Saudi Arabia: Living in Saudi Arabia Requires a Tougher Skin

tough skin required

eloquentwoman.blogspot.com

 

Whether one is an expatriate in Saudi Arabia or a foreigner married to a Saudi, to Saudis you are viewed as a guest in their country.  The majority of Saudis will go out of their way to be hospitable, kind and helpful to the guests.

I had multiple experiences of both Saudi men and women approaching me in grocery stores or department stores wanting to be helpful or simply practice their English.  I had approaches by both men and women and none in an inappropriate manner.  Saudi women were especially kind if I were in an abaya store or in a women’s formal store searching for a gown to wear to a wedding.   They wanted to assist in helping me find the perfect abaya or gown!

However, I also had a few of my own experiences which were not as welcoming.  One experience featured two women who were determined to jump ahead of me in the queue at a shoe store.  These women though were not aware I was not in the shoe store alone.  I was with Mama Moudy, my Saudi mother-in-law.  She let them know in no uncertain terms there actions were rude and uncalled for.  Both the women were quickly apologizing to me!

The bottom line though is both the good and bad experiences between expatriates and Saudis can go both ways.  Rather than risk a public altercation, it’s better to have thick skin and pay no mind when someone does something less than socially acceptable.  Expatriates are each individual Ambassadors of their respective countries and Saudis are also representatives of their country too.  We each choose what kind of impression we want to leave with one another.

Of course, if either an expatriate or a Saudi has taken an action that goes beyond just mere rudeness or sarcasm, the wronged party should seek restitution through the proper channels.  While doing so, an expatriate should also remember that Saudis have WASTA, meaning the ability to use influence or contacts.  That does not mean an expatriate who has been wronged can’t seek restitution, but the manner in which it is done must be in conformity with the culture.

If an expatriate chooses to go public about an incident and sites places, names, and individuals where a Saudi was in the wrong, that Saudi and/or its institution will lose face.  A point will have been made but maybe at the jeopardy of the expatriate, especially if the Saudi has WASTA.

If an expatriate goes public and states facts without identifying specific individuals or organizations but at the same time letting it be known that more specifics are available, this does give an opportunity of face saving and also setting things right in a more amicable and satisfactory fashion.

All expatriates in the Kingdom are sponsored by either an individual Saudi or a Saudi organization.  As a result, there is much more pressure on the expatriates to abide by the customs and traditions of the Kingdom.  And don’t forget, the expatriate is also the guest…but guests can be asked to leave.

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39 Responses

  1. Racism..a belief one race is superior to another. Always a touchy issue for many. We have the Greece openly stating they dislike the Albanians, Italians not wanting Tunisians in their country, Spain hostile against the North African countries like Morocco, and now Saudis. So sad to see so much hatred against another human being. We all have so much to offer as individuals, really wish we could all just get along. 😦

  2. Carol, no wonder you were such a successful foreign servant for America…you are so diplomatic and use common sense. Thanks for your representation for America.

  3. In other words, the expatriates are damned if they stand up for themselves and damned if they don’t. What a lovely country … not. If a local tries to be rude to me or treat me like a person of no significance, I wouldn’t care less what he or she would think of me or my country for that matter. Nobody should agree to become a doormat just because they are far from home and in unfamiliar circumstances.

    I don’t think the Saudis really care that they are representatives of their country – to their minds, they are at home and they can do as the please. It is the foreigners that always have to bend and show respect even when they are insulted. Why be afraid that anyone will say something about your country just because you let them know that you won’t be trampled on? The Saudis’ opinion doesn’t matter worldwide anyway. Why care what they have to say about anyone at all? The world is laughing at them for so many reasons. With their extremely poor country image, they can’t influence anything at all.

    The Gulf people are so funny in their assumption that showing the door to anyone is a tragedy for the expatriate who was asked to leave. In reality leaving the Gulf can be such a liberating experience that few things compare to the joy of leaving. Sometimes this is the best thing that could happen to an expat. Twelve years ago, when I went to the Doha International Airport and boarded the plane home, I was so ecstatic that no words could express my relief. I knew that as soon as I boarded the plane, I would be far from the daily patronizing, arm-twisting and breaking of wills for good. I would never see people assuming that I was a prostitute just because I was from a foreign land. I would never be treated as someone who should be grateful for whatever peanuts thrown in my direction. That was over and for good. But it takes an intelligent expat to see it that way. Many expats are too consumed by greed to see it as a door to a much better life.

  4. Saudis make nazis look like progressive people… and I am a Saudi Arabian woman… born and grew up in Saudi Arabia… glad to be out of that Islamic dump of a nation! I love my Israeli Jewish husband and don’t care what any Saudi Bastard thinks! Arabs also for the most part are utter scum! And it is time that people admit this! Islam is a sham religion and a disgusting religion based on sexism and homophobia and bigotry!

  5. My experiences always stem from my life in Bahrain but in many ways they are similar to Saudi customs and behaviors. Speaking of line jumping…when my sister came to visit me and we were in the public toilet at the mall where a lot of women were patiently waiting their turn…in comes a Bahraini woman that walked right on past the line and pushed her way into the next available stall. Before she could get the door shut my sis had her hand on the door telling her, hey now, there’s a lot of women in front of you…you need to wait your turn. The lady kept had a shocked look on her face and kept trying to shut the door. For those of you wondering if she maybe didnt understand English…she was the right age to have learned English in school…and even the worst student can understand body language and a few choice words.

    At any rate, she reluctantly stomped out amid much applause from the rest of us and lots of smiles…from foreigners and other Bahrainis to boot. Nobody likes confrontation but sometimes you have to take a stand…and having to pee while standing in line means equal justice for all…unless you are a child, elderly, or handicapped as far as I’m concerned…and so do lots of others.

  6. Why not just confront the guilty party head-on as the incident is happening? And if needed, use WASTA/notifying the appropriate channels as necessary. For expatriates, I think it is best to try and blend in with the locals, learn the language, and then hopefully not be taken advantage of as much by the true locals. It’s not hard to look around and dress according to what you see others wearing. If you don’t speak the language or have a thick accent, keep your mouth shut when necessary. I don’t think it’s racism as much as it is ignorant people taking advantage of others (or attempting to at any rate).

  7. Carol, thank you posting the link to the article about wasta. The discussion was great – learned a lot from it. Please keep the brilliant work helping and informing people. There is so much to learn here and it’s already in the blog’s archives.

  8. Thank you, Reality Check.

    I could really use suggestions from readers on new topics to write about though!!

    On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 4:19 AM, American Bedu

  9. My husband and I had an experience like that in Saudi. We were buying some groceries and this man with his son who was maybe 9 or 10 pushed in front of us. My husband spoke to him in Arabic telling him he was setting a very bad example for his son.
    My Saudi BIL got a little angry with my husband when we told the story saying that it could have been a prince or someone else with power who could have caused us some trouble and that we should be quiet when this kind of thing happens.

  10. It’s a tough call but there is a lot of truth with the addage “When in Rome…..”

  11. I read … yes, some habits come from the peculiarity of the country itself…. but what I absolutely “disliked” is HOW some Saudi citizen…. extort an amount of money in few time from those expatriates who asked them to be their sponsor! This must be put under the governmental authorities or that country will be refilled of expats without cash in their accounts nor in their pockets!…So, before criticizing tiny details, let put the eye on these very serious huge cases of extortion!…In Italy, Similar events are punished by penal law…I think that to be “clean”… we must begin by inside….right?

  12. I hear what you are saying A Nadia but I also think the expatriates who accept such offers do know they are taking a risk. Every expat should have a sponsor who is also their gainful employer.

    On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 6:34 AM, American Bedu

  13. I learned early on to ALWAYS be wired. Many people can’t believe what really goes on unless they can see and/or hear it for themselves!

    Better to let them tell on themselves and lose face, so to speak.

