Things are changing in Kuwait for the expatriate community,
who look likely to find their numbers slowly being whittled down if new rules
come into force. Like so many Middle Eastern nations, Kuwait is home to a vast number
of expat workers. Within Kuwait these foreign nationals most commonly work in
the construction and domestic care industries.
However concerns are growing over the estimated 2.8 million
foreign workers currently living in the State and what exactly will happen as
they age. After all, it is normal for the costs of healthcare to increase with
age, meaning that an ageing expat population could put the public purse under
Furthermore of course an ageing expat population could make
it harder for Kuwaiti nationals to access their own healthcare system, which
their taxes have funded. If the current pattern of economic immigration
continues to grow at its current rate, the ratio of expat residents to natives
will skew yet further in the future.
Now new rules have been proposed to limit the expat population
to no more than 15% of the total population.
A new law seeks to control the numbers of expats by limiting
the time they can remain in the country; in other words the new policy would
effectively make it impossible for expats to actually retire to the country.
Instead, seeing as most expats enter the country as workers, they would likely
be free to earn a living while of working age before having their residency
status revoked with age.
The proposal would enforce a ten year maximum residency
period, which would only be renewable once and only if strict guidelines has
been met. In this way it would impossible for expats to remain in the country
for more than 20 years in total. After this point they would unable to remain
in the country.
There would also be a maximum upper age limit for the expat
worker population in order to minimize healthcare requirements. The goal is
that unskilled workers would only be present in the country up until the age of
50, while skilled workers such as medical professionals would be welcome up
until 70 years old.
The new rules would mainly affect Asian workers who make up
the vast majority of the imported workforce in Kuwait. The hope of this new
policy, if approved, is that it would slowly reduce the expat population by
around 100,000 a year for the foreseeable future, thus bringing the ratios back
within suggested government guidelines.
The Kuwait government of course has every right to protect
their population and their highly rated healthcare system. Nobody could deny
them the opportunity to repair their finances while prioritizing the local
population and ensuring they can receive all the medical care they need.
That said, some experts have suggested that this new policy
is rather harsh, potentially affecting hard working expatriate retirees. After
all, removing a 70 year old expat who has devoted the last two decades to
creating a life in Kuwait may be rather tough for the worldwide expat community