Each time an expatriate reads the newspaper, it appears they are not only reading the news, but searching for hope. They are searching for a way beyond discriminatory laws, a way beyond being treated as second-class, a way beyond waiting to see whether they or their loved ones will get deported because of their age or education level.
At a company, an expatriate is still seen as a visitor, a temporary resident, an alien, someone dispensable. Their degrees, their intelligence, their service are taken for granted. And in instances where they work harder than anyone in the workforce, their dream of a promotion can be derailed by a local who punches in and out, unless the expatriate happens to hail from specific countries.
And while their children are born here, neither the parents nor their offspring will ever know what it is like to hold a Kuwaiti passport. Their Civil ID will always be another color, a stark reminder of their status.
I wish some MPs really understood the labor economics behind some of the discriminatory laws they wish to impose. Limit expats to 5% of the population. how will this feasibly fulfill the requirements of the HUGE service industry alone? Construction? Education? pic.twitter.com/in4W5Ey3ua— Yasmine A El Charif (@Yasmineelcharif) September 25, 2019
And as they look to locals for support, expatriates notice the voices of local humanitarians are silenced by the deafening roars of lawmakers who rant about demographics to garner votes and money. Like them, these humanitarian locals are not in positions of power to transform the status quo. Unlike them, though, these locals are not worried about getting in trouble with authorities for speaking out against injustice. An expatriate cannot demand his/her rights because they will be told, at best: “This is not your country.” At worst, they will be imprisoned or deported.
The laws meant to protect expatriates are not always implemented, which is why they spend so much time worrying behind closed doors, worried about their family’s future, a future they wanted to build here but may now have to give up on. A future that appears to prod them to leave of their own accord.
Many have already left, many are waiting to leave, and many have no choice but to stay, for they have nowhere to go. It is the latter two groups of expatriates who we need to focus on; they are our last chance to redeem ourselves and to create a harmonious society in which we all thrive, side by side; they are our last chance to salvage what remains of our heritage-a heritage shared by locals and expatriates alike. Ask the latter; they have more stories to tell us since they outnumber us. They have just as much love and commitment to the land as we do.
What separates us is merely the color of our documents, a color that can be overlooked when we hear their stories and how much blood and sweat and tears they shed for this country. Our country and theirs.
Nejoud Al-Yagout is a columnist in Kuwait Times