Christmas in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

Haven’t seen much Christmas decorations in Kuwait yet this year. Ted Baker had the cool Marilyn Monroe Santa last year but this year they’ve replaced it with a tacky looking banner. I spotted the Christmas tree above at Alraya Mall which is pretty cool (and big). Cartier in Salhiya also has some decorations up but other than those three I haven’t really seen anything else.


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88 comments, add your own...


  1. ahamd says:

    Christmas sells and in a struggling economy like Kuwait. Dubai is very festive at the moment and the UAE is a much more conservative country than Kuwait. Common Kuwait we see through you and the majority of you are NOT conservative so it seems a farce to call you a conservative muslim country. When people feel happy and that is what Christmas is about with all the festive decorations, people want to spend money. Although there is no tourism here, Kuwait could use a little holiday glee.

    • Yeni says:

      Dubai is much more conservative than Kuwait? WTF?

      • Mark says:

        They had flickr and youtube blocked at one point so its a yes and no

      • mojo says:

        @Yeni Yep! I said it here, the UAE in a foreigner’s impression is a more conservative muslim country than Kuwait. Just because you hide behind the ‘ban’ on alcohol does not mean you are conservative. It is the impression that you give and how you behave.

      • mary says:

        @Yeni Yes MUCH more conservative.

      • aaa says:

        Yes it is. I can hold my wife’s hand in a mall in Kuwait, in Dubai they stopped me and told me not to. Emiratis are also much more conservative than Kuwaitis.

        • mary says:

          Thanks aaa for confirming this as a Kuwaiti (at least I suspect you are), you are viewed by Emiritis as not being very conservative, I have discussed it with them. It’s kind of a joke that your society doesn’t open up for the majority like with concerts, alcohol sold conservatively in hotels etc. Most foreigners don’t view you as conservative either, at least I don’t.

    • Qster says:

      Kuwait’s economy is struggling? When was the last time our government reported a deficit?

      • Mariam says:

        @Qster There are HUGE economic problems in Kuwait, people are struggling just to survive. The price of food has skyrocketed, vendors in the malls are failing, Kuwait is suffering a recession just like the rest of the world. It has been reported that Kuwaitis are over dependent on credit with no savings. Your government has failed to put price ceilings on food which the UAE government has. Your country has a stagnated economy with a failed government. Unless they get their house in order, things are going to get worse here.

        • Acerboy says:

          And if you didnt know Kuwaits name is listed World Banks loan list !

        • Qster says:

          ok i haven’t been to Kuwait in two years. But there is only one fact i know which is the Kuwaiti government has not reported a deficit and the last i checked the paper we actually were recording record profits. Heck kuwait is projected to reach peak oil very soon. Now last time i checked wasn’t it Dubai which went to Abu Dhabi and begged them for money for that huge sky scraper?

        • aaa says:

          Actually retail sales are increasing. Everyone in the world is dependent on Credit lol, on average the normal US family has NEGATIVE savings.

          • baba says:

            The average Kuwaiti family is now struggling to make ends meet. It has been reported that the average Kuwaiti is very much in debt like the US family that aaa sites above. I was just speaking with a Lebanese man who has lived in Kuwait many years with a wife and two teenage children last night. He told me that although his wife works they have had to use credit cards to pay for the basic necessities, although not many years ago he could fill a shopping cart at the grocery store for 40 KD, he is also finding it difficult to afford a ticket home to Lebanon. There is growing poverty in Kuwait and the majority of the expat workforce is living below the poverty level of the first world. Qster – you are out of touch with your society. There are office spaces empty all over Kuwait because there is no business being done here YOU are in a recession. Maybe sales are up because of ALShaya’s new return policy. Grrrr

            • Acerboy says:

              Only those ppl are struggling who try to show off over their status level, every middle class wants to have a BMW or Merc and then wear designer stuff and in all this they struggle to have their basic stuff in their life. If you compare these with Indian subcontinent ppl who stay a peaceful ,happy and in their limits.

            • Qster says:

              Ok there is a difference between a weak economy, like the US which is 7 trillion dollars in debt and Kuwait, where you have SOME families in debt and a weak private sector (kuwait has ALWAYS had a weak private sector nothing new)

              Fact is Kuwait in its history as a country never recorded a deficit, actually as oil prices soar so do record profits, we still haven’t reached peak oil, so Kuwait still has much more money to make.
              Social services in Kuwait as in most GCC countries is better than many other nations. Kuwaitis are given 6000KD (instead of 4000 a couple of years ago) to get married. You get a subsidized 350 square meter house. You get tons of other additional bonuses to your basic wage. And this just some of the vast majority of social services Kuwaitis enjoy.
              If a family finds itself in debt 70 times out of 100 its cause of their own vanity, buying the latest BMW, or taking frquent shopping sprees to London and then sun bathing in Malaga.
              But i would not call Kuwait’s entire economy a struggling or failing economy, not now, maybe in the distant future, if we don’t privatize, but not now.

