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Kuwait Times, Thu, Dec 14, 2023 | Jamada Al-Aakhirah 1, 1445

All types of visas to open soon

Kuwait: Interior Minister Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah on Wednesday promised to open all types of visas for expats, especially dependent visas, following the approval of amendments to the residence law by the National Assembly next week, a lawmaker said. MP Abdulwahab Al-Essa, head of the Assembly’s committee entrusted to improve the business environment in the country, said the minister’s pledge came after a meeting with him during which he explained major problems facing expats and local businesses because of the long closure of visas.

Essa said he has received many complaints from the private sector about the adverse impact of stopping dependent visas for expats on the market and expats themselves. He added he asked the Assembly for permission to study the impact of freezing dependent visas and other visas on the private sector, small businesses and the market in general.

“We have found that Kuwait has become a swamp of expat single men, as high-qualified and skilled people have deserted the country as a result of the freezing of dependent visas,” Essa said in a statement. Skilled expats working in Kuwait were readily and immediately leaving Kuwait whenever they got any job opportunity in other Gulf states or anywhere else “because no expat is prepared to continue living here without their wives and children”, he said. “So, expats left here are mostly the ones not needed by other countries,” the lawmaker explained.

Essa said the closure of visas has also triggered a shortage of manpower, leading to a rise in the cost of manpower and eventually negatively impacting the cost of construction. He said he took all these complaints to the interior minister during the meeting. “I told him directly that decisions on residency issues in Kuwait should not only take into consideration security and military factors. The economic factor must play an important role in those decisions,” he said.

“The minister was very understanding and promised me that after the National Assembly approves (amendments to) the residency law in the next session (Dec 19-20), and once they become effective, the minister will scrap all restrictions on the issuance of visas in Kuwait,” Essa said. Lifting restrictions will not only include family visas, but will reopen the country and bring commercial life back to normal, he said.

The lawmaker also said he met with the head of the Assembly’s interior and defense committee, which is studying amendments to the residency law, and he was promised the draft law will be ready for debate on Dec 19-20.

Meanwhile, MP Mohannad Al-Sayer criticized on Wednesday ministers for not speeding up the replacement of expats in government jobs with Kuwaitis. He said ministers told him that they have dismissed many expat advisors but they have failed to appoint Kuwaitis in their places. He called on them to speed up the process to create more jobs for citizens.

During Wednesday’s session, MPs debated a draft law calling on the government to establish a state-owned advanced manufacturing holding company based on oil. MPs said the company will provide Kuwait with a new source of income to help the country diversify its sources of income, which currently heavily depends on oil. The company is also expected to create many new jobs for Kuwaiti citizens.

MP Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the draft law aims to oblige the government to establish the project, and since the government has failed in implementing the idea, it is bound to fail in implementing the project. He added the government should be held accountable for its failures. Oil Minister Saad Al-Barrak said the government agrees to the draft law in principle and will submit its amendments to the legislation on Thursday. MPs then approved the draft law in the first reading and the second and final round of votes is expected after two weeks.

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