It’s not a myth that anywhere we go in the world Scots get a warm welcome. I’ve travelled quite a bit in the last few years while expanding my business, and I’ve always found this to be true – whether it’s travelling for a sporting event, a vacation, a sight seeing mission or a business trip – being Scottish in a foreign location is a great asset to have.
But of all the places in the world where I expected to find a strong Scottish connection – Kuwait would have been very near the bottom of the list. So here are all the things that surprised me about Kuwait in no particular order –
- It’s not a warzone
- It has a really built up City Centre and some extremely impressive sky scrapers
- It has fantastic mobile phone coverage, and you can get wifi signal even out in the desert
- A latte in Starbucks costs just under £6 – to be honest this one still shocks me
- It’s not actually a warzone!
So on top of all these surprises you can imagine just how happy I was when within an hour of arriving here I was told “ah I love your accent – it’s fantastic …….. I just love the Irish!!”
Ok so maybe not straight away I found the Scottish connection. But very soon after that it became apparent.
The Kuwaiti population are extremely well educated. It is commonplace for young Kuwaiti’s to study abroad and also attend Summer School, and Scotland is a highly sought after destination for this. They have their own Caledonian Society and the Chieftain of the Society is an extremely impressive Kuwaiti who attended University in Scotland and also sent his sons to be educated there. He spoke very fondly of the “dear green place” that I call home and from our conversation I began to see so many similarities between the Kuwaitis and the Scottish people.
We are both extremely warm and welcoming to guests and visitors – we love hosting a party (although the absence of Buckfast at the Kuwait parties did not go unnoticed) – we are fiercely proud of our heritage and of our country and even when surrounded by larger and stronger nations we manage to hold our own – we have a fantastic sense of humour and appreciate the good things in life – and above all we are family focused and extremely loyal.
On top of this we share a history of overcoming adversity, a trait that I think makes any small nation just that bit more patriotic. Kuwait celebrates it’s Liberation from the Iraq Invasion and it’s Independence from Britain on the same two days in February. It’s a fantastic celebration and the streets are filled with Kuwaitis and ex pats alike celebrating the history of this small but powerful country. It reminded me very much of the atmosphere in Glasgow City Centre when we proudly hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and was yet another reminder of the similarities between our two nations.
And I think that really has to be one of the keys to successfully building a life for yourself in a new country. Learn what you can about the history, immerse yourself in the culture, speak to the locals and make an attempt to learn the language. Find out what makes you similar but likewise celebrate the unique qualities that make you different. Yes it’s important to find other ex pats when you travel and live abroad but it’s more important to try and make your new country your new home. Don’t focus on trying to make it exactly like your last home – or you may miss out on the beauty of exactly what it is that makes this new land unique and special.
Just beware of one small point though …… remember and speed your speech back up when the wheels hit the tarmac in Glasgow Airport. After a few months of trying to be understood in the Middle East you will find yourself back home in Glasgow sounding like a very good interpretation of a Kevin Bridges in Leamington Spa joke!
by Angela Morrison – Director – amiEXECUTIVE
Angela is speaking at the upcoming Scotsman Conference – Inspiring Growth: Alternative ways to take your business to the next level. To find out more, or to book your place click here.