Kuwait cracks down on expat traffic violations

Published:  23 Nov at 6 PM
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Fierce criticisms of Kuwait’s intent to deport foreigners committing two traffic violations are coming from Kuwaitis as well as expats.

Kuwait’s war with the expat community hit new lows this week with a promise that expats caught committing a traffic violation for the second time would be deported. Specific crimes included using a cell phone whilst driving or not wearing a seat belt, activities which seem fairly common amongst Kuwaiti drivers in general. Howls of protest came from locals as well as the expat community, and legal experts are warning against the clampdown.

Professor of international law at the University of Kuwait Mudawas al Rashidi told local media the government needs to be cautious over deporting foreign residents for failure to fasten their seat belts. He believes other countries might decide to behave in a similar manner towards Kuwaiti expats, including threatening students with deportation for minor offences, and a number of lawmakers are also questioning the new rule’s constitutional legitimacy.

The crackdown on foreign motorists began several weeks ago with the usual blaming and shaming the expat community for the demographic imbalance as well as the number of cars on the roads. Motoring offences, mostly minor, are now resulting in the impounding of cars for months, with local social media sites crammed with critical comments posted by both expats and Kuwaitis.

At the same time, a representative of Kuwait’s interior ministry signed an agreement allowing motorists in the emirate to renew their driving licenses at kiosks or online. The issuing of ‘smart’ licenses will be done by a specialist Polish company, and the process will save a great deal of time both for the licensing authority and for citizens requiring renewals. The kiosks will be put in place across the country, and renewals using mobile phones will be even easier. The old system will continue in tandem until the new one is fully understood by users.
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