“The expats… those expats… expel them, send them back to their homeland; throw them out in the desert; let them go to hell; they are the cause of all the disasters and crimes; they are thieves and murderers; they are the ones who deprive Kuwaiti citizens of job opportunities; ban them from hospitals, from services; keep them away, so we can breathe our air”… the litany of complaints against expatriates, and ways to solve the expat problem abound.
The evident racism in these comments, which still continues to spread its poison inside people’s minds, has convinced many of us that expatriates are opponents of Kuwaitis, enemies of the state, even demons who must be expelled from our body, or our lives will become a hell.
Over the years, as the mill of racism ground and crushed the expatriates, many of them left Kuwait forever; with a lump in their throat, and pain and heartbreak in their hearts. Most of the capabilities and experiences that served our country flew away with the expats; they flew away from education, and health, from construction and from cleaning, and now from tailoring. So much so that we can no longer find a tailor to sew our Eid dishdashas for us.
The expats and their competencies flew away from Kuwait to places where the social environment is pure, where the toxins of racism and hatred do not prevail; an environment that considers them as participants in building the nation. The expats flew away from the bullying, demagoguery and endless cursing to an environment that values them and gives them the reward for their sweat and efforts, without overloading them with what God gave them for living.
Once upon a time, Kuwait was a destination for the hearts of people, and rivers of competencies gathered in its midst, from the enlightened, artists, writers, jurists, teachers, craftsmen and workers, who sincerely contributed to building this nation and consolidating its foundations, so that Kuwait with cooperative efforts of citizens and expatriates, became known as the pearl of the Gulf. At that time, hearts were pure and souls were classy, and the crows of bullying, racism and exclusion of others had not infiltrated our sky. But the situation changed, and here we are paying the price.
Everyone now is paying the price: the racists are paying the price for their racism that ran in their blood like poison. They called for the expulsion of innocent expats, whose only fault was that they sought a living in our country. Those who are not racists are also paying the price, because they did not stand up, did not resist, and did not deny the ‘phobia of immigrants’. Rather, some of them were drawn to the calls of the treacherous, and they responded and raised their voices by expelling the servants of God from the land of God.
So what happened? Has the situation been fixed? Have the expats who left the country been replaced with those who surpassed those expatriates in experience, knowledge and sincerity? On the contrary, labor wages have risen, and it is more difficult to find a carpenter, blacksmith, plumber, or skilled worker than to find red mercury. And, as all the skilled workers and craftsmen left, they have been replaced by the lowest qualified and the most expensive. Even teachers, doctors and judges have sought new opportunities in nearby countries, where their feelings are taken into account and their work is appreciated, and no one stabs them every day with a dagger of harm. And, many more expats are preparing to leave Kuwait for good.
We have no right to complain when having to pay more for poor quality work, or when we cannot find a tailor to sew our new dishdashas, because this is a result of what our hands have committed. When we recruited skilled people, we lived in luxury; but when we treated them badly, and did not want them to live among us as valued brothers, and we walked under the banner of racists bullies; and did not defend the rights of expats; and we did not know where the interest of our country was, they left for good.
Is it not strange that Kuwait, the country of humanity whose white hands stretched from one end of the earth to the other, and which helps, consoles, and heals the wounds of those we do not even know personally, and they do not know us, is the same country where abuses and calls for expulsion are rising against people who came to this land to contribute to its construction; people who are happy for what makes Kuwait happy and become sad for what saddens Kuwait. What is wrong with you? How do you judge? But with such despicable bullying and such abhorrent exclusionary rhetoric do not ask for any reason, argument or logic, when the expats leave us.
[The opinion voiced above first appeared in Al Jarida daily newspaper published on 7 April 2022.]