RELIGION AND LANGUAGE
Kuwait’s official state religion is Maliki Sunni Islam. However, is a small percentage of people (expatriates) who practice Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist. Arabic is the official language of Kuwait, but English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools. Among the non-Kuwaiti population, many people speak Farsi, the official language of Iran, or Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.
BASIC LANGUAGE PHRASES USEFUL IN A HOME
Marhaba! or Sallam! or Halla! – Hello/Hi!
Kayf halich/Shlonich? (female) – How are you?
Kayf halik/Shlonic? (male) – How are you?
Zain/zen/tammam – Fine or good
Al Hamdulillah ana zain – Praise God, I am good
Mashallah – Allah has willed it
Bismillah – In the name of Allah/God
Al Hamdulillah – Praise be to Allah/God
Ana zain (male)/ana zenna (female) – I’m fine or I’m good
Enshalla – God willing
Yalla emshy (f)/yalla ems (m) – Come on let’s go
Yalla gommay (f)/yalla gom (m) – Come on stand up
Gom(m)/gommay(f) – Stand up
Serra’aa – Quickly/hurry up
Eyalla serra’aa – Come on hurry up
Shuway shuway – Slowly
Assif – Sorry
Roh (m), Rohay (f) – Go
Lah-za/lahdha – Wait
Lah-za/lahdha digiga – Wait a second
Saadni – Help me
Law samaht – Excuse me
Sabah alkhyair – Good morning (you reply – sabah’annoor)
Masa’ah alkhyair – Good afternoon (you reply – masa’annoor)
Layla sa e’eda/tisba alkhayr – Goodnight
Cham sa’a? – How many hours?
Enti (f)/enta (m), shino tabin? – You, what do you want?
Ahna manabi shay – We want nothing
Wayn il bait kom? – Where is your house?
Betna fee el li Kuwait – Our house is in Kuwait
Ahna khalaset – We finished
Ana khalaset – I finished
Ana khalaset eshtakel – I finished my work
Ana mojawda bel bait alhin – I am at home now
Ana ga’id thathker enti/enta. – I am waiting for you.
Enti/enta taakil maa ahna. – You will eat with us.
Enti (f)/Enta (m), shino ga’id sawi? – You, what are you doing?
Ana ga’id sawi kadda – I am making lunch
Ana ga’id sawi haddha – I am making this
Ta’alle (f)/taal (m) henna – Come here
Rohay (f)/roh (m) il jameya – Go to the shop
Ta’alle henna ebserra’a (talking to a female) – Come here quickly
Ta’al (when talking to a man) or ta’alle (when talking to a woman) – Come
Ta’alle (f) betna – Come to our house/home
Betna – Our home
Yoan/joan – Hungry
Ana yoan – I am hungry
Enti (f) tabeen sanduwisha? – Would you like a sandwich?
La, ana abi salata – No, I want salad
Ana abi eshrab haleeb – I want to drink milk
Achan – thirsty
Ana achan – I am thirsty
Ana abi eshrab may – I want to drink water
Andikom tsay/chay minfadlak (m)/minfadlik (f)? – Have you got tea, please?
La’a, andina bes gahwah – No, we only have coffee
Leish, enti maeshrab tsay? – Why, you don’t drink tea?
La’a ahna bes eshrab assir – No, we only drink juice
Ay assir? – What juice?
Assir – juice
Assir bortaqal/bortakal – Orange juice
Assir tofah – Apple juice
Makkilit shay – Eaten nothing
Ana mo yoan/joan – I am not hungry
Wayed akkil – Too much food
Shino gallit marra? – What did the lady say?
Marra gallit, enta mako mouk – The lady said you have no brain
Mako mouk – No brain, thick, or stupid
Ako mouk – Brainy, intelligent, bright
Enta (m)/Enti (f) mako mouk – You have no brain, you are stupid
Mako wekt – no time
Wekt – time
Mako shay – nothing
Ana mako wekt al youm. – I don’t have time today.
