Kuwait: Haven for expatriates

Muna Al Fuzai

Kuwait is a haven for all expats. I know saying such a thing may not please everyone, including some Kuwaitis, but let me tell you why I believe so. There are main five reasons for this. Firstly, Kuwait has a tax-free environment. Where would you find a place today that doesn’t levy taxes if you are not a citizen but merely an expat who doesn’t even have a permanent house or a guarantee not to be fired or deported for any reason? There are none – at least not in the Arab world.

Not to mention the West, many of whose citizens flee to other countries, including the Arab Gulf countries to avoid taxes. But they find themselves trapped with the same problem, with the high rate of value-added tax (5 percent). I am not opposed to paying a tax for a service, but in the Arab world, a person may pay a tax without getting any worthwhile service. The problem is that the only victim here is the citizen and the expatriate, because merchants raise prices only to keep their financial status safe and secure, and the consumer suffers. But Kuwait has not imposed VAT yet and may not do so until 2019.

The second reason is that Kuwait is a family-oriented society. Here you can raise your family or start one. There is not much to do outside of work, so being alone leads many to consider having a partner. Because cohabiting without marriage is not permitted in Kuwait – as a Muslim country – many single women and men tend to find love and marry in Kuwait.

The third reason Kuwait is wonderful is due to Internet prices and being widely open to all Internet apps. You can download any app you wish and enjoy long-distance calls and videos without any interruption or being blocked by greedy communication companies, or pay for it. It’s free! Don’t say this is not good!

The fourth reason is that medical services are accessible to all. In the UAE, you cannot be admitted to a hospital or get a consultation without insurance or paying a large cash amount in advance, and this applies to all, including GCC citizens. In Kuwait, for many years expats used to enjoy all medical services for free, until recently when the government started to put limits due to their excessive use and overcrowding, because some expats began to bring their visiting relatives to the hospital too.

Finally, Kuwait is safe. Yes, you hear and read about sporadic incidents of fights and beatings. But is there any country in the world today that doesn’t have such incidents – even killings – every day?

I know that some criticize Kuwait because it has no development projects or a pleasant nightlife and the availability of alcohol in public places, but this has not deterred the arrival of scores of expatriates. We are not a tourist spot or an industrialized country, but a desert country where life is not easy. There is no state in the world that is free of discrimination on the basis of color, race and religion – not these days.

Life in countries outside home is no longer as easy or feasible as it was in the past. Yet more and more expatriates come to Kuwait, as it is still a good location despite all the difficult circumstances and political uncertainties in the GCC and the world.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 14/12/2017