The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Saudi Gazette is favorite... 

... to win 2004's "Most Masterly Understatement" Award, with its recent headline

Security worries some expats

Who are the "others" then, the ones who are not worried? The ones who have already been killed, presumably.

Embedded within the article is the most gratuitous and useless piece of advice ever offered to our expatriate community by, it appears, an Arab of some nationality.

"... if I were a Westerner I will just maintain a low profile and stay out from big office buildings that would attract terrorists and saboteurs."

Just two things wrong with that advice that is well-intentioned but as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

1. Most, if not all, of the major companies that employ expatriates are sited in large office buildings. We pride ourselves on our skyscrapers and large office buildings. This advice is the same as saying "Don't go to work", which is probably better advice.

2. It is difficult to maintain a low profile in a place where you stick out like a sore thumb. Look around the streets of any city here. Most of the women are head-to-toe in black. Most of the men are head-to-toe in white. A few are wearing "western"clothes, and are typically Asian of one country or another. The very occasional westerner is dressed in western clothes and is either pale or badly sunburnt. It is as easy for them to keep a "low profile", as it is for an African-American in Vermont.

I talk to a number of western expats, and they are very very frightened indeed. I cannot blame them. I know of several families who remained here all through the first Gulf war, saw the Scuds flying over and hitting, but have decided that this place is now too dangerous for themselves and their families, and are packing up to go. These days, going to do the weekly shopping is as scary for them as going "over the top" of a WWI trench was for their grandfathers. They are tending to huddle in their compounds getting "cabin fever". Many are sprouting beards as camouflage. A colleague of mine has truly taken the "low profile" advice to heart. He actually puts on the Saudi qutrah and thaub ("towel" and robe) when driving to and from work. Five years ago, that would have been funny, now it's tragic.

The sooner we can organize homeworking for these guys, from Europe and the USA, the better. Otherwise the stream of leavers will become a flood and yours truly is going to have to learn how to operate an oil terminal.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?