Kuwait is a fun and exciting place to drive! Well maybe not everyone will agree with that but if you find yourself in need of a car there are plenty of options for obtaining the car of your dreams during your stay in Kuwait, or just a car you can afford. This article will provide some insight on how to rent, lease, or buy a car in Kuwait.
Things to Consider
Some things to consider when deciding if you want to buy or rent/lease a vehicle in Kuwait is firstly how long you will need the car, secondly how much you are willing to pay, and thirdly how much hassle you are willing to go through with having the car. I would say if you’re only planning to stay in Kuwait for less than 2 years, maybe even 3, the hassle of buying a car wouldn’t even be worth it. You’re going to spend at least 3 to 6 months waiting for a Kuwaiti driver’s license. Speaking of driver’s license, obtaining one is super easy. All it takes is an eye exam (the company you work for can help you out with that). However, they drag their feet on issuing the driver’s license. YMMV, but I was here for 4 months before I received mine and that was rushed due to the current situation with my job. Aside from that, getting things done through the ministry in Kuwait is never an easy thing. Their system is flawed due to lack of set procedures and lack of use of technology. I will explain this in more detail in another article, but if you buy a car in Kuwait you can expect a considerable amount of stress trying to get it registered. If you do plan on being in Kuwait for several years, that stress would be worth it with amount of money you could save in the long run.
My first experience with a car rental company here is with Araba (or Al Mulla Rental). They have several locations in Kuwait. I’ve rented from their locations at the airport and in Shuwaikh Industrial. Their Shuwaikh location can be a little hard to find if you’re not familiar with that part of Kuwait near Kuwait City. They’re prices aren’t too outrageous considering the economy. I rented a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer for 180KD per month for a 6 month lease.The downside for them is if you don’t live near that area you will find yourself traveling pretty far in hectic traffic for a 45 minute oil change. Also their parking is very limited, so there are times when you will have to get pretty creative and break out your best driving skills to find somewhere to park in their small parking lot full of cars. As far as the service, the best times to go is any day other than the weekend (Friday and Saturday) to avoid having to force your way through a crowd of customers to reach one of their customer service reps. They do have a ticketing system for customers but I’ve never actually seen them utilize it. Every time I’ve had to use the infamous first come, first serve method. For routine maintenance the wait time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. However, if you need service that they can’t provide on-site, such as changing the windshield (something that’s very common with rocks jumping up off the road and smashing into your car) they will give you a voucher and you will have to take it to another shop of their choice. Another very important thing to be aware of is their insurance policy. In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a car accident in Kuwait, it has to be reported to them within 3 months of the accident with a police report listing all of the damages. I found this out the hard way. What makes this so difficult, if you don’t speak arabic or take someone with you who does, it’s extremely difficult getting the right assistance from the police station as most of the police officers don’t speak english and the ones that do really have no interest in doing more than telling you go to another room with a guy that doesn’t know english or just doesn’t want to assist you in english. I had a very unpleasant experience with this and Araba wasn’t very helpful either even though their entire staff speaks arabic. But that’s another story for another article.
My recommendation for expats, especially if you live in the Ahmadi Governorate area (Ahmadi, Fintas, Mahboula, Abu Halifa, Mangaf, Fahaheel), would be to rent from UDrive in Mahboula. Disclaimer: I am in no way being paid or otherwise receiving special accommodation for promoting this company. They have a have a good selection of cars at affordable prices, which varies depending on the type of car and the term of lease. From the 2 companies I have experience with and friends’ experiences, I think they have the best service. They have a friendly, accommodating staff and will deliver the car to you at no additional fee. Also, for maintenance/repair they will pick the car up and return it to you when they have finished servicing the car while providing you with a temporary car if you need it. As an example, a mid-size car, such as a Nissan Sentra, on a one year lease would be around 150KD per month. That’s not bad for Kuwait’s rather expensive cost-of-living.