    “If an expatriate chooses to go public about an incident and sites places, names, and individuals where a Saudi was in the wrong, that Saudi and/or its institution will lose face. A point will have been made but maybe at the jeopardy of the expatriate, especially if the Saudi has WASTA.”

    Will the Saudis travel to the expats’ home countries whereby the expats and perhaps their families will be in jeopardy for the Saudis’ own wrongs? WOW that is some kind of WASTA!!!

    Seems it would be safer for the expats to put the videos/audios on the Internet and let the international court of public opinion render the verdict.

  14. Jemma, come on now..It’s not as bad as you make it sound. I am a Mexican American, and I had my share of racism in the U.S. These are isolated incidents which happen everywhere in the world…even worse. I have lived in Saudi for 7 consecutive years, and the only incident I have encountered was a woman cutting to the front of the line at McDonalds..and their were many Saudis in line as well. I simply told her we were all waiting before her, and she went to the back of the line. I think Carol’s message was to be careful if one finds themselves in a sticky situation, does not call to be wired at all times…

  15. well said, Norma!

  16. “In this year’s Worst of the Worst report, nine countries were identified by Freedom House as being the world’s worst human rights abusers in calendar year 2011: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, SAUDI ARABIA, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.”

  17. I’ve just figured out that Saudi Arabia’s law enforcement officers must be leading some of the saddest lives ever. I can only try to imagine how bad it is to try to be taken seriously while every obnoxious prat with a little wasta under his belt can make a mockery of your efforts to enforce the rules by just calling “the right person”. “Who are you to fine me and do you know who I know?” Saudi police officers must be some of the most scared and demoralized people ever. Not a job for anyone with conscience and respect for the rules. If I were them, my heart would break a little every day. How can you do one of the most serious jobs in the world without being taken seriously at all?

    I suppose the rules are only for the poor idiots without connections. After all, how many people are living in Saudi Arabia? According to the World Bank, a little over 28 000 000. Is it physically possible for all of them to have wasta? I don’t think so. It must be sad to be surrounded by people striving to make the right friendships all the time because your own physical survival may depend on this someday. Imagine the woman who needs a quick appointment with a cancer specialist because she felt a lump in her breast and she keeps being postponed over and over again because someone with more influence took her appointments. What about those who can’t break through the wall of other people’s connections when it is a matter of life and death? Absolutely tragic!

  18. @Reality–You’re absolutely right! How in the HELL Saudi cops can take reports from expat victims of Saudi criminals (if the expat is even allowed to file a report) and have the cops ‘pretend’ they will actually follow through the legal process only in the end to throw the expat victim in jail and let the Saudi criminal walk free, live with themselves?!
    Islam at work? Inshallah at work? Wasta at work? Sure as hell isn’t the law working or is it?

    The Saudi cops that take great strives to tell many they are also Americans because they have US passports makes many Americans cringe. Could they ever become cops in the United States and would they be allowed to police in the same manner? Scary…

  19. Calm down ladies. You’re taking it way out of proportion and trying to turn this post into Saudi bashing, which it is NOT.

    On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM, American Bedu

  20. American Bedu wrote:

    “Of course, if either an expatriate or a Saudi has taken an action that goes beyond just mere rudeness or sarcasm, the wronged party should seek restitution through the proper channels. While doing so, an expatriate should also remember that Saudis have WASTA, meaning the ability to use influence or contacts. That does not mean an expatriate who has been wronged can’t seek restitution, but the manner in which it is done must be in conformity with the culture.”

    “If an expatriate chooses to go public about an incident and sites places, names, and individuals where a Saudi was in the wrong, that Saudi and/or its institution will lose face. A point will have been made but maybe at the jeopardy of the expatriate, especially if the Saudi has WASTA.”

    “If an expatriate goes public and states facts without identifying specific individuals or organizations but at the same time letting it be known that more specifics are available, this does give an opportunity of face saving and also setting things right in a more amicable and satisfactory fashion.”

