Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let's Try and Put Things Into Perspective...

I was listening to some people complain about how we Saudis are mistreated in airports all over the world. Going through extra security and having to take off our shoes and answer to rude Europeans about why we're in their country when all we're doing is throwing our money at them and they should be happy about us and anyway, isn't this racist?

I understand why most (probably all) of Saudi Arabia is offended by this treatment.
Don't worry, I am not going to argue that we deserve it because of our evil ways.
(You know, how we enjoy blowing things up.)

I actually think we deserve it for another reason: Karma.

I'll get straight to the point: How horribly do we treat our foreign help?
I'm talking about drivers, maids, Indian construction workers...
And not only are they treated appallingly at airports, but everywhere else.

What we Saudis put them through is torture. I am shocked at how this goes... Not unnoticed; I think people certainly notice it, but what is shocking is how this is acceptable.
We have these people working outside in the July sun for hours on end, when it is illegal to have anyone working in that kind of heat.
And what they are payed is shocking. I heard that on average these people make four hundred riyals a month, that's roughly one hundred and six dollars.
And that is not all. That's probably not even the worst of it!

We have treated them this way for decades.
And we see nothing wrong with this.
And then we wonder why we are treated like the scum of the earth all over the world.

I just wonder why it took so damn long for it all to catch up to us.
I mean, we have missed a huge chance to make up for the mistreatment of our foreign help! HUGE!

I am deeply, deeply ashamed of this.
I think these workers are incredible.
Think of all the hardship they have had to endure in their lives. Compare it to being searched a bunch of times at an airport, what we are complaining of.
Now think of how many of them there are. You probably see dozens of them everyday. You pass them without so much as a smile or a nod, to show your gratitude.
And then we have gone on to play the victim, not even acknowledging what we have done to deserve mistreatment.
Shame on us.

What happened to having perspective?
Where are all the smart people?
Why aren't they on TV telling everyone that they are idiots if all they care about is how rude the customs people are at Heathrow?

After spending twenty years on this earth, I am still confused.
Why don't we all just be nice to everyone? Having empathy is really not that difficult.



nourah said...

couldn't agree more

Don Cox said...

"Having empathy is really not that difficult."_____It seems to be very difficult indeed for most people, including Christians, for whom empathy is the central tenet of their religion.

sexy cow said...


ali said...

mashallah its good to know ppl still hv a humane side, it is quite appalling but the main problem in saudi and khaleej as a matter of fact is that it wasnt built up by muwatinaneen, oil was used for everythin, if only we started building things with our own hands we would appreciate all the foreign help, and it would greatly hv reduced unemployment. but now that years hv passed without saudis not being in a hamalee position has led to bigger egos being made, egos which are harmful to progress in society.

Lovelyisthevoice said...


While there is much truth no doubt in what you've said, there is also another side. And but for it the world would be unbearable.

The following I would like to share with you and your visitors. It is from one of my latest books.

Enjoy it Ubergirl87 for it always makes me feel good about your people and beautiful country.

This magnolia that grows out over the garden wall is the largest of its kind in the village.
It is so beautiful, graceful and elegant.

I stood under it and looked up through it at the blue-white sky.
Oh, it was all beauty in fragrance.

In that very moment, my thoughts drifted effortlessly away to the beautiful city of Jeddah, on the Red Sea, and to a time when I used to be living there on my own, and my family were back here in Éire.

Jeddah or more correctly Jaddah is the largest city in Arabia's Western Province.
It is a vital port for trade, and the main gateway through which most of the pilgrims arrive by air and sea who travel to Makkah Al-Mukkaramah and Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah.

It was a Wednesday morning soon after sunrise, and I was driving passed the beautiful Blue-Domed Mosque that is built out on the sea.
It is also called the Mosque on Stilts and the Island Mosque.

Often I have walked along here in the evening time about Maghreb, when the sun is setting. Maghreb is the time for evening prayer. Many come there to pray.
Especially, I like coming here on Friday evenings as it marks the end of the weekend.

I sit on this white bench and watch the sun set in the sea, and all the people making their way out along the arched colonnade to the main part of the mosque. It is a lovely scene as everybody looks very happy.

As is their belief and custom, the women wear long black abaayas and the men long white thobes.
And many of them bring their children with them.

I remember this one Friday evening sitting there on the bench, and this elderly, dignified, shy Arabian man of regular build and height came along on my left and sat down beside me.
He was dressed in traditional Bedouin attire, had a fine beard and wore his hair long.
He was of the fragrance of musk an' rose.

I stood up out of respect for an elderly person.
He smiled and gently shook my hand.
His hand felt like high quality silk.

We both sat down together and there in silent harmony watched the sun set into the sea.
Then he said to me,

"It pleases Allah to give us all this beauty."

I smiled in agreement, and replied with,

"It is how we read it."

With the muezzin calling out for prayers he smiled at me and rose to his feet, and went and entered the holy mosque.

I watched him from the bench as he made his way out along the colonnade.

The memory of his words, the softness of his voice, the beauty of his smile, the touch of his hand, the dignity of his person and the fragrance of his presence will always be with me..."

(Source: Generations Reaching, Chapter 3 A wedding gift)

Blessings Ubergirl87 to you, your Family & Friends,

Richard of Eire

Anonymous said...

Sign of progress in KSA?

Soon women can stay alone in a hotel room (but not go out)

But even worse;

as if traffic wasn't bad enough, you now have to deal with female drivers too. Peace be upon us all!!

Yamato Girl 大和ガール said...

I thought Saudis would never stop and think about how horribly they treat foreign workers. It is good that there is someone like you who cares about it. I sometimes see Saudi tourists treating their foreign housekeepers/babysitters so harshly that I wish I hadn't seen it. Saudis live in their own caste system though KSA is not supposed to have such a system. Where I am from, the job of housekeepers is not lower category of work. They get quite decent pay and treatment from their employers. When I was a child, there was a live-in housekeeper in my house and she became very close to my family. (I am very much reluctant to call them "maids".) She quit the job as she wanted to marry and move to a different city. All my family members attended her wedding reception and we have been in close touch ever since. My mother sends her gifts occasionally and she visits us with her kids and husband. I am not talking only about my family but this is just the way it is in my country. No matter what KSA can do with its oil money, nothing can change if people stop treating those foreign workers nicely. If Saudis learn how to treat people, they can be mentally mature finally and will be able to make the country a better place.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ubergirl

I wouldn't feel too singled out at the airport. Everone gets the special treatment in Europe and North America nowadays.

Speaking of karma, I just wanted to relate to you my experience when entering the Kingdom about 10 years or so ago. Everytime I came in the customs people would search everything...I mean everything. The search usually involved opening up my bags and thowing all my possesions onto the floor. Well after a few time of that happening I "accidentally" left my shampoo bottle open. When the customs guys did their usual search he jammed his hand right into that bag without looking. The expression was priceless - I thought his beard was going to stand up. He extracted his goo covered hand, shot me a dirty look and shambled off, leaving me and my bags relatively unscathed. Since then I have never travelled with clean clothes in my bags, and my time through customs is faster than ever.


Anonymous said...

I see the ego and bad behavior amongst the Khaleeji's more so in the younger generation however they have obviously learned that behavior from somewhere or at least no one ever reprimanded them for such apalling behavior. What's really interesting is that Islam calls for fair and kind treatment for all, humans & animals, especially fellow Muslims-but that sure is not the case! You are correct in your thoughts about Karma-what goes around, comes around!

daisy in usa said...

LOL. Great post!

Everyone has to take their shoes off in US airports. Everyone. Though it is funny that Saudi travelers feel so entitled that they are offended. That is karma.

When I lived in KSA, I became accostomed to having some perv go through ALL my luggage, throwing it around etc. They looked at very single book. Looked at every single bottle--smelled the contents. (like anyone would be so stupid to smuggle booze in a shampoo bottle). The books part really pissed me off---because it was impossible to tell what they would confiscate.
Until a fellow expat told me that the trick was to only travel with dirty clothes (since they are going to toss them on the floor and they have to be stuffed back into the suitcase and wrinkled). And I made sure to put shoes and dirty socks on top. It worked pretty well, usually the customs guy was to persnickity to go through suitcases full of laundry and left my books alone!

I have to admit, I enjoy seeing Saudi travelers stuck in long customs lines in European and US airports. I am not usually a vengeful person, but I think it does them some good to be brought down a few notches in the social pecking order.