Are expats in Kuwait being used as scapegoats

Published:  18 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Money, Jobs
Since the New Kuwaiti parliament was sworn in some two months ago, its entire focus is being seen as scapegoating expats in the emirate rather than debating other concerns.

Expat professionals working in Kuwait are uneasy about the seeming concentration on expat levels as against the numbers of Kuwaiti nationals. The expat author of an article in the Kuwait Times believes the government’s perceived xenophobia is over-exaggerated, adding that a majority of local media outlets are publishing comments alleging the expat population is destroying Kuwait.

Columnist Badrya Darwish is concerned about the seeming trend towards vilifying expats, saying the official focus should be on the economy, childrens’ education and Kuwait’s future development. Expats, she writes, should not be the focus for blame simply because they are working in the country. Kuwait, she says, needs expats, especially in the field of 21st century medicine, adding that publishing the comparative number of expats versus Kuwaitis in the healthcare sector doesn’t mean anything.

Darwish’s main concern is both personal and related to the expat community as a whole, in that she now feels perhaps the issue is being manipulated in order to make the presence of expats the emirate’s worst nightmare. Many expatriates, she writes, are doing perfectly good jobs, have respect for the local culture and have taken the decision to leave their homelands to further their careers as well as to earn money for their families.

A further concern is the Kuwaiti local media’s concentration on expat remittances and salaries, in spite of the fact that even lower-level expat workers are genuinely needed in Kuwait. The money being sent overseas to workers’ families is money which has been earned by hard work in a range of jobs, and workers invariably spend the majority of their earnings in the country.

The article makes an interesting point in that the excessive numbers of expats could well be the result of human trafficking from poorer countries. Darwish points out that expats in general are being blamed for the increasing numbers, rather than putting the blame on those engaged in the horrendous trade.
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