Thanks to expats for a job well done

Thanks to expats for a job well done


Tariq A. Al-MaeenaTariq A. Al-Maeena

According to statistics, a third of this country’s population is made up of expatriates, which is unlike most other countries in the GCC where the expatriate workforce outnumbers citizens often by a handy margin.

While there are highly qualified and trained expatriates working in our industrial and commercial sectors, they are far outnumbered by millions of semi-skilled and unskilled workers who have been brought here to perform tasks that for the most part are not attractive or rewarding enough for Saudis to do.

This army of workers that primarily comes from Asia and Africa is not invisible. They can be seen everywhere. Many silently toil on the side of streets and roads often in the heat of the day picking up litter that motorists fling out of their car windows. They can be seen picking up trash in neighborhoods and on street corners, silently and without complaint.

There are others who perch precariously on scaffolds working on high rises and taking risks we Saudis would not dare to consider. They are busy building our homes and buildings. Others from this legion of workers prepare roads for re-surfacing or lay electric lines or install a water network of pipes.

When we pull into a gas station, it is they who pump gasoline into our cars; they deliver water to our homes or cart away our sewage in tankers; they tend to livestock and orchards on our farms and fields and they bag our groceries. They guard our homes and clean the toilets in our malls. They clean our schools. They drive our families around and clean our homes. In restaurants, they cheerfully guide us to our table and serve us food without much fuss or bother.

These semi-skilled or unskilled expatriates cannot dream of the luxuries granted to their Western or skilled Asian counterparts who enjoy comfortable amenities and accommodation with even more comfortable salaries. All they have to look forward to at the end of their long working day is to be collectively bused in run-down transport that lacks air-conditioning or comfortable seating.

Many of their housing compounds are of substandard status. But they persist without a complaint. They have mouths to feed back home, and they are on a mission to accomplish just that. Their personal comfort is not on the list of their priorities. We tend to look at them as background fixtures, as we are used to their presence everywhere. But in fact these fixtures are human beings with warm blood coursing through their veins.

Some are married with young and growing children. Others have the responsibility of providing for their aged parents or younger siblings. All have come to this part of the world to try to put food on the table for their loved ones back home and provide their families with some of the comfort and hope that they have denied themselves.

They are the Bangladeshis, the Nepalese and the Filipinos that are an integral part of the machinery that helps run this country. They are the Somalis, the Sudanese, the Kenyans, the people of Chad and Niger. They are Indians, Afghanis, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Burmese, Vietnamese and Indonesians who have accepted this challenge to perform in unfamiliar surroundings and most of them deliver on their promise.

In the past, many fell victim to unscrupulous manpower agents or employers and then found themselves at the end of a worthless contract signed back in their home countries with promises of much higher salaries than they finally received when they came to this part of the world. The packages offered to them to lure them away from the comfort of their loved ones was altered to their disadvantage once they arrived at their destination, leaving them without many alternatives. They had already sold most of their possessions just to pay the avaricious agents for the privilege of booking a seat to the land of riches.

Their personal sacrifices are often untold or unheard of beyond their limited circle, but they exist and they work under conditions that are unacceptable to most of us. Without these workers, most of the Arabian Peninsula would still be a barren desert. And without their support, the machinery that moves us forward would grind to a halt. Do we as hosts take the time to think about their living and working environment? How many of us lend a compassionate ear to their problems? How many of us help them out in their time of need?

This country would not have moved forward without their participation in its development. I offer these workers my deepest gratitude and appreciation for a job well done.

— The author can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


  1. Very moving article about expatriates, expressing empathy and gratitude for them. Thank you for your thoughts and concern for the less privileged ones and I salute your intelligence for spotting their contribution to the Saudi society. While I appreciate your attitude towards expatriates and their work, let me hasten to add that although charity is a good attitude in leading one’s life and in dealing with others, a good practical formula for leading a healthy, productive, and improving lifestyle would be a ‘Win-Win attitude’. By this I mean that, if the employer learns to appreciate good work, not only more intelligent people will be attracted to a place but a person would not hesitate to put in his best because he is sure of the reward and the employer in return, gets very good quality work which builds up his country and improves his lifestyle. Examples of such countries are there for us to see like the USA where abilities are recognized, encouraged and rewarded. By the way what does the author mean by: ” In the past, many fell victim to unscrupulous manpower agents or employers………….” because even now for highly qualified people also, in very very reliable places such as the ministries, higher salaries have been offered in the country of origin and once they come here, their contract has been torn to pieces even though it bore the signatures of the Saudi Attache.

