Kuwait to halve its migrant population to redress the demographic imbalance

The decision will mostly affect the unskilled section of the expatriate community in the country

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Kuwait City
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The Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Al-Sabah has asserted that the country’s migrant population requires to be decreased to 30 percent of the total as the nation struggles to cope with COVID-19 and low oil prices.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million people, and “we have a future challenge to redress this imbalance.”
– Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah
Prime Minister – Kuwait

The remarks follow up with renewed pressure by administrators to decrease the number of overseas workers, especially unskilled labor. MPs are suggesting a quota system as well as substituting all 100,000 emigrant government workers with Kuwaitis.

Experts have pointed out that the small pools of citizens Kuwait has will make it hard to substitute many foreign workers particularly in jobs Kuwaitis are reluctant to take up and will reduce overall consumption.

Gulf economics utilized their oil wealth to increase their populations with immigrant workers and developed vibrant consumer societies. According to calculations from UN Saudi Arabia, besides Germany, is the world’s second-biggest destination for migrants, while the United Arab Emirates last year housed more migrants than France or Canada. Kuwait employs a minimum of 650,000 expatriates mostly from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as domestic workers alone.

As countries in the Gulf unveiled tens of billions of dollars worth of stimulus proposals towards assisting organizations and banks endure the slowdown triggered by COVID-19 and lower oil prices, most proposals considered proprietors rather than workers.

Even though Kuwait has been gradually displacing public-sector expatriates with citizens for a few years now, the pandemic has expedited its efforts. At the end of 2019, only 19% of the Kuwaiti workforce was in the private sector.

In his comments to leading media outlets, Mr. Al-Sabah emphasized that Kuwait needs to broaden its economy away from its addiction to oil, with Oil and related sales valuing for approximately 90% of total government income.