(Ku)wait and see: cutting down number of expats
If you're an expatriate in Kuwait, you might soon be packing. . .
March 21, 2013 12:51 by Muhammad Aldalou
The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently described Kuwait as one of the world’s least-friendly countries. In its Tourism and Travel Competitiveness Report 2013, the Gulf state earned the fourth position on that list because of its measurable ‘population attitude towards visitors and tourists’. As if to prove WEF’s point, Kuwait has now announced that it plans to slash its expatriate population by 1 million – 100,000 each year – for the next decade or two.
Expatriates make up approximately two-thirds of Kuwait’s population (68%) and Labour Minister Thekra Al-Rasheedi said these cut backs are part of a nationwide initiative to ‘eliminate the phenomenon of a marginal workforce’ and restore the demographic equilibrium of the country. Currently, the state has about 600,000 domestic workers and slightly less than one million Kuwaitis of working age.
If it all goes according to plan, the expatriate population of Kuwait will be cut from its current three million (approximate) to one million by 2023. From April 1st (no, I don’t think it’s an April’s fool), Kuwait will cease to issue new work visas, but the fate of those already working in the country is still a mystery. Arabian Business reports that it’s still unclear whether existing visas will be renewed upon expiration.
There is no official term for this nationwide wipe-out yet, but it can only be what Kipp would describe as a much tougher version of “Kuwaitisation” – limiting companies to hiring only Kuwaiti nationals – with established inspection teams to ensure employers are compliant. This isn’t the state’s first move aimed at making alterations to its expatriate landscape; as it has recently proposed a law that only allows expats to access medical care in the afternoon unless it is an emergency.
Do you think Kuwait will benefit from this demographic reform and will other Gulf States take a leaf out of its book?