Business Etiquette in Kuwait

Written by tamiya king
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Business Etiquette in Kuwait
Kuwait business etiquette is a matter of friendly but reserved behaviour. (Kuwait flag button image by Andrey Zyk from

Kuwait is a very wealthy country because of its oil resources, and does much business with other countries. When doing business in Kuwait, it's essential to behave according to Kuwaiti rules of etiquette to make a good first impression and build a lasting professional relationship.

Business Attire

Dark-coloured business suits are appropriate for both men and women. Suits that are tailored for men are best, and women can wear a pantsuit if desired. If the weather is not too warm, women should wear pantyhose with a skirt business suit. Avoid very expensive accessories and low-cut or sleeveless blouses.

Punctuality and Business Meetings

It is always best to arrive early for a business meeting in Kuwait. A few minutes of small talk is customary. It is acceptable to use this time to pass out business cards and to indirectly find out who is the person with the highest professional rank. The international professional is often expected to begin and end the business meeting, so have your agenda in mind beforehand.

Business meetings in Kuwait often have numerous interruptions. It is proper etiquette to be agreeable and not show signs of impatience during these interruptions.

Business Cards

When receiving business cards, it's important to read the title of the person giving you the card, and to refer to him according to his title. Business cards are customarily exchanged with the right hand in Kuwait. If there is a table or desk in between, it is acceptable etiquette to slide the business card across the table to the person receiving it.


Business negotiations often take a considerable amount of time, and are made by the senior executives of a company. It is best to be polite and reserved in most cases when negotiating with Kuwaiti business professionals, but there are some instances when businesspeople in Kuwait expect international negotiators to show emotion. Be observant in each situation so you can successfully gauge the mood of each negotiation.


Kuwaiti businesspeople do not expect to receive gifts from international colleagues. It is, however, acceptable to present gifts when entering into a long-term business partnership. Gifts are opened in private, and a thank-you note is sent shortly after receiving the gift. Businesspeople from other countries should reciprocate by sending a thank-you note or e-mail when given a gift by a Kuwaiti businessperson. Standard gifts, such as flowers or chocolates, are appropriate. A gift of alcohol is improper etiquette as a violation of the tenets of Islam, the religion of 85 per cent of Kuwaitis, according to Culture Crossing.

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