    This isn’t about Saudi bashing–there are plenty of other sites for that; it’s about the truth. After all, “justice delayed is justice denied.” There are other methods to seek redress even if it means Saudis who committed wrong and got ‘caught’ lose face.

  21. I am sorry but how does this particular post of mine have anything to do with Saudi bashing? I said I was feeling sorry for the police officers in Saudi Arabia because no matter what they do to maintain law and order, too many people use wasta to get away with it. This is a very stressful job and one of the few I’ll never take, no matter how high the salary is. I suppose that one of the few things that helps the police officers feel good about themselves and what they do is the respect they get from the public. If too many people are trying to bypass the law and overturn their speeding and other convictions, where is the respect?

    As far as my comment about the taken hospital appointments is concerned, I simply repeated other people’s thoughts from the article about wasta that is linked above because I agree with them. Nobody saw their opinions as Saudi bashing. Some of them said that if they didn’t use wasta, they would have been seriously ill now and they spoke from personal experience.

  22. @Jemma, If you are not in the Kingdom then lucky for you. If you are currently in the Kingdom, then you are free to leave. I always like to remind anyone who is in foreign country and complaining..you are here by choice, if you are not happy go back home. There is a famous saying in spanish(translated)” Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”!

  23. “Due to Saudi Arabia’s requirement that foreign workers receive permission from their employer to get an “exit visa” before they are able to leave the country, migrant workers report that they are forced to work for months or years beyond their contract term because their employer will not grant them an exit permit.”

    United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report – Saudi Arabia, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30c9cc.html [accessed 1 May 2013]

  24. Jemma,

    Norma asks a good question. Are you in Saudi Arabia? My post is to sensitive expatriates to some of the cultural realities. You seem determined to take it further into a bashing expedition.

    Is life in the Kingdom perfect – not necessarily. But it can also be very good.

    Most expatriates arrive in the Kingdom on a 90 day trial period. They do not receive an iqama (residence permit) until completing that period and both parties, employer and employee believe the relationship is a good fit. Anyone held beyond a stated contact due to lack of an exit visa has a valid issue to take up with their home embassy who can assist.

    The number of expatriates in the Kingdom will -slowly- start to drop due to the priority emphasis placed on Saudiazation. But any expatriate in the Kingdom who wants to have a positive stay needs to maximize the positive and minimize the negative. Otherwise, they’ll probably remain pretty miserable.

    On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM, American Bedu

  25. American Bedu said: “Is life in the Kingdom perfect – not necessarily. But it can also be very good.”

    I am sorry but the quality of your life in the Gulf depends entirely on your salary and your salary depends entirely on your nationality. If you come from Eastern Europe or the countries like Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, you are classed as a third-rate person, your salary is less than the locals’ pocket money and your life is really bad.

    So the above list makes it obvious that being a white person is not enough to guarantee you a good life and lack of condescension on the part of the locals. You have to be a WESTERN white person and then everything will be fine. Being an EASTERN white person, I was classed a little higher than the people from Africa and the Indian subcontinent but immeasurably lower than the people from the West.

    My salary sank accordingly. Looking back, I think this is absolutely the worst period of my life. I couldn’t go out because taxis would ruin me. I couldn’t buy myself a pair of new shoes for a long time because that would ruin me. Whenever I met Arab men and they learned I was Eastern European, they leered at me and I was subjected to all kinds of shameless propositions because they knew I wasn’t paid well and assumed I was desperate for a free lunch.

    Carol, you seem to have no idea that the reason you never experienced any hardship in the Gulf is your American passport, haven’t you? You are an American, so nobody would ever consider treating you badly even for a second. They would not do this to you because they knew there would be HUGE consequences because of your nationality. Somehow you remained oblivious of the true reason for the locals’ good treatment of you.

    Trust me, if you were not an American, no amount of personal qualities would work for you. They would have looked down on you all the time. You led the privileged life of an American woman married to an influential Saudi diplomat and you were shielded from any unpleasantness by a high fence, a life of no need and your husband’s large extended family. You had the double shield of coming from the “right” country and having the “right” place in Saudi society.

