The Debate

I really feel pretty lousy right now!
I wrote an article for a site talking about how we can upgrade systems to cater to unemployment. A debate started. Some people thought I am just dreaming that life could be better for expatriates living here. Now, I believe , life is already great for expatriates. The only issues are the usual iqama and visas and the general rights. I went to say that these things affect investment in KSA and that affects unemployment negatively. Unemployment for Saudis that is. Makes perfect sense to me. Things I know for facts.
One particular reader started pointing out all the negatives of KSA! I responded and it went on for a while until he said something that just made me stop. It brought back all those moments with my dad. Moments where we have talked about life and we still do. And, we will inshallah when he comes back soon.
All the while I assumed that this person is just some new expatriate expressing anger as most do. He is not. He is someone who has spent a lifetime here. He has seen the good and the bad. He said what my father says. What any man would say when he serves a country all his life and gets no gratitude in the form of respect and honor in his old age. When after meeting rulers and doing more than any local would, he remains just an iqama number! I have no words to apologize to this man! If only I knew who he is. I would not have dared to talk back to a senior.

KSA, I hope you start to honor the people who came and built you 50 years ago. I hope you do. Do you blame them for resenting you now ? I don’t.
The man truly humbled me as does my father.

3 thoughts on “The Debate

  1. Hi Ali,
    Another insightful addition to your blog, so thanks.
    I was talking about this to some of my students today. The topic of the lesson was money, how we spend it, if it makes us happy, and so on. The way it was laid out in the book was, frankly, completely impractical, so I just started a discussion on the topic instead. Eventually the proposition of all the foreigners being sent home tomorrow came up: what would happen? I asked around. Who does any physical work? Who enjoys it? 1 from 15. (Collecting the dates, watering the garden, enjoying the sense of satisfaction that he got from seeing the results of his labour…) The same guy proposed that Saudis don’t do physical work because it is shameful for them. But then, I wondered aloud, this sense of shame must be a modern phenomenon, because not so very long ago you wouldn’t have had this choice. Work had to be done, by all who were capable…so what changed?

    The stonewall silence told me I shouldn’t push it much further, so I didn’t. But it does strike me that many youth here don’t ask themselves the question, “what if…?”, especially when they’re whining about the Bengalis, or the Filipinos, or any other army of ants and the negative impact they are perceived to have on these sacred Saudi customs. What if they were all sent home tomorrow?

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, I really needed it.
    To answer the question honestly, the country would collapse! Maybe not 20 years ago, but now the dependency on expat labor is to high to reverse. Even if every saudi worked, they would not be enough to manage all areas. The growth in population , a whole generation of people raised dependent on staff, the cultural limitations, there would be chaos! Independence is cultivated when a nation is young ant heavily populated. Once that time passes, it is almost an impossibility.

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