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Tue 1 Feb 2011 11:44 AM

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Kuwait mulling citizenship deal to lure foreign workers

Plan will help Gulf state to compete with Dubai for talent, as it struggles to diversify its economy, says gov’t advisor

Kuwait mulling citizenship deal to lure foreign workers
KUWAITI PLANS: Kuwait is mulling a plan to offer citizenship to skilled foreign workers as it struggles to compete with Dubai for expatriate talent, a government advisor has said (Getty Images)
Kuwait mulling citizenship deal to lure foreign workers

Kuwait is mulling a plan to offer citizenship to skilled
foreign workers as it struggles to compete with Dubai for expatriate talent, a
government advisor has said.

The Gulf state needs to attract top-level workers if it is
to diversify its economy away from oil revenues, said Dr Sami Alfaraj,
president of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

“We could not have managed the oil industry without expats…
especially at the beginning. If we are thinking about new avenues of industry
and technology to beat others we need more people specialising in that,” said
Dr Alfaraj, who has advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of
the Prime Minister.

Kuwait’s view is that “Dubai gets the crème of expats and we
get the lower end, especially the uneducated ones.”

The world’s fourth largest oil exporter is keen to diversify
its oil-dependent economy and emulate the success of commercial hub Dubai, but
has struggled to pass key reforms following long-standing political rows
between parliament and the government.

Kuwait’s parliament is considering giving citizenship to top
expatriate workers and their families as a means to fast-track the overhaul of
its economy, Dr Alfaraj said.

“As long as we have the Kuwaiti parliament they will push
for more nationalisation policies. Kuwaitis see the expat community as part of
the fabric of society.”

The Gulf state has made efforts to overhaul its labour laws,
announcing last year it would scrap its worker sponsorship system in favour of
allowing businessmen to sponsor themselves.

Mohammed Al-Ifasi, Kuwait’s Minister of Social Affairs and
Labour, has said the country may scrap its existing sponsorship network,
commonly known as the ‘kafeel’ system.

In its place, expatriates would be allowed to transfer their
work permits without gaining the consent of the current sponsors, and would
allow certain businessmen in underserviced sectors to sponsor themselves.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online

Bob 9 years ago

Just be careful not to slag off any restaurants when you're there or you could be hit with a lawsuit! lol

A Dubai expat 9 years ago

Kuwait is going about this the wrong way. If you want to attract expats away from Dubai, you have to at least match the quality of life there. That means liberalising many aspects of their conservative culture, including those related to alcohol consumption, cohabiting and other Western cultural aspects.

I'm not saying that's necessarily a good or bad thing, but that's what they'll have to do to seriously make expats contemplate going there instead of Dubai.

Mohamed 9 years ago

UAE should think of giving citizenship for top (highly skilled) expats and expats who have invested in UAE, nevertheless to say it's expat commuity's sweat & blood that supports the existence of all GCC countries. A decison to give citizenship would be a great honour for the expats as well as for the nation. No doubts it would change the investment patterns when the expats consider a secured belonging to this nation. The country can retain their earnings in this country and those people would spend more in this country. Hope the Authorities would think wisely for the future.

q80 9 years ago

A Dubai expat, I agree but I think by attracting expats with a citizenship, the target is probably Arab or Asians expats.

Adam 9 years ago

There are plenty of top-notch expats on the international scene who respect Kuwait's traditional Islamic culture but are attracted to places like Singapore where residency rights are available. This is a big step in the right direction.

scarlett michelle 9 years ago

Your idea about Dubai seems flawed. In general, alcohol consumption is not legal in some aspect. It is the same with cohabitation.

Dubai is unique in GCC because their people embrace the uniqueness of Dubai. I dont think so that it can be imitated in other GCC.

Kuwait Expat 9 years ago

Amen to that Bob!

Moe 9 years ago

note to my friend Dubai Expat: Theirs a difference between quality of life and enjoyment of life . If Kuwait is offering citizenship for well educated expatriate/ qualified it does not mean it should legalize Alcohol ,or cohabitation like westernization cultural aspects. you must understand that all the countries have the rights to their laws , and right to protect their cultural values.

At the end of the day I do agree that the reason more expatriate end up in Dubai because of it's trend towards westernization .But they also tend to forget, this is for limited time and after that they would need to leave the country for good.

Mohammed 9 years ago

I think they mean to change the business principle not the culture. Look at Saudi Arabic how the business is booming without what you are demanding. All the expats from all over the world especially from Asia and Africa are willing to go there. In my opinion this will be a good move and I suggest the other GCC countries should follow this policy. If they had adopted this in early 80s by now expat's children could have been their educated workforce.

kuwaiti 9 years ago

Never. They didn't give the citizenship to "bedon" & they plan to give it to foreigners? It's either a gossip or a joke ,with my respect.