As is the case with smoking and littering in public, the Persian Gulf is very strict when it comes to plucking flowers. In Dubai, UAE, for instance, authorities can slap up to Dh1000 (almost US$273) fine for the offense.
But in Kuwait, while there’s a KD250 ($860) penalty for rule-breakers, foreigners can now be deported for picking flowers in parks or any other public place.
“Two people were arrested by environmental police yesterday for cutting grass and plants on Sixth Ring Road, and were deported,” Kuwait Times reported. The two men, whose nationality was not disclosed, said they were collecting fodder for a privately owned livestock farm.
Kuwait introduced a strict new environmental law that came into effect in October 2014. It “aims at protecting and maintaining the natural balance of the environment and its resources and combating the pollution and its damages, at both short and long term.” Even a new police force was established to make sure people obeyed the rules.
While it appeared to be a step in the right direction, many believe the new legislation was yet another excuse to target the ex-pat population and deport them.
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In 2013, Kuwait drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups after it deported hundreds of ex-pats — nearly 1,258 — for minor traffic offenses between April and May. For similar violations, locals were either fined, had their vehicles seized or were sent to court.
But international criticism did little to hinder Kuwaiti authorities. In 2015, Kuwait deported some 20,000 expatriates in the first nine months of the year allegedly for breaking laws pertaining to residency and labor.
Although the authorities claim the expulsions are a necessary measure against illegal immigrants, ex-pats say the government only wants to reduce the number of foreigners in the country.
Expatriates — mainly construction workers and domestic labors from South and Far-East Asian countries — account for about two-thirds of Kuwait’s population of 3.5 million.
In March 2013, the Gulf state’s Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra al-Rasheedi announced Kuwait plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by 1 million.