Coronavirus (COVID-19) Middle East

Sun 12 July 2020:

Almost 1.5 million expatriate workers are expected to leave Kuwait by year’s end as economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic forced companies to cut their workforce to save on costs and remain afloat.

Likewise, the government’s decision to lower the number of expats living in the country, through a new residency law, and its continuing Kuwaitization of jobs in the public sector also hit migrant workers.

Over 158,000 expat workers have already left the country only in a span of 116 days, or from March 16 until July 9, many of whom have been laid off because of the coronavirus crisis, local newspaper Arab Times reported.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.

In recent months, there has been an exodus of migrant workers from the Gulf countries amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus that has taken a toll on the economy.

The Egyptian and Indian expats communities were hit the hardest, the report said.

The draft of Kuwait’s new residency law would limit the number of foreign nationals recruited by companies each year and will include regulations based on their skills, Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh was earlier reported as saying.

The Kuwait parliament aims to have the legislation ready by October, prior to the November elections.

Many expatriates have departed from Kuwait due to financial hardships after several private sector enterprises terminated the services of large numbers of their employees as a result of financial losses incurred because of COVID-19, Al Rai said.
In recent months, several Kuwaiti public figures have accused expatriates, mainly the unskilled labour, of straining the country’s health facilities and increasing the COVID-19 threat.

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