With the Kuwait government deciding to halve the Gulf country’s expatriate population to 30% of the total amid a slump in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, around 8 lakh Indians could be forced to leave the country.
Kuwait National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee has approved the draft expat quota bill, according to which Indians should not exceed 15% of the population. The bill will now be transferred to the respective committee so that a comprehensive plan is created, according to reports.
Gulf News reported that ‘this could result in 800,000 Indians leaving Kuwait, as the Indian community constitutes the largest expat community in Kuwait, totalling 1.45 million’. Of the 4.3 million population of Kuwait, expats account for 3 million.
The anti-expat rhetoric have spiked since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with lawmakers and governmental officials call for reducing the number of foreigners in Kuwait.
According to latest data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 49,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country.
The report stated that ‘last month, Kuwait’s prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, proposed decreasing the number of expats from 70 per cent to 30 per cent of the population’.
Gulf economies leveraged their oil wealth to expand their populations with foreign workers and build vibrant consumer societies. Saudi Arabia, alongside Germany, is the world’s second-biggest destination for migrants, while the United Arab Emirates last year hosted more migrants than France or Canada, according to United Nations estimates. In Kuwait, at least 650,000 expatriates, mostly from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, are employed as domestic workers alone.
Foreigners have accounted for the majority of Kuwait’s virus cases as the disease spread among migrant workers living in overcrowded housing. While Kuwait lifted its 24-hour curfew on Sunday, some areas remain under isolation in a bid to stem the outbreak.