Transportation and Telecommunications
Kuwait has a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The
entire system suffered extensive damage in the Persian Gulf War,
but by 1993 repairs had brought most facilities back to their
prewar condition. The highway system comprised more than 3,900
kilometers of road in 1993. About 3,000 kilometers are paved,
and the rest are gravel or graded earth. Expressways extend south
and west from the city of Kuwait to neighboring cities. Paved
highways link Kuwait with Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to
the west and south. Despite the excellent network of roads in
populated areas, traffic congestion is a growing problem. Plans
to build a causeway across Kuwait Bay were delayed by the Iraqi
invasion in 1990.
Three ports handle all commercial shipping and petroleum exports.
The principal port for nonpetroleum products in 1993 was Ash Shuwaykh,
several kilometers west of the downtown section of the city of
Kuwait. Built in 1960, Ash Shuwaykh is one of the busiest ports
in the Middle East, with twenty-one deepwater berths. In 1988
more than 1,100 vessels carried 3.7 million tons of cargo through
Ash Shuwaykh. Ash Shuaybah was built in 1967, fifty kilometers
south of the city of Kuwait, to develop the Ash Shuaybah Industrial
Zone. By 1988, however, it rivaled Ash Shuwaykh in size and traffic
with twenty berths and 3.5 million tons of cargo transported.
Mina al Ahmadi, just north of Ash Shuaybah, handles most of Kuwait's
petroleum exports. Twelve offshore berths can load more than 2
million bpd of oil and can accommodate the largest oil tankers.
Kuwait International Airport, sixteen kilometers south of the
city of Kuwait, handles all international flights. The latest
expansion to the airport, a new terminal, was completed in 1979.
Kuwait Airways, the national carrier, has regularly scheduled
service to more than twenty-four cities worldwide.
Like its transportation system, Kuwait's modern telecommunications
system was heavily damaged during the Iraqi occupation. The government
has made strides at reconstruction, but in 1993 work remained
to restore the system to its prewar level of excellence. In 1989
there were 285,000 telephones, or fourteen telephones per 100
inhabitants. High-capacity coaxial cables and radio-relay systems
linked Kuwait with its neighbors. In 1993, however, the coaxial
cable to Iraq was still inoperable. Before the war, the country
had four ground satellite stations working with the International
Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) and the Arab
Satellite Communication Organization (Arabsat) system. All four
stations were destroyed in the war, however, and smaller mobile
satellite ground stations currently handle international telephone
calls, data transmission, and live television broadcasts. The
city of Kuwait has three AM radio stations, three FM radio stations,
three television transmitters, and a powerful shortwave transmitter
for international service.
Data as of January 1993