              • aaa says:

                You only get the 6000 if you marry a Kuwaiti woman I didn’t get it lol, they’re trying to lower the rate of Kuwaiti Men marrying foreigners.

                You’re right though, as a Kuwaiti you get so much from your government you could only go into debt if you cannot manage your finances or if you’re spending past what you need to spend. Guess what you can’t travel every single summer and stay in the most expensive hotel, if you do that THEN say “ahhh raise salaries I don’t have enough” well no shit

                • mary says:

                  Kuwait will be the only member of the GCC to experience a slowdown in private-sector credit growth next year, according to economists at HSBC Holdings.Without providing good investment opportunities to the private sector to enable it to expand its local financial activities, the outlook will be limited.Central Bank Governor Sheikh Salem AbdulAziz Al-Sabah said in July that Kuwait’s economy is struggling with “three imbalances” including an overly dominant public sector and a state budget dependent on oil revenue.

                • Qster says:

                  If you don’t marry a Kuwaiti woman, it must have been for Love. Otherwise you just kissed a lot of good social services good bye including the subsidized house and the marital monthly bonus.

                  You can travel every summer, but off course you won’t travel like the rich trader families do, but you can travel well. All you need is family management instead of 5 kids how about 2 kids. And instead of getting a maid which costs a lot of money (and headaches) how about you learn to be independent. If you do this, and you and your wife are both employed with a minimum of a HS degree you can definitely travel every summer.

                  The vast majority of Kuwaitis who are in debt is due to their own personal overspending, but i also wouldn’t be too harsh. Our society can be pretty brutal when it comes to mathaaher.

                • Qster says:

                  Oh yeah and @Mary what you’re saying isn’t new and doesn’t have a lot to do with the current recession.

                  Kuwait has always been over dependent on oil and has always lacked a strong private sector. In comparison to the current issues in the West, Kuwait and the GCCs economy is in good shape and is not struggling. Not now, we’ll see what happens when the oil runs out. But i’ll be dead by then so who cares let it run out.

                • aaa says:

                  I still get the marital bonus (both housing and salary increase) and subsidized house, the only thing I miss is the 6000 when you get married (and 3000 of that is a loan you need to repay anyway)

                  I’m not surprised you were told you miss out on the benefits though. People want to scare their sons into not marrying from outside :P don’t worry as a man you get everything except the one time loan marry whoever you want :P Your children will also be Kuwaiti so they’ll get all the benefits as well.

                  Kuwaiti Women get none of the benefits though, much harder for them.

  2. IMHO, this is so ludicrous. Celebrating a holidays that has nothing to do with this country is so beyond me. It’s like the Brits celebrating thanks giving or the Americans celebrating Eid!

    • Yeni says:

      So you think Christmas has nothing to do with Kuwait? How the heck did you come up with this conclusion? There are over a million Christians in Kuwait, therefore Christmas has a lot to do with Kuwait. If you don’t want it to have something to do with Kuwait then start working yourself instead of relying on expats to do everything for you. Even then you can’t forget the 3 or 4 Kuwaiti families who are Christian.

      The Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because there are few Americans living in the UK (less than 1% of the population). Also Americans don’t celebrate Eid because less than 3% of Americans are Muslim. Although the US president makes an address to Muslim Americans and congratulates them on Eid, which is much more than any Arab government does.

      If you want you can take a nice trip to Afghanistan where you are guaranteed not to see any x-mas decorations. I hear the bombs look beautiful this time of year. LOL

      • You are free to celebrate whatever you believe in. If you are a Christian, you can celebrate christman all year for all I care. Al-Raya is owned by Muslim Kuwaiti business men. That is why I said this is so ludicrous.

        Christmas has nothing to do with Kuwait just like Eid has nothing to do with Rome. even if there were millions of Christan workers here, it does not change the fact that this is a Muslim country.

        Hiding behind a screen name online and attacking me as a Kuwaiti shows how disgruntled you are, I really feel bad for you my friend. Overstating the number of Christan workers and typing things like “go to Afghanistan” won’t make you feel better.

        • Tizoc says:

          Take it EASY.

          Even though xmas does not have a direct link to the local ethnic population because the majority are muslims, it doesnt mean we cant commemorate the occasion with the millions of guest workers who have made Kuwait a better place. They are home sick, tired of being treated like shit and extremely unpaid. So the least we can do is show them that we care and put up a xmas tree.

