Kuwait may ban expats from public sector jobs

Author: PM editorial | Date: 2 Nov 2016

Government is looking for ways to rebalance a population in which seven out of 10 are from overseas

The Kuwaiti government is reportedly considering banning expats from public sector jobs in an attempt to employ more nationals and reduce its dependence on importing foreign workers.

Expatriates currently account for an estimated 70 per cent of Kuwait’s 4.3 million population, but the government has been looking for ways to rebalance that, including a higher minimum salary requirement before issuing workers with family visas.

According to Gulf Business, local publication Al-Rai reported that the Supreme Planning Council’s secretariat had suggested expats should be suspended from public sector roles, with the exception of jobs requiring rare specialisations.

Several countries in the region have their own nationalisation plans, which include initiatives to get more locals into work. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is combining nationalisation with the need to diversify its economy beyond oil, because of the unstable value of the commodity in recent times and the fact that it is a finite resource. To do this, the kingdom is expanding the private sector, promoting enterprise and improving education.

Other recommendations made by Kuwait’s Supreme Planning Council included stricter policies relating to those who abscond from work, including travel bans and deportation. Earlier this year, it stopped issuing new work visas to expats over the age of 50.

One of the government’s plans is to build ‘labour cities’ to house foreign workers, which would allow it to more easily control the number of expats entering and exiting the country. Six locations have already been suggested for these cities.