Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Degrading Gulf Character

In the October 2nd Kuwait Times the lead article on the front page has to do with Bahrain considering a 6 year ceiling on ex-pats living in Gulf Countries. Evidently they want the GCC countries to consider implementing it across the board.

How do you think that might work out? It seems to me there is a huge middle class here made up of mid-level managers who really keep things going. Who manages your stores? Who waits on customers? Who drives the buses and the taxis?

When you put that ceiling on, is it across the board? Does the ceiling apply to Palestinians who have never lived in Palestine, to Lebanese, to Syrians, to Yemenis? Does it apply to Europeans? To Canadians and Americans? Does it apply to Chinese? Indians? Nepalis? Or is it like some of the other laws, yes, it is the law, but you can get an exception?

I ask because it seems to me there are a lot of people who have lived here for 30 – 40 years, contributing to your economy, educating their children, teaching in your schools, designing your buildings, selling your hardware . . .

So how does this work?

Diversity or time?

The complaint, according to the paper, is that the expat population is eroding the national character of the states in the region. Is it the diversity of the population which degrades the local culture, or is this perhaps a function of time? We hear the same complaint in France, we hear it in Britain, we hear it in Germany, we hear it in the United States – things aren’t the same as they used to be. I have a feeling they said the same thing 50 years ago, after World War II. I have the feeling they said it 100 years ago, just after the turn of the last century.

Times change, culture changes. It’s slow, but unless you are walled off from the rest of the world, I believe it is inevitable. I suspect changing times have more to do with any change in Gulf character and customs than the expat population, who lives side by side with the Gulf natives.

October 3, 2007 - Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Kuwait, News


  1. Yes, let all GCC countries enact such a law and see what happens (as some kind of an experiment).

    I am sure their entire economy (each respectively) will collapse in 24 hours.

    This is what we, Arabs in general, are good at: Blaming others for our own mistakes.

    Comment by kinano | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  2. youre right, a little moustach-ioed austrian said that before world war 2.

    bahrain has certain circumstances where it might be reasonable for them to implement that, since alot of the locals dont have jobs,…. but unlike many from kuwait, and qatar and the uae, the locals are willing to do any job, cab driver, bus driver etc.

    thats not the case here.

    plus theyve just made visit visas and transfers easier ( to help the real estate bubble that everyones afraid will burst 😛 ), so i dont think its likely that other gcc states would adopt the idea.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  3. LOOOOLLLLL! Two of my very best, shrewd and very UN common-taters!

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  4. that would be nice let’s see how kuwaitis would like being construction workers

    Comment by EniGma | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  5. Good point, Enigma. I remember a couple months ago, noticing in amazement that in Seattle, the garbagemen are all Americans, now.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  6. it is a ridiculous idea.. i dont see any benefits from it at all.

    Comment by snookie | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  7. Sometimes you gotta wonder what they are thinking!

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 4, 2007 | Reply

  8. The traditions are changing because of globalization rather than foreign labor.

    It is ultimately inevitable that cultural identities will change. There are those who will resist it, regardless it is bound to happen sooner or later. It might take another 100 years or so.

    However, look at Japan. They sure are affected by globalization but they’re one of the top countries who have an extreme cultural identity. They create their own to match the current times. Here, they’d rather stick with the old, and point fingers rather than plan a way to overcome such issues. Laws aren’t the solution, but explain that to the government!

    Comment by N. | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  9. Interesting point, N.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 5, 2007 | Reply

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