          • AA88 says:

            @Tizoc It is not about entertaining the masses, it is about good business. Christmas decorations are a marketing tool to get people to spend money, just like at Eid in Dubai the malls are all decorated beautifully. In the UAE they celebrate all festive holidays because their ruler speaks openly about religious tolerance. Even at Eid Kuwait shamefully did not have ANY decorations at the Avenues. You have got to get your marketing improved if you want to increase sales in these malls. There are many aspects of Christmas that are not religious although it is a Christian holiday, and YOUR people enjoy it as much as Christian do – quit bull**iting we see through you!

            • Elizabeth says:

              I can tell you, that is exactly the same in the West, very few understand Christmas as anything but Santa, spending more money than they have, eating far too much. Its all about greed

          • Othman says:

            How many extremely underpaid workers do you see shopping at Al-Raya?

          • Elizabeth says:

            I am in Australia, I also feel very privileged to have been sent the link to this discussion.

            Let me begin by saying I have learned more from this discussion than I could ever have from the media or government double talk.

            For those who think it is a good thing to allow the Christmas celebration in your country, I do too. I also believe that perhaps we in the west need to understand and to join with you in celebration of your festivals of faith, it’s just amazing what happens when people of different faiths actually take the time to understand each set of beliefs.

            If we ever want to live in a world, where peace is the norm and war is a distant memory, we are the ones who will bring that about, we must not rely on governments, they will never achieve it.

            I am a Christian, who loves God, I understand little about Islam but would love to understand it more.

            I wish I had the wisdom to pass on to all of you, that you have given me, however I would like to pass on to each of you, the blessings that I feel as I remember the real reason for Christmas.

            Peace – Love – Joy to all my brothers and sisters regardless of faith, of nationality. May God bless you and keep you safe and loved this season.

            Again thank you for the privilege of being part of this discussion.

        • D. says:

          A Muslim country with a Christian population. If the trees bug you so much, don’t put any up in your own mall ;)

        • rampurple says:

          It wasnt Arraya that put up the tree. Home Selection puts it up every year in front of their store where do sell Christmas stuff.

          BTW, many Kuwaitis put up Christmas trees in their homes for the fun of it.

      • Qster says:

        ooooo so touchy

      • Tivo says:

        ++1 HoHoHo

      • aaa says:

        There are not 1 million Christians in Kuwait, the census says a quarter of that

    • Mark says:

      Valentines and Halloween are both celebrated here.

    • Dalal says:

      exactly. well said

    • TweeZ says:

      Christmas = sale sale sale!

      Plus I dare you to find one person that hates Santa Clause!

  3. Sahar says:

    What is weirder is that even suppliers didn’t get any decorations, Sultan waited until last week and collection is tiny, Homecenter have cheap and very few items, other than that nothing. Even Debenhams have nothing this year …It took me 2 weeks to find lights and they are hideous.

  4. Michelle says:

    I AGREE with Yeni!!!

  5. Desert Girl says:

    Go to Crowne Plaza. They’ve got all kinds of decorations, trees, etc.

    Strands in Fanar has a PINK tree (to match their logo). It is right at the entrance.

  6. Acerboy says:

    Where is it written that Kuwait has nothing to do with Christmas? All Muslims believe in Jesus So what the heck ?

    • Qster says:

      +1 Sad that a lot of people forget that fact. Jesus’s (PBUH) name was mentioned more in the Quran than Mohammad’s (PBUH)

    • aaa says:

      yeah and Christmas isn’t actually Jesus’ birthday it was a re-appropriated Pagan holiday. Jesus was born in the spring according to the bible not the middle of winter, they just made it 25DEC because the pagans were still used to celebrating it. Easter is also a fertility ritual, why else are there bunnies (lots of offspring) and eggs?

  7. T says:

    Honestly, to me, there are two Christmases: Christian Christmas (that celebrates the birth of Jesus) and Secular Christmas (basically everything that takes place outside of church).

    I’m a Muslim and I LOVE CHRISTMAS.

    Now everybody just listen to this http://youtu.be/V9HAVapUNyo and chill out!

  8. aaa says:

    Halloween is not a Christian holiday lol

    • TweeZ says:

      can’t believe that some people actually think that Halloween is a religious event!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Witchcraft is a religion, it was a pagan celebration, before Rome reinvented themselves and started the Catholic church. Even Christmas and Ester are simply renamed pagan celebration times of the year. Neither of these celebrations are at the time of the year they should be if we were genuinely celebrating the birth of Jesus or his death and resurrection.

        So Halloween has always been celebrated for thousands of years, it was all hallows eve.

