Dr. Thurayyah Al-Aredh
THE other evening we were invited to a party in Bahrain by a Saudi friend who shuttles between both countries. When we arrived at the venue, our host was not there to receive us. After a long wait he arrived visibly worried and upset.
He explained to us that the foreign driver who was driving his wife and kids was apprehended by the Saudi authorities on King Fahd Causeway for trying to smuggle some bottles of whisky. He said he had to go to the causeway to drive his family back home.
I have to admit that this is not the first time I hear about the arrest of a family driver on the causeway for smuggling of liquor. Personally I have been without a driver for about a whole year now after we have decided not to bring back our Filipino driver because of his numerous violations and stealing of our household goods.
My husband and my son are working in Riyadh. We are away from each other but I am certain that living away from the family is somewhat easier than living without a car.
The sad side of the story is that I am a holder of a driving license which I acquired while I was a university student abroad. I have not been able to use this driving license since I returned home.
Three decades have passed with me waiting hopelessly for the Interior Ministry to reach a decision allowing women to drive. Such a decision will rid us of the need to employ foreign drivers and live under their mercy. Women driving cars is not a fashion trend or an ostentatious phenomenon but a real and pressing need.
The faltering relationship between the importers of workers and the foreign manpower themselves has its adverse effects deepening the tension in our families and homes. The two sides have been exchanging accusations that included lies and distorted facts. These accusations culminate in defamation and financial loss.
Foreign manpower has been accused of all vices including child abuse, physical violence, sorcery, brewing and smuggling of alcohol and murder. On their part, the foreign workers have been accusing their sponsors of exploiting them, not paying their salaries and even physically abusing them.
I often ask myself: What makes us import foreign house helps? Can’t we ever do without them? Are there no solutions except for recruitment with all its evils?
It is quite justifiable to import foreign manpower to work in the advanced technological fields but to bring them to work in our homes and live among our families is not understandable. We should seek alternate solutions to our needs other than recruitment.
The importing of drivers has become more perilous than the recruitment of housemaids. As soon as the drivers know our streets, they will not fail to find those who will give them all kinds of criminal advice.
Time has come to get rid of the millions of the foreign drivers in our country. Let the Saudi women drive and the problem will be solved forever. By driving our own cars we will save a lot of resources for the economy. We will be a lot safer as well and will sleep in peace and security.