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A new law allowing all expatriates to purchase real estate property in Kuwait for the first time is unlikely to be linked to residency, it is claimed. Changes to law number 74/1979, will mean that expatriates, regardless of nationality can buy one apartment as long as it is not larger than 350 square meters. Currently only Arabs with special permits can buy in Kuwait.

Other restrictions though are emerging. For example, it will only be expats who have lived in the country for at least 10 year that can buy and it will not give them the right to permanent residency. Buying such property does not mean you will be given permanent residence in the country,' confirmed politician Rola Dashti, one of five lawmakers who presented the bill to parliament last week.

Asked what will happen if an expatriate who purchased a property loses his job and has to leave the country, Dashti said he would have to sell it. The draft bill includes regulations guiding ownership of properties by foreigners. It suggests that the interior minister can issue a decision allowing foreigners to own a residential apartment in commercial buildings provided their source of income is enough to acquire the property. Other conditions stipulated in the bill is that the buyer should be of good conduct, have no criminal record throughout his stay in the country and the apartment should be used for personal or family residential purposes only. The owner should not own another property in Kuwait.

The lawmakers argued that the proposal is important, considering the country's current political, social and economic situation, in addition to the high level of commercial transactions which, in turn, encourage strategic and development projects. They believe this will help the country in realizing its dream of becoming a financial and commercial hub in the region.

Reaction is divided. On one had the sentiment behind the change is welcomed but on the other expats believe it will only benefit a small number of people. It is hoped though that it could lead to a more relaxed attitude to expats in the country. Currently many feel they are subject to strict rules such as having to leave Kuwait in one month if they lose their jobs.