Kuwaiti female MP takes aim at expats again

Published:  18 Jul at 6 PM
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Kuwait’s anti-expat parliamentarian hits out again at foreigners working in the emirate.

Expats living and working in Kuwait could have been forgiven for hoping MP Safa al Hashem would find another cause to sensationalise after her initial anti-expat rants in the country’s parliament. Unfortunately, foreign professionals and other expat workers are in her sights again, as she’s now demanding a 10-year cap on expats’ stays in the emirate as well as a ban on dependent visas with the exception of parents and a doubling of charges for expat recruitment.

After her previously unsuccessful attempts to introduce expat taxes, impose fees on expat money transfer and other anti-expat proposals, the recently-elected MP is still pushing the fact of Kuwait’s demographic imbalance in which foreign workers make up roughly three quarters of the population. She’s calling for harsh measures to correct the imbalance, although exactly where she proposes to get the extra qualified and experienced Kuwaitis to fill the gap hasn’t yet been made clear.

Her given reasons for submitting her anti-expat proposals include the 'fact' that laws governing the employment of foreigners are not being adhered to, allowing expats to work at more than one job and preventing Kuwaitis from taking up the positions. The latest attempt proposes government project contractors be forced to repatriate foreign workers immediately the projects are finished. In addition, she’s calling for the activation of conditions and rules estimating employers’ needs for expat manpower, saying this would control immigration via the recruitment process.

Her suggested total ban on dependent visas with the exception of parents includes a clause allowing other dependents provided the sponsor covers all necessary medical expenses. Recruitment fees paid by sponsors should, she says, be doubled, although she’s prepared to exempt the recruitment of maids and home helps. Highly skilled employees, she adds, might possibly be granted extensions of stay above and beyond the 10-year limit. At present, 3.1 million expatriates live and work in Kuwait, as against 1.35 million Kuwaiti citizens.
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