Now a Kuwaiti MP calls for 10-year-residency cap

In the latest in a series of statements by Kuwaiti lawmakers that have left expatriates living in Kuwait in little doubt as to how welcome they are, a Kuwaiti MP has now called for the imposition of a 10-year cap on the employment of expatriates.

The Kuwaiti MP, Safa Al Hashem,  is described as having been leading a drive to  reduce the number of foreigners in her country by the Gulf News, which carried the news of her call for the 10-year cap in a report published on its website today.    The Gulf News said its information had been based on a report in a Kuwaiti daily, Al Nahar. 

As envisioned by Al Hashem, exemptions to the 10-year-cap might be allowed “but only once and in very exceptional cases”, the report noted.

“The aim is to help Kuwaitis find jobs, in light of the increase of the number of foreigners in the country to the triple of the nationals,” Gulf News quoted Al Hashem,  Kuwait’s only woman MP, as telling Al Nahar.

The government should also ban foreigners from bringing their relatives into Kuwait, except for their parents, and any medical needs would be expected to be borne by the expatriate and not by the state, Al Hashem is also quoted as saying.

She also said the fees for importing manpower from abroad should be doubled, except in the case of domestic helpers.

Kuwait’s demographic imbalance – it is home to 4.4 million people, of whom   3.1 million are expatriates and just 1.3 million are Kuwaitis – has been the source of growing tension, particularly since the price of oil fell a few years ago.

However, as the Gulf News report noted, some experts have warned that getting rid of foreigners too quickly could cause major problems, as there aren’t enough skilled Kuwaitis available to replace them, particularly in such areas as the healthcare sector.

As reported, in January another Kuwaiti MP, Mubarak Al-Hajraf, argued that the right of Kuwaiti expats to change employers should be removed altogether, again in an effort to ensure more Kuwaiti nationals were able to find jobs.

Also in January, Kuwaiti MPs were reported to be calling for the deportation of 1 million expats over the next five to 10 years. This news came as it was revealed that around 29,000 expats had been deported from Kuwait in 2016, an increased rate of almost 80 expats daily, for violations as minor as simple traffic offences, according to reports on the Arabian Business news website. 

Kuwait is one of a number of countries where a growing global backlash to the demographic side effects of the last few years of globalisation has been most pronounced. As reported here last month, the recent slowing down – some say ending – of two decades of globalisation that saw millions of expatriates ending up in foreign cities around the world is hitting growing numbers of these expats hard, typically in their pocketbooks, but also in their ability simply to remain in their overseas jobs and homes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

Read more from Helen Burggraf

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