Foreigners could face a 15-year cap on their living and working in the country
Amid the COVID-19 crisis and increasingly louder cries to address the demographic imbalance in Kuwait, a top government committee presented parliament a master plan that could establish a 25 percent population quota for foreigners and a 15-year cap on their living and working in the country, Kuwaiti media reported.
Parliamentary sources told Al-Rai newspaper the plan, which has entered the stage of extensive preparations, and which includes many scenarios that will address the imbalance, including making changes into the residency law, enacting new legislation, implementing the quota system for foreign communities, and an increase in fees imposed on expatriates.
Sources said the plan includes not allowing the visiting visa to be converted into residency visa, not transferring from the government sector to the private sector, not granting residency to those over the age of 60 and setting a 15-year cap on the residency of expatriates, as well as imposing additional fees on renewing visas and fees related to other government transactions.
The quota system will be the cornerstone of the comprehensive plan to address the demographic makeup, and it will establish a 25 percent cap on expatriate communities.
Currently, 3,300,000 expatriates live in Kuwait, constituting 70 percent of the total population of 4,700,000 — Kuwaitis only make up 30 percent of the population or 1,400,000 people.
The concentration of some communities in the ministries of health and education will be addressed in several ways, the sources said but did not mention a timeline as to when the plan will be announced or implemented.
Khalil Al Saleh, head of the parliamentary Human Resources Development Committee, said the demographics committee has been given two weeks to present its report.
“We want to know the mechanism of applying the quota and nationalities that will be dealt with in the future, especially as Kuwaitis do not exceed 30 percent of the population, and we want to know the government’s vision to address the issue of imbalance in the demographic structure,” he said.
Foreigners account for 63 percent of the GCC population
Official figures show that 30,182,000 people or 63.35 percent of the population of the GCC countries are foreigners, while the total number of citizens is 27,310,000, or 36.65 percent of the total population.
According to the latest statistics issued by the six countries, the total population of Kuwait reached 4.7 million, the proportion of citizens of whom 30 percent to reach 1.4 million, while the expatriates constitute the largest proportion of 3.3 million or 70 percent of the population of the country.
With a total population of 34.2 million, Saudi Arabia tops the six countries in the proportion of citizens to expatriates, with 21,100,000 citizens or 61.6 percent of the total population, while the number of foreigners reached 13.1 million or 38.4 percent.
In Oman, the second Gulf country whose citizens outnumber foreigners, the total population is 4.6 million, of which 2.7 million or 58.6 percent are Omanis, while foreigners account for 1.9 million or 41.4 percent of the total population.
In Bahrain, there is a balance between citizens and foreigners, with a population of 1.484 million, of whom 702,000 are citizens or 47.4 percent, and the number of foreigners is 782,000 or 52.6 percent.
In the UAE, which has a population of about 9.7 million, citizens account for 11.3 percent, or 1.1 million, while the number of foreigners reached 8.6 million or 88.7 percent.
In Qatar, the total population is 2.8 million, of whom 308,000 are citizens or 11 percent, while foreigners amount to 2.5 million or 89 percent of the population.