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Proposed law in Kuwait cuts expats to 124,000 per country
January 30, 2014, 5:55 pm

An independent Kuwaiti MP has lodged a draft law with parliament calling for a five-year limit on expatriates’ residence in the Gulf state and cutting the number of foreigners to a maximum of 124,000 per country.

The draft bill, which is highly unlikely to be adopted, is the latest sensationalist proposal by a Kuwaiti MP to reduce the oil-rich country’s dependence on foreign workers.

About two-thirds of Kuwait’s total population of less than 4 million are expats.

More than 90 percent of citizens who work are employed in the severely bloated public sector, while foreigners fill many of the unskilled positions as well as expert roles in the private sector.

Independent Shia MP Abudllah Al Tameemi’s plan targets low and medium qualified workers – those often in lowly paid jobs that Kuwaiti nationals have been reluctant to take up themselves. It does not include specialist doctors, lawyers and judges and advisors in the Amiri Diwan.

The proposal also is racist, excluding workers from the US, the European Union and GCC states, as well as the husbands of Kuwaiti women and their children, who in most cases are not eligible for citizenship.

In an attempt to discourage expats from establishing themselves in Kuwait, those granted the five-year visa would not be allowed to sponsor their family members or bring them to the country on a visit visa.

The draft law states that those who already have lived in the country for more five years and qualify under the criteria would be forced out within three months of the law being implemented – which would see a mass exodus of at least an estimated 1 million workers.

Firms that employ residents past their five-year visa would be fined KD10,000 and owners would face two years’ jail.

Tameemi defended his proposed law on Twitter, saying it would prevent foreigners from settling in Kuwait and would help young Kuwaiti graduates having difficulty finding suitable work, as well as reducing pressure on the country’s services and traffic.

He said it was “no longer acceptable” that Kuwait had allowed the Indian community to reach 730,000 – more than half the number of Kuwaitis, while there was half-a-million Egyptians.

Kuwait Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rasheedi has announced numerous tough policies targeting expatriates in the past year under her plan to reduce the number by 1m in 10 years.

In March she announced a freeze on issuing new work permits, although it is not clear whether this has been implemented.

The state’s top traffic cop also has announced the deportation of tens of thousands of foreigners accused of repeat traffic offences.

Other GCC states also attempting to reduce their expatriate numbers, with various measures announced to make it more difficult for foreigners to remain in the country.

More than 1 million foreigners left Saudi Arabia last year under a seven-month amnesty on illegal workers, which opponents criticised for being too implemented without warning and causing a shortfall of workers.

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