OFW Guide to Living and Working in Kuwait

Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a temporary ban of deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait due to inhumane working conditions. This ban was the Philippine government’s response after the discovery of the dead body of Filipina worker, Joanna Demafelis inside the freezer. Since then, Kuwait and Philippines had a diplomatic row that even prompted the Kuwaiti government to expel Philippine Ambassador Pedro Villa.

Thankfully and after negotiations of human working conditions for Filipino workers, all is well between Philippines and Kuwait, with the ban being lifted sometime in May of this year.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Kuwait was put in a bad light. A survey showed that Kuwait is at the bottom of the best countries for foreign workers because the country prioritizes its own citizens. Also, Kuwaiti government has been imposing restrictions and making things difficult for expats, including getting a driver’s license or mandatory medical testing, which are not implemented on its own citizens.

Nonetheless, in case you are planning to work in Kuwait, here are some of the things you need to know and remember:

Kuwait, in General 

Kuwait is a monarchy and ruled by Amir or Emir from the Al-Sabah family, which also has the power to enact laws aside from the parliament. The country has one of the richest oil fields around the world and has the fifth largest oil reserves aside from Saudi Arabia. Despite its land size, Kuwait is also one of the richest countries in the world per capita

Domestic work is among the most in-demand jobs in Kuwait because of the citizens’ capacity to pay for household help. Aside from household workers, nurses, caregivers, IT specialists, engineers, and construction workers are likewise in demand because of the construction of $94-billion City of Silk.


Islam is the main religion in Kuwait and the teachings in Koran dictates their way of life. This means alcoholic beverages, pornography, public display of affection, and eating pork are illegal. Living someone that is not your spouse is also considered an illegal act, which could lead to payment of penalty and/or imprisonment, depending on the act violated.

The good thing about living in Kuwait is that they are accepting of other religious denominations, including Catholic.

When it comes to clothing, Kuwait is not as strict and conservative as Saudi Arabia. Women can freely wear what they want, although it is still advisable to wear an abaya and other garments that will cover the body. Showing skin is not tolerated. Men prefer wearing dish dasha, an ankle-length clothing, but Western-style clothes are also acceptable.


Spices play a big role in Kuwaiti food. One of its traditional cuisines is called machboos, which is blend between Persian and South Asia cuisine with lots of spices, chicken or fish, and topped over rice. Seafood is also a part of Kuwaiti diet, so don’t worry about going hungry. There are also tons of groceries that carry international foods and brands at affordable prices.


Kuwait is surrounded by desert, so weather can be extremely hot, which can go up to 50 degrees Celsius during summer. Rainfall isn’t common as well. Still, don’t forget to pack warm clothes because temperature could drop to zero during winter.

Kafeel System

There is a reason why Kuwait is the least favorable destination among expats. The implementation of Kafeel or sponsorship system makes it unsafe for household service to work. In fact, the system keeps domestic workers at the mercy of their employers, from keeping their passports, to unfair working conditions, to prevention of transfer of employers.

There have been talks of ending Kafeel, but it will take some time before domestic workers benefit from this. Per new law, skilled workers will be covered first.

Accommodation and Transportation

Most employers provide free accommodation to foreign workers. In case you don’t have one, you can share a room, which could cost you 30 to 50 Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) every month.

Transportation is affordable as well, in case your employer did not provide transport services. If they do, make sure you ride on time because shuttles follow a strict schedule.

Your income in Kuwait is tax-free, which means you could earn more. Make sure to use your hard-earned money wisely.

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