Karen, Charles, Amelia (10) and Oliver (8) on getting to grips with life in the Gulf
How long have you been an army family?
We’ve been together since before Charles joined the army in the late ‘90s.
Time in Kuwait?
We arrived in August 2019 – in temperatures of 45 degrees! When Kuwait came up as an option, we had no idea what to expect, but were definitely up for an adventure – and we love it here. It was the perfect time to have a posting overseas as the children are old enough to appreciate the experience but are not yet boarding.
How many other military families live in Kuwait?
There are about 35 serving personnel, and most are here with their family.
What’s your quarter like?
I had imagined compound living within a gated community, but it couldn’t be more different. We live on a residential street with Kuwaiti neighbours, who have been friendly and welcoming. We have an amazing house with lots of space and a small garden, which is quite rare here, but in the summer months it’s too hot to go outside.
Are there any employment/training opportunities?
It’s quite difficult for family members to work, though some spouses have jobs in the British schools. I was supposed to start as a teaching assistant last year, but due to COVID-19 all learning has been online since then. I’ve quite enjoyed not working, as it’s given me a chance to meet lots of people and explore the area.
What about schools/childcare?
Some schools follow the British curriculum. Our children had come from a small village school, so we decided to choose the smallest school here, but even that has 600 children, so it was a big change for them. The facilities are fantastic.
The school gates open at 7.10am and the day starts with the Kuwaiti national anthem. Arabic is compulsory. Lunch is at 10am and then they’re finished by 2.30pm. Outside school there are Brownies, Cubs, kickboxing, football, riding, swimming, rugby. Last year Oliver even took part in international rugby tournaments in Dubai and Qatar – not bad for a seven-year-old!
Where do people get together and who supports you?
We come under the British Military Mission (BMM) and are well looked after by the team here. It’s a lovely community and in ‘normal’ times we would have events throughout the year. BMM families often arrange socials between themselves and we also meet up with friends we’ve made outside of the military community – Kuwaitis, Lebanese, South African etc – it really is an international experience!
How do you find the cost of living?
It’s very expensive. The exchange rate is £2.50 to every Kuwaiti Dinar. The main exception to this is fuel, which is about a fifth of the price in the UK. Luckily, we get allowances to cover the additional cost of living, so we’re still able to afford a similar lifestyle to what we have at home.
What are the best and worst things about living in Kuwait?
Once you’re established, life here is very comfortable. The people are friendly, it’s a safe environment and a great springboard for travel. The only downside – apart from the crazy driving – is the bureaucracy, which can be a minefield to work through.
Would you recommend it as a family posting?
If you’re adventurous, then this is a great posting!