Egypt Watch

Renewed controversy over Egypt expatriates in Kuwait

August 20, 2019

The crisis of Egyptian expatriates in Kuwait has returned to the forefront of the news again after a census indicated a rise in the number of Egyptian workers in the country.

According to the newspaper Al Rai, a report issued by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics reported that Kuwait received more than 8,000 Egyptians per month in 2018, for the purpose of work.

The report triggered a government debate, urging Kuwait’s deputies to scrutinise the report and speed up the “replacement of migrant workers by Kuwaitis.”

Kuwaiti MP Safaa al-Hashem described the matter as “crime and disaster,” saying that the report proves that the Kuwaiti government is not serious in the policy of “replacement” and the introduction of Kuwaitis to government jobs.

Al-Hashem said in an article, “the report confirms about 98,000 new work permits to Egyptian citizens have been issued, mostly without a university qualification.”

The controversy opened the door to questions about the impact of this situation on Egypt, if the Kuwaiti government responds to the request of deputies.

In 2017 the Kuwaiti government developed a plan under which foreign workers would be laid off from a range of government jobs.

The plan aims to increase the proportion of Kuwaiti employees to between 70 and 100 per cent of the total workforce in the civil service to reduce the repercussions of the decline in oil revenues, which in turn has raised unemployment levels.

Kuwaiti MP Safaa al-Hashem’s remarks sparked outrage in Egypt. While the Egyptian government refused to comment on Hashem’s remarks, Egyptian MPs called on her to review her remarks, saying “talking about the feasibility of the presence of Egyptian workers is inappropriate and damages the relationship between the two countries.”

Safa al-Hashem has a long history of attacking Egyptian workers in Kuwait, repeatedly demanding their deportation on the grounds that they are dependent on the Kuwaiti economy.