Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: A senior Interior Minister official defended himself from accusations of being antagonistic towards expatriates in Kuwait, saying that he has full respect to foreigners working legally in the country. “We can never forget the favors of expatriates who contributed in the development of Kuwait and have taught us in schools and educated us,” said Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, the Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Residency Affairs. “I am talking about marginal labor forces who are subjected to injustice.”

Sheikh Mazen made controversial remarks in a televised interview last month, in which he claimed that some expatriates often go to wedding halls uninvited in order to eat there for free. He also pointed out privileges he said expatriates enjoy in Kuwait but do not necessarily have access to in their home countries. “I am not racist... I am talking about unemployed workers. I am against their presence in this situation, and hope that it is rectified,” he clarified in statements made last Thursday.

The senior official said that the large number of marginal expatriate workers who do not legally have a job in Kuwait - estimated between 70,000 and 100,000 - is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. “Kuwait cannot handle the large number of expatriate workers,” he said. “Whoever has a job is welcomed, but there are expatriates who do not have a job. This is clear to everybody, and I am welling to lead an inspection tour around the country in order to reveal the number of marginal labor living here.”

“As a country of law, we protect expatriates and their rights. However, those who do not have a job do not have a place among us. This is how it should be, and that is what we believe should be done,” Sheikh Mazen told reports.

Regarding news about increasing visa fees for expatriates, Sheikh Mazen said that a study on that regard has already been finished and sent to the office of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. “We are waiting for the legal opinion before putting the new fees into practice,” he said without providing a specific date. —Al-Rai