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Mon 22 Mar 2010 12:49 PM

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Kuwait sees drop in number of expat workers

Foreign workforce reduces for second year running to 1.74m in 2009.

The number of expatriate workers in Kuwait has dropped for the second year in a row, according to a report on Monday.

The expatriate labour force in the Gulf state declined from 1.77m in 2007 to 1.75m in 2008 and fell again last year to 1.74m, according to a report in the Kuwait Times daily newspaper.

However, while the number of workers declined, the overall expatriate population, including workers and their families, rose by 11,000 to 2.37m.

Between 2004 and 2007, the economic boom saw the expatriate population rise by 737,000, but this has now slowed and over the last two years the population has risen by just 26,000.

Asians, who number 1.32m, represent the largest group of expatriates, followed by 984,000 Arabs, and a total 34,500 Europeans, Americans and Australians.

The report also added that 77 percent of Kuwaiti citizens are employed in the public sector, while local citizens make up only four percent of the 1.67m private sector work force.

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Raj 10 years ago

So are all the Kuwaitis going to start doing all the menial work after all ???

Sameh Abo Sekina 10 years ago

Yes, the above is the truth, I'm an Egyptian who work in kuwait since 2005, a lot of people spent their live here in Kuwait and they refuse to go back to their countries, 90% of the Kuwaiti people are very generous and when they trust the person they deal with him as one of their families, however the financial crisis affected all countries and I do believe it is the same mean reason of the above subject

expat 10 years ago

1. Economic slowdown is one the reason. 2. Less job opportunities as compared to Dubai, Saudi 3. Govt policies towards expats. Following NEW rules are on the way...... (i) Driving license should be renewed for 2 years along with residence renewal. At the time of every renewal he should take driving test again. He must be a university Degree holder with a minimum 400kd salary. This rule to be applied to ONLY expats. (ii) Huge Fee to be imposed on visit visas. They compare here with DUBAI !!! Dubai is a top touristic place, where as kuwait is not a touristic destination. If they don't want expats here, let them restrict their entry. But is it justified to keep on impose new rules consistently on expats.

Dan 10 years ago

@ expat Yes, I think that is exactly what they are doing; trying new and different laws to restrict the number of expats and they will do it until they reach a number they are satisfied with. @ Raj No, they will not start doing the menial work, even as some of the Kuwaitis do that already, but they will try to get ride of the excess amount of expats if they can. If they bring in one expat to do the menial work, they don’t want him/her to bring the entire family, which get the place overpopulated very soon. (You probably heard of 5-6 families in one villa). You can be sure that the other GCC countries will start to decrease the expat numbers also. It seems they lost the control over expat immigration during this decade, resulting in massive expat numbers to a point where some of these countries populations now are in minority. Some people are in the believe that the economic crises will make their countries workforce the preferred ones in the future but I think this will not happen. On the contrary the ones who used to get paid less will now get even less (they already get 20-50% less even now through pay cuts) and the ones with big and attractive pay packages will be very few in numbers. This entire decade was like a Wild West era for this region in regards of economics and investment and they learned some hard lessons. I think they will be very careful in the future not to make the same mistakes.

expat 10 years ago

Mr.Dan, To control expat number, it is very easy for govt ! Who is issuing visa's ? Of course govt !! Don't let them in at first place rather than troubling them after they come here. Most of Kuwaitis are good in nature. At the same time Govt policies are discriminate. Let us not forget that expats are earning here & as well as contributing to the development of this country. So it is the moral responsibility of govt to think about their welfare (at least on humanitarian ground)

Dan 10 years ago

@ expat No, it’s not easy for GCC governments to regulate visas/immigration and that is because of the visa systems in these countries with visa supporters. Virtually any GCC national and company operating in them are able to fix visa for any number of foreigners to enter the country. There are so many loop holes in the system to be misused by people for other reasons than the intended ones. To name a few areas of misuse of the visa system; charge people to fix visa for them so they get access to GCC where they have a better opportunity to get visa to EU or Canada and so on. There is also trafficking or bringing in family members on false work papers and so on. The problem is that in these rather scarcely populated GCC countries this kind of massive immigration is overwhelming to the local population, specially when after this latest economic crises it’s been proven to them that these people have no intention of returning to their countries, losing job or not. The only way they can be send back is if they get caught in a sting operation by the police.