  2. The people you have identified are truly the most hardwording, powerless and least appreciated. Why in the land of Islam are these people treated with such disrespect, disdain and rudeness? For example, why are well known construction companies and companies that are awarded government contracts in this country allowed to take advantage of these individuals? The horror stories of abuse and non-payment of salaries are endless. It is up to the authorities to enforce the laws of this country to prevent the exploitation of the poor and the weak. Without such efforts how can we claim to be custodians of the land of Islam?

  3. I hope this article also appears in all the Arabic Newspapers. The Saudi Society as a whole and also those in the government should acknowledge. I worked for 35 years in the Kingdom, Saudi are wonderful people, but those in the civil service are the ones who discriminate the expats. The Saudi are fond of amending any agreement according to their whims and fancies, especially when you work in the public sector as a contractee.

  4. Thanks Mr. Tariq Al Maeena for your very sympathetic and realistic vision for these poor needy people who have been suffering from so many sources. Still the poor unskilled or a semiskilled labour who is coming from from Bangladesh are spending from 30,000 to 60,000 Riyals on false hopes that they will earn at least 2000 saudi Riyals per months. The dishonest recruiting agencies are making illegal interest from these poor unskilled and semi skilled labours. In these filthy games some Saudi and non Saudis are involved.But as soon as these poor people are engaged in work are trying to do their best to satisfy sponsors demand. Even the maids are also sacrificing their lives to satisfy the kofils and the family. The Arabian peninsula especially the GCC countries at this point with sweats of these workers. there are so many Aya in the Quran where Allah SWT HAS mentioned that HE Can change Fortune Wheel as HE Wishes.
    Last of all my deepest respect and gratitude to you again as thinking for these ill fated persons.

  5. Excellent article. I only wish more people will think like you. That is who Muslims are and this is how we should think. May Allah continue to guide us.

  6. Jazak Allah Khair for your concern and thank you very much for your thoughts expressed for the underprivileged expatriates and their contribution to the Saudi society.

  7. Thanks to the author for making this powerful message of gratitude to the many voiceless expatriates in KSA.

    It is very much appreciated.

  8. Yes brother Shabbir – a moving article indeed. A writer of Mr. Tariq A. Al-Maeena’s sature can only write a touching piece like this. Brother Bashir said very appropriately – “I hope this article also appears in all the Arabic Newspapers”.

  9. Jazakallahu Khairan! Very Good piece and worthy topic. May Allah increase you in compassion and make your fellow Compatriots & other Muslims more Compassionate.

  10. Absolutely right Mr. Tariq, no doubt skilled manpower of a country is like a backbone and in KSA cheaper skilled manpower exported from Asian and African countries for development on contract basis. Due to economic crisis of KSA the development also slower down and some mega projects were closed and thousands of workers stayed without salaries sine longtime and what would be happened of those families who rely on these workers. Industry can not run without those trained people who are doing their jobs without break. If Govt. have trained National staff and they can run the industry then expat. left the kingdom. Otherwise economic growth go slower and affect the country badly.

  11. Thank you very much Mr. Tariq A. Al-Maeena for appreciating our presence and the contributions our kind had given to your country. While there are stories of hardships, racism and maltreatment, there are also wonderful stories about expats getting along well with Saudi customs and traditions… and they are worth re-telling as well.

  12. Sending my Deepest and Sincerest Thank you’s to the one who wrote this article!!!
    you have, a brilliant mind and an emphatic heart to seeing all these things from the other side of the curtain. this should be posted and/or should have at least distribute some copies of this article to all the employers, who usually ignores all the voices of their employees with regards to their concerns, not hearing about their queries and not doing any actions to what their needs. All we are asking from these employers is for us to be treated the same, equally, as their nationals, the local Saudis. we were all providing services and gives our very best to perform each and every tasks that is assigned to us without any complaints even though sometimes that is beyond our respective job. I am a FILIPINO, an expat, who chose to leave everything behind to my hometown, looking forward to have a brighter future when i come back and finish my contract here in SAUDI. Yes, its really really TRUE, that is real thing, its really happening, that when we do apply for the job back in our hometown, those promises, giving by the agents, is said to be to good to be true, but when you already arrived here, everything has changed, just like that. I am a nurse by profession, my first time to travel and work abroad, my first destination is here in SAUDI, but unfortunately, this is my first and would be my last in staying here, the company which i am working with right now, is like, nah, i cant say it on a straight forward message, but, i would say its not goo. The accommodation, which is the place where we stay, is not suitable enough for having ourselves rested, we were treated like just really a WORKER, after the long working hours which is said to be 9 hours, yes, you heard it right, 9 long hours, wherein fact the one we have signed in my country, is said to be only 8 working hours, but still i and the rest of my colleagues, didnt speak about this problem, we just remaining silent, and keeping our mouth shut to the admin.
    this is really happening, and its true. that these kind of employers shouldve been brighten up their minds to see us workers not just only workers, but a person who helps them to grow their businesses establishments and the like.
    it almost made me cry reading this article of yours, it really lifts us up, not just us filipinos, but for all the expatriates who are so much to deserve such praises as this. thank you so much for uplifting us in times like this. im sure that everyone who would read this articles of yours would feel the same way.

  13. It’s a great article, my respect sir, I do however wonder how many Saudi’s even consider the contribution of expats to their country, unfortunately I expect that the numbers are going to dwindle steadily over the next few years and months as they are forced to pay fees to subsidize the very people they came here to work for, cutting short their planned stay.

  14. Dear Mr. Tariq Al Maeena, me and many of the expatriates must admit that you are the only one around (in my opinion) who talk and actually appreciate expatriates.

    I am sure that the lower wages expatriates don’t have the liberty to read all this. As most of them do not have access to the internet and if they do, they make sure that they spend every single bit of it to have few minutes of chat with their loved ones.

  15. I really felt good reading this article. Hats off to you Sir for seeing the things that most tend to ignore. Every statement is plain truth …..non equality, biased attitudes and discrimination is but a rule here. May Allah subhanahu guide us all, ameen.

  16. great words and we appreciate you for your comments but can you please write a specific column on the raising fees of iqama and other levies..

  17. Great article, Mr tariq. In fact, I hope every employer and recruiter understand one thing that he may be sustained by God because of these poor, weak and simple people. At least, change the way you look at these people. They should be more respected and better treated. We are all human beings.

  18. Dear Mr Tariq,

    Please write an article about HUROOB system

    Many Innocent families are suffering because of this HUROOB system. It’s my sincere request to the highest authorities to abolish this HUROOB (absconding) system. It’s against the Islamic teachings.

    Jazakallah Khair

  19. Thanks Mr. Tariq Al Maeena for your very sympathetic and realistic vision for these poor needy people who have been suffering from so many sources. Still the poor unskilled or a semiskilled labour who is coming.
    I appreciate and most of here read yours articles which is outstanding but there is lots of problems we can not express our problems just I appreciate and pray to Allah Almighty do the best for all and keep Saudi Arabia to safe …
    Thanks for yours nice articles which shows that some one who feels about us and express his sympthy

  20. Dear Tariq,
    Thank for giving people in another part of the world your view in an Arab country. It would be very humanistic for rich Arabs to share some of their wealth to lower the poverty conditions, provide education for the young, etc..

  21. Great realisation by the author I hope every citizen of this country must realise our contribution for the growth and development of this country, instead as looking us as cost centre or thread to country’s economy.

  22. This article is simply overwhelming. I cant even keep my eyes from moistening, at this ripe old age of 68+

    Thank you so much Mr.Tariq and Saudi Gazette for sharing your open and objective views. Your compassion and humility is spell bounding. I only wish we will see more of the same from many others in the Kingdom. I have been living and working in KSA for 37+ years now and I am most pleased to say that I was fortunate to meet a few with the same mind set. Sadly, the majority do not think so.

    Allah Bless you and your family for your dignity and honor towards all of His creation.

  23. Dear Sir,
    I recently had the good fortune of reading your article regarding ” thanks to Expats for a job well done”. I am sure your words increase blood in every expat living in KSA. We expat does not against any govt policy but need some respect. once a again salute to you keep it up ..

    thanks and best regards

  24. Dear Mr. Tariq,

    I was overwhelmed with your article today about the expat workers working in your country. I didn’t know that there are still people like you who could realize the value of our contribution to your county. On how we became part of the development of this kingdom.

    Looking forward to reading good articles like this in the future. this helps the expats think that they are noticed in this kingdom.

    Thank you.

  25. Dear Mr. Al-Maeena,

    I’m a reporter with the WSJ and follow Saudi Arabia. I just wanted to say
    I enjoyed reading your column thanking expats in Saudi gazette. An
    important perspective that is often forgotten.

    Best, Margherita

  26. Well done!!! It is long overdue and points to you for doing it.

    These poor souls really do work in all weather, in all conditions,
    for so little.

