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Kuwait bans issuing driving licences to expatriate students and nurses

On February 11, 2020

Kuwait’s Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs issued an order prohibiting the issuance of new licenses to expatriate students and nurses in a bid to “solve the problem of traffic congestion.”

“The order comes as a part of several plans the General Traffic Department is undertaking to reduce traffic congestion in the roads, which has become a problem for anyone driving a car in Kuwait,” Al-Sayegh said.

Expatriate students and nurses with pending applications are not included in the prohibition. 

However, students who previously obtained driving licenses can now only renew their licenses after providing a registration certificate issued from their university or the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training. Nurses must obtain a certificate from their employers. 

It is not uncommon in the GCC to blame traffic on migrants instead of poor urban planning and lack of public transport. Other Gulf states have previously attempted to solve traffic congestion by limiting driving licenses issued to migrants. 

The UAE previously suspended the issuance of new driving licences to migrants in 100 different professions which included nurses, carpenters and tailors “to curb the sharp rise in the number of vehicles.” Last year, Saudi’s Shura Council rejected a proposal to only grant driving licenses to migrants who work as drivers and those with salaries over SR5,000. 

Following Kuwait’s order, media in Bahrain are calling for similar initiatives to be taken to reduce traffic congestion. 

Discriminatory policies against migrants will not solve the problem of traffic congestion in cities that have no affordable and efficient public transport. The Gulf states must instead invest in public transport and infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion so both nationals and migrants can benefit.