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A reader commented on the Expat Report Dating and Marriage in Kuwait City, Kuwait
What is it like in your country of residence for someone with your relationship status (married/divorced/dating)? If you're single, how do you meet other people? Do English-speaking people tend to gravitate to certain parts of your city?
Meeting men in Kuwait is no problem for a Western (or really any other nationality) woman: in the car, at the mall, at a restaurant, in the aisles at Sultan Center, walking, on the internet. What follows can be confusing.

There are common dating rules to follow in the West and almost everyone plays by them: You meet someone you like, you fall in love, you meet his friends, you meet his family, you might move in together, you get engaged, you get married and have kids.

Kuwait isn'Xt as easy for a Western woman dating Kuwaiti men. You meet someone you like, you fall in love, you may or may not ever meet his friends; depending on weather his family is open minded or not, you may or may not ever date in public, you may or may not meet the family until (if you get this far) the man announces to them that he plans to marry you. Then, what happens if the family doesn't agree or worse: World War III erupts and potential-mother-in-law suddenly develops a "near" fatal heart condition? Some men may opt to marry first, then announce; but then probably at the loss of the big wedding with the beautiful gown and all the flowers and with no guarantee of a smooth transition into the family.

Dating is complicated in the Moslem world by the fact that Moslems aren't supposed to date. The reality is that many do and many marry people they have fallen in love with. Overall, it is still the exception and not the rule, yet visit any Starbucks or mall in the country and you can see that Western style dating is happening in Kuwait. Internet dating services and chat rooms have allowed people in Kuwait to get to know each other before meeting as well. People here see the potential to find love through getting to know someone prior to marriage.

Westerners dating Kuwaitis face additional layers of confusion brought about by stereotypes and prejudice: sometimes it is just difficult to tell if a man likes you because of yourself and not because you are a Western girlfriend who he can "feel free with" until he marries someone "suitable" that his mother picks out for him: Yes, even if he is 45 and has already been married twice (in the States, this person is known as a "mama's boy" and it is meant as an insult).

Arranged marriages between Kuwaitis are the norm here, even in upper class, educated families. The man's mother usually has the right to make the final selection of an appropriate daughter-in-law. My American friend, Chris, is married to a Kuwaiti. The culture here wants the men to marry one of their own. His mother was disappointed. Hasan, a 40 year old Kuwaiti friend, was on an elevator with his British wife and a Kuwaiti woman actually turned to him in Arabic and said, "What is wrong with Kuwaiti women? Why do you have to marry a foreigner?"

It has been said that foreign women cost less to marry because there is no need for mahr (dowry), or expensive wedding jewelry (chabka) as tradition when marrying a Kuwaiti woman. In the US, it is the custom for the father of the bride to pay for the wedding; grooms and/or their family pay for weddings in Kuwait.

Although the perception is changing, Western women in this part of the world have been considered "easy" by traditional Arab standards from what is perceived as too much freedom in the West (or perhaps because best or majority of the black market movies come from the West). In the States, we saw movies about Arabs with camels and tents; in Kuwait they watched movies about cowboys and loose women. Preconceived notions are hard to detect until problems arise. For example, if you are a single woman living alone in Kuwait, you may not want a man you only recently met to invite himself to your home under the assumption that it is "okay" because you are "open minded". Most Western women living alone anywhere will tell you that they won't allow anyone into their homes without determining that he is not an axe murderer first; or at least that he won't show up at your door drunk at 3 am and wake the neighbors (as happened when I first moved into a non-secure building in Salwa years ago).

Wouldn't it be easier if you could just find out from the beginning? Sitting a man down in any culture only adds additional confusion because men tend to be commitment-phobics who will run from serious conversation. A marriage-related question-and-answer session with a member of the male species only serves to free up a single girl's schedule for other males of the species.

Perhaps arranged marriages allow for an "up front" look of what the man is thinking, but it is no guarantee. Kuwaiti women face their own problems: Criteria such as determining if a man is from a suitable family; if he has a suitable job; if he has been married before; bedu or hather, Shiite or Sunni, inside or outside the gate. Kuwaiti women are intelligent and likely want to find out if her mate is intellectually compatible and if it will be a suitable love match. What happens if he isn't the "right one" and a divorce ensues? It is much more difficult for a divorced Kuwaiti woman than for a divorced Kuwaiti man to find another partner.

Western women's complaints are similar to other women everywhere in the world: all the good ones are either taken or "otherwise". Many men just don't want to get married, leaving the single girl to wonder if she should invest time and effort in the relationship, or to get out and look for another that might be more "serious". The grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence, no matter which direction you choose.

Dating someone outside of your own culture has pros and cons. On the upside, it is interesting and there is always something to talk about. Cultural difference, appearance, and varied outlook always make another culture very attractive. Sometimes language is a problem and sometimes finding someone from your own socio-economic background is difficult (although the same could be said anywhere). Kuwait prides itself on being a country of Eastern values and Western mentalities, but in this modernized country, it is often difficult to figure out where East meets West; where do you find a similar minded (and hearted) person and then how do you determine if he/she wants a life, not just a lifestyle? (Continue)

