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Recession 'behind Kuwaiti expat exodus'

Nearly 17,000 expatriate workers left Kuwait in the first half of 2009 due to widespread job losses, it has been reported.

Many would have had no option but to return home, as under the country’s law, no foreigner can live in the Kuwait without a valid permit, which is dependent on employment.

According to Arabic newspaper Al-Seyassah, sources suggest the number of those who lost their jobs may even be much higher as the figures only relate to the private sector.

In addition, many of those dismissed or made redundant may have chosen to stay on in the oil-rich emirate illegally, it added.

More than 70 per cent of those returning home are believed to be Asian workers, who make up the majority of Kuwait’s foreign workforce.

Native Kuwaitis make up just 31.6 per cent of the emirate’s population, claims AFP.

The news agency reports that of the country’s expatriates, Asians number 1.33 million, Arabs 971,000, and Europeans, Americans and Australians 35,000.

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