Kuwiait to freeze expatriate work permits and slash expat numbers

Published:  21 Mar at 6 PM
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In another controversial UAE move against expat workers. Kuwait is to freeze the issuing of work permits to overseas labour and plans to reduce the number of expat workers by over a million.

According to the Kuwaiti Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Thekra al-Rasheedi, the move is intended to reduce the number of expats taking Kuwaiti jobs in the emirate by half from two million to one million. Overseas workers form two-thirds of the emirate’s population of three million.

Rasheedi said the timeline for the scheme was 2023, with around 100,000 overseas workers culled year by year. She added that the move was intended to restore the demographic equilibrium of the country, stop marginal labour and regulate the labour market. From April this year, new work visas will no longer be issued, and there is doubt about the renewing of existing work visas on their expiry. As a result, companies will only be able to hire Kuwaiti nationals, of whom there are at present less than a million of working age.

The move is the latest of similar proposed changes across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, all targeted at expat workers. Projected new laws include removing expat utility subsidies, restricted access to medical services, employers’ taxes on expat workers and more. Earlier this week, Kuwait was named as one of the least tourist-friendly countries in the world in a World Economic Forum travel and tourism survey.
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