The fifth batch of “192 Pakistani medical professionals arrived in Kuwait” on June 17. Image Credit: Courtesy: Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis

Islamabad: As many as 938 Pakistani health professionals have travelled to Kuwait since October last year following the resumption of visas that opened new job opportunities for professionals.

The fifth batch of “192 Pakistani medical professionals arrived in Kuwait” on June 17 and they were welcomed by Community Welfare Attaché, Farrukh Amir Sial, the Pakistan embassy in Kuwait shared on Twitter.

Pakistan officials began talks with Kuwait in 2020, after which the first group of 208 doctors, nurses and medical technicians travelled to Kuwait on October 22, 2020, after more than a decade under the health agreement signed between the two countries to build closer ties, according to the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and HRD.

The resumption of visas comes after a decade-long suspension “is the result of successful discussions between Pakistan and Kuwait, opening up employment opportunities for Pakistani medics despite COVID-19” pandemic, the ministry said.

Kuwait had suspended visas for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2011 citing “difficult security conditions” in the five countries.

Last month, Kuwait also announced to reopen business and family visas for Pakistani nationals, following a meeting between Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah in Kuwait City. “The resumption of work visas will create new employment opportunities for Pakistanis and business visas will boost trade between the two countries” the interior minister had said.

Pakistanis in GCC and Kuwait

Pakistani expats play an important role in the economic development of the Gulf states and also serve as a vital source of income for Pakistan through the transfer of remittances.

Foreigners account for nearly 70 per cent (3.3 million) of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population and Pakistanis constitute one of the largest sections of the expat population. However, the number of Pakistani expats in Kuwait is lesser as compared to other GCC states. In 2019, over half a million Pakistani workers headed to the GCC countries, of which only 126 travelled to Kuwait.