Additionally, there are more globally known rental companies such as Hertz and Budget that may be considerable options for short-term stays located in the arrival section of the airport. There are other companies located in various places throughout Kuwait
(Rental company information coming soon)
I don’t have a ton of experience with this option but I have done a little research when I was initially looking for a car. With that said, the most affordable way of buying a car is buying directly from someone who is looking to get rid of their car. A lot of the locals don’t really put a lot of value in automobiles, and you can tell by the way they drive or by the many cars you just see sitting abandoned on the side of the road. I’ve heard stories of how people have purchased a luxury vehicle for a fraction of what it’s worth simply because the previous owner was not excited about driving it anymore. Also, there’s always someone leaving Kuwait that’s looking to just get rid of their car as soon as possible and will sell it well below what it worth. When I was doing research online I saw some decent looking cars in the 500 – 3000 KD range. Keep in mind things like registration, insurance, maintenance, and repair will totally be your responsibility and getting things done through the local government is never a simple process. Also, if you don’t have much automotive mechanic knowledge, you could easily end up being sold a car in need of much repair because the previous owner didn’t keep up the maintenance of the vehicle. I’ve lost count how many time’s I’ve seen cars broken down on the side of the road from lack of maintenance. However, if you plan on living in Kuwait for more than a few years and have the patience to search for a reliable car and deal with getting the required paperwork from the ministry, buying a car can be a very cost effective way of getting a car in Kuwait.
Additionally there are dealerships as well where you could finance a car the same as in any other country but I never looked deep into this option due to personal preference and it is rumored that they don’t really like doing business with expats.
Additional things to know
The next section will cover a few additional bits of useful bits of information pertaining to having a car in Kuwait.
Rather you decide to buy, rent, or lease there’s a high possibility you will find yourself in a accident with all the varied driving habits you will find yourself sharing the roads with in Kuwait (putting it mildly). It is very important for you to stay on the scene of the accident, even if the other party drives off, and wait for the police to get a police report. Even if you are injured do not leave the scene of the accident before the police arrives or you will be charged with a hit and run. If you don’t speak arabic this can be a very challenging ordeal, since customer service is not at the top of their priorities at the police stations, especially for those who do not speak the language. As an example for a fender bender, what will generally happen after the police arrives on site, they will do a quick assessment of the accident and then tell you to go to the police station for that area. You must go to the police station for that Governorate area. At the police station, the police sitting at the front main desk will write up the police report. Then you will have to go to another room, which seems to always change depending on who decides to come to work that day, for an “investigation” and have the police report signed and stamped. *Make sure they write the damages of your car on the police report. If it happens after lunch time, don’t be surprised if they tell you to come back for the police report the next morning, not to include the weekend. Also, if you do not speak arabic it is highly recommended to have a translator with you to make the process go much smoother. I have been able to get a police report without having a translator (because I’m just stubborn like that lol) but it took 2 weeks of back and forth, waiting for the only guy that wanted to help me in english. I can’t stress enough how much it pays to make friends with the locals or at least know a helpful person that speaks arabic. Also it is highly recommended to take pictures of the accident at the scene of the accident, or whenever you get a chance, of your car and the other cars involved. This help things go smoothly with getting a police report since they can just look at the pictures for the investigation.
Emergency number to call Police in accident. (source Google)
|Emergency Phone Number of Police, Ambulance and Fire Services||112|
Auto repair and maintenance
There are tons of auto shops scattered all over Kuwait if you find yourself in need of some mechanic repair or cosmetic repair from an accident. There’s also tons of shops at the gas stations and pretty much everywhere that can do routine maintenance, such as an oil change. Also, sort of related, there are various car washing places scattered throughout Kuwait and at certain gas stations to keep your car clean for about a few hours with all the dust flying around. My recommendation, there’s usually a haris (the maintenance guy for the building you live in) that will keep the car clean everyday. They typically charge 10KD per month and they will at a minimum wipe the car down daily, minus the one day they decide to take off each week. Also, in certain shopping areas, such as in Fahaheel, there’s usually some guys in the parking lots that will approach you to wash your car for about 3KD while you’re shopping.
If you have questions or have more information about buying, renting, or leasing a car in Kuwait than what I listed below, please share below in the comments section. Or head over to the forum section.