiti people will be very hospitable in both home and business. Due to religious sensitivities greetings occur between members of the same gender. Greetings in all cases are given with a sense of enthusiasm and general pleasure. Kuwaitis are known for taking their time and asking after family, mutual aquaintances, general health and any other matters that may be of interest. Life in the Gulf is relaxed and slow so be patient and take the time with the greeting before getting into business matters. Always take a genuine interest in the people that you are speaking to, they will notice and appreciate it.
Kuwaitis value trust and prefer to do business with people that they have a personal relationship with. This means that they will spend a substantial amount of time getting to know you. They value patience, grooming and education, so it is advisable to keep that in mind when doing business in the region.
If you are scheduling meetings in the region, be mindful of the working times and try to schedule a morning meeting. Alternatively a lot of business is conducted in the early evening. Be wary of the prayer times and try to ensure that the meeting does not coincide with them. If it does, the meeting will be interrupted. Be patient with anyone who is going to pray and do not show even the slightest sign of annoyance or impatients as this is considered rude and unacceptable behaviour.
Business attire is conservative. Men should wear business suits that are conservative. Women should refrain from wearing tight clothing. Their business suits should cover the knees and elbows and no cleavage or decolletage should be visiable at all. Men and women should have impeccable grroming. Kuwaitis notice grooming. Ensure that your hair is brushed and sleek, make up is correct and that your clothes are pressed well.