Kuwait cracks down on expat driving licences: Report

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwait has begun cancelling the driving licences of foreign students who have graduated and working housewives, tightening already strict rules for expatriates, a daily on Friday cited a top official as saying.

"The traffic department has started cancelling the driving licences" of those people, interior ministry assistant undersecretary for traffic affairs Major General Abdulfattah al-Ali told Al-Anbaa newspaper.

Maj Gen Ali said the measure was taken because the department found that expats given licences as students have now started working, and the same for some housewives, "which amounts to an act of forgery".

He estimated that "tens of thousands" of driving licences will be withdrawn.

For nearly a decade, Kuwait has imposed strict conditions on the eligibility of its 2.6 million expats to drive.

Most foreigners are required to hold a university degree, earn 400 dinars (S$1,765) a month and have lived legally in the emirate for at least two years before being able to drive legally.

Students and housewives with children had been among those exempted from the regulations, along with engineers, judges, lawyers and journalists.

But since his appointment some two months ago, Maj Gen Ali has led a campaign in which hundreds of expatriates have been deported without a court order for committing "grave" traffic offences such as driving without a licence and jumping red lights.

Kuwaiti citizens who commit similar traffic offences can have their vehicles impounded, but only under a court order.

The Kuwait Society for Human Rights has called on the government to halt the deportations, describing them as "oppressive".

But the campaign has received strong backing from the pro-government parliament, with some MPs calling Maj Gen Ali a "hero".

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