Avoiding the Three Bs

(Written October 2011) Moving anywhere new you have to get the lay of the land and find out the local rules (when can I put trash out, when can I water the lawn, can I paint my shutters fuschia with pea-green stripes, etc.). Moving to a new country, you also have to educated yourself to the local laws. In Kuwait, there are three local laws that Western expats have to be aware of: avoiding “the three Bs” – booze, babes and bacon.

Simply put, if you are found transporting alcohol, pornography or pig-products into the country, they can send you packing. Personally, I’m not too worried. Though this does explain why the movers in the U.S. specifically told us that pornography was not allowed, which, at the time, I found a bit curious and wondered what type of people they thought we were.

The reason for these rules is because Kuwait is a Muslim country, and under Islam these three things are forbidden. Egypt is also a Muslim country, but it’s a little more lax. In Cairo, many restaurants served beer and wine and there were a handful of stores, appropriately called “Drinkies”, that sold beer and wine and would even deliver to your home. But if you were dying for pig products, there was nothing sold in the local markets or in the restaurants. Now, in terms of the third B, I have to admit that I never, in all my three years in Cairo, went on a porn-search, so I cannot speak to its availability.

Conversely, in Kuwait, you won’t find pig products or alcohol anywhere in local markets. Even the restaurants don’t serve alcohol (much to my husband’s chagrin, “It just doesn’t seem right, not having red wine with an Italian dinner.” -- don’t let it be said that we’re not suffering.) In regards to the porn procurement network here, I’ll have to keep you posted on that. (But don’t hold your breath.)

While possibly amusing to some, the three Bs can literally get us throw out of the country. So we will not be those Americans who “just tried” to sneak in a bottle of Jack wedged next to their toiletry kit. Nor will we re-enact my grandmother’s flight from England to Ohio thirty-five years ago, where she casually carried through large slabs of English bacon draped over her arm, hidden by her coat, because my grandfather liked it for breakfast.

However, although it’s not bacon, apparently I may have inherited my Nana’s penchant for a little food carting across the Atlantic. My husband was a bit worried that the LightLife Smart Veggie Italian sausages, all frozen and nestled into my t-shirts in my suitcase, might set off some pork alerts upon our arrival in Kuwait. However, if they did, we’d have far larger issues to deal with than a possible eviction. It’s a lesson you only learn once; don’t mess with a vegetarian’s veggie dogs, especially when replacements cost $9!