20200510 kuwait
A top Kuwait government committee has presented a master plan to parliament to limit the number of foreigners in the country. Image Credit: iStock

Abu Dhabi: Amid the COVID-19 crisis and increasingly loud cries to address the demographic imbalance in Kuwait, a government committee presented parliament with a masterplan that could establish a 25 per cent population quota for foreigners and a 15-year cap on their living and working in the country.

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 to the residency law, new legislations, implementing a 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; not transferring from the government sector to the private sector; not granting residency to those over 60 years; and setting a 15-year cap on residency for 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 a comprehensive plan to address the demographic makeup, and it will establish a 25 per cent cap on expatriate communities.

Heavy concentration

Currently, 3.3 million expatriates live in Kuwait, constituting 70 per cent of the total population of 4.7 million.

The concentration of some communities in the ministries of health and education will be addressed in several ways, 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 per cent of the population, and we want to know the government’s vision to address the issue of imbalance in the demographic structure,” he said.

Repeated elsewhere

Official figures show that 30.18 million people - or 63.35 per cent of the population of the GCC countries - are foreigners, while the total number of citizens is 27.31 million, or 36.65 per cent 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 being 30 per cent or 1.4 million.

With a total population of 34.2 million, Saudi Arabia tops the six countries in the proportion of citizens to expatriates, with 21.1 million citizens or 61.6 per cent of the total, while the number of foreigners reached 13.1 million.

In Oman, the second Gulf country where citizens outnumber foreigners, the total population is 4.6 million, of which 2.7 million are Omanis.

In Bahrain, there is a balance between citizens and foreigners, with a population of 1.48 million, of whom 702,000 are citizens, or 47.4 per cent, and the number of foreigners is 782,000.

In the UAE, which has a population of about 9.7 million, citizens account for 11.3 per cent, or 1.1 million, while the number of foreigners reached 8.6 million.

In Qatar, the total population is 2.8 million, of whom 308,000 are citizens or 11 per cent.