    • LizQ8 says:

      I think aaa should have a blog! I like the way you argue your points. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t BUT never feel insulted! Keep commenting!

      • aaa says:

        Thanks :P Getting blog traffic is harder than it sounds, much easier to leech off of mark’s established audience haha

  9. Proud Kuwaiti says:

    It’s funny that people do their best to turn posts to Kuwaitis vs. expats. I’m a proud Muslim and I have no problem with Christmas and/or Christmas decorations. What is funny is that some of those who comment just attack Kuwait without knowing the whole story. Every year in Kuwait, we have members of the royal family, scholars, and social/cultural societies visit churches in Christian holidays in Kuwait to congratulate people from the Christian faith. All Kuwaiti newspapers cover these tolerant events. You don’t see people comment on that. There are ignorants in both sides, but that is common worldwide. Tolerant people do not get mentioned for their tolerant deeds. Wish everyone a happy time whether you are a Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist, Sikh, Budhist, etc.

    • Qster says:

      I agree, i do find it funny how in this blog a lot of comments are quickly turned into Kuwaiti vs Expat. I find myself defending Kuwait more so here than in any other blog (not a a dig at this blog, i really love, just at some of the comments).

      I am actually extremely moderate when it comes to expats. Kuwait is a country of a million people our economy needs and benefits from expats, and i’m always a big fan of multiculturalism.

      What i don’t like is those expats that come here make there money and then just shoot the place down as hell on earth. And i always love meeting former expats here in the States who loved their time in Kuwait and would only remember with complete fondness.

      • LizQ8 says:

        @qster really YOU find it funny! Shall we pull out yr comments on other posts?

        • LizQ8 says:

          Lol. Wow. U never insult do you. There was a post about a blog fight happening in Kuwait remember?? YOU were the first one to start the USA vs Kuwait?? Remember!?!? Take a book out of aaa page!

          I dont know why u get so insulting but thank you! You gave me a laugh! Seems u get upset really easily! I will show you how to behave by NOT insulting you!

          Have a good day!

  10. Ali says:

    many Muslim kuwaitis have no problem with xmas, on the contrary many but up a tree and lighting on their houses. You will always hear and see those that are disgruntled and pissed off with anything that does not match their narrow beliefs and go along with it.

    But what I don’t understand is why the condescending attitude toward Kuwait as a whole, in particular from a few expats that depend on it for living when they counter any arguments.

    This is a recurring theme in this blog,

    Well mr. Yani FYI kuwaitis work.. Your employer ithats pays ur salary probably one of them so plz lose the attitude and show some gratefulness and holiday spirit.

    Tell me do you not have expats in ur country…

  11. Raj King says:

    Correct me, if I am wrong but to me, it would appear as if Kuwait is somehow more pro Halloween than it is Christmas.
    Christmas at Fay Trading Co. (the Hallmark shop) and the Family Bookshop off Salem Mubarak Street was where all the cheer and bonhomie of the holiday season was at, in the Kuwayt I know of, from the good old days.

  12. TweeZ says:

    anyways. some people should really take a look at our constitution. In fact, Mark, I think it will be a great idea to place a link of the Kuwaiti Constitution on your blog so as to encourage others to read it. You know what, everyone with a blog about Kuwait, I strongly encourage you to place a link to the Kuwaiti Constitution.

    From Kuwait Constitution:
    Article 35

    Freedom of belief is absolute. The State protects the freedom of Practicing religion in accordance with established customs, provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals.

  13. LizQ8 says:

    10 years ago in one of the sultan’s you could see Santa! I really don’t know if Kuwait is more conservative or its becoming more, but I know when I first came no one was scared to have a party for new year. Now I know people (Kuwaitis included) who had their homes raided and now we all choose to spend new year out of Kuwait. This year it’s Dubai! At least you can drink in the new year!

    • rampurple says:

      i think sultan is not a good reference. 10 or 20 years ago, sultan was the place to go for christmas decorations. Today there are many more options that bring better stuff. I just think year after year, their collection got smaller and smaller.

      There are at least 10 Christmas bazaars that take place in addition to all the stores.

  14. Flo says:

    I highly doubt that putting up a christmas tree in an arab country’s shopping mall has ANYTHING to do with religion. If so,
    to worship Christ, it would not be a tree but the manger with mary, joseph and baby Jesus.
    However the Christmas tree is (from an idealistic perspective) symbol for time you spend together with your family: singing – eating – giving gifts – showing your love and appreciation.
    In a less idealistic view it s a symbol for blind consumption and capitalism. – If you don’t like that it won’t suffice to get rid of the tree in front of you — you d have to get rid of the shopping mall you are standing in!!


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