Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

Somalia: Information regarding Somali and other foreign refugees in Qatar and Kuwait

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1990
Citation / Document Symbol SOM3541
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Somalia: Information regarding Somali and other foreign refugees in Qatar and Kuwait, 1 January 1990, SOM3541, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The DOS report states that Qatari resentment against the expatriate population makes the latter the most likely victims of arbitrary police action or harassment. [


 Country Reports On Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p.1477.] The source further reports that "limiting the influence and controlling the activities of the expatriate population are major Qatari national goals." [ibid.] Although there have not been any reports of arbitrary arrests or similar abuses in 1988, civil liberties are significantly restricted with expatriate workers complaining of systematic discrimination against them. [ibid. p.1478.]

 Foreigners must be sponsored by a Qatari citizen in order to enter the country. They also require their sponsor's permission to leave and re-enter Qatar, provided they have already secured employment. [U.S. Department of State, p. 1480.] Sponsorship regulations are strict and in 1980, about 250 Indian and Pakistani labourers were arrested because their immigration papers were not in order. [G.E. Delury, ed., World Encyclopedia of Political Systems and Parties, Second Edition, vol.11, (New York: Facts on File Inc., 1987), p. 928.] The rapid development of Qatar's infrastructure in the 1970's and 1980's increased the ratio of expatriates to nationals to 4 to 1. Most of the expatriates are from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with no mention of the number of Somali nationals in Qatar. [U.S.State Department, 1988, p.1477.]

 According to External Affairs, it is possible to get sponsorship, although it is also dependent on the discretion of the Qatari Immigration Officer. All expatriate employees must obtain work permits from the Department of Labour and Immigration in Qatar. There are no permanent residence permits, and work permits are issued for limited periods only, where workers are obliged to apply for extensions regularly. [U.S. State Department, 1988, p.1480.] Qatari authorities also engage in immigration checks designed to control the size of the foreign labour pool. [U.S. Department of State. p. 1480.]

 Kuwaiti citizenship is strictly limited to persons born of Kuwaiti parents residents of Kuwait prior to 1920 or whose forebears were residents then [ Kurian G.T. 1987, Encyclopedia of the Third World, vol.II, Londres et Oxford: Facts on File: 1115.]. Dual citizenship is not permitted and the acquisition of another citizenship by a Kuwaiti citizen may lead to expulsion from Kuwait [ United States of America, Department of State, 1989, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, Washington: DOS: 1402.].

 Kuwait can suspend the passports of its citizens who are suspected of criminal activities [ Idem.]. Naturalized Kuwaitis found guilty of "subversion" may also have their citizenship revoked [ The Globe and Mail, 5 August 1987, "Kuwait Tightens Entry Regulations for Foreigners": A13.]. Voluntary acquisition of another citizenship also leads to a loss of Kuwaiti citizenship [ Idem.]. Non-citizens, even those born in Kuwait, are tolerated so long as they remain employed; unemployment leads to the expulsion of aliens in Kuwait [ Owen R. 1985, Migrant Workers in the Gulf, London: Minority Rights Groups, no. 68: 11.].

 It is important to note that Somalia is a member of the Arab League, enjoying Arab aid and close relations. [Colin Legum, ed., African Contemporary Record Annual Survey and Documents 1986-1987, (London: Africana Publishing Company, 1987), p.B415.] Although there is no information currently available to the IRBDC, specifically addressing the issue of Somali citizens in the Arab Emirates, information regarding the situation of Somali or other foreigners in the Arab states is included.

 Attached please find a copy of the following document: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, Washington: U.S.Department of State, 1989, pp.1477-1482, 1396-1407, 1530-1535.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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