One million expats out!

Muna Al Fuzai

Kuwait has an imbalance between the citizen and the expatriate populations. This is nothing new, as nearly all Gulf countries are also facing the same problem. Recently, Farwaniya Governor Sheikh Faisal Al-Hamoud Al- Sabah made a press statement stating that the greatest danger facing the country is marginal and illegal workers, adding that they constitute a burden on the society and its safety. He called for the deportation of one million expat marginal laborers who have no jobs or work contracts.

I agree he is very right, but how to do so? Who will be doing this – the interior ministry or the ministry of social affairs and labor? Will the campaign include areas like Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh? The minister of social affairs and labor confirmed in previous press statements that there will be a “connection between decisions related to expats and manpower, as well as the duration of their stay in the country – it will not be wide open as it was in the past”.

In Kuwait, there are residents of approximately 116 nationalities, and addressing the demographic imbalance has economic, security and social consequences. I know some expats do not like such talk because they see it as a threat to their stay in the country, but this is not true. If you were brought to Kuwait by legal channels for a real job, then you have nothing to worry about. But I am, for example, against the growing number of Arab expatriates in sensitive jobs that can be replaced by citizens, such as at the National Assembly.

Can any sane person explain why typesetters at such a sensitive place are not citizens, considering that the typesetter profession can easily absorb thousands of citizens, especially in a place like the Assembly? The question will always remain over what can be done. How can we control the abnormal increase in expat numbers? Should we stop issuing visas to maids and household workers, or should we disbar a few nationalities that cause trouble in the country and affect its security? We can make real and fair studies and issue decisions that may not please everyone, but will this set things right?

We citizens must be role models. Why don’t we accept reducing the number of maids in our houses? Why should every house have at least two or three maids, as decided by societal norms? Then we complain about the demographic imbalance, which we allowed to take place! So these claims of expulsions are fake, and the imbalance will remain for a long time, not because all these numbers of people are required, but because there are beneficiaries of this tampering in the demographics of the state. Kuwait, since its inception, welcomed with open arms all expats and provided them with essential services, comfort and safety. But the growing phenomenon of unemployment among expats, accompanied by an increase in crime in the Kuwaiti society, is an issue of concern. The Farwaniya governor knows this best as it is the governorate that has the highest concentration of expats. Figures by the General Authority for Civil Information show Kuwait’s population increased in 2015 to more than 4 million people, including 1.3 million citizens and 2.7 million expats. Previous reports indicate that 56 percent of expatriate workers do menial jobs that Kuwaitis do not want, such as couriers, farmers, servants, drivers and other low-paid jobs.

The most important question is why don’t we determine a percentage for expatriate numbers and classify the jobs we need? Why some companies are allowed, for example, to bring in a large number of workers, then throw them on the streets? These people are victims of trafficking. They do not have the power or the means to change the miserable situation they face after their arrival in Kuwait, and try to cope with the difficulties. So it is natural that some of them may beg or turn to theft, until they get arrested and imprisoned or deported.

The governor is right and made a great point. The issue is a simple one, but need immediate decisions…

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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