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Old 03-08-2013, 11:18 AM   #1
chrishsu OP
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Location: Rockville, Maryland, USA
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riding in and around Kuwait?

I'm considering taking a 2-year work assignment in Kuwait city. One of the major considerations is being able to ride or not. I have been doing around 350 miles/day day rides every weekend as long as there is no icy on the roads, 3-4 long rides, 3K to 4K miles each, per year. Will I be able to do that in or around Kuwait without flying to Europe?

Thanks!
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Old 03-08-2013, 04:54 PM   #2
chrishsu OP
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Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Rockville, Maryland, USA
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riding in Kuwait ?

I'm considering taking a 2-year work assignment in Kuwait city. One of the major considerations is being able to ride or not. I have been doing around 350 miles/day day rides every weekend as long as there is no icy on the roads, 3-4 long rides, 3K to 4K miles each, per year. Will I be able to do that in Kuwait without flying to Europe?

Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2013, 02:21 PM   #3
NVBigBlue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrishsu View Post
I'm considering taking a 2-year work assignment in Kuwait city. One of the major considerations is being able to ride or not. I have been doing around 350 miles/day day rides every weekend as long as there is no icy on the roads, 3-4 long rides, 3K to 4K miles each, per year. Will I be able to do that in or around Kuwait without flying to Europe?

Thanks!

Chrishsu,
As a fellow rider, and someone who spent a year contracting in Kuwait, and still passes through it every 6 months or so, and was also looking to ride a bike around, I can offer this advice....


DON'T DO IT!! (ride a bike there, that is...)


Here are my reasons for saying this:


1. If you're going to be working on one of the U.S. bases there, and are thinking about riding back and forth to work..... you can forget it. You WILL NOT be able to get a motorcycle on base. I researched this extensively. It would require your companies permission, and most importantly, the base commanders permission. During my research, I spoke to base access people that had been there for 8 years or more. None of them had ever processed the paperwork for this, and none of them could remember ever seeing a bike on base. It was also pretty difficult to get a privately owned car on base as well.


2. If you just want to ride around Kuwait on your free time, you're in for a ton of paperwork. Vehicle registration, D/L, insurance, etc. All of it has to be completed in Kuwaiti (Arabic). You will most likely have to get a local attorney to assist with some of this.


3. You won't be able to get any of the above paperwork done until you get your Kuwaiti residence permit. I've seen this take as little as 30 days or, as in my case, over 6 months. This will require a blood test, chest x-ray, fingerprints and some paperwork.


4. I don't care where you've driven before, or how much time you have in traffic, you will NOT be prepared for the drivers in Kuwait. They are THE WORST I have ever seen. 4 Lane hiway? No problem, they will fit 5 cars across those 4 lanes, AND drive in the breakdown lanes. They will go from the fast lane to the off ramp in one move, through heavy traffic, and not care. Passing is done wherever the car might fit. 2 cars, one lane, curving on-ramp? No problem.... but someone else will dive inside BOTH of them to get there first. Outside of the city at night, you may encounter on coming cars driving without their headlights on. They do this in a misguided effort to "save the battery".


5. The official maximum speed on the "Ring Roads" is 120kph (75mph), but average speed runs 150kph or more...EXCEPT when everyone slows down at the last second for the speed cameras.... They rarely signal before they move. They don't wear seatbelts, and they have no issues tossing garbage out of the car while on the road. I'm not talking a gum wrapper, I mean like 3 or 4 large bags of McDonald's trash. The government there is trying to get people to buckle up and to slow down, and they paint signs to this effect everywhere. My favorite is on an overpass on 5th Ring Road.... "Speedy Kills".


6. EVERY. SINGLE. CAR. has dents, dings and damage. From the crappiest beater, to the newest luxury car. The Kuwaiti's have cradle to grave oil money. They don't care if their car gets beat up or destroyed. They will simply get a new one. The third country nationals (TCN's) that do most of the work in Kuwait aren't much better. Except they can't get a new car, they just keep driving the beat up POS.


7. Kuwait is NOT that big (about 6900 sq. miles or about twice the size of Delaware). You can drive from the Iraq border to the southern border with KSA in less than 3 hours. And outside of the city, there really isn't much to look at. After a few days of driving around the city, you'll have seen pretty much everything worth seeing in Kuwait.

8. You will NOT want to drive out in the middle of nowhere. That is, go playing out in the sand. They still have the occasional car run over a land mine left by the Iraqi's during Gulf 1.

9. Truck drivers are just as bad. I got pushed off the road in a company truck while passing a slow moving tanker truck. I went to go around him, but he decided to pass a slower moving tanker at the same time. Luckily this was at around 50 or 60kph, and there was nothing on the side of the road for me to hit.


Now, with all of that said, I will say that I did see bikes on the roads. Mostly in the city, and mostly large, HD type bikes. A few sport bikes here and there, but nothing like in the States. And they ALSO drive (ride) like idiots.

I'm not trying to bum you out, but after a couple of drives downtown, I quickly tossed the idea of bike riding out the window. For me, it simply came down to personal safety. I figured that if I was going to get hit (and I got hit twice) I wanted a metal cage around me.

Kuwait does hold a lot of good memories for me. The camels, the sunsets and sunrises, the bare desert turned green after the rains. And I met a lot of really nice people there. They love to relax, enjoy a meal and of course, the water pipe (hooka or 'Hubbly Bubbly').

If you do go forward with this, there is/was a shop just east of the 360 Mall that had both new and used bikes....that's the only place I ever saw, but I wasn't looking that hard.

In the end, I just chilled out, enjoyed my time off in the city as best I could, and either took the company truck or called a taxi (usually pretty cheap, but be sure to haggle a price for the ride before getting in).


Also, don't forget the exchange rate. Kuwait has the strongest currency in the world, it normally runs about 3.6 KWD (Kuwaiti Dinar) to the dollar. And they don't adjust the prices. A $20USD pair of jeans goes for $20KWD....so nearly $80USD.


Good luck, stay safe, BUCKLE UP, and enjoy your time in Kuwait.

NV
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:51 PM   #4
chrishsu OP
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Location: Rockville, Maryland, USA
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Thanks for your insight, NV! That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for! Yes, the assignment is going to be on base but I would have been living off base. But without being able to ride, not just commuting but really enjoy the rides, it's a show stopper for me!
Thanks again!
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