KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait's first new government hospital in more than three decades will soon open its doors - but only to Kuwaiti citizens.
It's the latest in a series of steps targeting foreigners, including laborers who build high-rise towers, sweep the roads and clean toilets in this tiny oil-rich emirate: a group that far outnumbers the native population.
The 304 million dinar ($997 million) Jaber Hospital, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Kuwait City, is expected to open in the coming months. It will be the first government hospital built in Kuwait since 1984, taking some pressure off an overburdened public health system.
U.S. ally Kuwait, like other oil-rich Persian Gulf states, has for decades offered a free cradle-to-grave health care for its citizens, along with plenty of generous perks such as subsidized utility prices and housing grants.
But services have been fraying in recent years - despite the cushion of several hundred billion dollars that Kuwait has been building since the 1970s, mostly in a fund for future generations. That money, which stays out of the state budget, is meant to provide for Kuwaitis when the oil runs out. It carried Kuwait through the expenses of the seven-month Iraqi occupation and the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War that liberated it.