The National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee has determined that the draft expat quota bill is constitutional, Kuwait Times reported. The bill is to be transferred to the respective committee so that a comprehensive plan is created.
According to the bill, Indian’s should not exceed 15 percent of the population. This could result in 800,000 Indians leaving Kuwait, as the Indian community constitutes the largest expat community in Kuwait, totaling 1.45 million.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a spike in anti-expat rhetoric as lawmakers and governmental officials call for reducing the number of foreigners in Kuwait. Last month, Kuwait’s prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, proposed decreasing the number of expats from 70 per cent to 30 per cent of the population.
The current population of Kuwait is 4.3 million, with Kuwaitis making up 1.3 million of the population, and expats accounting for 3 million. Kuwait will no longer hire expatriates for jobs in its oil sector as the OPEC member moves to reduce the number of foreigners in the country.
Non-Kuwaiti nationals won’t be hired at Kuwait Petroleum Corp., the main state-run energy producer, and its subsidiaries for 2020-2021, Kuwait News Agency reported, citing Oil Minister Khaled Al-Fadhel.
Kuwait doesn’t want to be an expat-majority nation anymore. Kuwait’s prime minister last week said the country’s expatriate population should be more than halved to 30% of the total, as the coronavirus pandemic and a slump in oil prices send shudders through Gulf economies.
Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population, and “we have a future challenge to redress this imbalance,” Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah said.
A Kuwaiti lawmaker has proposed replacing expatriates in jobs at the parliament amid a stepped-up campaign in the country to curb the numbers of foreigners in the country. Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.
MP Osama Al Chahin said he has tabled his proposal to the National Assembly or the parliament to “Kuwaitise” all permanent and temporary advisory jobs in the legislature. “My proposal is based on the vital importance of giving all public jobs to Kuwaitis,” he said, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai. “Advisory jobs are very important in phrasing the [parliament’s] reports, recommendations and results,” he added. The parliamentarian called for replacing all foreigners working in various committees and offices of the assembly within a timeframe to be set and made public by the legislature. The number of foreign employees at the Kuwaiti parliament is not clear.
In recent weeks, several Kuwaiti public figures have demanded curtailing numbers of expatriates in the country, accusing them of straining the country’s health facilities and increasing the COVID-19 threat. Earlier this month, Kuwait said it would no longer employ expatriates in its oil sector.
Last month, a number of Kuwaiti lawmakers presented a draft bill suggesting a quota system for employing foreigners as one way to redress the demographic imbalance in the country. According to the proposed quota system, the numbers of Indian workers should not exceed 15 per cent of the overall Kuwaiti population while those of Egyptian expatriates should stand at a maximum 10 per cent. Indians and Egyptians are among the largest foreign communities in Kuwait.
The authors of the draft said that the demographic imbalance in Kuwait has spawned problems in recent years, becoming more conspicuous and serious since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
In April, the Kuwaiti government announced a pardon plan for illegal migrants in the country to encourage them to leave the country. The pardon offers the illegal expatriates exemption from punishment and free home return flights. Thousands of expats have reportedly applied to be covered by the amnesty and ensuing repatriation.
India has announced nine more repatriation flights from the UAE, ticket sales for which will open later on Friday. Air India Express will operate these flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to south Indian cities from Sharjah, according to the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
“All Indian nationals are advised to take note of direct sale of Air India Express flights from Sharjah. Following flights will be opened for sale effective 4 p.m. UAE Time on July 3. Make sure to book your tickets once the sale is live,”
The flights scheduled to operate from July 9 to 14 are flying to Madurai, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli, Kochi and Hyderabad, Gulf news reported.
Some Indians later in the evening posted on the Twitter page of the mission that all tickets were sold out soon, while some others stated that they faced some technical issues in purchasing the ticket online.
One post said: “Within few minutes tickets are sold. There are thousands of people stranded and few flights are not enough. Please add more flights or give permission to additional UAE airlines. We are struck here without job, money and 1 or 2 flights not enough. Please help us.” Sources said the airline was looking into the complaints.