Kuwaiti youth roll up their sleeves, emerge to deal with crisis
KUWAIT CITY, May 7: With the deterioration of the coronavirus crisis in the country and the subsequent standstill in commercial activities due to the precautionary measures adopted by the government, Kuwaiti youth have rolled up their sleeves and emerged to deal with the crisis by practicing businesses that they are not accustomed to and professions that were reserved for expatriates for decades.
This opens a door of hope for investing in human wealth of the homeland in order to adjust the demographics. A favorable response to the call, which was made titled “A historic government opportunity: youth breaks the barrier of shyness” in a recent edition, to invite Kuwaiti youth to enter the fields of work that were monopolized by some residents in consideration of the benefits they can achieve in terms of earning additional income and the benefit for the country by demolishing the brick of demographic imbalance.
Several Kuwaiti citizens and Bedoun residents were well disposed to the call, affirming their readiness to drive taxis if the State provides them with the necessary support.
As Arab and foreign countries launch the policy of localizing transportation positions such as taxi services through mobile apps such as Uber and Kareem to be reserved for their citizens, the star of the demands in Kuwait rose to restore glory – the orange taxi, which was a source of income for many citizens in the past. This is in light of many residency traders taking advantage of expatriate taxi drivers to sell licenses and visas, in addition to many other problems exposed by COVID-19 crisis.
The demands to facilitate citizens to take up two professions in public and private sectors and allow them to enter a new craft are parallel with similar requests from the government to provide financial support and preferential benefits to all who seek to break into the field of productive crafts.
All State institutions are taking up the role of changing the prevailing culture to become supportive of all who work in these professions. Currently, only seven Kuwaitis work in the field of transportation, freight and unloading, when compared to thousands of residents, as per statistics issued by the Public Authority for Manpower concerning the Kuwaiti workforce categorized by profession and age groups.
The number of Kuwaitis in productive crafts and service professions in 24 areas does not exceed 1,340. Economic experts stressed the possibility that Kuwaitis can work in various trades and professions as seen in the current crisis and during the Iraqi invasion.
They have proven the importance of their presence in those occupations, given that there sometimes is a shortage of workers in factories, import-export businesses and others that achieve economic returns for individuals and the State.
It will also achieve the aspirations of the State to increase the Kuwaiti workforce in the private sector and putting the demographics back on track.
The economist Ali Al-Enezi believes the entry of the Kuwaiti element in sectors that were limited to only the residents has a great benefit, as those occupations and productive jobs have great returns, and that the Kuwaitis working in these positions will be able to increase their income by a large percentage
He explained that skilled work and self-employment achieve a higher financial return for citizens, just as the national economy has workers contributing to the gross domestic product. The government can increase the support given to citizens in the private sector based on their university certificate.
The government can also support professions and scientific materials with specializations to raise the number of citizens in the rare and arduous occupations away from the office occupations that many accept. Al-Enezi said, “Kuwaiti citizens used to drive taxis in the past. These taxis were known as orange taxi but they have now disappeared. They can be brought back and distributed to young people. They can also work in restaurants, transportation and other professions, and achieve Kuwait’s objectives for achieving development in 2035, given that it eases the first chapter, which is the salaries clause, and ensure movement of workers from the public sector to the private sector.” He highlighted that many countries close some businesses and turn them around so that their citizens only work in the taxi business, even though there are millions of foreigners.
The economist Maytham Al- Shakhs said, “All efforts and desires to guide Kuwaitis towards taking up hard and difficult jobs, professions and crafts need government plans and facilities, starting with increasing financial support for them based on mechanisms and procedures specific to jobs, and a media and educational political campaign for the society concerning the importance of these professions and their acceptance”.
He stated that informational and political campaigns will contribute to urging Kuwaitis to work in various jobs and professions, and dismantling the monopoly of some of them by foreign workers, given that the jobs are monopolized by residency traders that sell them to foreigners. It shows that the coronavirus crisis revealed the importance of the presence of citizens in many jobs, but this must be preceded by directing the State’s educational outputs to jobs required in the market and persuading students to study disciplines that motivate them to work freely in multiple fields that can achieve the desired goal economically. Al-Shakhs stressed that localization of jobs is a step taken in the past by some Gulf countries including Kuwait, but it is more pronounced in the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia.
He indicated that the general idea in Kuwait about not accepting some jobs can change after showing the acceptance of some of them both during the current crisis and the Iraqi invasion when they demonstrated the ability to work in various jobs.
Meanwhile, young citizens consider the allocation of mobile taxi services to them as a real opportunity to open a door for earning extra income every month. They said, “Those who want to work hard does not pay attention to the societal view, as many Kuwaitis used to work in the taxi business and gathered at several points in Kuwait City to transport workers to their offices collectively”.
These citizens called for taking advantage of the current technological development to distribute modern vehicles to the governorates through smart apps, similar to the recent localization of these services in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. They indicated that, “The presence of Kuwaitis in such professions enhances confidence between the citizen and the passenger, and may get rid of the need for driver in many families in the future.” Furthermore, several social media users of Kuwaiti and Gulf nationalities expressed their enthusiasm and contentment with the article published by the daily.
Umm Adel said, “Benefiting from the experience of neighboring countries is not a shame. Work must be limited to Kuwaitis and Bedouns, and a large number of marginal workers must leave the country, which can in turn relieve the congestion.” Another user said, “Working two jobs is a good thing. Women can work in women-only taxis through smart apps.”
Faisal Al Kandari said, “Working in the taxi field can be good for retirees. It can benefit in getting income and reducing any congestion caused by roaming taxis”. Also, Hisab Al-Mutairi highlighted that he works in the oil sector and has no problem doing additional work as a taxi driver. “However, the problem lies in the mentality that exists since childhood, as per which Kuwaitis do not work in any such occupation. But the coronavirus crisis has taught us a lot, making us call on citizens and Bedoun residents to work in many such occupations”, he added.