Op-ed by Kuwaiti author captures the negative sentiments guiding the treatment of expats
In a recent online poll, Arab Times asked “ voters what they foresee Kuwait to be in the next ten years. An overwhelming majority, 54%, of the voters said there would be a massive reduction in the expatriate population in the state.” Further, some respondents said that “Kuwait’s unfriendly attitude towards expatriates, seeing them as job-stealers and hollowing out the country’s social services, will cause expatriates to leave the country” (see Arab Times Nov 72013).
I think that the reduction of the Expat population in Kuwait is a good step. In addition to decreasing the number of jobs Kuwaiti citizens can occupy, the increase in the number of expats in Kuwait exhausts the country social and health services.The recent Arab Times’ poll might have relied more on opinions of those who are directly affected by the reduction of expat population. However, from a “Kuwaiti” point of view, reducing the number of expats in Kuwait may actually help us as Kuwaitis to rely more on our national labor force. For example, the reduction of the expat workers does not mean that many of us Kuwaitis do no appreciate what our expatriate friends and partners have done for Kuwait and its people. However, one needs to face reality! For instance, it is logical to predict that we as Kuwaitis have to rely gradually on our national workers; these citizens-workers, technicians, medics, accountants, software programmers will one day take over from expatriates. Actually, it is much more practical today to recruit GCC citizens, who can work along with their Kuwaiti fellow GCC citizens, instead of recruiting employees from outside the Gulf region.
I do personally wish that the prediction that came out of the recent Arab Times’ poll comes true! Countries all over the world have the right to dedicate their national resources for their own people first. Any country around the world needs to depend on its national laborer workforce. For example, the new Kuwaiti generations are up to the job of substituting some expats. Despite what represents sometimes a bad feeling toward Kuwaiti younger generations, still, these Kuwait citizens are more entitled to benefit from Kuwait’s resources and wealth.
There are some people who assume that Kuwaitis will not fully rely on themselves. Such people usually cite the affluent and luxurious way of life many of us Kuwaitis enjoy. However, one needs to be partial in evaluating a nation’s potential. As a Kuwaiti I do not accept any of the anti-Kuwaiti rhetoric used by some people who work in Kuwait. For example, citing the phenomenon of obesity in Kuwait as an indication of the hollowing of our health services due to our nationals food consumption is a half-truth. In other words, I assume that the mentioning of obesity in the recent Arab Times poll seems allude to our typical Kuwaiti lifestyle. No one has the right to vent their anger on Kuwait, while at the same time continue to exploit its resources, and ridicule or belittle its people.
By Khaled Aljenfawi