Kuwaiti real estate firms get 20% quota for employment of nationals

Property companies will need to recruit a fifth or more of their staff from the national population

PHOTO: Kuwait is discussing how to increase the participation of its national population in construction. Credit: Shutterstock

Kuwaiti real estate firms must employ 20% of their staff from the national population, according to a new quota system established by the Gulf state.

The National Personnel Department’s new system for applying quotas in various sectors applies from February 2015, as per Amiri decree, it has been revealed.

According to a report by Al Anba daily, quoting sources from the Public Authority for Manpower, the quotas of Kuwaiti personnel required varies according to sector.

These have been set at 20% for the real estate sector, 18% for insurance, 5% for service activities, 60% for telecommunications, 30% for the transformational industry, 3% for agriculture, fishing and grazing, 10% for Arabic schools, 5% for foreign schools and 30% for nurseries.

Banks will have a 60% quota, while the finance and investment sector will have 40%. Money exchanges will have a 13% quota, sources said.

Quotas have been specified based on the profession and job designation in some economic activities covering hotels, travel agencies, airlines, construction and building, electricity and gas, water and hospitals, medical centres and restaurants, it was reported.

The news comes as Kuwait is discussing how to increase the participation of its local population in vital economic sectors such as construction.

In November 2014, a bill calling for the imposition of a five-year residency cap on foreigners in Kuwait was cleared by the parliament’s legal and legislative committee. The bill also proposes a ban on workers bringing their families into the country.

It has been met with strong opposition from both nationals and expatriates within Kuwait’s various sectors.

“Would this bill be disruptive to the construction industry? Yes, I believe that it would be. If qualified people are to arrive here and get an understanding of how the construction industry works, and if they’ve got a limited time of five years, then it’s obviously going to be difficult,” warned Clive De Villiers, vice president of Contracts and QS Services at KEO International Consultants.

“It certainly will [hamper construction projects],” he told Big Project ME. “Some of the big infrastructure projects last for more than five years. If you get people in, and then after five years, you start from the beginning, it’s going to be massively disruptive. You lose all the knowledge and everything else on that project. It’s going to have a big impact.”

Faleh Al Ajmi, a Kuwaiti national and the Head of Business Support at Ecovert Facilities Management, agreed vehemently with De Villiers. Calling the proposed bill “short-sighted” and “lacking in vision”, Al Ajmi said that should the bill pass, it would be a massive setback to Kuwait’s development as a nation.

“I feel very sorry that a parliament like this, in a rich country like Kuwait [could do this]. I believe that this plan that they’re thinking about, it’ll be the first time in history that someone would think this way. Without expats, the country will no longer be able to grow,” he asserted.

Despite such opposition from within the country, local media reports quote government sources as stating that the latest move by the National Personnel Department had “rectified the slipups in previous implementations of the percentage of national personnel”. They added that a study on governmental contracts was currently underway to assess the possibility of raising the quota further.

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