Safety and Security
U.S. citizens in Kuwait should exercise a high level of security awareness and are advised to monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of further terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, specifically in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula.
Kuwait is located in a region that continues to face the threat of terrorism. Extremist groups in the region have transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. U.S. citizens residing in, or traveling to, Kuwait should therefore exercise caution at all times. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnappings, and assassinations. Increased security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas and apartment complexes, schools and places of worship, oil-related facilities and personnel, and public areas where people congregate including restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas. U.S. citizens are advised to immediately report any unusual or suspicious activity in Kuwait to the Kuwaiti police or to the U.S. Embassy.
Kuwaiti law permits freedom of assembly, although groups larger than 20 individuals must obtain prior approval from the Ministry of the Interior. Still, spontaneous demonstrations take place in Kuwait in response to world events or local developments. At times, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid areas of large gatherings and demonstrations. Exercise caution if within the vicinity of any large gatherings and demonstrations and monitor media coverage of local and regional events. It is illegal for non-Kuwaiti citizens to participate in any demonstration, even if the demonstration is licensed.
U.S. citizens in Kuwait should also maintain a low profile, practice personal security measures, and avoid areas where Westerners are known to congregate. As in many other countries, soft targets such as shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants can be considered vulnerable to terrorist attack. Heightened security awareness should be exercised at areas perceived as Western or residential complexes where Westerners largely reside. U.S. military personnel, as well as civilians and contractors related to military interests, are also potential targets.
U.S. citizens are also reminded that desert areas and certain beaches contain unexploded ordnance and war materials left over from the 1990-1991 war. Unexploded ordnance results in deaths each year throughout the country.
The following areas are considered off-limits for U.S. diplomats and require U.S. diplomats to seek special permission to travel in these areas in order to conduct official duties: Kuwait/Iraq border – north of Mutla’a Ridge, the tank graveyard (near Ali Al Salem base), and the city of Jahra. U.S. diplomats are also recommended to avoid the following areas, especially during nighttime hours, as they have been identified as high-crime areas: Jleeb Ash Shuyoukh, Hasawi, and Abbasiya, located on the outskirts of Kuwait City International Airport.