Observations of an expat


Expatriates have often been maligned unfairly in the press as money-hungry people who just come here to fill their pockets and then flee the country once they have had their pockets filled with no regard or concern for the welfare of their host country or its citizens. Over the years, some in the press have used expatriates as their punching bag for any problems that arise and have devoted newspaper columns to the ills of their presence in this country.

I can categorically state that nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all expatriates I have known over the years have lived a full life and have genuinely involved themselves in the progress of this country while displaying high regard and affection for this land they call home.

Many are pained by shortfalls they see within society and are quick to point them out in the hope that such oversights are corrected by the respective agencies. Such would not be their concern if all they wanted to do were to make money and run.

One such concerned expat is Nadeem Nadvi, a man who has spent a considerable portion of his life here in Jeddah and who is also married to a Saudi woman. Raising the issue of the city’s state of cleanliness, Nadeem writes: “I want to draw your attention to an important subject, which I believe should be highlighted in the media to attract the attention of the concerned authorities.

“Jeddah, the bride of Red Sea has turn into a ‘graveyard of abandoned cars’. At every corner of the city you will find cars that have been parked there for ages. These unclaimed cars are not only causing huge parking problems but at the same time are hazardous to the public safety. It would not be too difficult for the authorities to identify the owners of these vehicles and penalize them for using public parking places.

“I am sure if the project is executed properly we will have the parking issues solved to a great extent. In case you need pictures for your article, I would be more than pleased to provide them. Thanks...Nadeem.”

Here is an expat who is obviously distressed by the junk left abandoned on the streets that he sees around the city and has taken the time to point it out to me. This is clearly not someone who is here just for the money. This stereotype that we mistakenly apply to our guest workers is of great disservice and it is wrong.

Nadeem is not just pointing out faults that he sees around him. Through his work running a sporting organization that helps children, he is also committed to helping our citizens of tomorrow in a healthy pursuit of their pastime. He is not obligated to do that but yet he does it. That does not fit the profile of an individual who is purely interested in fattening his wallet.

It is time that we recognize that there exist many expatriates among us who share our concerns and our dedication to make our country better. They live and breathe among us and are just as affected when they come across something that is not right as we are.

Instead of viewing their presence with reservation or suspicion, let us embrace them as one of our own and thank them for helping us make this country a better place for all.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena