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Kuwait to tighten driving restrictions on expatriates

Licences of students who graduate and housewives who find work to be withdrawn

Gulf News

Kuwait City: Kuwait is to tighten its already strict controls on driving by the 68 per cent of its population who are expats, withdrawing driver’s licences from students who have graduated and from housewives who have found work, press reports said on Tuesday.

The move, which is expected to affect tens of thousands of foreigners, comes after the deportation of hundreds of expatriates for traffic offences over the past two months.

For nearly a decade, Kuwait has imposed tight conditions on its 2.6 million expats’ eligibility to apply for driver’s licences.

Most foreigners are required to hold a university degree, earn 400 dinars (Dh5,133) a month and have lived in the emirate for at least two years.

Students and housewives with children were among those exempted from the conditions, along with engineers, judges, lawyers and journalists.

But now the traffic department is reviewing the list of exemptions, interior ministry undersecretary for traffic affairs Major General Abdul Fattah Al Ali told Kuwaiti newspapers.

He said the department will start cancelling licences for students when they graduate and housewives who get a job.

Since his appointment to the post about two months ago, Al Ali has been leading a campaign in which hundreds of expatriates have been deported for driving without a licence and other traffic offences, even without a court order.

Al Ali described the offences concerned as “grave” but they have included jumping a red light for a second time, breaking the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour and using a vehicle to carry paying passengers.

Kuwaiti citizens who commit similar traffic offences can face impoundment of their vehicle but only by order of a court.

The Kuwait Society for Human Rights has called on the government to halt the deportations describing them as “oppressive”.

But the campaign has received strong backing from the pro-government parliament.