Trip to the Middle East
March 23, 2005
What an experience! We just returned from a business trip in Kuwait and learned many things about the needs of those seeking background checks for an international workforce. The first thing to remember is that international background checks take time to complete. Average lead times can run anywhere from two days to two months. Preparing those in your organization with hiring responsibilities for such such large swings in turnaround time is necessary. Next, we have experienced a number of elements that can alter or derail an investigation. For instance, it is not uncommon in other countries to list the date by using date first, then month and year; whereas in the US, we list it as month/date/year. Therefore when listing out applicant’s date of birth, make sure to develop a consistent approach. Also important to note is that it is very common in foreign countries to have long names. Often times, an individual’s name might include both a paternal and maternal last name. It is also not uncommon in some countries to add the name of the tribe or town one lives in the end of the name. Again, consistency is the best practice. Understanding each country’s specific cultures and customs is important and then applying them on a consistent basis to each applicant from a particular country is recommended.
On another note, we also learned a great deal about this dynamic country and about their customs. Kuwait is the wealthiest country in the world, calculated on a per capita basis. Of course, this great wealth is accumulated through the sale of oil. Kuwait controls 10% of the entire world’s oil supply. Kuwait is run on a monarchy system and the Muslim religion is a factor in their culture, however unlike many other Middle Eastern countries, religion does not dominate citizens’ daily lives. Only natural born Kuwaitis qualify for citizenship and they make up only 30-40% of the country’s population. The rest of the population is made up primarily of Americans, Sri-Lankans, Pakistanis, Indians and Afghanis. The attraction to non-Kuwaitis opportunity and pursuit of higher wage. Kuwait is a beautiful, diverse country and one we would gladly return.
A word on Iraq. Kuwait shares a 125 mile border with Iraq. Many remember Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990. There are significant business opportunities in Iraq right now with the fall of Saddam. Iraq is the second largest oil producer in the world (behind Saudi Arabia) and is one of the only Middle Eastern countries with the ability to harvest a significant crop. Every single day, company’s from around the world are looking for in roads and will travel to Kuwait from time to time. Our clients in Kuwait are no exception. An important point to be made is how truly dangerous Iraq is right now. One of our clients referred to Iraq as the Wild West. People are shot and killed or bombed for no reason. Citizenship and religion have no factor. Everyone is a target. It should not be underestimated the sacrifices that those in our armed forces and those that aid them in their efforts are making everyday.