  27. Dear Sir;

    Thanks for your subject article. You sense our feelings and speak from the depth of our hearts. Saudi Gazette and you are very well talk in our circles. We are grateful to Saudi Arabia, its government and people for giving us opportunity to serve this holy place. In future too we are expecting to read such articles and hope the government will look into our matters and resolve justly.

  28. Hats off to u Mr. Meena. I believe if Majority of Saudis start seeing things your way, this country will become USA one day as we love this country. I love this country like my own but when I am discriminated against Saudis and European, I cry to myself.

  29. Dear Sir,

    This is the 1st time I read such a beautiful article for thanking expatriates and recongnizing their hard work in kingdom of saudi arabia.

    I see expatriates contribution has played a very important role since decades, we love this country for giving us opportunity to serve and feed our loved ones at our own land.

    We do follow the rules of kingdom and we all must do.. but if little more previlage given to expats specially if they wants to bring their parents, wife on visit visa paying SAR. 2000/- is big amount for us.. if somehow this fee is waived off by government it would be a wonderful effort for thanking expats..

  30. Exactly, this what the contribution of the expats in this country & in reply how they have been treated. These people are not there to collect their charities, they want their true compensation. A very true & positive thought & article, should be an eye opening for the authorities & must be published in Saudi newspapers.

  31. Thank you Mr. Tariq Almaeena for these magic words for the expatriates. As usual You understand the feelings of these workers. This is a great message and shall be appeared in Arabic news paper also, so that this message will read widely. All expats will be grateful to you for these kind words from you.

  32. Mr. Tariq A. Al-Maeena has a heart of gold! He shows wisdom and love as he writes. He shows he is a man of integrity and honesty, as he shares his thoughts! I wish you long life and success Mr. Al-Maeena! Keep on writing, we will keep on supporting you! God bless you!

  33. Dear Sirs. Assalamu Alaikum.Legally I resigned my job with proper notice period to STC HR and my manager Mr. Nezar Fawaz Qutub and concerned all managers from 9th march 2014 for 30 days, but my resignation was rejected and asked to intimate minimum of 12 months “which is absolutely ILLEGAL by saudi law but legal by their own law”. 

         Second time I insist my resignation but also rejected. Third time I insist with his meeting also rejected and unnecessarily threatened me “Will you get your 15 years esb from stc “. Due to threatening manner 
     I kept quiet and came in may 23 after 80 days of resignation. Due to my mothers critical health , fourth time I resigned from chennai and could not go back to saudi.

        But till now, I was denied to get my long 15 years service award from “7th march 2000.Kindly do justice for 15 years esb

  34. Thanks sir for your comments. We also thank Allah for the opportunity we got about strictly adherent Islam and we are encouraged to prepare for akhira

  35. Dear Mr. Tariq:

    Well done and really good article you have written. You are absolutely right. Expatriates are suffering much and sacrificed for their families welfare and happiness.

    Once again thanking you for writing an article described the truth which nobody realized and feel.

  36. I never thought of someone from these part of the world would have this deep thoughts and have a human feelings.
    I really appreciate your writeup and hoping to reach many of those ears that thinks they are the only humans on earth.

  37. Very well said indeed. I wonder if there could be a consideration to exempt, people from these particular groups, from the recently announced dependent charges etc. Also, not to charge the companies hiring these people so these companies can continue providing workforce to do the duties mentioned by Tariq A. Al-Maeena which none other will accept to do!

  38. Mr. Tariq A.Almaeena, Big to Salute you……… won our Hearts…..wonderful Comments ,we love Saudi arabia and love to Saudis, Allah always bless you and bless this country. AAMEEN

  39. Dear Mr. Tariq,
    Endorsing our works, sincerity & efficiency was definitely needs big heart, which you proved us by writing facts in article. Salute to you from all expatriate workers.
    I urge you, please translate this article in Arabic & publish in OKAZ also.

  40. Dear Mr. Tariq
    After reading so many comments, nothing is left to say. A person like you can only feel and write such an article. Thank you Sir hats off to you.

  41. Thanks Mr. Tariq for such a detailed article, i always said to my Saudi or Expat Colleagues that we should respect each other and accept the reality, we came here on legal visas not by force and we are building, cleaning, helping in most of the parts of life although the guys are not paid well or have respect according to the job category. We hope that there should be no more discrimination and the govt. bodies and people of KSA will play their role otherwise we can not move forward.

  42. Happy to know that there are still people out there among the native population who give expats the real place where they are meant to be. Salute you for this article!