Saudi Arabia: Rise of Homeless

As this Arab News article extols, homelessness of Saudis is on the rise in the Kingdom and very noticeable in Makkah.  Many of the homeless were observed as mentally unstable.

The article attempts to uncover exactly which agencies are responsible for the plight of the homeless in the Kingdom.  While I applaud efforts for seeking governmental aid for the individuals, it does not need to stop there.

I see helping a homeless person to change their status in life as a great CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project that many businesses and organizations could take on.  Simply providing food and clean clothes can make a homeless person feel better about themselves.

This would also be a good opportunity for school children to practice the art of giving.  I am not suggesting or condoning that anyone other than a professional should go near a homeless person who is suffering from a mental condition though.

Perhaps a homeless man who is not mentally ill could be given a job as a “tea boy” or something similar which does not require a large or specialized skill set.  This could be the start of independence and rebuilding a better life.

The article mentions that some of the homeless are not alone in that they have families but for whatever reason are estranged.  If a person’s family member is living on the streets and looking in garbage bins for food, shame on that family!  The article should have published the names of the families who have abandoned one of their own flesh and blood.  Shame on that family!!


44 Responses

  1. No wait, I thought that just about everyone got a government subsidy? And, with everyone marrying their cousins, I am not surprised that Mental Health problems and worse are happening. Well, I do hope that they work very hard on this.

  2. what a touching picture

  3. The photo is heart breaking..sometimes i wonder where all the zakat money goes?

  4. Waw, gwendolyn that’s a really nasty comment again. There’s more than stereotypes you know, even in Saudi Arabia.

    That is a heartrending photograph. And being homeless in a land with such extreme weather must be very bad.

    To have anybody in a situation like this is a disgrace for a country which rakes in money by the billions every year. The government which we know is sitting on enormous wealth is not doing it’s job well, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  5. I can imagine that many of the homeless around Mecca are illegals who have come in to Mecca hoping for a miracle to cure a handicap or poverty or whatever else might be wrong and of course it never does. You see that in many holy places.

    “The article mentions that some of the homeless are not alone in that they have families but for whatever reason are estranged. If a person’s family member is living on the streets and looking in garbage bins for food, shame on that family! The article should have published the names of the families who have abandoned one of their own flesh and blood. Shame on that family!!”

    That is not so easy for a family to do. Sometimes these people are very violent and uncontrollable. If the family wants to institutionalize them are there places they can be place???

    All cities have these problems and some are worse than others. KSA has the financial ability to house and care for their homeless and should do so. It is a shame on the royal family and government that this does not happen in my opinion because they have the financial ability to look after these people in the holiest of holy places for Muslims AND the rest of the country.

  6. There are places for those with mental disorders to stay but as I understand, there is a need for more.

  7. Bedu, Thank you very much for your humanity. I am really ashamed to see people in my country care less than you about these incidents.

    Can I ask outside the subject, While you are doing good things here could you explain to me why some people from your country do this:

    You know their mentality and you could explain what motivate them to do this. Again I am sorry to ask outside the subject but I am really curios and you dealt with american mentality as well as bedouin mentality, so you can explain the former to the latter.

  8. @moon light – Could be because they are not much of a good human being !!

  9. This is serious!! The richest oil country with millions of visitors for hajj and employement and so less arab polultion ,still cant provide better living and education and job opportunities ? SHAME

  10. @Moonlight – The actions of some individuals are deplorable. I was in Iraq during 2003/2004. What I noticed there was that those who were compassionate just wanted to do whatever they could to make things better. Whereas those who had a “dark side” that would come out strongly in a time and place of strife and conflict. I think war zones have a tendency to de-humanize individuals. ):

  11. Thank you Bedu. There is something not comfortable actually, after reading lots of the comments in the Washington Post and New York times, I found that lots and lots of Americans support the action of those soldiers, maybe the majority of the comments are in favour.

  12. Moonlight,
    1. because people have no morals or
    2. because they forget that old ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you rule” and, mostly
    3. Because they are stupid – how many people don’t know about cameras and internet and consequences????

    There is no excuse for this behavior. Yes, war is hell and can be savage, but still this is a lack of judgement that certainly will have consequences. It will only make their mission worse and more difficult (if they ever actually figure out what the US is trying to do in Afghanistan because I have no idea.)

    Having said that, spare me the usual “Muslim rage” thoughts. If Muslims want to be angry (as they always are) I would suggest that they turn their ire on other Muslims that kill, oppress, cheat and subjugate.

    But why ask the impossible? Muslims never condemn that hate and violence done under the banner of Islam, particularly is direct from the pages of the Quran or the stories about Mohammed.

    As I have said before, morality is alien to Islam and most religious Muslims. They expect it from non-Muslims but never apply the same standards to themselves.

    No, Moonlight, until I see Muslims condemn the atrocities they do and have done, including those by your Islam’s prophet, I am not impressed by what Muslims think about this incident.

    Note to all: nothing brings out the badger in me like a Muslim that complains about infidel intolerance or the stupid evil actions of non-Muslims without bringing up their own many faults and failings. FYI there was an old 1980s video taken by the taliban showing barbaric torture inflicted on a captured Russian soldier. I mean horrible and slow. It was passed about in hundreds of Islamic jihadist sites and doubtless seen millions of times. Glass houses.

  13. Well said in reply AB. That should be the end of it!!

  14. Good reply, Carol! I think this applies to US soldiers as well as Iraqis and others coming into the country. Some really want to do good while others want to spread evil and will use the chaos of war to do so.

  15. @Moonlight,
    To quote a friend, “It’s a shame that soldiers are trained to “win” at war rather than being taught their training is a tool used in the quest for peace.” I think this sums up the situation well.

    Basically, soldiers are sometimes trained and taught that their enemy is worth less than other people. Since they are taught the enemy is “evil”, they do not feel any remorse when they do such things.

    Even worse, some soldiers think Islam and Muslims are no good and sometimes make fun of Islam. It may be very, very, very wrong but it still happens sometimes. Thankfully, the majority is not like this. A lot of uneducated people (whether a soldier or not; whether U.S. citizen or not) think that their religion is the right one and all other religions are evil/wrong- which may show in how they treat other people.

    People like these soldiers are an embarrassment to the U.S. and its military. I do believe there needs to be a better system to train U.S. troops to be more religiously and culturally tolerant and respectful, especially before the troops are sent overseas.

  16. Carol, have you forgotten how American mentally ill and poverty-struck are treated? Same as Canada – we have too many hopeless and mentally ill on the streets and for families these people are too scary to help. Canada and the USA do not have the same kind of available funds to build places for these people but we try. We try and put people in hostels and around them up in the winter so they don’t freeze to death. At least in Canada we do that. KSA has no excuse for this neglect because there is so much money that could be used to build hospitals and places of refuge. It is more shameful for the government and the royal family than it is for families who can’t look after these people never mind those without families.

    Moonstruck – have you read up on the Muslim Ottomans of Turkey and what they did to the Christian Armenians? There is never an excuse for disrespect and violence.

  17. Can we get back onto the topic.
    @Gwendolyn”No wait, I thought that just about everyone got a government subsidy? And, with everyone marrying their cousins, I am not surprised that Mental Health problems and worse are happening. Well, I do hope that they work very hard on this.”

    ..hmm if only it happened to you i would love to see someone saying the same thing…you sound so cold hearted.
    Your comment about mental health was disgusting. I know of a young saudi boy who was close to my heart and at the age of 17 died in his sleep last week, he had autism..his father had a mental disability and NO was not married to his cousin.. and the father of his father didn’t have a mental disability and was not married to his cousin either..they belong to a strict conservative tribe and even then most of the men have not married their cousins. So if possible think in that tiny brain of yours before you say such hurtful things as you don’t know the ramifications of such generalised comments and how it can effect others. Im sure everyone will have a story of how mental health has touched their lives, either through family or friends..wether in the west of eastern part of the world.

  18. Saudi is not the only country that has homeless. Here in the US, we have homeless. So let us not point a fingers. However, getting the message out that it is occurring might help some and insuring that monies are spent appropriately in order to benefit as many as possible is necessary. We all could do better at helping those who are unfortunate. So let us hope Carol’s article and articles with similar messages reaches someone who actually will and can help them.

  19. @Moon Light,

    I just have to say something about the comments section of newspaper articles. I don’t believe it represents the majority of Americans- or of any nationality for that matter. Look on any thread for any article and it seems there are many that just want to say outrageous things for entertainment. There is even a word for it “trolling”. It seems like the very worst of humanity shows up to say horrible things. And some of them seem to spend all day commenting on every article. Often they have no clue what the issue really is about and simply write and support the most obnoxioius thing they can. If you want to believe that represent the majority of people fine. But then don’t complain when others think terrorists represent the majority of Muslims.

    You will see no cheering in the streets for these people and they will be charged and tried for criminal activity. That says more about the country than the fact it has some rotten people. All countries have rotten people.

  20. Moonlight, according to the polls (from memory) about 80 or 90 % of the Americans are against these stupid wars. The American government does a lot which the majority is against.
    And anyway, the fact that there are other people, from whatever country, who behave like mad barbarians doesn’t all of a sudden make it allright.
    As we have been told many times on this blog: outsiders can only comment and it’s up to the people themselves to change their own countries. Which meaqns that the Americans should clean up their mess, and there are plenty who worl very hard onit, and Saudis should clean up their own mess. But to start cleaning up your own mess you need to realize that you ahve made a mess of your country and society, and by childishly pointing fingers at other people you will not get there.
    Look at your own enormous problems, and realize you ahve these problems, that is the beginning of change.

    Bella-vita, While you are correct in assessing gwendolyn’s heartlessness, I do not think you have a right to complain about other people’s heartlessness when you have so clearly demonstrated you own on this blog. Gwendolyn is merely nasty, but you have made such utterly disgusting comments on this blog, they made me sick reading them. You take heartlessness to a new level.

  21. Aafke…how did i know you would have such a lovely comment to make. Instead of commenting on the issue at hand ure to busy worrying about my past rants on this blog. get over it. I have been beside myself many times at the sight of your comments as well so your complaint doesn’t mean much to me.

  22. this is a nice personal fights blog!!

  23. It seems a bit ridiculous to me that some members can’t stay on topic and always resort to childish slams, name calling, etc. Not even on this non-complext, non-religious topic can people stay on topic.

  24. @Susanne430,
    The application process for visa approval and ESPECIALLY for refugee status is quite extensive and requires a background check. Pretty much all of the refugees that come here do so with the intent to make a new home here. Sometimes, they are not given enough assistance and choose to go back home where they can live comfortably above the poverty line.

    Back on the topic:
    Some questions I have about the homeless in Saudi:

    What “mental illness”es are these people reported to have and what programs exist in the country to help them? How many are drug addicts?

    What percentage of the homeless are homeless by choice, meaning they prefer the ease and lack of responsibility of living on the streets? I understand this is not a good way to think and that these people in question may need psychological counseling, but at the same time, I would be interested to know this.

    How many of the homeless are homeless because they had to flee their homes due to abuse?

    How many of the homeless want a job to provide for their family, including food, shelter, etc.? What programs are in place to help them do this?

    Also, sometimes people do not abandon the homeless by choice. Sometimes, the person leaves home with no intention to return.

    In the case of mentally unstable people, what should a family do when their relative is not stable enough to live around family (i.e. violent episodes) and refuses to go get help?

  25. StrangeOne, I have no idea why you told me that, but OK, thanks!

  26. I don’t think all of your questions can be answered, Strangeone, particularly in regards to the statistics or categories of the homeless. However, if a person’s relative has either a mental illness or problem with drugs, there are facilities where the relative can be taken. He does not have to be “dumped” on the streets.

  27. But are there enough facilities? And then many mentally ill patients run away/disappear from their homes. That is the case in the rest of the world anyway.

  28. As I understand more facilities are needed and some more are under construction.

  29. I don’t know about Saudi- but in the US you can not legally pick up an adult relative from the street and take them to a facility if they do not want to go. Many on the streets have not been “dumped” they leave.
    I had a US friend in this situation. She had to go to court and prove the relative in question was a danger to themselves, she had to get legal custody and the relative treated her like an enemy, and didn’t know and couldn’t remember who she was. He only thought she was trying to steal his things. Anyway, a lot of time, money an effort to get control of the situation. As well as a considerable amount of good luck.

  30. In the US atleast , there are plenty of homeless (if you could call them that) who choose to be away from home. They can i’m sure in no way be compared to the poverty stricken scene above, atleast i hope not.

    On any given day/ more so at night we get atleast 3-6 drug seekers making the ER guys lives living hell, I’ve been paged on a few occasion for these idiots and there are days when i’ve circulated among the ER folks helping out and come across them. definetly homeless by choice adn not poverty struck either..

  31. Many homeless in the US choose to be homeless. I have know several. Then there are those who are homeless and are ashamed to let anyone know and they suffer in silence. Particularly since 2008 once everything went bust. Most often in the US if someone asks for help they will get help as there are numerous organizations that do everything in their power to assist people. I have known people who actually opened their homes and had Katrina victims live in their own households. I have come to understand though that there are just some who do not want your help; so you help them in ways that they will accept. Things like a blanket, small one person tent, lighter, food, warm clothing. You show them where they might hole up for a couple of nights if the weather gets extremely cold that local law enforcement are okay with or a facility that is meant only for temporary stays. You do what you can for them on the basis of what they will accept. Anyway that is my experience with the homeless here in the US. Every country has homeless and we all could do better.

    Sandy is correct on her understanding in the US on homeless. You cannot force someone into a home or shelter unless they meet very stringent points of personal endangerment to themselves due to some mental issues or a pattern whereby they have shown themselves to be a danger to others.

  32. @StrangeOne..”What percentage of the homeless are homeless by choice, meaning they prefer the ease and lack of responsibility of living on the streets?”
    In most saudi families there is no question of anyone being homeless by choice it just wouldn’t even be a thought process in their minds.
    If you mean leaving the city life to return to the bedouin life?..well that wouldn’t be to common considering almost all of saudi’s have come from that lifestyle to settle in the city’s in search of a better/easier life..but who knows the older generation who lived most of their lives in the desert would probably reflect on the simple desert life as easier then the materialistic city life. Family is a huge part of the saudi culture and even if a friend is in need some will go to every extent to help them let alone their family members..saudi families are huge and many of the men in the older generation had more then 2 wives = crazy amount of kids….so there is always someone that can help or even help raise a child if the need arises. At the end of the day saudi families hold a huge amount of pride and for one of the members of their family to be on the streets would be a HUGE shame on their part…it just wouldn’t happen in the majority of cases.

    “How many of the homeless are homeless because they had to flee their homes due to abuse?”
    in my personal opinion I think the same goes for this question..there would be no one fleeing under any circumstance. Its all about the pride factor and no matter whats happening in doors..everything should look rosy on the outside good or bad. I guess you can easily say that once you leave/abandon your family in saudi your identity becomes questionable…women would need to look for a shelter unless she was super rich and had connections and even then it would be hard and possibilities of marriage are low as she has no mahram…men would have a hard time with marriage as well as other things. Leaving your family is considered taboo and would be looked upon negatively especially leaving his mother or father behind no matter the situation at home.

