Since 2017, the government has launched a number of initiatives which aim to level the number of expats versus nationals in the country, especially in the labour force. These initiatives fall under the government’s nationalisation scheme known as Kuwaitization, which initially aimed to accomplish its goal by 2023.
However, this work apparently takes more time than what was allotted for the scheme to see verifiable results. And so, the government continues to push its nationalization programme little by little to achieve its desired economic and social impact in the state.
Kuwaiti Gov’t Looks to Level Number of Nationals, Expats in the Country
Citing a British website that specializes in tracking migrant workers around the world, “For decades, Kuwait has been a popular destination for expatriate workers, especially oil and gas professionals but job security seems to be disappearing for the time being,” as shared in a report by the Arab Times Online.
The website, Emigrate, noted that it rarely takes a day without the local media affirming coverage of new measures to reduce the population of expatriates in Kuwait, which for decades, has been a major destination for expatriate professionals and specialists from all parts of the globe.
As a reference to this, the recent statement by some members of the Kuwaiti National Assembly calling for the deportation of a million foreign workers over the next 5 to 10 years is the latest in a series of similar parliamentary demands.
The issue concerning expatriate workers in the Gulf State has long been controversial, because it is based on a very simplistic yet impractical belief that Kuwaiti citizens will be able to relieve jobs vacated by foreign workers. There are two issues that contradict this assumption. Firstly, jobs left vacant by lower-skilled workers are considered humiliating for citizens who feel that they are beyond that level to take.
Secondly, another problem is that new Kuwaiti graduates are ready to take on jobs that were occupied by experienced foreign professionals, which is simply impractical. The term “high experience” often covers all sectors.
The website noted, “Expatriate professionals in Kuwait who may be looking for a long-term dream based on financial benefits should now reflect on their future if their passports are stamped for deportation for whatever reason. The call of five National Assembly members last December to ensure demographic balance between expatriates and Kuwaitis over the next five years should be a warning to potential expatriates looking to work in Kuwait or other Gulf states.”
The report closed by noting that recent estimations in the local Arab media indicate that the number of Kuwaitis five years from now will reach about 1.6 million people, which means that the maximum number of expatriate workers to be allowed is around 1.6 million, as well.
Unfortunately, the expected number, which includes domestic workers, construction workers, and children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners, is likely to reach 2.3 million.