Manama: A Kuwaiti lawmaker has called for the deportation of 280,000 expatriates per year for the next five years to help address the imbalanced demographic in the country.
“There is a critical need to find solutions for the demographic situation in Kuwait,” MP Dr Khalil Abdullah said in remarks published by local daily Al Rai on Sunday.
“We need to have a Kuwaiti population that is at least equal to the number of foreigners who live in the country.
“Since we have 2.5 million expatriates, we need to bring the number down to 1.1 million in the next five years, which means we need to reduce their numbers by 280,000 every year.”
Expatriates with laudable contributions to the prosperity of the nation and with commendable experience to serve the country and the citizens should not be included in the mass-deportation, Dr Abdullah said.
“The determining factor should be the experience and contributions of the expatriate, not the number of years he or she has spent in Kuwait,” he said.
He added that reducing the number of foreigners has become a necessity to ease the pressure on the local infrastructure and to eliminate congestions in all state institutions.
“It will also help local Kuwaiti men and women find employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors, especially that there are increasingly obvious unemployment indicators in the country and the list of people seeking jobs getting longer,” Dr Abdullah said.
He did not mention specific nationalities, although he did say some were more prominent than others.
“The fact that Kuwait is home to twice as many foreigners as locals is a dangerous indication about the social economic and service conditions in the country,” he said.
The call by the lawmaker is the second public proposal from a member of the Kuwaiti parliament in less than a month to deport a swathe of expatriates.
On January 29, MP Abdullah Al Tamimi said the number of expatriates in the country should be reduced by more than 1.3 million in five years, arguing that the country’s demographic balance required the imposition of a five-year cap with 20 per cent of foreigners leaving Kuwait every year.
“There is an urgent need to adjust the demographic balance in the country,” Al Tamimi said then.
“We cannot accept that the number of foreigners is higher than that of Kuwaiti citizens in their own country. Since there are 1.2 million Kuwaitis, then the number of expatriates in the country should not exceed that figure.
"This means that 1.35 million foreigners have to leave the country within the next five years.”
According to official January figures, the 1,242,490 Kuwaitis make up slightly less than one third (31.3 per cent) of the total population of 3,965,022.
Foreigners from Asian countries, at 1,499,929, make up 37.8 per cent of the total population.
Under the Al Tamimi proposal, no foreign community should make up more than 25 per cent of the total number of expatriates.
“This is very crucial for security, economic and social reasons,” he said.
MP Yagoob Al Sayegh attributed the call by lawmakers to limit the number of foreigners in Kuwait to their concerns about the demographic composition of the country.
“I myself had put in a proposal to address this situation,” he said. “They are all personal efforts to find solutions, but we do not have an expert opinion that looks at the situation from various angles,” he said.
Arab communities make up 27.9 per cent of Kuwait’s foreign population with 1,106,605, including 391,578 women and 715,027 men.
Kuwait is also home to 76,698 Africans, mainly women with 68,346, while men are 8,352.
European men slightly outnumber women, 7,590 to 7,051. The number of expatriates from North America is 21,512, including 8,681 women and 12,840 men.
There are 1,706 Australians, 777 women and 929 men, living in Kuwait by the end of the year.
Expatriates from South America have the lowest figure with 1,431 people, made up of 807 men and 625 women.