Kuwait hopes to eliminate expatriates sponsorship “Kafeel” system

 

Kuwait’s Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Dr. Mohammad Al-Afasi, expressed his intention to work toward eliminating the sponsorship (kafeel) system that is practiced in Kuwait and other GCC states.

 

Currently, expatriates living in Kuwait have to be “sponsored” by a local Kuwaiti individual or entity, giving expatriates little choice between changing employment.

 

26 July 2009

 

 

Analysis and forecast (↓ decreasing risk)

 

Bahrain was the first GCC country to announce the abolishing of the “kafeel” system, which has been widely condemned by international human rights organizations as a form of “modern slavery”.

 

Kuwait’s announcement that it intends to remove the system will undoubtedly face stiff local opposition, as the case in Bahrain, but will ultimately help improve Kuwait’s international image as well as attract better foreign professional talent, which in recent years have opted to go to the UAE and later to Qatar. However, if Kuwait does indeed remove the “kafeel” system, it will boost the country’s image and make it more attractive for sought-after professionals.

 

The move will also put pressure on other GCC states to abolish the system. So far, local business in the UAE have been campaigning to keep it in place, attracting wide-spread criticism from foreign workers.