Ramblings of an expatriate
By : Tariq A. Al-Maeena
MY column last week on how some residents in this country view their hosts prompted another interesting response from Abdunnasser, a south Indian gentleman whose words deserve to be heard. It is not geared simply to Saudi bashing but a candid viewpoint from one who lives and works among us. He writes: “I always think of Saudi society a lot. It does not mean my society is perfect!
Do you know what my thought was before I was entering as an expatriate to KSA? My thought was all Saudis are good in honesty, prayer and many other things. When an international soccer event was held in my home city of Calicut more than three decades ago, I would greet team members from the Middle East with a ‘assalaam alaikum’ when they strolled around the city!
“What I wish to tell you is that speeches, writings or advices are not reaching the people. That is the main problem now this society faces. Even for a Jumua’a (Friday noon) prayer people are arriving to the mosque just before prayer starts. Most of the people below 35 do not even read newspaper in most parts of the world and in Saudi in particular.
“When we discuss about politics with Saudi colleagues, most of them are not aware of any. No reactions but merely indifferent. A bomb exploded in Syria/Iraq/Palestine ..they have nothing to be worried. A comment from a leader from the Middle East has no reaction from them. This is the time for you and your colleagues in all walks of life, especially the intellectuals, to wake up and think of a plan on how to change society’s perception of global events.”
Abdunnasser then offers tips on what he believes could help Saudi society. “There are some other areas that need to be addressed by people in the media. We need the press to continually highlight the issue of domestic abuse and teach people how to protect their daughters and sisters. There is a huge communication gap between people, even among neighbors. We need revised awareness.
“Ensure that the children are enjoying mixed gender education in the lower primary classes. Anti-smoking campaign is very urgent — Report saying KSA is among the leading countries in the work in tobacco consumption.
“More importantly, you all writers sit together and think what to do to revise things other than mere writings. In my village people around 3 to 4 kilometers all know each other (both men and women). In the city, also within a kilometer people know each other.
“We go to each others’ home if necessary, and due to this no sisters are preyed upon for rape or harassment. Most important is to make a plan to know each other.
“The niqab system itself is not good idea but only hijab. Ok if someone fears for her safety or modesty, then it’s ok but should not be a mandatory tradition for all.”
Abdunnasser then wonders why there is no evident connection between parents and their children here? He also wonders: “Why do people go through red signals at intersections (clear violation). Why crazy motorists drive on roads? That driver might be ready to go to hell but why should he take me too? Let him alone go to hell, if he wishes.”
He continues: “Why are people in other GCC states better in behavior? Why do we not send the Kingdom’s airport staff to the West to learn politeness to passengers? People from around the world are arriving in KSA, the cradle of Islam. But from the first door of KSA itself — the airport — their thoughts about Islam would have been thrown away due the merciless behavior of the staff. We all know passengers are always tired and they need good words and consideration from the staff.”
He concludes by offering tips on how to solve some of society’s ills. “We need all of the social intellectuals from all parts of KSA to sit around and think loudly and make action plans in all ways possible. And finally we need to start from our own kitchen. To enable people to develop to a good mind set and goals. People need awareness in all areas: life, job, business, education, etc, etc. — Kind regards, Abdunnasser.”
— The author can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena