Racism against expats

February 26, 2018
Racism against expats

Mahmoud Ahmad

THE worst and a disturbing kind of language is the language of racism, which regrettably is on the increase lately everywhere. What is unfortunate is the disturbing trend is evident here also with many individuals using the cover of the government’s drive to Saudize jobs to spill their poison against expats workers.

This is an ill-wind that blows no good, for whatever might be the reason for this jaundiced view of the ‘other’ now, this could over time become self consuming. This, I say, because, in these people’s eyes, everyone else would slowly turn into the ‘other’.

An incident, narrated to me by a friend of mine of a situation between a Saudi and a Sudanese national in a shopping place in Madinah, was what led me to broach this subject. All were standing in line when the Sudanese, who was in the line 5 minutes earlier and was attended to by the cashier, had been told by the Saudi cashier to replace an item that he had bought with another one. The Sudanese came back straight to the cashier with the replaced item in hand.

The Saudi, who had just joined the line some few minutes ago, thought the Sudanese national was cutting the line. He started bashing him with racist comments saying, ‘how expats like him are a burden to our society and do not respect the rules and they should leave the country soon.’

The Sudanese man, with a smile on his face, explained that he too had queued up like others to pay for his purchases, and had been sent to the racks to replace this item, and his bill was ready. The Sudanese man’s explanation was confirmed by the cashier, who specifically told the angry man in the line that he had asked the Sudanese to replace the item, as others in the line too agreed.

The man, who did not want to listen, just went on a generalized spiel against the ‘others’, saying how ‘expats’ stole the country’s wealth and soon the country will get rid of them. Angry Saudis, also standing in the line, asked the man to stop this nonsense and tried to defuse the situation. But the man refused to listen to reason and just ranted on. Luckily people like him are still in the minority and thankfully the situation ended with no physical fight.

The same hostile language was also seen when the Shoura Council began its debate on granting nationality to expat sons and daughters from Saudi mothers. The views of people were verily split vertically with many agreeing that granting them nationality is a necessity, while many others saw the dangers in granting them nationality and were not in favor of granting them citizenship.

Those who favored the decision said that these children have lived all their lives in Saudi Arabia and do not know the country of which their father is from so they are no different from Saudi citizens. They were even pragmatic in the assessment when they said that they believe that they should be granted nationality if they did not travel of lived abroad. Others who objected simply questioned the social and economic feasibility of such a decision, claiming that it will pose future social problems and would limit the chances of other citizens getting jobs.

Such people should be silenced, as they should not take the role of the government that knows what’s best for its people. Their unnecessary preemptive attacks and baseless comments are totally uncalled for.

I say this again and again that it is sad to see that the Saudization drive is used for racism by others, who have started to blame and defame expats while accusing them of all sorts of things like stealing jobs and wealth. The same language is used against the sons and daughters of Saudi mothers who are eagerly looking for a citizenship of this country.

Those using the language of racism have gone so far as to view them as intruders and not worthy of a citizenship. The language used went too far saying, ‘they should pay the price for marrying a non-Saudi’, at the same time when the holy Qur’an says “and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another”.

The expats, who are working legally in the Kingdom and were recruited by companies owned by Saudis and through a legal system that permitted their existence to fill a gap in the job market, whether private or government sector, did not steal any job.

When the government saw the need to Saudize a sector and to provide jobs for qualified unemployed Saudis, then that is a God given right of the government toward its citizens, and definitely the government does not need the language of racism from the narrow minded in their systematic drive.

As for those who always say that they have stolen our jobs and wealth, I will quote what I have written in a previous article before, “If we are strong believers in Allah’s fair distribution of sustenance then we should stop saying ‘they took our jobs and stole our wealth.’”

On targeting the weakest link among workers, I cite here the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) saying regarding this matter: Prophet saying Mus’ab bin Sa’d bin Abu Waqqas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Sa’d considered himself better than his inferiors, so the Prophet said to him, “You are given help and provision because of your weak ones”.

Extreme attitudes toward the ‘others’ are hardening globally with evidences of overt and covert racist actions growing internationally. Kingdom, a land of humanity, has always been progressive, as it understood that for development the nationals and the ‘others’ need to work together with exchange of knowledge.

Now with the nationals leading the way, the government’s approach of reducing reliance on ‘expats’ is the right technique, but when people take advantage of these policies to voice their petulant beliefs then they sour the ties with ‘others’ while sullying the image of Saudis. For it was our openness toward the ‘others’ that had allowed us to grow and progress.

— The writer can be reached at mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng

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