By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: Foreign residents in Kuwait rebuffed a recent report that ranked Kuwait as the worst destination for expatriates, calling it biased. For the seventh time in eight years, Kuwait was ranked the worst destination for expats – taking the last position in the Expat Insider survey (59th out of 59 countries).
According to Expat Insider, Kuwait ranks last in the quality-of-life index (59th), with especially poor results in the leisure options, personal happiness and travel and transportation subcategories (59th for all). Kuwait also ranked as the worst expat destination worldwide in ease of settling (59th), with 46 percent of expats not feeling at home, while 45 percent finding it difficult to settle down in the country.
Amid these negative ratings, some expatriates still see Kuwait as a place to be, irrespective of the criticisms. Expats give Kuwait some credit as they explore the good side of the country. “As long as the Kuwaiti dinar remains the strongest in the world, Kuwait will continue to attract a lot of expats. People care more about money and putting food on their table than any of those indices used in the ratings. With enough money, you can buy as many friends as you like outside Kuwait. Most people are coming here to make money and not friends,” argued Daniel Kings, an African expat.
Buttressing Daniel’s views, Andre explored different reasons why people travel abroad. “People travel to different places due to different reasons. Some want a place to make quick and easy money, while others want a place they can call home. Most people who come to Kuwait know what they are in for. We just need the money. If you need a second home, holiday destination and other things, you can go to Australia, Canada, US, UAE, etc. Tax-free Kuwait has the strongest currency, and this makes it an attractive hotspot,” he insisted.
Kuwait is a tax haven with 0 percent VAT and 0 percent income tax. For many Westerners, this makes Kuwait an attractive place. “Unlike Western countries, Kuwait is amazingly tax-free. There is no social life here, but it is a conservative and nice place to live. Even though life is expensive here, the fact that we are not paying any kind of tax makes it easier,” said Lilith Elo, a European teacher.
Safe place in Mideast
Undoubtedly, Kuwait can be seen as one of the safest places in the Middle East. “The crime rate is low comparing to other countries in the region. We hardly see/hear cases of armed robberies, carjackings, killings, assassinations and terror-related crimes in Kuwait. Violent crimes and racial or religious attacks against foreigners are rare,” Yuvraj Sanjay, an Indian expat, told Kuwait Times.
Emma Obod, a consultant, sees Kuwait as a family-friendly place. “Kuwait has a family-oriented atmosphere with beautiful gardens, resorts and other facilities. Although Kuwait is not as spectacular as the UAE – it is unique. I prefer Kuwait to other Gulf states,” he said. Most foreigners Kuwait Times interviewed shared similar views.
Unlike some other Islamic states, Kuwait’s constitution protects freedom of belief. Although Islam is Kuwait’s official religion, freedom of religion is guaranteed to a reasonable extent. Government-recognized Christian denominations include the Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the National Evangelical (Protestant) Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church and the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church.
“There are many churches in Kuwait. I have been in Kuwait for over 20 years now and can practice my religion freely, irrespective of some restrictions. I have not heard of any Hindus who have been arrested for practicing their religion. In some countries, people face persecution for practicing their religion, but not in Kuwait,” said Thomas Fernandes, an Indian expatriate.