KUWAIT: Pakistan is looking to send around 100,000 skilled workers to Kuwait and have made a formal request with concerned authorities in the Gulf state in that regard, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) said on Wednesday.

Kuwait has already agreed to recruit as many as 444 Pakistani medical professionals including doctors, paramedics and nurses, as part of an agreement Pakistan recently signed with the Gulf state to send its healthcare professionals there, a senior officer at OP&HRD told the Associated Press of Pakistan, confirming reports published in Kuwait recently in this regard. “Arrangements are being finalized to send the skilled workers to Kuwait at the earliest,” said the official who is quoted anonymously in the report.

This request comes as Pakistan looks to increase remittances in the country, the official said, adding that they are waiting for a reply from Kuwait. On the other hand, it comes at a time when the recruitment market in Kuwait has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies have reportedly let go of hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly expatriates, since the beginning of the crisis.

Around 160,000 expatriates have left Kuwait between mid-March and the end of July, Al-Rai local Arabic daily had reported last month quoting official statistics. In the meantime, the government is taking measures to limit expatriate laborers’ recruitment in the public sector to a minimum as it embarks in an ambitious plan to ‘Kuwaitize’ public sector jobs.

According to the officer, particulars of some 80 medical professionals have so far been submitted to the Kuwait Embassy for finalization of their visas. “At the moment, we look forward to finalization of some 300 medical professionals’ visas so that a special flight could be arranged for sending them to Kuwait,” he said.

He further added that his government has stepped up efforts for early signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Pakistan and Kuwait for enhancing and streamlining Pakistani manpower export to the country. There were 78,346 Pakistani workers (not including 1,753 domestic helpers) in Kuwait as of March 31, 2020, according to the most recently available government statistics.