The websites of Sweden’s embassies in numerous Arab countries are teeming with detailed information about the lavish contributions on offer to migrants after relocating to the Nordic country. According to a political editor of Sweden’s leading economic daily, this poses some serious problems.
Benefits are the wrong way of promoting Sweden, PM Nilsson, the political editor of the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Industri, wrote in his opinion piece condemning the way of encouraging immigration Swedish embassies in many Arab countries have adopted.
For instance, the Swedish embassy in Amman has a section straightforwardly titled “10 Things That Make Sweden Family-Friendly,” where the Nordic country’s welfare system is undisguisedly advertised.
Sweden is thus said to offer a “very long parental leave,” with the right to stay at home for 390 days with 80 percent of your normal wage. With combined monthly child support and extra family supplement, a family of six children will therefore receive a total of SEK 10,500 ($1,300) just for the children alone.
Furthermore, the webpage is swarming with captivating headlines such as “Free School,” “Free Healthcare,” “Free Public Transport with Stroller” and the like. Users are also informed that a person on sick leave is entitled to 80 percent of his pay. Lastly, the readers are informed that polar bears do not roam the streets of Sweden.
PM Nilsson noted that the same information is available on the webpage of the Swedish Embassy in Jordan, which he called “an unusually indiscreet global information campaign,” given the fact that exact sums are indicated together with detailed directions about residence permits. Not even the Swedish Insurance Fund is this specific when addressing fellow Swedes, PM Nilsson pointed out.
According to PM Nilsson, the embassies should stop disseminating this information, citing examples of neighboring countries.
“For instance, Danish embassies do not provide such detailed data on their welfare system, but rather inform that you have to pay taxes and do military service. Just this sort of thing,” PM Nilsson wrote.
The Swedish news outlet Nyheter Idag pointed out that the text originates from the Sweden.se portal run by the Swedish Institute, which is a government agency tasked with spreading information about Sweden outside the country to promote Swedish interests in the spheres of public life, culture, education and research.
The webpage is available in English, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Notably, the article that deals with how the issue of gender equality is being addressed in Sweden, which takes particular pride in being the world’s first nation with an overtly feminist government, is notoriously absent from its Arabic page, where the emphasis instead is put on various benefits. By contrast, the pages in other languages include accolades to, among others, Sweden’s first female Archbishop Antje Jackelén as the example of Sweden’s commitment.
Earlier in October, the Swedish Transport Administration launched a campaign aimed at solving the problems of Sweden’s ailing railroads with the aid of immigrants. The new arrivals were encouraged to complete fast-track training with guaranteed employment in a move bound to “save the Swedish railroads,” as Swedish national broadcaster SVTput it.
In practice, however, the situation is far from rosy, as the Nordic country is still struggling with accommodating the record number of migrants it has welcomed in recent years. Earlier this month, the Swedish Employment Service noted a rise in the number of the unemployed in Stockholm, which might be attributed to an increase in the number of new arrivals granted residence permits. Therefore, the gap between ethnic Swedes and the foreign-born Swedes continues to rise. While unemployment among native Swedes has fallen to 3.0 percent, 14.5 percent of immigrants are unemployed, with this figure on an upward trend, the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported.