By Tariq A. Al-Maeena : –
Many expatriates have come and gone from this country, and many still remain. For some, their journey here has been pleasant. For others, their thoughts have been littered with bad memories. Expatriates who have spent an extended amount of time here are good judges of what life appears to be in the Kingdom and their opinions should matter. They may not all agree, but from their perception we can often decipher an image of who and what we are.
This is a story of one such expatriate who has lived in this country for a considerable period of time. He shares his perception through his own personal experiences. Other expats may agree with what he has to say and then again they may not. But his views are a window into how others may think about us.
He writes: “Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 30 years, my observation about the management of this country is relatively positive. One only has to look at the education policy and investments made resulting in a 100 percent literacy rate including women; one only has to look at the composition of the government with more than half of them with PhDs from foreign universities.
“The statesmanship of the royal family can be understood in the way that people live in peace with good relations with rest of the world. With more than 50 percent of the labor force foreign and from more than 100 countries, there is no ethnic or social disorder. The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world, and women and children are safe on the streets. The elderly are respected and taken care of while drug addicts and the homeless and dispossessed are provided means of sustenance and are rehabilitated within society.
“The housing loans of the deceased are written off leaving their dependents secure in their homes. Despite a water shortage, Saudi Arabia is proud to have the world’s largest dairy farms and is self-sufficient in wheat production for domestic use.
“Food and medicine is free from adulteration and is safe to eat, with no shortage of potable water. Health services are almost free and freely available to all. Health insurance is mandatory.
“A large number of people travel from all over the world to the Kingdom and all return safe and happy as well as blessed. Westerners living here, in spite of the many restrictions on their way of life, love to work and stay here and take a good image of Islam back home.
“What more can we expect? There is no contempt, no unlicensed arms, no drones, no taxes, no load-shedding, no shut downs, no strikes, and no rowdy and disturbing public gatherings.
“And if I may be allowed to continue, there is no extravagance, no borrowing from unscrupulous money lenders, no unchecked diseases and no violence.
“There are also no jobless, no price hikes, no disputes, no bribes, no exploitation, and no illiteracy. There is no corruption, no bogus voting, no suicides, no sleeping under open skies for lack of shelter, no sleepless nights, and no nonsense. This country is a home for everyone. Have a good day everyone. Spread love and eliminate hate. Regards, S.R.K.”
As I writer, I am occasionally dubious about flowery statements and rosy words especially when it comes from city officials trying to explain their department’s achievements. But in this case it must be emphasized that these words were from the experiences of one particular expatriate. They may not necessarily reflect the feelings of all others. As I stated earlier, some have left this country with a bitter taste in their mouths. But what this particular expatriate who spent three decades here has brought up should give us all some food for thought.
There is a lot of good here, sprinkled with the bad, and if we focus on the positive, perhaps we will all begin to feel like S.R.K.