Are expat professional jobs in Kuwait even more under threat?

Are expat professional jobs in Kuwait even more under threat?

Are expat professional jobs in Kuwait even more under threat?

For several decades, Kuwait was a popular destination for expats, especially for those in the oil and gas sector, but nowadays job security seems to be evaporating.

There’s scarcely a day goes by without local media coverage of even more new measures aimed at getting rid of Kuwait’s expat demographic. Known for several decades as a prime destination for expat professionals, the emirate is now seen as becoming ever more prejudiced against those who’ve spent their working lives transforming a barren desert landscape to an ultra-modern, extremely wealthy metropolis.

The latest call by Kuwait’s lawmakers for the deportation of a million foreign workers over the coming five to ten years is the latest in a series of similar parliamentary requirements. The subject of deportees from Kuwait’s expat communities has always been controversial, based as it is on an impractical belief that locals will be able to take over the jobs freed up by getting rid of foreigners. Two problems stalk this belief – the first is that the jobs vacated by lower-echelon workers are considered as demeaning by locals, with the second belief that highly educated, newly graduated Kuwaitis are ready to step into jobs formerly held by highly experienced expat professionals is simply not practical. The words ‘highly experienced’ say it all.

The present reports are based on news that almost 30,000 expats were kicked out of Kuwait in 2016, with the majority being criminals convicted of anything from traffic violations to serious criminal activity. Some of those destined for deportation are held in prison pending court hearings on financial claims, with flight tickets booked at prison-located travel agencies by prison managers. It has to be said that the vast majority of deportees are found in the lower-waged, un- or semi-skilled sector referred to as ‘marginal workers’, but unemployed Kuwaitis are unlikely to get killed in the rush to take on such work.

Would-be expat professionals to whom a stint in Kuwait is the realisation of a long-held dream based on remuneration should now be thinking again about their actual futures should they, for whatever reason, have a deportation stamp on their passports. Last December’s attempt by five lawmakers to ensure a demographic balance between expats and Kuwaitis is established within the next five years should serve as a warning to would-be expats looking to work in this or other Gulf States.

Recent calculations in local Arab media suggest the number of Kuwaitis five years from now will total around 1.6 million, meaning 1,6 million expats would be the maximum number permitted. Unfortunately, the projected number, including domestic workers, construction workers and the children of Kuwaiti females married to expats, is likely to be around 2.3 million.

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