    I see that Norma loves sayings. I love sayings, too, and one of my favourites is this: “He whose belly is full believes not him who is fasting.” This is the precise reason I failed to make any Westerner in Doha understand why Qatar was a very bad place to be. They were sated with money and ignored the truth about the terrible situation of most expatriates all the time.

    They could have at least agreed in private that something was very wrong but they would go to any length to protect their perfect little world from the unpleasant revelation that the reason they had so much compared to others was the rampant racism of the Arabs. Yes, racism occurs everywhere but nowhere near to the extent in the Gulf. Try paying less to an Afro-American in the USA on the grounds that he is Afro-American and there will be hell to pay. Not so much in the Gulf, right?

    Does that make any sense?

  26. Reality Check…very well said. I have had the same conversation with many many Westerners who disagree with my opinion of Bahrain. They had good salaries..everything paid for…and a cushy life style. Plus partners that were agreeable. And many of them had little to no contact with Bahrainis themselves other than possibly in the office or by chance here and there. So not a whole lot of experience in that regard either.

    I had none of that. So my experience and opinion..were just as valid.

  27. Reality Check,

    I understand and actually relate better than you think to what you are saying. Sadly, as much as we’d like to be, Americans are not loved all over the world. Prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia, I worked in some “tough neighborhoods” in the region where Americans were looked upon with hatred. Have you had someone look in your eyes and know without a doubt that they wanted to see you dead just because you were an American? This did not happen to me in Saudi but elsewhere in the region. I worked in Iraq.

    However, we all make choices. Those individuals you cite from third world countries and elsewhere chose to go to Saudi Arabia for employment. They were not forced to go.

    Much though is really a matter of mindsight and perspective. I say this from my own diplomatic experience. You learn how to maximize the positive of a place and minimize the negative. If not, one could be let themselves be miserable in Paradise.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover either. You are making assumptions about me based on my nationality and late husband’s position. You might find some surprises when the documentary is released.

    On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 6:47 AM, American Bedu

  28. Sadly, some people (maybe half the human population based on my experiences) will take advantage of other people if they think that can get away with it. It happens everywhere, but I had some bad experiences with it in Turkey. Of course, saying “I’m American” does pull some weight there whether or not they love you or hate you.

    @AB,
    Wouldn’t it depend on what part of Iraq you were in as to how the locals felt about Americans generally speaking? And, of course, what your job description was at that time.

  29. @StrangeOne – good point. Most Iraqi Kurds were pro-American but southward from Mosul many were anti-American.

    On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 2:29 PM, American Bedu

  30. Carol,

    I am really sorry if you felt subjected to any assumptions on my part. That was honestly not intended. I know that Americans are hated in the Gulf as I overheard certain conversations there and I saw certain people take great delight in 9/11. I was there when 9/11 happened. It was frightening and nauseating to see how certain nationalities attributed their problems to America when America had absolutely nothing to do with their situations. What did America have to do with the plight of the Indian waiter who said in front of me and an entire party that he was “really, really happy because they (i. e. Americans) don’t think about the poor people”? Why should America think about anyone like him and why on earth did he expect that America should solve his economic problems? What about the tragic inefficiency of his own government which causes thousands of Indians to seek better life abroad? I think there is a lot of misplaced rage in regions like the Gulf and the local governments are more than happy to deflect attention from their faults by letting their citizens believe that the pending problems are America’s or anybody else’s fault.

    Twelve years ago, during my short stint at the main reception of Sheraton Doha Hotel & Resort, I was the only person on the shift who took an American woman’s request seriously enough to do something. She was a part of a group from the American embassy in Doha and the thing she needed was … a sanitary napkin. Since I was new, I turned to my colleagues to ask if the hotel provided such items to its guests and all I got was … giggles, cynicism and indifference. As it dawned at me that nobody would do anything (this didn’t happen for the first time), I picked the phone and asked Housekeeping if they had any napkins and they said they did. I gave them the lady’s room number and asked them to bring her some under all sorts of disapproving glances. A day later, I met her at the lobby and she gave me a hug and said “Thank you”, which means that my call had an effect. I don’t know why they were so mean but I sure as hell know that it had something to do with her being American as they knew she was American.

