Holidaying expats refused flights home after new Kuwaiti ID system gets it wrong

Published:  19 Jul at 6 PM
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Expats living and working in Kuwait who’ve taken their annual holidays in Europe are facing problems due to the emirate’s new-style ID residency system.

It’s normal for expats working in the UAE to holiday either back in the home country or in other resort areas, but many have been refused permission to depart and return to Kuwait. The issue seems to be the wording on the newly-introduced civil ID residency scheme which resulted in the ‘residency’ sticker being removed from their passports. Customs offices at home airports are refusing permission to leave the countries as the civil ID does not specifically state ‘residency ID’ or state an expiry date.

A number of those affected called their embassies’ emergency services, with officials forced to call the airports affected and explain the new system, thus allowing the passengers to board their flights home. Further confusion occurred when local media write-ups of the situation as it affects Kuwaiti bank accounts as well as travel insisted on describing the language used on official documents as ‘Latin’ rather than English – an odd mistake but worth a few jokes. Expats attempting to update their bank data were also having their IDs rejected as the ‘Latin’ version contains two parts whilst traditional Arabic names have four parts. It seems the systems used for updating don’t recognise the foreign names.

As a result, urgent changes have been made to the PACI site, allowing expats to check their personal details online and correct their names if necessary. It seems this has been an ongoing problem for citizens as well as expats as Arab names can be very similar, as one unfortunate Kuwaiti national found after he'd been arrested and imprisoned due to his name being similar to that of a wanted criminal. After the mistake was noticed and the man released, a local court awarded him compensation for his ordeal.
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