Friday, March 29, 2013

What next?

The series of raids on small business establishments in the past ten days have unnerved the expatriate community in the kingdom. It was expected for quite some time, because the deadline for such business establishments to hire at least one Saudi expired last week. As usual, we find the chorus in the local press - blame expats for all the ills facing the kingdom.

What really led to this state of affairs? Small shops and establishments employing less than ten persons needed to have at least one Saudi employed. Today, the owners of these firms have been asked to work themselves in these establishments. These Saudis cannot work anywhere else nor can they claim unemployment benefits from the Government. Something seems to be fundamentally flawed in this new move.

If this rule is implemented in true sense, you should see Saudis working as barbers, in tea shops, in small roadside restaurants and as cobblers. Can you ever imagine a Saudi working in these professions? The very thought should be degrading to them, isn't it? After all, they were born to rule expats as 'Mudheers'. It appears that the people who brought about this new rule simply cannot digest the fact that money is going out of the kingdom. They conveniently forget the fact that in return, expats slog day and night in hard menial work, which Saudis never dare to even think of. Just take a look at the  chart below which appeared in  today's Arab News, which I find downright insulting all expats as though they were thieves:

"Illegals" (read expats) found involved in most crimes". Come on, give me a break. Who invited the illegals into the kingdom in the first place? Who gave them a visa to work in the kingdom? And here we have this propaganda that SR 140 billion is being transferred by these "illegals" - I guess communist regimes in the Far East should learn a thing or two from this. Remember the famous quote by Mao - if you keep repeating a lie often, people would start believing it is the truth! With an average salary of these poor guys being SR 500 or less, isn't the figure of 140 billion crossing all limits of exaggeration? If 50% of foreigners were not working for their sponsors, it is because they were not paid their salaries on time, were promised something in their home country and paid far less on arrival, had their iqamas not renewed because it costs too much or a combination of everything.

Every society has a right to employ its nationals, no question about it. But blaming expats for the evils of a society is like burning one's house to get rid of a fly. By the way, on a related note, the grand announcement of "amnesty" for "illegals" (click here) hasn't yet taken off because there has been no official intimation to the embassies about this. Believe me, this is just the opportunity the "illegals" are waiting for, to get out.