Religion in Kuwait by ethnicity ( January 1, 2023)[1]
Muslim Kuwaiti
Christianity Kuwaiti
Hinduism and Other Kuwaiti

Religion in Kuwait (total residents, 31 December 2020)[1]

  Islam (75%)
  Christianity (18%)
  Other religions (7%)

Islam is the official religion in Kuwait, and the majority of the citizen population is Muslim.[2]

There are also small native Christian and Baháʼí populations.[3][4] Most expatriates in Kuwait are Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Buddhist.[2]


Main article: Islam in Kuwait

Kuwait's official state religion is Maliki Sunni Islam. Most Muslim Kuwaiti citizens are Sunni. Shia Muslims are a significant minority in Kuwait; several other Muslim sects do exist in Kuwaiti society but in very small numbers.[2] The Al Sabah ruling family (including the Emir) adhere to the Maliki school of Sunni Islam.

Over one million non-citizen Muslims resided in Kuwait in 2019.[1]

Population estimates

There is no official national census disclosing sectarian affiliation. The population estimates have varied over time. In 2001, there were an estimated 525,000 Sunni Kuwaiti citizens and 300,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens.[5] In 2002, the US Department of State estimated that there were 525,000 Sunni Kuwaiti citizens and 855,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total (61% Sunnis, 39% Shias).[6] In 2004, there were an estimated 600,000 Sunni Kuwaiti citizens, 300,000-350,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 913,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total.[7] In 2007, it was estimated that around 70% of citizens belonged to the Sunni branch of Islam while the remaining 30% were Shias. [4] In 2008, the Strategic Studies Institute estimated that Sunnis constitute 60% of the population.[8] In 2022, it was estimated that around 70% of Muslims living in Kuwait belonged to the Sunni branch of Islam while the remaining 30% were Shias.[2] Other population estimates gave an 80:20 ratio.[9]


Main article: Christianity in Kuwait

Our Lady of Arabia Parish in Al Ahmadi.

Christianity is a minority religion in Kuwait. In 2020, there were an estimated 289 Christian Kuwaitis residing in Kuwait.[3] Kuwait is the only GCC country besides Bahrain to have a local Christian population who hold citizenship. Of the non-citizen population, there are an estimated 837,585 Christians (31 December 2020), or 17.93% of the population.[1]

The government-recognized Christian churches include the Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the National Evangelical Church Kuwait (Protestant), the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church, the Anglican Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are also many Christian religious groups not officially recognised by the government with smaller populations, including the Indian Orthodox, Mar Thoma, and Seventh-day Adventist Church. Unrecognized groups are generally free to worship in private.[2] There are also a number of believers in Christ from a Muslim background in the country, though many are not citizens. A 2015 study estimated that around 350 people in the country follow these beliefs.[10]


The official 2013 census only shows three religion categories: "Muslim", "Christian" and "Other", with only 18 people in the other category.[3] There are a small number of Kuwaiti citizens who follow the Baháʼí Faith, with other sources state that there are approximately 400 Baháʼís in total in Kuwait in 2022.[2]


Main article: History of the Jews in Kuwait

There were several Kuwaiti Jewish families before the 1950s, however all local Jewish families left Kuwait by the 1980s.[4]


Main article: Hinduism in Arab states

There are estimated 300,000 non-citizen Hindus in Kuwait.[citation needed]


Approximately 85,000 non-citizen Buddhists reside in Kuwait.[citation needed]


There are estimated 10,000 non-citizen Sikhs in Kuwait.[4]

Religion by Nationality (2020)

Religion by Nationality in Kuwait (2020)[1]
Nationality Islam % Christian % Other % Total %
Kuwaiti 1,459,656 99.97% 290 0.01% 25 0.00% 1,459,970 31.25%
Arabian 1,188,738 93.97% 69,574 5.48% 9,108 0.71% 1,267,420 27.13%
Asian 798,297 42.98% 728,000 39.19% 330,928 17.81% 1,857,224 39.76%
African 16,250 35.05% 22,874 49.34% 7,227 15.59% 46,350 0.99%
European 6,640 39.66% 9,043 54.04% 1,050 6.29% 16,733 0.35%
American & Australian 13,722 59.62% 8,095 35.17% 1,198 5.20% 23,015 0.49%
Kuwait 3,483,300 74.57% 837,874 17.93% 349,539 7.48% 4,670,713 100%


Sectarian affiliation has been a source of civil conflict in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and the right to practice any religion so long as it does not interfere with customs. Law No. 19 of 2012 criminalizes the instigation of violence based on the supremacy of one sectarian faction, promoting the supremacy of any faction, or promoting hatred or contempt of any party.[11]

In April 2022, a Kuwaiti citizen was convicted of atheism and sentenced to two months in prison and a fine of KD10,000 ($33,000) after posting comments on social media.[12]

In 2023, Kuwait was scored 2 out of 4 for religious freedom;[13] blasphemy is a punishable offence and non-Muslims are forbidden from proselytizing, although they can worship privately.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "PACI Statistics". Kuwait Public Authority for Civil Information. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "US State Dept 2022 report on International Religious Freedom in Kuwait". US State Department. 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Nationality By Religion and Nationality". Government of Kuwait (in Arabic).
  4. ^ a b c d "International Religious Freedom Report for 2007". US State Department. 2007.
  5. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2001.
  6. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2002.
  7. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2004.
  8. ^ "The Evolution of U. S.-Turkish Relations in a Transatlantic Context" (PDF). Strategic Studies Institute. p. 87. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 18, 2015. Shiites comprise 60 percent of the population in Bahrain, 40 percent in Kuwait, 14 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 35 percent in Lebanon.
  9. ^ World Religions Database at the ARDA website, retrieved 2023-08-08
  10. ^ Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 11: 16. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Report on International Freedom: Kuwait". 2021.
  12. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08
  13. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08