Kuwait’s property market has been hit by the increase in the number of expatriates leaving the country, with several apartments now lying “vacant”, local daily Kuwait Times reported.
“Rising costs of living, stagnant wages for expatriates and growing anti-expat government policies are driving foreigners to leave the country,” the report stated.
The report cited figures from the Central Statistics Department as stating that the number of Filipinos in Kuwait declined from 243,400 to 216,200 in the last nine months.
The country has also seen a decline in Indian and Egyptian nationals in recent months.
Overall, 102,280 residency visas held by expats were cancelled between 2015 and the end of 2018, according to data from Kuwait’s interior ministry.
Up to 2,501 visas were cancelled last year alone, with the majority of those expats working in the public sector.
With more expats leaving, Kuwait’s real estate investment sector will witness more pressure in the coming months, resulting in more vacant apartments, Kuwait Times quoted secretary-general of the Real Estate Union, Qais Al-Ghanim, as saying.
“The mounting burden on expatriates day by day due to the increase in fees and the cost of living, in addition to the state’s tendency to terminate their services from public sector jobs, have forced many to leave, especially during the past few months.
“All this had a negative effect on the consumer situation in the country in general and on the investment property sector in particular,” Ghanim said.
Kuwait has been working on reducing its expatriate population in order to boost nationalisation in the workforce.
Currently, Kuwaitis account for less than 30 per cent of the country’s 4.7 million population at 1.4 million.
Late last year, it was reported that authorities in Kuwait are planning to reduce the number of foreign residents in the country by at least 1.5 million over the next seven years.
Last month a senior Kuwaiti politician urged the GCC state to expel close to two million expatriates from the country over the next five years to rectify its ‘demographic imbalance’.
Safa Al-Hashem, the country’s only female member of parliament, said that it was essential to have Kuwaitis number more than 50 per cent of the country’s population.
Hashem, who has been extremely vocal about reducing Kuwait’s expat population, also recently suggested that the government must impose fees on expats who visit public beaches.
She also called for expats to pay fees to use the recently opened Sheikh Jaber Causeway
The MP has also drawn controversy in the past after asking that expats be charged “for the air they breathe” and submitting proposals such as a $3,300 fee for foreign workers to obtain driving licences and a 10-year limit on their stay in the country.