Kuwait to limit expats’ contracts to five years

Published:  8 Apr at 6 PM
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Kuwait lawmakers are recomming five year maximum stay for expats.

As part of the emirate’s Kuwaitization programme, a committee dealing with Kuwait’s unbalanced demographic structure has recommended a maximum stay for expats of just five years. After the law takes effect, all new expat arrivals will be subject to the new rule with no exceptions, but those already in residence at the time the rule becomes law will be ‘grandfathered’. Of all the restrictions placed on expats in Kuwait over the past few years, this new law if approved will be the harshest, and is expected to cause problems for established multinational companies in the region.

Structuring senior positions to conform with the rule is likely to cause disruption as well as discouraging top expat talent from taking on a relatively short-term reassignment. It’s admitted that Kuwait’s demographic balance is tilted hugely in favour of expat workers at all levels, but many international employers are reluctant to take on locals with less than top qualifications and extensive experience. In addition, expats determined to bring their spouses and young families with them may well feel the short-term limitation of any position might well cause educational problems for their children and decline the move as a result.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour and Social Development has introduced a new extended residence programme known as the Gold Card, aimed at persuading top international talent to relocate to the kingdom. Saudi recruitment agencies and consultants are being asked to analyse which incentives would be most successful in attracting the brightest and best foreign talent, as well as advising on the implementation of the new initiative. The Extended Residence Programme isn’t just tasked with attracting top talent, as it’s also responsible for encouraging expat involvement in Saudi culture as well as increasing the acceptance of foreigners by Saudi Arabian citizens.
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