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September 20, 2019
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Kuwait is NOT the worst place for expats

Muna Al-Fuzai

The InterNations annual Expat Insider index for 2019 ranked Kuwait as the worst destination for expatriates for the second year in a row. The list saw Kuwait occupying the bottom spot after Italy, Nigeria, Brazil, Turkey, India, United Kingdom, Greece, Russia and South Korea. Actually, aside from Kuwait, I have lived in some of these countries as an Arab expat and those were the best times of my life, so I personally can’t believe any of what the survey says no matter what criteria they used.
This organization placed Kuwait among the worst destinations for expatriates from 2014 to 2016. It was the second worst destination for expatriates in 2017 before going down to the bottom in 2018 and 2019. This article does not aim to argue if Kuwait is the worst location for expats to live or not, because clearly, the decision has already been made regardless of the causes. But I would like to raise a few points and hopefully those who are behind the survey will take these into account next year.

Now, I wonder how this conclusion was reached. The questionnaire asked participants to assess where they live based on several factors such as well-being, ease of adaptation, family life, work, financial matters, cost of living and others. Bahrain topped the list of the best Arab destinations for expatriates, ranking seventh in the world, while Taiwan was named the best destination for expats in 2019. The report did not mention the classification of Saudi Arabia. I wonder why.

According to the report, Kuwait ranked last in “ease of settling in” and “quality of life”, with an improvement in the level of “personal finance”. It was also placed last for “leisure options” and “personal happiness”, and in the penultimate place on the index of “travel and mobility”, while ranked as the third worst country in terms of “health and well-being”.
The current population of Kuwait is around 4 million. Expatriates account for about 70 percent of Kuwait’s population, including 1.1 million Arab expatriates and 1.4 million Asians. There are expats who have been living in Kuwait for more than 50 years, so I wonder if the survey took into account the years of expats living in Kuwait. I think they should, because surely those expats would not stay that long if Kuwait is the worst destination for expats!

Kuwait came third as the worst country in terms of “making friends”, indicating Kuwaitis seem to be difficult “to make friends with expatriates residing in their country”. I believe this statement is a false allegation. I don’t know how this claim can be proved wrong, because Kuwaitis are known for their hospitality. Try to drop in at a Kuwait diwaniya and then make a decent judgment, but if this finding was made based on a visit to a government department, then I would say yes, as I guess all government employees are alike in all countries around the world, especially if you don’t speak their mother tongue.

I hope when the organization decides to issue its survey next year, it takes into account key points regarding the years each participant has been living in Kuwait and their source of income, and also specify logical reasons for hating Kuwait and why they haven’t left Kuwait if it is really an awful place to live in!

According to Inter Nations, a total of 20,259 expatriates took part in the entire survey, representing 182 nationalities and living in 187 countries or territories. But how many expats from Kuwait took part? Are we talking 100 respondents? 1,000? The report doesn’t say so this ranking could be based on the opinions of as few as 10 random people who filled out the survey online. Inter Nations may have based its claim on a limited number of respondents and who is most likely to respond but those with a grievance?

I know that Kuwait is not an ideal place, but I can’t think of any perfect land on earth nowadays. Kuwait offers safety and security and peaceful living for millions of people. Yes there are problems, like any country has. But there are also loads of benefits and I don’t just mean a tax free salary. There are gorgeous and welcoming parks and the seaside. There are loads of community organizations and plenty of family-friendly activities. There is plenty of shopping and restaurants and travel opportunities. Kuwait is also metropolitan, home to many different nationalities.

Biased claims are not accepted. This is my view.

By Muna Alfuzai

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