Coronavirus: Mass exodus of expat workers hits Kuwait property market

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic and government’s nationalisation policy blamed for exodus of expatriates

As thousands of expatriates and their families leave Kuwait due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s nationalisation policy, the country’s real estate sector has been impacted severely, it has been found.

According to a report by Arab Times, the total number of expatriates who have left the country has so far exceeded 100,000, and the number is continuously increasing. A major reason for this exodus is the recent move by the government to amend demographics to ensure a 70:30 ratio, meaning that 70% citizens and 30% expatriates, the report added.

The report added that although many citizens have applauded the government’s approach in  this regard, there is a large segment that oppose it as they stress the need to study this step and not rush to implement it, especially when it comes to the real estate sector.

While the airport is crowded with people departing the country, and some areas of Kuwait still under isolation, several real estate buildings are starting to empty.

This has become a familiar scene in recent months due to the government’s keenness to implement its vision for restructuring the population and supporting the policy of Kuwaitisation of local jobs.

Citing industry experts, the Arab Times report said that the mass exodus has impacted the real estate sector severely, as these expatriates constitute a huge proportion of the market. In addition to cutting expat jobs over the Kuwaitisation policy, the government has also taken drastic steps including salary cuts and imposing total isolation of areas that included investment housing properties, it added.

These decisions have affected the income of many tenants, which has led to failure in the payment processes, they stated. Some of these expatriates have left the country, leaving behind more empty apartments. There has also been a shortage of labour. All of these are factors that directly reflect on the returns and revenues of property owners, they added.

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