Kuwait's foreign population, which vastly outnumbers its own citizens, dropped by 4.7 percent last year, according to an official report published Saturday, March 17.
The number of foreigners living in Kuwait fell in 2000 to 1.375 million from 1.443 million the previous year, Al-Shall Economic Consultants said in its weekly economic report, quoting the Public Authority for Civil Information.
At the same time, the number of Kuwaiti nationals increased to 842,000, an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent, the independent think-tank said.
The total population dropped 1.7 percent in 2000 to 2.217 million from 2.255. That was the second consecutive annual decline.
A planning ministry report in March said the number of Kuwaitis would exceed a million in 2007 at the current growth rate.
The fall in the number of foreigners has boosted the percentage of Kuwaitis in the population to 38 percent, the highest since 1994. Arabs, including Kuwaitis, made up 66 percent of the total population.
Total manpower in Kuwait reached 1.196 million, of whom 233,000, or 19.5 percent, were Kuwaiti. The government employs about 93 percent of Kuwaiti work force.
A government decision last April to apply a costly health insurance scheme on expatriates is believed to have forced many foreign families to return home for financial reasons.
Kuwait's foreign population comprises, among other nationalities, around 295,000 Indians, 274,000 Egyptians, 157,000 Bangladeshis, 101,000 Pakistanis and 100,000 Sri Lankans. About 300,000 of them are employed as domestic helpers, coming mostly from Asia.
In contrast, Britons and other Europeans, Americans and Canadians make up less than 20,000 of the population. — (AFP, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)