Expatriate populated areas are seeing increasing crime and worsening living conditions as their numbers surge creating unfavorable and negative feeling among expatriates living in the country. The latest figures show that expatriates comprise of almost 70 percent of the population of 4,432, 686 in the country. While the number of Kuwaitis are 1,339,332 the expatriate population is 3,093,354.
Momentum has been gathered to reduce the number of expatriates across the board with members of parliament calling for a reduction and requesting for a special parliament session to discuss the dangers posed by the rising number of expatriates and its impact on the demographic structure.
There have been different voices calling for the balance with the need for expatriates to ensure the country’s development plan goes ahead. Expatriates contribute immensely to the economy and play a major role in several sectors including the oil sector.
The expat bashing by some Kuwait’s seeking their expulsion has met with resistance by the government and has refuted calls of mass deportation. The government has not decided to deport expatriates from the country and it does not intend to do so”, stated the State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah in an attempt to dissipate fears over forced deportation of expatriates from the country.
He went on to say, “The existing vibes in this regard are related to the file concerning rectification of the imbalance of population structure through organizational measures which will only affect marginal and unproductive labor force that represent the cause of this population crisis”.
Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah stressed that the statements or reports over possible move to deport thousands of expatriates were not issued by the government, urging the public to acquire information from official sources instead of believing everything published on social media.
When asked whether the government has an organized strategy to reduce the number of expatriates by imposing pressure on them through increased charges and taxes, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah responded by asking, “Did you hear from any government official that the government wants to expel thousands of expatriates from Kuwait?”.
The minister explained that any decision concerning the expatriate labor force will be taken in accordance with the law as well as in consideration of humanitarian aspects. A work team will be formed to prepare a comprehensive report on how to deal with the population imbalance based on the state’s vision. Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah affirmed that the government will put its foot down when the parliament decides to discuss this issue, adding that the government, when asked to present its side, will do so in a bid to cooperate and coordinate with the parliament.
Meanwhile, there have been reactions from international and local scenes over what is regarded as an attack against expatriates in Kuwait, condemning the idea of considering expatriates in the country as ‘colonists’.
Banking sources quoted in Arabic media also condemned parliamentary statements and agreed deporting expats was not the right solution. The claimed this was just rhetoric by members seeking support of citizens through passionate speeches.
Further they justified expatriates in the country saying they received “a generous invitation” from the Kuwaiti government and citizens, represented by those who own companies, to come to Kuwait and offer their services. They wondered what alternative measures are available if expatriates, especially the qualified ones, are repelled from the country in such a manner.
Economist Rasheed Al-Bader said the extravagance in establishing cities and offices that need large number of laborers for cleaning and maintenance activities has led to increase in number of expatriates workers in the country.
He indicated that in advanced countries, only one servant is needed to care for about ten houses but in Kuwait, each house has two-three servants. Al-Bader criticized the government’s policy of appointing citizens in the public sector and offering national support subsidy which has led to build up of Kuwaiti employees in the public sector.