If expats leave, Saudis will suffer

ONE day, the librarian at the language institute gave me a book that described how aliens feel when they live in London. A Polish journalist who worked in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and wanted to make fun of how the British people treat aliens wrote the book.

Most Arab expatriate workers are infuriated when they hear the word “ajnabi”, not knowing that this word is commonly used among Saudi Bedouins and does not have any negative connotations as many non-Saudis think. For example, anyone who does not belong to a certain tribe would be called “ajnabi” or foreigner. Within an Islamic religious context, “ajnabi” is a person not related to a woman.

Our brothers and sisters from other countries who work and live here should realize that “ajnabi” can mean different things and does not have any negative connotations. I think expatriate workers should not feel offended if a Saudi uses this word. There are more important things that need to be discussed when it comes to expatriate workers living and working in the Kingdom and in Gulf countries.

For example, the language used in the media to describe expatriate workers is not polite. We should not forget the cartoon that appeared in an Arab-language daily recently that suggested expatriate workers were rats.

Although it is true that some of the British are angry about the large number of foreigners working in the UK, they admit that they are unwilling to do certain types of jobs which foreigners are willing to do. They also admit that they do not have enough British doctors and that their hospitals employ a large number of Arab and Filipino doctors. The Kingdom and the UK are similar. There are many jobs that Saudis will not do and for which the country will always need expatriate workers. So how can we let the media offend expatriate workers who treat us at hospitals and build our houses?

Some say that expatriate workers steal jobs from Saudis. This is not the fault of expatriate workers; it is the system’s fault. We need to create more job opportunities for Saudis. More hatred for expatriate workers will bring about negative results. We need them. If they refuse to stay and decide to go to a more welcoming country, we will certainly suffer.


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