Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Visitors, Not Residents?

From yesterday’s Arab Times:

The General Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior is studying a proposal to replace the term ‘resident’ — the status given to expatriates working in Kuwait, reports Al-Watan daily. The daily added this has been done to ‘fight’ attempts by international organizations asking Kuwait to grant citizenship to expatriates who have been working in the country for a long time. Meanwhile, a reliable source said ‘visitor’ will replace the term ‘resident’. The source also said the General Immigration Department has stopped receiving applications for self sponsorship after noticing an increasing number in applications over the past few months. According to knowledgeable sources the Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship Affairs Major-General Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf has issued instructions to take into account the demographic structure of the country while issuing work permits because Kuwaitis account for only 33 percent of the population compared to 67 percent expatriates.

Calling all us guest-workers “visitors” is just a dumb idea. Call us guest-workers, call us workers, but if you call us “visitors” then you run into problems with folks who are just coming in for a VISIT, i.e. visitors.

I have always preferred being a resident. When I come into Qatar or Kuwait and all the lines are long except the GCC lines, I can always take a chance that the guards will think I am married to one of you when I step into the GCC line. If the person at the desk says I am in the wrong line, I can always look confused and say “I am a resident!” It has worked – well, most of the time. 😉

This issue is hand-in-hand with the school issue. Times are changing, old traditions are not being observed, and the blame is falling on foreign influences. It’s kind of like that train has left the station – if you want to go back to old ways, you’ll have to get rid of automobiles, computers, mobiles, supermarkets, and most of all, that demon of all forces of modernization – television.

The Taliban managed to reinstate old traditions, and in doing so, to take Afghanistan right back to the stone age. It was not just the women who suffered – men who didn’t want to wear beards, men whose hair was too long, men who wanted to listen to music, men who wanted to discuss politics – all were punished, some were killed.

The real challenge here is how Kuwait, as a modern nations state with a lot of money, is going to move with the modern world, not against it.

October 19, 2007 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Language, Leadership, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Statistics


  1. Whats next ? I think its the begining of an end for xpats !

    Comment by 'GreY' | October 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. Oh that’s soooooooooooooo stupid! especially for some of us who were born & raised up here! that’s bad :$

    Comment by chikapappi | October 19, 2007 | Reply

  3. I think it is possible to blend old ways with modern ones. I see it, in my husband’s family, all the time. But to take modern ways, without responsibility, without being guided by faith, this is where problems have come in. And the changes have come so fast to Kuwait that I think there is genuine concern that the young are losing their heritage.
    As for changing the wording of “residence” to “visitor” okay, whatever. I think it’s confusing, I suspect the ministry will get confused, and it’ll be changed again when they realize that. Or they’ll define it somehow “visitor 1 visa” = you live here and work here, “visitor 2 visa” = you’re just visiting, etc etc. Many countries have similar visa systems.
    I don’t think it’s the end of the expat era, as skilled people are always going to be in demand, everywhere in the world. But I do think that there are changes coming, with the desire behind those changes being to protect Kuwaitis. It’s a small country, with a relatively small local population. To desire that their culture, their heritage, their way of life be protected – this makes sense.
    I don’t think most Kuwaitis want to go back to “old ways” (meaning poverty, lack of education, lack of health care etc, to list off some of the negatives that existed), but I do think that many of them desire to see their country exhibit a value system that is as old as time – according to faith.

    In using the Taliban as an example, let’s not forget that the majority of the Taliban that were implimenting the leaders’ decisions were incredibly poor, uneducated, and decidedly UNLIKE the original Taliban itself. They were drawn to join the Taliban movement because it was a job, not because they were in any way islamically educated – I could go on and on here, but I’ll just get mad at the reference, having done too much research on the topic. That so-called stone-age is where the origins of mathematics, medicine and science are found. Poverty and lack of education do NOT make a healthy society. Since when is it an islamic policy to deny women health care? Since when is it islamic to demand burkha? Like I said – education is key. What was implimented was one version. There are more.

    Comment by Huda | October 19, 2007 | Reply

  4. well its a good thing i’m making myself a visitor before they do.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | October 19, 2007 | Reply

  5. Expatriates are one day deemed to leave this country even though they are residents. So, sounds more or less the same to me.

    Comment by Joel Robinson | October 19, 2007 | Reply

  6. You know, Joel, that is a brilliant idea – call it an Expat Visa. I think the problem with the word “resident” is that it implies you LIVE here, and the Kuwaitis want to be sure expats return to their countries.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 20, 2007 | Reply

  7. Aha, so we can finally expect to see a spurt in the number of visitors to Kuwait, exceeding the numbers visiting Dubai or Bahrain.
    We are happy they’ve decided to go with the word – ‘visitor’ and not ‘deviant,’ or somesuch.

    Comment by the dutiful Liar | October 20, 2007 | Reply

  8. BL – Ya think?

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 20, 2007 | Reply

  9. […] intlxpatr reports about talks for a new proposal to rename ‘residents' to ‘visitors.' Calling all us guest-workers “visitors” is just a dumb idea. Call us guest-workers, call us workers, but if you call us “visitors” then you run into problems with folks who are just coming in for a VISIT, i.e. visitors. […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » Kuwait: Lost Between Cinemas and Restaurants | October 24, 2007 | Reply

  10. […] intlxpatr schreibt über einen neuen Vorschlag, ‘Bewohner’ als ‘Besucher’ zu bezeichnen: Uns Gastarbeiter ‘Besucher’ zu nennen ist eine dumme Idee. Nennt uns Gastarbeiter, nennt uns Arbeiter, aber wenn ihr uns ‘Besucher’ nennt werdet ihr Probleme bekommen mit Menschen, die nur zu Besuch sind – z.B. BESUCHER! […]

    Pingback by Global Voices auf Deutsch » Blog Archive » Kuwait: Verloren zwischen Kinos und Restaurants | October 26, 2007 | Reply

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