    “How many of the homeless want a job to provide for their family, including food, shelter, etc.? What programs are in place to help them do this?”
    There are various religious organisations within saudi that cater to this but of course its never enough..that goes for the world in general. THere is never enough money for all those out there suffering and in need..but at the same time we shouldn’t give up.
    Sorry its a long comment

  33. This would apply primarily in the states- but it is a fantastic idea I read about once. I think many of us are willing to help homeless- but sometimes don’t have a lot of time or resources. Also many of us, while not minding buying someone a meal- don’t want to pay for their alcohol or cigarettes. There are many venues that sell restaurant cards- you can put money on them and give them away rather than money. That way you know you’ve given them food.

    In Saudi, because of the organized begging gangs that employ children it can be more tricky. You know they need money- but you don’t want the whole system profitable because it will only grow. So you can buy food in the grocery store and bag it separately. Then when approached in the parking lot you can give them something they will actually get to eat- be it a piece of fruit or a pack of cookies or whatever.(I got the idea when I saw someone else do it)

    Most of your point was about how Saudi’s wouldn’t be homeless because of their family support. But the point of the article is that there ARE a bunch of Saudi homeless and the number is rising.

  34. What i was getting at was just in reply to StrangeOnes questions..she was putting out possible scenarios that saudis are homeless which are not homeless by choice/homeless due to fleeing from home.
    Its obvious there are homeless people in saudi but those are not the main reasons why.

  35. Bella Vita:

    “in my personal opinion I think the same goes for this question..there would be no one fleeing under any circumstance. Its all about the pride factor and no matter whats happening in doors..everything should look rosy on the outside good or bad.”

    Is it possible that people are starting to decide that they would rather face the brutality of the streets than the brutality behind the rose colored family door?

  36. @Bellavita
    Then why do you think there are homeless Saudis?

  37. Sandy – I did the same as you in buying food for anyone begging.

  38. @Sandy..
    Im aware of the growing amount of saudi women in shelters who are homeless and even raise their children who would have likely no chance of moving on from these places due to no male guardian = no proposals which is so saddening. Reasons being possibly..her family didn’t accept her back after a failed marriage? her family was too poor to look after her and her children? Her husband kicked her out and she was fearful to return back home? After divorce or death of her husband she has no mahrams.
    Non saudi nationals homeless due to rent being so expensive in the city’s as well as maybe being illegal in the country so not being able to pick up work that provides for the entire family.
    Large saudi families being so poor and not being able to pay rent and living expenses for the many children and possibly even 2 families (2wives) so they are forced to move out into those makeshift living quarters..sometimes their families cannot afford to help and or they don’t have many relatives.
    I think with my previous answers to StrangeONe i jumped the gun as there is always the exception to the rule and i made it seem like NO ONE does that when clearly there are homeless so anything could happen.
    I think the womens shelter situation could be among the worst…. they are in limbo without a mahram. Without a mahram many things can become impossible for her and her children to do. Even creating a better life may be impossible due to this factor. Saudis need to create a solution to this problem because not all women have mahrams.

    BIgStick1..anything is possible..u have a point.

  39. Bella Vita:

    So how do intend to help?

  40. Bella Vita:

    It should read, “So how do you intend to help?”

  41. Here is very informative 9-minute video (w/subtitles), related to Poverty In Saudi Arabia:

  42. @Honest Abe – I had seen this video before. I do have empathy for those who are in needful situations. At the same time, it was hard to listen to the first individual’s plea for not being able to make ends meet when learning he has two wives and 11 children. I know that sounds judgemental (and it is….). However for the woman who is alone and raising her children, I would very much like to see her get more assistance.

  43. @AB – i find myself quite judgemental as i get older 🙂 i see so many people and they say they need help raising their kids and how can we let our kids starve. and unless they recently lost everything by some means the question in my mind is “why the heck dod you have 4 kids if you can’t feed even 1”.

    i’ve seen people in poverty , struggling an dthen progressively having more and more kids. if that’s not insane behavior i don’t know what is.

  44. How worsening it is. to be a mere tea boy serving another muslim while he entertains his face before other rich people.

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