    If the woman had been a Qatari, they would have gone all over themselves to help. But then a Qatari woman would probably not ask for something like this for cultural reasons.

    Yet America inspires quite a lot of fear in the Arabs and the reason they are so respectful to Americans is fear. Sometimes I think that the only thing the Arabs respect is fear. It is hypocritical but it seems far better than the sincere disrespect I got because I didn’t come from a country that was powerful enough to give them a pause.

  31. @AB,
    From what I’ve heard, at first Iraqi people welcomed Americans. Then, due to lack of training, etc., American soldiers were not always respectful of the local culture, a small percentage actually exploited Iraq, etc., the Iraqi people became less welcoming as a result. When American and Iraqi soldiers worked alongside each other, if an American was hurt/injured/dead, they would go back for the American, but if an Iraqi was hurt/injured/dead, they’d leave him. I think it was also this double-standard that played a role in why Iraqis became less welcoming of Americans. In the midst of all this, you have a couple of different terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda that were vying for control of the region.

  32. Strange One – I was in the thick of it all as I was in Iraq from 2003 – 2004. I know what all went on then.

    On Fri, May 3, 2013 at 6:19 PM, American Bedu

  33. american bedu: I am an Indian and landed upon your site while trying to understand the hanging of the srilankan teen help in Saudi.
    I have been going through your blog( at some point i got fascinated by the society not in a good way though, it is hard to relate to a place which officially curtails freedom at so many levels).

    I am a well educated Indian who currently works at USA. I find the idea of brown skin people ill treated in saudi arabia quite alarming. Lots of people from India who go to some place like Saudi are uneducated labourers.

    More marginalized people economically, if I can say so. Thats why they sell their lands, pay agents to get better money( turns out with india’s growing economy it is all that great any more 9000Rs is all they get).

    These people hve no choices.I had and I would never step into Gulf country ever. But they dont. They get where they can earn a penny more and send to their family.

    I find it quite disturbing the way you are dismissive of these people saying if they dont like it they can go back. How? Most of them dont know how ruthless the sheikhs can be. And when they land it is too late, all their life savings have been paid to the agent.

    And Saudi arabia didnt really do a charity(i say didnt, as in the past, because i hear they are sending back foreigners anyway due to some new rule).

    These people work and Money needs to be paid for that.

    It is quite insensitive not to understand their plight just because we have cushier lives!

    PS: As a brown skinned indian in usa, i ahve to say this, USA has treated me much better, gave me an opportunity to learn and now an opportunity to work on the latest technology without hardly facing as much racism. Your country has been awesome.

    Also, I am sorry if my tone was slightly rough because that is not my intention. Having gone through your blog, I have immense respect for you.

  34. Sachita,

    Thank you for offering a comparison between America and the Middle East. I am personally happy to hear from someone who has lived in America a long time that America treats foreigners far better and gives them opportunities without subjecting them to nearly as much racism as the Gulf. You may not realize this but you’ve just given certain people here a very bad day as their favourite argument is that America is just as bad as the Gulf – full of rape, racism and human rights abuse. I personally find it disturbing that certain former Americans (Norma Ortiz, I’m talking to you) are determined to blacken their native land because they are married to Saudis now and have become mothers to more Saudis. There is no greater bitterness and defensiveness than that of a renegade. Since they can’t offer any viable excuses for what’s going on in Saudi Arabia, they resort to mud-throwing at America and the entire world, saying that what happens in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf happens EVERYWHERE. No, it doesn’t! The Arab racism is a very special species of racism – it is very firm, extremely arrogant and totally uncompromising. There is simply no way to get around the wall that these people have erected and be acknowledged for your personal talents. Your passport always ruins everything. You may be the most intelligent and talented person in the world but if you are Indian, you will be classed as a third-rate person who should be happy with any peanuts thrown in her direction. At the same time, many less talented people than you will be living in luxury and soaking up obscene amounts of money just because they come from Canada, Australia, the UK, etc., even though they have much less brain and less work ethic than you.

