Saudization is no excuse for bad behavior

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I had an absorbing dialogue with an expatriate named Abdunnaser who wanted to share with me his perspective on the Kingdom’s fast-moving changes in all aspects. Whether it was about Saudization, the hunt for illegal expats, low oil price, doors opening for family entertainment, etc., Abdunnaser was certainly a man who was never at a loss for words.

As he bluntly put it: “Let me come to the point: No one can say anything against eliminating illegals from the land of Saudi Arabia, as this is quite normal for any country in the world. However, there are proper ways to do so. I can honestly tell you that some of the officials deployed to do this job are not aware of the proper ways as I have many examples of their negligence or indecency when dealing with expat workers.

“In a crowded Indian restaurant in Riyadh, while people were busy having their lunch within the short lunch break they had, officials came in and asked for their iqama/resident permits. I agree that they have the right to check anywhere they want. Those people having their lunch with their right hand had difficulty trying to reach into their pocket to take out their iqama with their left hand! Imagine how humiliating such actions were? The officials could at least have waited until they had finished their lunch. My friend witnessed this twice in consecutive weeks when he was there for his lunch.

“One of my friends was walking on a Friday morning in Dammam’s city center, when he passed by an official who asked him for his iqama. He showed his iqama but the official asked him to get into a bus that was already full of people caught for some reason. The bus waited until noon. He explained to the official that the Kingdom-wide company where he worked (who is his sponsor as well) with its head office in Jeddah needed him to travel to any city in Saudi Arabia at any time on company business, but the official doubted him. ‘Why are you here as your company is based in Jeddah!?’ His explanation made no impression on the official. Once they arrived at the station, the captain was surprised as to why he was there and asked him to go/freed without ever giving any explanation!!

“Last week in Al-Khobar, some people were waiting for a taxi in the morning hours to go to work when a police van approached. The taxis drove away quickly because taxis were not allowed to stop in that part of the city. The police told those waiting to get into the police van and when the people asked what they had done wrong, they were bluntly told to ‘shut up’.”

Two months ago, Abdunnaser was in a bank in Al-Khobar to send money home and told the bank clerk that he was also the beneficiary. “Still he sent it to another beneficiary that was on my beneficiary list. The clerk’s concentration was on social media on his mobile while he was entering my details in the system. That was the reason for the mistake. I noticed it and told him about the mistake, and he asked his colleague to cancel it. After waiting for a long time in the bank to get it corrected, I told him that I had clearly said that I wanted it sent to my name. He replied: ‘Yes, what is the problem now? Why can’t you be patient? He will correct it for you, wait.’ He could at least have said that he was sorry that it had happened.

“Before implementing Saudization, the concerned officials should take care of such ‘small things’. Officials should be trained and lawbreakers have to be removed from the system with reasonable punishment. Taking into consideration the essence of Islam, such ‘minor things’ need to be considered as important as possible and changes made accordingly.” Abdunnaser.”

Indeed. Saudization must not be an excuse for bad behavior in any form and laws must be considered to prevent individuals from abusing their privileges hiding behind the badge of being a Saudi.

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


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