Kuwait at a Glance
Moving to KuwaitiStockphoto
Sief Palace is the seat of the Emir in Kuwait.
Kuwait has been a popular expat destination for decades. Moving to this Arab country seems to have lost none of its attractiveness up to the present day. What makes it so popular?
Part of the explanation is obviously the country’s economic prosperity and the career perspectives it offers. Many expatriates in Kuwait were attracted by the comparably high salaries and the fact that there are no taxes to be paid.
For those who can afford it, Kuwait offers a high standard of living with all imaginable amenities. At the same time, as many expats who have taken the plunge and moved to Kuwait report, it is a great place to get to know Arab traditions and culture.
The Economic Situation in Kuwait
Kuwait’s booming economy is one of the main reasons why expats move there. Today, the country’s economic success still heavily relies upon the oil industry: Oil products account for close to 50% of the GDP and more than 90% of government income. The renewed rise of oil prices in 2011 and early 2012 has led to a significant increase in government spending and economic growth.
Income from oil revenues has enabled the government to greatly enhance the public education system and develop a comprehensive social security system. Expats in Kuwait, however, may only partly benefit from this, as the recent restrictions and bans on healthcare access and driving demonstrate.
The Political Situation in Kuwait
Some expats moving to Kuwait may be worrying about the local political situation. In the tidal wave of uprisings in the Arab world in 2010 and 2011, there were some protests in Kuwait as well. Main demands were the fight against corruption and wider economic and political reforms. Calls for the resignation of the prime minister were unsuccessful.
The current political system in Kuwait can be described as a constitutional monarchy. The head of state (Emir) holds considerable powers, and the position is hereditary: The ruling Al-Sabah family nominates a new Emir from within its own ranks.
Many foreigners moving to Kuwait may not be aware that the country also has the oldest directly elected parliament among Arab states in the Persian Gulf region. Since women’s voting rights were introduced in 2005, Kuwait has truly universal suffrage.
The Expat Job Market in Kuwait
The majority of expats move to Kuwait in order to work in the country’s booming oil industry. The country’s rapidly-growing financial sector and fields such as marketing, sales and business development also offer rewarding opportunities for expats moving to Kuwait.
Both Kuwaiti-owned companies and the many multinationals operating in Kuwait employ expatriates on a regular basis. Also, expats considering a move to Kuwait should not disregard government organizations as potential employers.
In recent years, however, job opportunities for expats wishing to move to Kuwait have been shrinking. This is mainly due to competition from increasingly well-educated Kuwaiti graduates and government efforts to get more locals into upper-management jobs. In March 2013, the Kuwaiti government announced its plan to reduce the number of expats in Kuwait by one million over the next ten years. Nevertheless, with a degree in the right field and relevant work experience, expats will still find lucrative opportunities to move to Kuwait.