Kuwait PM says expat population should be reduced to 30%

Kuwait PM says expat population should be reduced to 30%

Kuwait's prime minister has said he wants to see the Gulf state's expat workforce reduced by 40% from the current 70% level, the state news agency reported.

In comments made yesterday, Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah told the state-run news agency KUNA the current expat population represented "a big imbalance" that had to be corrected.

Today expats account for 3.4 million of Kuwait's 4.8 million people, a figure the prime minister said he is keen to reduce. 

We have a future challenge to redress this imbalance."

"We have a future challenge to redress this imbalance," al-Sabah said. "We are responsible for everyone who lives on this land and the residency trade has exhausted the state and the services in all institutions, especially when dealing with the current situation."

The prime minister's comments come a few weeks after International Investment reported plans by the Kuwait municipality to expel all expats from its payroll.

Kuwait's budget shortfall is expected to reach 40% of GDP following the covid-19 lockdowns, the biggest defecit since the 1991 Gulf war. Against this backdrop, coupled with low oil prices, al-Sabah's government is looking for ways to diversify the economy away from its decades-old reliance on hydrocarbons.

Several other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are also actively looking to reduce the expat workforce to the benefit of native citizens.


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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.