Kuwait plans to cut expat numbers by 1 million

Gulf state set to introduce new measures including freeze on issuing new work permits

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Kuwait is introducing measures, including a freeze on issuing new work permits, to cut the number of expatriates in the country by more than 1 million, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rasheedi said.

Foreign workers make up about two-thirds of the country’s population, estimated to be about 3 million.

But Rasheedi said the government was working to reduce the number of expats to only 1 million by 2023. About 100,000 would be culled each year, she said.

“It’s part of the ministry’s efforts to regulate the labor market, curb the phenomenon of marginal labor and restore the demographic equilibrium of the country,” she said in a statement to the Kuwait news agency KUNA.

New work visas would not be issued from April 1, while it was not clear whether existing visas would be renewed when they expired.

The measure will limit companies to hiring only Kuwaiti nationals. There are fewer than 1 million Kuwaitis of working age.

Rasheedi said an inspection team had been established to ensure employers complied with the new regulations.

There has been a recent surge in proposed new laws targeted at expats, including only allowing them to access medical care in the afternoon unless it is an emergency.

Lawmakers also have called for large subsidies for services such as water, electricity and gas to be scrapped for expats, which could push up monthly bills beyond the average salary.

Kuwait was named as one of the world's least friendly countries towards tourists in a global travel and tourism competitiveness survey by the World Economic Forum released this week.

It was ranked 137 out of 140 countries for friendliness.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Not an expat

Yay! Lets keep up the racism, its finally working, we are getting negative worldwide media attention at last, and making ourselves look unfriendly and unaccepting of visitors. About time! Maybe all those horrible ungrateful incompetent lazy expats who escaped their dysfunctional countries wont want to come here anymore. Keep up the good work! Its up to us to make a stand! Our ancestors would be proud of us doing something about this invasion by the enemy.

Posted by: MrSomalia

My uncle lives in Kuwait and is on six figure (Software Engineer with more than 15 years experience working in the West before moving to Kuwait, co-owned software firm with Chinese man).

As a Somali, when it comes to Gulf----you guys know UAE is our second home. We are all about business and UAE speaks our language. It made so far so many Somali millionaires and billionaires will come from UAE or in Somalia (if petroleum is explored).

Kuwait is our second choice. Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah is a great man and he has deep connections to Somalia and the Somali people. He used to own several farms and holiday homes near Mogadishu before the war. Today he has holiday estate in the north. He funds hospitals, airports...he is making a difference.

He has good intentions for Kuwait but you need skilled and multi-cultural people in order to maintain harmony. Somalia collapsed because we are one race with one mind.

Posted by: Majd

MrSomalia - Please read Ahmed's comment below. Until Kuwait builds a new airport, upgrades their national carrier, (which is a representation of the Kuwait government's status overseas every time it lands on foreign soil), this country is nothing. Airports are the gateway to any nation, and if you recall, one of the first steps in the development plan for Dubai was Terminal 1 and Emirates Airlines, which is one of the best carriers in the world, so you can talk all day long on what land the Kuwait rulers own in your nation, but it is the implementation of a development plan that will put Kuwait back on the GCC map, right now it is stagnant.

Posted by: Oldtimer

Kuwait should look at its GCC brothers/sisters eg. UAE, in particular Dubai, to learn how WISE leadership constantly innovates and creates new industries and projects that draws talent from all over the world. They make it attractive for businesses to set up companies. They have huge infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels) projects, hospitality upgrades, man-made tourist attractions, international conference facilities, world-class transportation projects etc. They have dedicated employees (local & expat) who are constantly on the move across the world exploring avenues for cooperation/partnership to develop untapped markets, work hard to develop first class airlines that become standard bearers in the industry. These are TRUE LEADERS! Not just be content to sit atop their oil reserves like it will last for ever! Then when people complain about unemployment, pick on the expats as their cause for all woes! Pathetic!

Posted by: procan

Kuwait is a easy target for take over, watch out out for predators Kuwait you are vulnerable.

Posted by: Ahmed

A new airport is step one in the development process for Kuwait, if the government really cared. In the region, other governments realized that and have begun construction EXCEPT Kuwait. Oman is building a new $1.8 billion passenger terminal complex at Muscat International Airport in Oman. Dubai Airports opened, on 13 January 2013, Concourse A, the world?s first A380 facility at Dubai International?s Terminal. Dubai has completed terminal 4. Jordan?s Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) will open its new terminal on March 21st,a move that is expected to almost triple the airport?s capacity. Foster and Partners, who also designed an airport for Kuwait that has never been built, designed this terminal for Jordan. Hamad International Airport in Qatar is scheduled to open on 1 April 2013. Kuwait is segregating hospitals and has never started construction on a new airport, which can no longer handle the passenger levels, and was voted the most unwelcoming nation for tourists.

Posted by: Jama

The whole country's economy will collapse and foreign investors will panic since Kuwaitis are not skilled to fill up the vacuum.

Whether they like it or not they depend on foreigners until eternity unless they introduce skill revolutionary practices fast like Japan a century ago.

Posted by: Oldtimer

All the local owned residential buildings empty, retail spaces operated by by expats vacant, telecom revenues plummeting, Airlines flying almost empty having to cull many routes, car sales plummeting, hypermarket sales dropping and much more !!!!
Whose revenues do you think suffer in such a scenario?
No more nannies, drivers, grocers, mechanics, cleaners etc!!!! Whose lifestyle do you think suffers?
If the leadership is bereft of ideas to kickstart progress and development that has direct & indirect benefit for locals and expats, the country will be heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources. Eventually the government sector which employs majority of locals with social welfare handouts won't have enough resources to keep the increasing local population happy. You will then have the perfect recipe for an Arab Spring style revolt. Is it so difficult for people to comprehend the folly of such ill-conceived plans?!!!!

Posted by: jay

well said oldtimer and as for Qatari who will fill the void by expats leaving and the loss of sales if 1million leave and each spends min 5000 a year on housing food travel etc then thats 5 billion a yr min lost to the market

Posted by: Qatari

That's exactly what would expats say so they will not be replaced by locals.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudi Arabia's new heir leads revolution of powerful millennials

Saudi Arabia's new heir leads revolution of powerful millennials

Why the youngest crown prince in living memory represents a broader...

Three things to watch as Saudi Arabia names new heir to throne

Three things to watch as Saudi Arabia names new heir to throne

Yemen, the Saudi economy and the Qatar-Gulf crisis will be high...

How Mohammed bin Salman rose to become Saudi Arabia's most influential figure

How Mohammed bin Salman rose to become Saudi Arabia's most influential figure

Profile: New heir to Saudi throne holds power beyond his years...

Most Discussed