Since Covid-19 emerged, oil prices have slumped and local jobs evaporated. Kuwait’s government is now considering new quotas that would see roughly half of its 920,000 Indians and 520,000 Egyptians — the two largest expatriate communities that have long been woven into Kuwait’s society and economy — ejected.
While little is known about the shape of the proposed plan before it goes before parliament ahead of elections in November, local media reported up to 1.5 million expatriates could leave by the end of the year.
However, many are not expecting the changes to happen quite so quickly.
Already in 2018, local media reported on a government plan to reduce the expatriate population by 1.5 million over seven years and a similar proposal was floated the following year.
“This isn’t new, it comes up every now and then in Kuwaiti public discourse,” said Ali Mohamed, a researcher at the NGO Migrant-Rights.org. With Indians making up over one quarter of the private sector workforce and surveys showing 70% of private businesses have already shutdown or are “on the brink of collapse,” if they left it would be “catastrophic,” Mohamed said. He added that many Kuwaitis did not want to do the jobs migrants do.
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