A FRIEND of mine invited me to lunch at his house recently, and after we had dined he left the room for a bit and came back visibly riled. “That ****** Indonesian!” he cursed.
“What Indonesian? What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The driver, curse those *** drivers!” he snarled, sitting back down beside me.
I wasn’t sure if he was upset with the driver because he was Indonesian, or with the Indonesian because he was a driver, but either way it seemed to present a problem: if it was because he was Indonesian then that would be racism, which is unacceptable, but if it was because he was a driver then where’s the dishonor in that?
People all over the world are racist in one way or another and I’ve seen and felt it myself, even in the advanced societies of the West, but in our case it seems, to an extent, to be in the extreme.
It is apparent in the slightest contact we have with others, in a motor accident, for example, or just any old argument. Even our ordinary conversations reflect the same malady, when we speak of such-and-such an Egyptian, or Pakistani, or Bangladeshi.
“These foreigners have wrecked the country”…”these foreigners have brought all sorts of problems”… “this humidity, this unhappiness, this storm…the foreigners are to blame!”
Are we trying to make ourselves feel special at the expense of others? I’m not sure. Perhaps we are somehow trying to convince ourselves that we’re the best of all Allah’s creations.
All people have the right to see themselves as they wish to and imagine that the world is in the palm of their hands, but not by putting down anyone else.
We Saudis are not greatly different from anyone else, in money or knowledge or health. Poverty has no homeland, for it thrives in every country, ignorance exists here as it does everywhere else, and health problems that others have elsewhere are also found here.
We might be better than others at some things, but they are also better than us at others, but no one is “better”, in an absolute sense, than anyone else.
Those who have left their home countries to come here seeking a livelihood are no different to the thousands of Saudis who have left the Kingdom in search of a better life abroad. We have helped build societies abroad, and in turn foreigners here are helping us to build ours. All nationalities that have lived or do live in Saudi Arabia have played a part in building this country.
At school we have had Egyptian and Palestinian teachers. Pakistanis have worked as construction workers. Yemenis have been traders, and Bangladeshis drivers or farmworkers and even shepherds.
Every job is a brick that builds the country up higher, whoever laid the brick, and whatever its size.
It may be true that some nationalities have shown less discipline with respect to the law, but that’s no justification for those who disparage others either at home or in the street, and I hope I’m wrong when I say that one day they might end up getting a taste of their own medicine. – Okaz/SG