Reactions to Kuwait ban on expats over 60 years old

Published:  29 Aug at 6 PM
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Kuwait’s decision to suspend work and residency permits for expatriates over 60 years of age is drawing heavy criticism from economists as well as expats.

Kuwaiti economics experts are warning the ban will cause problems in the private sector as employers will lose highly experienced expat professionals who cannot be replaced by young Kuwaitis. In addition, the decision violates the regulations of a free economy, and long-stay expats who’ve built their lives in the emirate and have no wish to either stop working of leave are expressing concern about their futures. Former director of the Kuwait Investment Authority Ali al Bader told local media the plan cannot solve the emirate’s unemployment issue affecting young, newly graduated Kuwaitis as they have neither the work experience nor the added qualifications to step into older expat professionals’ shoes.

Abdullah al Mullah, a member of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, agrees up to a point, saying discussing radical changes with the relevant bodies before decisions are made would avoid problems arising from uninformed actions. Such problems, he added, are likely to cause negative effects on Kuwait’s economy. He pointed out the majority of older expatriates affected by the ruling have made Kuwait their and their families’ permanent home, but will be forced to sell up and leave once their permits are revoked. Their loss will affect the emirate’s economy, especially in the retail and real estate sectors.

In reply, financial expert Mohammad Ramadan stated data as to how many expatriates and companies will be affected is necessary before any action is taken, as the future consequences of the move can then be examined. He pointed out one positive effect of the move in that the majority of expat employees within the age group are high-salaried, with employing newly graduated Kuwaitis one way of saving money. Ramadan is also in favour of extending the rule to the public sector, although he agrees the medical and legal sectors should be exempted from the changes.
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