Yemkin/mumkin, ashoofich (f) el yom ahad. – Maybe, I see you on Sunday.
Zain, mako mushkila – Fine, no problem.
Mako eshtakel – no work
Ako eshtakel al youm. – There is work today.
Ako akkil – there is food
Mako Akkil – No food
Ako wayed akkil bel thalagya – There is so much food in the fridge or refrigerator.
Ako may/mayya – there is water
Haleeb – milk
Mako may bel hammam – No water in the toilet.
Enta (m)/enti (f) tabin may? – Do you like water?
Rohay hammam – Go to the toilet
Rohay bel dar kom – Go to your room
Wayed eshtakel – too much work
Shino ga’id ti sawi? – What are you doing?
Mayasir sawi chedi – don’t do it like this
Akeed? – Are you sure?
Ente/anti helwa (female) – You are beautiful.
Enta halo (male) – You are handsome.
Enti mozina – You are bad (female)
Enta mozin – You are bad (male)
Enti tabin semich? – Do you like fish?
La, ana abi pitza – No, I like pizza
Enti tabin diyay/diyaya? – Do you like chicken?
La’a, ana abi lahim – No, I like meat.
Enti tabi lahim? – Do you like meat?
La’a, ana tabi semich – No, I like fish.
Shino gol? (m) – What did he say?
Shino gal? (f) – What did she say?
Leish, enti Minona? – Why, are you crazy? (refers to a female)
Leish, enta minon? – Why, are you crazy? (refers to a male)
Lisana towil − long tongue (description of someone who answers back to someone in authority or just anyone really)
Minona(may/no/na) – crazy (refers to a female)
Minon(may/non) – crazy (man or male)
Rahat bel mata’ar – went to the airport
Enti matshoofi? – Can’t you see?
Leish enti matshoof? – Why, can’t you see?
La, matshoof shay – No, can’t see anything.
Kullo aswad mako abyat – Everything black, there is no white.
Ana mashoofi shay – I can’t see anything.
Kullo rahaw – Everyone went
Masalama – Goodbye
BASIC LANGUAGE PHRASES THAT WILL BE USEFUL AT THE AIRPORT
Sallam Allaykom – Peace be upon you
Shellon kom? – How are you all?
Ahlen/ahlan – Welcome
Kayf halich/Shlonich? (Female)– How are you?
Kayf halik/ Shlonik? (Male) – How are you?
Andikom Jawaz? – Have you got a passport?
Andikom tatkira? – Have you got a ticket?
Mumkin ashoof el tatkira wil jawaz? – May I see your ticket and passport.
Zain, shukran – Fine, good thanks.
Wayn al tayara? – Where is the plane?
Tayara fee min warra – The plane is at the back.
Al Hamdulillah , zenna – Praise God, good/fine
Zen/Zain – fine/good
Mozina (female) – not good/not fine
Mozin (male) – not good/not fine
Ento wen betrohon? – Where are you all going?
Ahna bi roh Britanya – We are going to Britain.
Leish, enti mako eshtakel el youm? – Why, you don’t have work today?
Enti tat kallam Inglisiya? – Do you speak English?
La, ana maaraaf Inglisiya – No, I don’t know English.
Ana aaraf Arabiya bis – I only know Arabic or I know Arabic only.
La, ahna mat kallam Englisiya – No, we don’t speak English.
Enti tat kallam Arabiya? – Do you speak Arabic?
La, ana araf shuwaya bes – No, I know a little only.
La, ana tat kallam Tagalog(Filipino Language) – No, I speak Tagalog.
La, ahna ma’araaf ta kallam Arabiya – No, we don’t know how to speak Arabic.
Ahna araf Inglisiya bes – We only know English.
Ahna araf shuwaya bes – We know little only.
Assan – better
Wen al agraab jameya? – Where is the nearest shop?
Wen al – Where is
Enshallah – God willing
Sa-a kam? or Kam sa-a or cham sa-a? – What time, is it?/ How many hours?