    If you decide to stay on this blog and join the regular posters, you will find a lot of confusing stuff here as the author is doing her best to be honest and upfront about certain problems in Saudi Arabia but wants nobody to say a critical word. We are encouraged to share our opinions but there is always the reminder that no Saudi bashing is allowed here – and “bashing” is a very stretchy word as everything remotely unflattering can be classed as “bashing”. Good luck navigating this ground with us or if you are too busy with your career in America, I wish you the best of luck in everything. You are in the right place. Someone with your intelligence and your skills wouldn’t have had any future in the Gulf. I worked for an IT company in Qatar back in 2001 and most of the staff were Indians. Despite their skills and expertise, they were paid insultingly small salaries for very hard work.

    Namaste. 🙂

  35. Reality Check…I lived in Bahrain for 23 years…not quite Saudi but similar experiences to a point. I have been to Saudi and have many associations with them. I can say with all honesty…there are many points made on this blog that approach the truth but don’t exactly hit the nail on the head…so to speak. Ugly things are prettied up far too often…and then there are those who defend defend defend at all costs. It is entertaining at the very least..rather disturbing at its worst.

  36. Norma “It Happens Everywhere In the World” Ortiz:

    Please get your head out of the sand! I have noticed that you and a few others in your “it happens everywhere” brigade try to minimize the seriousness of disgusting things that go on in saudi arabia and other muslim countries, by pointing fingers at and shifting the focus to the west.

    At least in the “west”, such issues are addressed in a mature and serious manner. KSA and other muslim countries need to confront such issues in a mature and serious way also.

  37. Folks, it is a fact that Saudi Arabia is NOT a free country as compared to most of the world. This is something that is difficult for anyone to understand if they have not been there. Yet, it is a country which will have some appeal to expatriates who will choose to go there. However, if they go there, in order to best succeed, you have to adapt to the culture even if you do not agree with it. Part of the key to success in the Kingdom for an expat is to minimize the parts you dislike and maximize upon what you do like.

    Another fact is that even as a worker in Saudi Arabia, you are still a guest of the country. Although with the accelerated emphasis on Saudiazaton, that may be changing in the near term future.

    It’s ironic hearing some comments made of other places in the GCC. Living in Saudi Arabia, I always considered trips to Bahrain, Doha and Dubai as “my breaths of freedom.”

    Saudi Arabia remains a culture of conformity, evidenced how most men and women dress alike – women in black and men in white. There are a lot of ingrained expectations for Saudis to live up to whether they like it or not. Appearances are very important as there is watchfulness going on in the Kingdom by the Muttawa and others. I have referred to the Kingdom at times to my late husband as a “watchful society.” And….he agreed.

    However, my husband remained a Saudi proud of his heritage until the day he passed away. He did not agree with everything but it was his homeland. I, in turn, learned to minimize what I disliked although it did not stop me from bringing up and addressing these issues on the blog.

    On Sat, May 4, 2013 at 12:19 PM, American Bedu

  38. Bedu:Free country or not, but isnt the expectation that no country should be allowed to be racist, a valid one? What brown people have to face just because they are brown.

    It is a human rights violation. World cant and shouldnt turn a blind eye towards blatant human rights violaton just because they have oil.

    If you cant treat people right and treat them inferior just because of their skin( its a disease in people’s head – exists in india at some level – not definitely in work front.. just coz u have white skin no company is going to hire you unless it is a film company), dont get them there.

    Saudi government should just not give domestic visa to these economically marginal non-white skin people since they cant gurantte they will be treated right.

  39. while there is no denial of discrimination, not all Saudis are discriminatory or racist.

    On Sun, May 5, 2013 at 12:46 PM, American Bedu

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