One mil­lion ex­pats out!

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Muna Al-Fuzai muna@kuwait­

Kuwait has an im­bal­ance be­tween the cit­i­zen and the ex­pa­tri­ate pop­u­la­tions. This is noth­ing new, as nearly all Gulf coun­tries are also fac­ing the same prob­lem. Re­cently, Far­waniya Gov­er­nor Sheikh Faisal Al-Hamoud AlSabah made a press state­ment stat­ing that the great­est dan­ger fac­ing the coun­try is marginal and il­le­gal work­ers, adding that they con­sti­tute a bur­den on the so­ci­ety and its safety. He called for the de­por­ta­tion of one mil­lion ex­pat marginal la­bor­ers who have no jobs or work con­tracts.

I agree he is very right, but how to do so? Who will be do­ing this - the in­te­rior min­istry or the min­istry of so­cial af­fairs and la­bor? Will the cam­paign in­clude ar­eas like Jleeb Al-Shuy­oukh? The min­is­ter of so­cial af­fairs and la­bor con­firmed in pre­vi­ous press state­ments that there will be a “con­nec­tion be­tween de­ci­sions re­lated to ex­pats and man­power, as well as the du­ra­tion of their stay in the coun­try - it will not be wide open as it was in the past”.

In Kuwait, there are res­i­dents of ap­prox­i­mately 116 na­tion­al­i­ties, and ad­dress­ing the de­mo­graphic im­bal­ance has eco­nomic, se­cu­rity and so­cial con­se­quences. I know some ex­pats do not like such talk be­cause they see it as a threat to their stay in the coun­try, but this is not true. If you were brought to Kuwait by le­gal chan­nels for a real job, then you have noth­ing to worry about. But I am, for ex­am­ple, against the grow­ing num­ber of Arab ex­pa­tri­ates in sen­si­tive jobs that can be re­placed by ci­ti­zens, such as at the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Can any sane per­son ex­plain why type­set­ters at such a sen­si­tive place are not ci­ti­zens, con­sid­er­ing that the type­set­ter pro­fes­sion can eas­ily ab­sorb thou­sands of ci­ti­zens, es­pe­cially in a place like the As­sem­bly? The ques­tion will al­ways re­main over what can be done. How can we con­trol the ab­nor­mal in­crease in ex­pat num­bers? Should we stop is­su­ing visas to maids and house­hold work­ers, or should we dis­bar a few na­tion­al­i­ties that cause trou­ble in the coun­try and af­fect its se­cu­rity? We can make real and fair stud­ies and is­sue de­ci­sions that may not please ev­ery­one, but will this set things right?

We ci­ti­zens must be role mod­els. Why don’t we ac­cept re­duc­ing the num­ber of maids in our houses? Why should ev­ery house have at least two or three maids, as de­cided by so­ci­etal norms? Then we com­plain about the de­mo­graphic im­bal­ance, which we al­lowed to take place! So these claims of ex­pul­sions are fake, and the im­bal­ance will re­main for a long time, not be­cause all these num­bers of peo­ple are re­quired, but be­cause there are ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this tam­per­ing in the de­mo­graph­ics of the state. Kuwait, since its in­cep­tion, wel­comed with open arms all ex­pats and pro­vided them with es­sen­tial ser­vices, com­fort and safety. But the grow­ing phe­nom­e­non of un­em­ploy­ment among ex­pats, ac­com­pa­nied by an in­crease in crime in the Kuwaiti so­ci­ety, is an is­sue of con­cern. The Far­waniya gov­er­nor knows this best as it is the gov­er­norate that has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of ex­pats. Fig­ures by the Gen­eral Author­ity for Civil In­for­ma­tion show Kuwait’s pop­u­la­tion in­creased in 2015 to more than 4 mil­lion peo­ple, in­clud­ing 1.3 mil­lion ci­ti­zens and 2.7 mil­lion ex­pats. Pre­vi­ous re­ports in­di­cate that 56 per­cent of ex­pa­tri­ate work­ers do me­nial jobs that Kuwaitis do not want, such as couri­ers, farm­ers, ser­vants, driv­ers and other low-paid jobs.

The most im­por­tant ques­tion is why don’t we de­ter­mine a per­cent­age for ex­pa­tri­ate num­bers and clas­sify the jobs we need? Why some com­pa­nies are al­lowed, for ex­am­ple, to bring in a large num­ber of work­ers, then throw them on the streets? These peo­ple are vic­tims of traf­fick­ing. They do not have the power or the means to change the mis­er­able sit­u­a­tion they face af­ter their ar­rival in Kuwait, and try to cope with the dif­fi­cul­ties. So it is natural that some of them may beg or turn to theft, un­til they get ar­rested and im­pris­oned or de­ported.

The gov­er­nor is right and made a great point. The is­sue is a sim­ple one, but need im­me­di­ate de­ci­sions...

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