Sa-a kamse – Fifth hour or five o’clock
Nos sa-a – half hour
Nos – half
Andikom floose? – Do you have money? or Have you got money?
Mako floose, miskina/miskin – No money, poor thing
Kush yamin min henna – Go right here
Fokh – up
Alla tool – straight ahead
Jeddam – in front
Alla yameen – to the right
Alla shimel/alla Yasser – to the left
Henna – here
Min warra – behind/at the back
Taahat – down/below
Yani eh? – What does that mean?
Ahna bi roh bel mata’ar? – We want to go to the airport.
Enta tabit roh ma’ay? – Would you like to come with me?
Ahna bi roh bukra/batcher – We are going tomorrow.
Ana bi roh bukra/batcher – I am going tomorrow.
Bukra/batcher – tomorrow
Baed batcher/bukra – after tomorrow
Baddin – after/later
Alhin – now
Aims – yesterday
Al youm – today
Mako shay – nothing/none
Massaalama – Goodbye
Kabeer Mata’ar – Big Airport
Sekhir Mata’ar – small airport
Wayed nas – many people
Ma’araff/ mataaraf – do not know
Araf/taaraf – know
Kalli walli – leave it
Enti rohay fok − you go up
Enti roh tahat − you go down
Enti roh jeddam – you go in front
Enti rohay ala tool – you go straight ahead
Enti rohay min awol – you go first
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
Kuwaiti culture is characterized by conservative social traditions and values. Kuwait has embraced many aspects of Western culture but Kuwaiti cultural practices remain largely unchanged. Strong ties between family, neighbours, and friends are central to Kuwaiti customs and traditions. Special occasions such as Ramadhan, Eid el-Fitr, and the Islamic New Year are centered on family. Kuwaiti culture is male-dominated. At the heart of Kuwaiti tradition and culture is diwāniyyah. It is a gathering of men in a separate room, where they talk, play games, and enjoy refreshments. Women do not have the right to vote though they outnumber men in the workforce.
The holy month of Ramadan is very important and there are a number of Kuwaiti cultural rules which Muslims must follow: They are only allowed to work six hours a day and must fast. This includes no eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum before sunset. Foreigners must not do any of these things in public during Ramadan.
At sunset, families and friends gather to break the fast and the celebrations often continue into the night. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule during Ramadan.
Although women play a greater role in Kuwait, men and women rarely socialize together in public. Greetings are therefore generally between members of the same gender. When they socialize it is a Kuwaiti custom for men and women to be entertained in separate rooms, though this is not always the case. It is polite to give gifts when invited to someone’s home but if a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say it is from his wife, mother, or other female relation.
If you are invited to a Kuwaiti’s home, follow these Kuwaiti social norms:
- Dress conservatively.
- Bring a small gift such as a plant or a box of chocolates. Do not bring alcohol. Hosts do not open gifts the moment they are received.
- Check to see if your host is wearing shoes. Remove yours if not.
- Show respect for elders by greeting them first.
- Turning down hospitality is rude so accept any offers of food and drink.
- Eat only with your right hand.
- Guests are often served the most-prized delicacies which you should eat, it might be a part of an animal which you are not used to eating so be prepared!
- Leave some food on your plate when you have finished eating, otherwise it will be filled with more.
The meal is over when the host stands.
Non-Muslim women are not required by law to wear a hijab or head covering but should be mindful of their dressing since Kuwait is a Muslim state. Whilst covering shoulders and knees at a minimum is a must, women should also take the following guidelines into account so as not to draw unwanted attention such as avoiding anything in a sheer material and keeping it below the knees or wearing tight and revealing clothes.
The Kuwaiti dinar (Arabic: دينار كويتي, code: KWD) is the currency of Kuwait. It is sub-divided into 1,000 fils. The current rate of the Kuwaiti Dinar to the Kenyan shilling is 1KWD= 356.89 Kshs