World Economy

Kuwait Worst Country for Expats

Kuwait Worst  Country for ExpatsKuwait Worst  Country for Expats

This week, Kuwait was named as the worst country in the world for expats to live and work.

A quick scan of the news coming out of the country lately and it is no wonder expats say they feel so unwelcome in the country.

The latest annual Expat Insider survey compiled by InterNations ranked Kuwait bottom out of 64 countries based on the views of 14,300 expats from 195 countries, Arabian Business reported.

The survey ranked countries according to a range of indicators including leisure options, ease of settling in, travel and transport, and health, safety and wellbeing.

Kuwait ranked bottom for leisure options, personal happiness, ease of settling in, friendliness and finding friends.

And it was second bottom for quality of life and feeling welcome.

It was 59 and 58 respectively for travel and transport, health, safety and wellbeing.

The only indicators it did not score poorly on were job security and language, for which it ranked 26 and 25 respectively.

InterNations pulled no punches in its summary of the findings, saying: “Unfortunately, the situation is similarly grim when it comes to overall quality of life in Kuwait.

“Many expats are not satisfied with the available leisure options, while others see their personal happiness suffering.”

This is not the first time Kuwait has fared badly in expat polls–it also ranked bottom of 61 countries in last year’s InterNations survey.

The country has been receiving millions of expats since it first discovered oil in 1938–almost three decades before the UAE.

Foreign workers currently account for around 70% of Kuwait’s total 3.3 million population, according to official estimates.

New Crackdown

According to reports, Kuwait plans to introduce a cap on expat numbers in the coming months and restrict them to five years working in the country; it deported 20,000 expats in the first nine months of this year, and has vowed to crackdown on an estimated 115,000 believed to have flouted labor and residency laws.

Also, expats aged over 50 will be forced to leave the country under a new measure announced to reduce the number of foreign workers, Arabic daily Al Anba reported.

The response from Arabian Business reader to coverage of the InterNations survey on last Tuesday was revealing.

One commentator, who called himself James, was especially damming. “Everything is stacked against the expat,” he said.

“Having spent seven years in Kuwait I totally agree (with the survey findings).

“The government wants to reduce the numbers; makes it hard to get simple things like a driving license; allows big companies to break labor laws.

“Rents are expensive, there is nothing socially to do except shop or eat out; it’s not a family-friendly place either. We have to have skill tests, DNA taken etc, but they don't do it to their own citizens."

He concluded: “So, Kuwait, if you want to attract great talent, you need to make us feel welcome and treat us with respect.”

Integration Difficult

Other Persian Gulf Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar also made it to the list of worst countries for expats to live and work in. Saudi Arabia was ranked at the 61st place while Qatar took the 54th position in the poll.

Similar to Kuwait, expats pointed out difficulties of integrating with the local residents. Only 49% of expats in Qatar and Saudi Arabia said that they feel welcomed by the local population, compared to 72% globally. Both countries also lack quality childcare and education options, further decreasing their appeal to expats, the poll showed.

The majority of respondents (26%) surveyed said that they relocated to Saudi Arabia due to financial reasons while that figure was slightly lower for Qatar (13%).

Meanwhile countries such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman were ranked as more favorable compared to the other Persian Gulf Arab countries. They were ranked much ahead at 17th, 19th and 24th places respectively.