Kuwait vows to slash migrant population

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 04 2020 07:01 AM

Filipina workers returning home from Kuwait arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Feb. 18, 2018. Noel Celis, AFP/File 

Kuwait wants to slash the migrant proportion of its population from 70 to 30 percent, state media said Wednesday, with the prime minister vowing to "resolve the demographic imbalance".

Like its Gulf Arab neighbors, oil-rich Kuwait has a large foreign population mostly made up of Middle Eastern and Asian workers.

Out of 4.8 million inhabitants, some 3.3 million are foreign nationals, said Prime Minister Sabah Al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah.

"The ideal demographic situation would be that Kuwaitis make up 70 percent of the population and non-Kuwaitis 30 percent," he told a gathering of local newspaper editors.

"So we face a big challenge in the future to rectify this demographic imbalance."

Like its neighbors, Kuwait's state budgets have been slammed by tumbling oil prices sparked by the novel coronavirus pandemic, pushing it to seek ways to provide more jobs to its own citizens.

State-owned Kuwait Airways said last week it would lay off 1,500 expatriate employees due to "significant difficulties" caused by the pandemic.

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