A reader replied most recently with:
Well this article is filled with vivid details on the Kuwaiti culture, which shows that you’re pretty familiar with all norms and traditions. However there are some points which aren’t correct to a certain level. I'd love to clarify some points if given the chance. Regards,
A reader replied recently with:
What about arriving in kowait city with my 8years love (not married yet)? I'll be there for a job for 2 years and my boyfriend is an architect. He will work if he find a job. Could we live in the same appartment, sleep toghether etc without being married ? Could he get a work autorisation for 2 years of for the job's length, how? Should he do something before we go (4 weeks still before the plane's date)? Do he needs a special visa? Nb: we are now living in Paris, France. And My boyfriend is French, I come from Belgium.
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A reader commented on the Expat Report Review of American International School in Kuwait in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Review-of-American International School in Kuwait
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
Poor facilities ... very little interest on schools part to improve (very what I've observed) ... Extra curricular sports and clubs for younger children on Mondays after school (for a fee) (Continue)
A reader replied most recently with:
I completely agree with this comment about the poor facilities. I work in this school. After working in a school in Shanghai and in the States (Midwest) I have learned the school just keeps adding classes and building more on. The classrooms are so small also. I when I was in school most of the rooms must have been two to three times the size easily, with storage included in the rooms. There is supposed to be a limit to class size, the the administration does as the director and board decide, even if that means more students than the limit. The teachers are supposed to make class lists for the next grade to balance out the academics, behaviors, and boy/girl ratio,but the school sends out a parent request sheet where the parent can choose to have their child with a certain teacher and friends. If their demands are not met, they will go to the administration and the child will be moved as the parent wants. It infuriated me to find out that all the hours the teachers spent organizing student data, sorting, and entering the new lists into an xcel spread sheet didn't really matter.
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A reader commented on the Expat Report Having a Baby in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
I went to a private hospital (Royale Hayat) even though they were not included with my insurance. Prenatal office visits were about 20KD a piece, the lab tests weren't very expensive. Doctors in Kuwait want to do an ultrasound every visit, so if you don't want that you have to say so. They are also used to their patients just accepting whatever they say without questioning and doing things without telling you. So, you really have to be proactive and assertive about what you do and do not want. My goal was a natural childbirth. Except for being induced with prostaglandin gel and sweeping membranes, that is what I had. The labor and induction rooms have "birth" balls. The induction rooms also have jacuzzi tubs. I wrote a birth plan, my doctor as well as the nursing staff read it and they abided by it as much as they could. I was free to move around during labor without being attached to the monitors constantly. The only problem really was that when it came time to push, my doctor wanted me in lithotomy position. I said no and she accepted me being in a side-lying position. I stayed two nights in the hospital. It was a positive experience overall. The only issue I had postpartum was that they did a blood sugar test on my daughter without my consent and tried to tell me she was going to have to have formula instead of exclusively breastmilk. I kept my daughter with me in my room the whole time. They waited to cut her cord until it stopped pulsing and they did not give her the hepatitis B vaccine- all per my requests. (Continue)
A reader replied most recently with:
For others reading this, I am a Lamaze trained childbirth educator who just moved to Kuwait and will be teaching prenatal classes (and pre-natal yoga starting next fall- 2011). engagingbirth.blogspot.com or you can email me sarahpaksima@gmail.com
A reader replied recently with:
I am a lamaze trained childbirth educator and doula...just moved here to Kuwait. Thank you for sharing for birth experience- very encouraging. I would love to hear what doctors you would now recommend for women seeking to have a natural childbirth experience.
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Expat Report Review of Cambridge English School in Kuwait City, Kuwait by eugenej was published
Review-of-Cambridge English School
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
Limited or not well utilised. There is a swimming pool but it is not used much, 4 times / year perhaps. There is a basketball court but no other sports facilities. There are computer rooms. Very small classrooms for so many children. (Continue)
A reader replied most recently with:
bonjour j aimerai bien etre dans ce club
A reader replied recently with:
Bjr a tt le monde.j voulai bien etre avec vous et faire votre connaissance.joyeux annee 2011.
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fluffy62 commented on the Expat Report Jobs in Kuwait City, Kuwait
What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?
Learn everything you possibly can about the host country you are going to FIRST. Try to visit the country before committing to a long-term employment contract. Talk to residents of the country. Make friends.

There is no possible way you will learn everything about ANY country from a guidebook.

Need further info about Kuwait? Write to me at amerab@gmail.com and I will try to answer any/all questions. (Continue)

fluffy62 replied most recently with:
Who do I submit my Resume to.. I sent them to CSA, I never got a reply,,, Thanks Ernestine
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Expat Report Having a Baby in Kuwait City, Kuwait by stella77 was published
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
I went to a private maternity hospital (Royale Hayat). They are covered by my insurance plan, too. It was an amazing experience. I wanted pain free labor and it pretty much was. I discussed my birth plan with my doctor in advance. He was very supportive and made me feel at ease. The anaesthesiologist and the rest of the staff were kind and helpful. And the rooms were 5 star, definitely! (Continue)
Expat Report Having a Baby in Kuwait City, Kuwait was published
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
I went to a private hospital (Royale Hayat). I did not use any medicines for pain management. Epidurals are available, but the labor room has a birthing ball and the induction rooms have jacuzzi tubs. I stayed for two nights after my daughter was born. It was a positive experience overall. They respected my wishes as I conveyed via my birth plan. I was able to move around while in labor, I wasn't connected to a monitor continuously. I was able to eat and drink as I liked. I wanted to be able to choose my position for pushing, but the doctor only gave me two options. Lithotomy position or side-lying on the bed were the choices she gave me even though studies show upright positions are better for mother and baby. (Continue)
Expat Report Living in Kuwait City, Kuwait by babyofmine was published
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
There are lot of clubs/meeting groups/associations by expats from different countries in Kuwait. You can search on net or ask in here and surely someone will guide you. (Continue)
Expat Report Living in Kuwait City, Kuwait was published
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
Gyms, clubs, native embassy activities, women club, private clubs depending on hobby or interest (Continue)
Expat Report Moving to Kuwait City, Kuwait was published
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Be brave. Get out there and see what's available in your neighborhood. Ask co-workers for help and advice. Oh, and pack light. There is almost nothing that you can't get here or have shipped here. (Continue)

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