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Kuwait - Climate and Weather

Because Kuwait is a small state, there are few regional differences in environment and the climate does not vary significantly. It is a country located in Western Asia, at the tip of the Persian Gulf in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia. Sharing borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, in a land which was mostly desert, the government, economy and households of Kuwait are highly dependant on the oil reserves deep in the ground. Today more than four million people live in this small state, with two thirds of them having moved there from other countries around the world.

Altogether there are six governorates, or districts, in Kuwait. Each of these contain several “Mantaqa”, which can be interpreted as towns, areas or regions, although they are each less than 2 square miles. The official structures of government mean that a supermarket, parks and schools may be run by a local society, or co-op, in each Mantaqa; only citizens of Kuwait may belong and vote for the society membership.

Much of the country is either desert or a desert environment which has been adapted for modern habitation. This significantly influences the climate and temperatures that Kuwait will experience during a typical year. The eastern edge of Kuwait is the coast along the Persian Gulf.

The most pleasant months to live in Kuwait are in February, March and November, when the temperature will vary between 10°C and 20°C.

Through December to the end of January, the winter temperatures will keep the country cool. Humidity will reach its highest levels for the year at 70%, bringing with it cloudy days and patches of fog. Wind speeds will be calmer than the rest of the year so there is little risk of dust storms occurring during the winter. January is the coldest month of the year with lows struggling to reach 8°C, although highs of 17°C frequently occur and can reach 19°C. Despite the cooler temperatures, there will still be more than 200 hours of sunshine to enjoy each month. This means frost and snow are rare, and even then only occurring in the north of Kuwait.

The summer season is extremely hot. This starts in April and ends about October. June, July and August each receive more than 300 hours of sunshine. The hottest month is in July, when temperatures will reach an average low of 29°C and frequently hit highs of 45°C. Humidity will reach its lowest point in July, at about 40%. Wind speeds will reach their most active period in June and July.

Kuwait has very low levels of rainfall. The exception is September when up to 110mm of rain can be expected. Between February and August it will be very dry, with rain rarely making an appearance, especially in June when only 5mm of rainfall occurs.

Loose clothing which protects your arms, legs and body is important, both to keep yourself safe from sunburn and to avoid problems with conservative people you may come into contact with. Women who show bare shoulders, legs or torso will cause offence and are guaranteed to receive persistent unwelcome attention. Never wear shorts, deep cut T shirts or bikini tops in public. Most female citizens of Kuwait wear a garment called an “abaya”, which is a long black item covering their entire body, and keep their head covered. It is not compulsory or demanded by law, so some women wear western clothing. Loose linen cotton trousers are appropriate, as are skirts of a respectable length. T shirts are fine if they have a high rounded neckline and do not show any cleavage.

In the heat of the summer, flip flops or sandals will keep the feet cool, and women should not have any problems wearing these items. The pavements can be very uneven so whilst high heels are not prohibited, you may find flat shoes are easier and safer to walk in.

Having access to clean water throughout the year is essential, crucially so during the very hot, dry summer months. Heatstroke can occur quickly and with little warning; plentiful water will prevent it and help reduce any symptoms that happen.

A sunhat and sunglasses will also be essential to the wardrobe of every man, woman and child.

Hurricanes, storms and extreme weather does not affect Kuwait, with the exception of the dust storms which occur during the hot, dry summer months. They can be very dangerous to human health and can last for up to a week. The Meteorological Department issues warnings when dust storms are expected, and give an estimate of wind speeds which can easily reach a powerful 70km per hour. Visibility is very poor during these storms, making excursions outside or in a car very dangerous.

When dust storms are expected, the warnings given to the public include a reminder to fasten seat belts in the car. Kuwait made it mandatory for drivers to wear a seat belt as far back as 1976, when many European nations had yet to consider such laws. The law was further tightened in 1994 to demand all front seat passengers also wear a seat belt for all journeys. However, there are many poor drivers who fail to obey this simple and life saving law, and many rear seat passengers do not wear seat belts because they do not have to. During a sand storm the risks of a car crash increase significantly and the emergency services will take longer to reach the scene of an accident.

Kuwait now suffers an earthquake or earth tremor at least once a week. Residents are unaware that they are happening because they measure less than 3 on the Richter Scale.

There is no history of any major earthquake in Kuwait which led to significant damage or loss of life. However, the General Supervisor of the National Seismic Network at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Dr Abdullah Al-Enezi, is concerned about what might happen in the future. He points to the extent to which oil has been extracted from the ground and says the repeated small earthquakes may indicate a larger earthquake is on its way.

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