Kuwait is home to approximately 3.5 million expatriates from more than 100 countries who account for around 70 percent of the population. Several thousand of these expatriates have been working in the country for many decades, some even have their second and third generation living in the country.
While the proportion of expatriate nationalities is skewed towards some Asian and Arab countries, still you can find residents from all the continents living and working together in Kuwait. In this respect, Kuwait is truly a melting pot of nationalities, where one can easily bump into people from countries you have probably never heard of.
Kuwaitis make up 30 percent of the population, but only 4 percent of them work in the private sector, while expatriates form 96 percent of the private sector workforce. There are approximately 1.4 million Kuwaitis, while there are around 3.5 million expatriates in the country, out of which approximately 700,000 are domestic workers. These statistics may be interpreted in many ways.
Kuwait government has acknowledged that expatriates have been an integral part of the development of the country. Their contributions have been recognised and appreciated in making the country a modern and developed nation.
In the past, expatriates in Kuwait had felt comfortable and at home in contributing to the country’s growth story. They shared the good living standards of their hosts and also raised their own standards with decent savings and good education for their offsprings. It was a decent place to work and live, and attracted people from all over the world.
Today young Kuwaitis want to reassert and take charge of their own destiny. They want to work and be part of the next growth story that is being planned. Unlike their grandparents or parents before them, they are better educated, well qualified and more prepared to shape a brighter destiny for their country.
As the young become restless, some parliament members are speaking the language that they want to hear at the expense of expatriates. These comments do no good to the larger interest of both local and foreigners but are good in stirring negativity.
Kuwait has been a kind and benevolent nation in treating its foreign workforce in the past, barring a few cases, the country’s laws gave rights and privileges that many did not even enjoy in their own countries.
Over the years expatriates had become an integral part of Kuwait’s working landscape. They have brought many good things to the life of their hosts, who depend on them for so many of their day to day life. In essence, expatriates have been partners in progress to this small but great country.
Kuwaitis by nature are warm and friendly, but this is not always the case especially now that they are feeling overwhelmed with an expatriate influx in their own country. Everywhere they look, they are forced to deal with this large number of foreigners. With fewer business and job opportunities, young Kuwaitis are facing more pressure than their predecessors in succeeding. The need to blame expatriates for their predicament seems easier than to find a solution.
If expatriates have to be reduced or even replaced, surely there are better ways to do it than to make them feel unwelcome.
- An Expatriate
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