Tariq A. Al-Maeena
Foreigners who have come to this country to toil as guest workers are occasionally misrepresented in some parts of the media as money-hungry parasites who have no interest other than padding their pockets and everything else be damned. That is a grossly unfair characterization of most of the millions of expatriates who came in the last five decades to help transform this country from a sparse desert into a thriving nation.
Many come, work and leave without much notice. But one such individual wanted to be heard. Mohammed Khan, born in this country as a son of an expat worker who came here many years ago and for whom the time to move on has arrived, penned his thoughts as the day of his departure from the Kingdom came near. The following is his story:
“As I count my final days in this beautiful Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I write to you with a lot of emotions. It’s time for me to leave, to carry on my further academic studies.
“I am an Indian expat student born and brought up in the Kingdom. My childhood and my education all took place in Saudi Arabia. The country has provided me with an immense set of skills, be it the knowledge of this world via academic study or the knowledge of Islam, or the proficiency in the Arabic language I have, or the beautiful recitation of the Holy Qur’an I learned, everything I have learned is from the Kingdom and its big-hearted people. Whether it was the youth or the elderly people I conversed with over the years, they were all amazing. Every conversation with them taught me something good. I will miss their simple and composed, yet beautiful culture.
“Certainly, the provider of sustenance (Rizq) is the Almighty, and he is the knower of our hearts and Inshallah if he plans my sustenance and livelihood in Saudi Arabia later on in my life, I will happily accept it.
“It brings tears to my eyes as I move on, I wish I could have a medium to thank my beloved Saudi citizens. Nevertheless, I write this as a final thanksgiving note to all Saudi citizens. I have witnessed and seen the Kingdom with my eyes rather than by hearsay, and I am indeed blessed to have spent the majority of my life in this country. This is with love, for the Kingdom will always be in my heart.
“A loyal and proud resident of Saudi Arabia – Mohammed Khan.”
A very apt response to those legions of Saudi writers and commentators who are quick to blame our ills on this group of individuals living in our land. Let us not delude ourselves into believing that Saudis today would readily fill all the posts and professions held by expats, especially in the semi and unskilled sectors. One will not find a large number of Saudis queuing for the professions held by these expatriate workers. Granted, Saudis must be afforded a priority when it comes to employment, but many expats can fill a niche that is not attractive to Saudi applicants.
Instead of criticizing their presence, let us appreciate their contributions. Many leave homes and families behind to eke out a meager existence and save a little every month to send home. Some are subjected to deplorable living conditions, their rights violated in every form and yet they remain faithful to the task and work uninterrupted and without protest. They have mouths waiting to be fed. They are not pariahs or rejects, but the silent and rarely acknowledged stalwarts that have helped oil the machinery that helps the rest of us. Let us show some appreciation for a change.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena