Do you have stuff to haul from a house? Do you want to buy a new bed but don’t want to pay the delivery charge? Are you thinking about starting a small home catering service but need a pickup to transport tables, chairs and other items? Forget it.
If you’re an expatriate in Kuwait and need to have something hauled or moved, you’ll have to hire a half lorry or ask a Kuwaiti friend.
Do-it-yourself moving is not only difficult, but it’s illegal for expats in Kuwait. Foreigners are forbidden by law from driving a pick-up without a special license. Article 28 B of the traffic law issued in 1983 requires those driving pickup trucks to have a special permission to drive it.
From 1983 until 2000, self-employed foreigners could obtain this special permission to own a pickup truck (often referred to locally as a 1.8) if they worked in certain professions. But when the self-employment law for expats was cancelled so were special permissions.
As of 2000, all foreigners are forbidden from driving the pickup truck in Kuwait and cannot be issued the special license, explained Lt Colonel Nawaf Al-Hayaan, Head of Public Relations at the Traffic Department of the Ministry of Interior.
According to Al-Hayaan, the reason is simple. Pickup trucks are used to transport people and goods and foreigners should not be doing either on their own. “When the law was issued in early 1980s, it was popular in Kuwait to use pickup for illegal transportation.
So, this law was issued in order to eliminate this phenomena; the same thing applies to lorries and camions (semi trucks),” Al-Hayaan explained.
Expats unaware of the law are often surprised when they head to a showroom looking for the latest pickup.
Tony, an Indian who has lived in Kuwait for more than a decade, had planned to buy a pickup as a gift to himself (his wife drives a sedan). But when he visited a showroom and asked the salesman to give him details on a truck he liked, the salesman immediately warned him off. “I was surprised by his response.
He told me that the Kuwait law does not allow expats to register any pickup vehicle in their name. So in order to buy a pickup I have to either register it in the name of a Kuwaiti citizen or if I am a partner in any business, then I can register it in the name of the company,” he told the Kuwait Times.
When he asked the salesman why, he was informed that the Interior Ministry prohibits foreigners from owning pickup trucks. “The salesman said that some people told him it may be to avoid expats transporting people illegally. Although I think that it’s much easier to transport them in a minibus or vanette,” Tony added.
Indeed, vanettes may be bought and driven by expatriates and are often used in illicit transport services along with sedans. In some areas, like Jleeb Al- Shuyoukh, smaller pickups and vanettes are commonly used for illicit transport.
Drivers will block a main road, stopping in front of busses and forcing the bus passengers to get off the bus and pay again to ride in the illicit pickup or vanette in order to get home fast. Kuwait Times has previously reported on this ‘traffic extortion’ but it continues.
With regard to trucks, the law remains in place. Salesmen from three different car agencies confirmed the same information on the banning of selling pickup vehicles to expats (to be used in Kuwait). The salesmen advised expats interested in driving a pickup in Kuwait to register it on the name of any Kuwaiti or a company.
By Nawara Fattahova
I've always known about this since my mom told me when I first moved to Kuwait, I thought it was stupid but got figure. My sister drives a 4-door pick-up truck, she also has Kuwaiti nationality. When I worked on base I would take one of the trucks off base and boy did I get looks from shocked people, I also got my pick-up truck license back in 2006 before they barred females from getting them. They don't go after illegal taxi drivers or drivers who exploit people do they?