Kuwait Introduces Startling New Driving Rules for Expats

The last few months have seen consistent changes to how
expats are treated in Kuwait. Concerns over the numbers of expats flooding to
the kingdom, together with the artificially high salaries they expect and the
way they prevent native Kuwaitis from landing those same jobs are high on the

Now a further attack on the expat population in Kuwait seems
sure to cause uproar when it is introduced. Like so many other recent changes
its goal is to create more of a ‘level playing field’ for native Kuwaitis to
obtain gainful employment. On the other hand many expats will see these new
rules as cutting down on their freedom and the overall attractiveness of Kuwait
as an expat destination.

The latest suggestions aim to place controls over expats
driving in the kingdom. For starters, it has been proposed that expat workers
should not be allowed to take up a profession involving driving – such as taxi
drivers. The supposed goal is to curb the number of vehicles on the road which
has led to serious congestion over recent months. However of course another
benefit is that this industry will then open up for local Kuwaiti workers.

However this is really just the tip of the iceberg for
expats in Kuwait. For one, new restrictions on even obtaining a driving license
are currently being proposed. If approved, Kuwaiti driving licences would only
be issued after a two year residency permit has been approved.

Furthermore, additional requirements must be met before a license
is approved. Among these are both educational and financial; only those with a
university degree earning over a certain salary will be entitled to a driving
license in Kuwait. This new ruling is therefore most likely to impact the less
educated and/or lower paid expats, while having little effect on those higher
up the corporate ladder.

The proposed ruling will not just cut down the number of
cars on the road, but has also been specifically designed to target drivers of
older, less safe vehicles. In doing so, the newer vehicles should be left on
the road, making for an overall safer driving experience for everyone with
fewer vehicles and higher levels of safety helping to fuel this situation.

Note that there are some exclusions proposed, and the list can
be considered extensive. Therefore expats living in Kuwait – or planning to do
so – should check carefully to ensure they fully understand the new rules and
whether or not they will be impacted. As always, in Kuwait, those caught
breaking the rules are unlikely to be treated leniently.


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