Over the last few decades, many black people from Africa have moved to Kuwait and other countries in the Arab be it Iraq, United Emirates and Saudi Arabia. They normally refer each other as ‘Khaly’. The word is derived from the word ‘Khal’ which means Uncle or a black man. This research will look more closely on all the Black people in Kuwait, how and when they entered and how they live today.
The State of Kuwait is an Arab country at the very far northeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. The country shares boarders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. With an estimated population of 4.20 million people, there are approximately 100 thousand (1.9%) black people in Kuwait. Most of these people are from African countries such as Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa. According to most of the Africans living in Kuwait, they claim how hard life is for them due to racism and discrimination from the Arabs and other Kuwaitis
With the rapidly growing economy of Kuwait, many businessmen have moved here and set up their businesses that are amazingly doing quite well. They have therefore settled here permanently and may be hard to have them move back to their original countries. Some have gone to an extent of having families and children making them legal citizens of Kuwait by birth. Most of these are either from African, America and other Arabian countries around.
Being an expat in Kuwait is not really easy as it seems due to the unfriendly nature of most people there. Making a living especially when you are not educated, difficulties in communicating home is also an issue unless you are active in social media and you have the platforms to communicate home.
How Most Black People Entered Kuwait
Slavery and human trafficking
Kuwait was among the earliest destinations for men and women trafficked from African countries for the purposes of forced labor. Most of these people were trafficked in the name of being recruited for domestic works in Kuwait. The country is rated 108 among 167 countries with the highest rate of slavery be it modern slavery or the earliest form of slavery. In modern slavery are hidden in for of recruiting agents that promise young men and women with domestic work but are forced into other forms of work when they get there.
In the olden days kidnapping and human trafficking on people was literally carried out while some energetic people were actually sold to work for the Arabs in their own land. These black people had no means of returning back home and were therefore trapped in the foreign countries for many years. They were trapped on fishing boats and transported along the Pacific Ocean to Kuwait.
Most countries have term human trafficking as completely illegal and are campaigning heavily against it. Although Kuwait is one of them, it still is hard to completely eliminate these practices. Many of the slaves opted to settle completely in the country even after they were freed from slavery. They bore families and are among the oldest people in Kuwait. They intermarried with the Arabs as well as other whites who had also been to the country through slavery or other means. It was really hard for women to cope in the harsh environments compared to men. Few of the kidnapped women who made it to Kuwait did not survive for long and would die after a few days of work.
This is mainly done by firms and other registered corporates that recruit young people from African countries promising them domestic work. Although some of these recruiters are legally registered, there still exist many more that are not legitimate and actually trick these people with fake promises. Once they reach and are introduced to these household jobs, things begin to change slowly and the exploitations kick in.
These Black people are faced with a lot of hardships there and while most of them are not even legally citizens of the country this does not make it any better for them. It is really hard for them to contact their people back home or even have any means to report what they actually go through in their areas of work for they barely have any free time. Their sponsors (the agents who brought them in) make it even more worse by controlling their passports and travelling documents.
Many any threatened to lose their residency status and if they plan on running away from their employers they may face detention in the foreign lands or face deportation back to their countries. It is not easy for them to find other people from their country and when they do, they still cannot do much to rescue themselves out of the miseries. Although they have formed Unions that try to fight for their rights while there. Other unions in the country such as Gabriela UAE do not actually recognize housemaids as laborers but rather are classified as slaves. Cases of people who have committed suicide emerge everyday as some people get too frustrated and loos hope of ever going back home
However, some settle really well and blend in with the people they find there. Not all the recruiters manipulate their recruits but some actually help them find descent job and make their stay in Kuwait worthwhile. With the growing economy of the country, some of these black people have highly contributed to the development of the country.
It is very hard for these nobles to acquire citizenship of Kuwait. Those black people who settled in the country before 1920 got their citizenship, and enjoy the right of going back home and still coming back to Kuwait. If the black people that have moved to Kuwait for work purposes give birth either by unknown father, or a Kuwaiti father irrespective of their origin, the child automatically become a citizen of the country.
On reaching there, women disappear completely and are isolated in the households where they cannot be able to contact any human rights legislation informing of their exploitation and abuse. When they cannot do their jobs well, they are returned to their recruiting agents in exchange for others. The tough ones are able to survive even with all the hardships along the way making them stronger to survive in the country.
Search for job opportunities
Many educated Africans especially from South Africa have been offered descent jobs in Kuwait. Those lucky get the jobs but they are not treated any better than those that are not educated at all.