Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Well it couldn't hurt...

When you work for a foreign employer in the Middle East, even as a teacher of life saving techniques, you have to wonder if your blog ever comes to the attention of intelligence agencies.  No I'm not paranoid, I'm serious, since the days of James Bond wanna-be's and the cold war is over, some of the most productive work done by intelligence services is done by analysts sitting at a computer.  Not to mention it just makes sense considering that in many conservative circles in many Middle Eastern countries, the web is considered the second great Satan (right after the US).  And on the flip side, I would call the US intelligence services remiss if they didn't occasionally check up on those of us outside the borders making money...especially those of us who decide to blab about everything we see and hear.  I only bring it up because I hope that if they ever do find their way here, they read this!

So last night there was a 1/4 page ad in the Arab News (one of the English language papers, that offers world and local GCC news).  The ad focused on the Kingdom's attempts to end corruption and was directed at Expats!  The ad contained an address and a hotline number for reporting corruption in your workplace, luckily for me, were not really a corrupt workplace, just a screwed up, lazy one with some real pieces of work thrown in for good measure.  I thought it interesting though that some of the Kingdom's problems are not only well known, but are openly aired and attempts are made to combat them...pretty cool.  So I thought I'd give my two cents about some real easy problems to solve that would go alooooooong way to wards making things better in the Kingdom.  I'm serious about all of them, none of them are vulgar, and none of them go against the teachings of in no particular order, here we go.

Number 1:  The police, ambulance, firefighters and their lights...
Responders in emergency vehicles are important individuals who occasionally have very important places to go on very short notice, with no time to lose.  Because of this, they are given the privilege of using lights and sirens to make their way through traffic, and ask drivers to let them through.  This works great in most parts of the world.  It fails here in the KSA because police officers, firefighters and EMT's (along with a cadre of the least qualified doc's who have no business on the street) use their lights and horns and sirens to go everywhere!  To go to lunch, to go get cigarettes, to just drive down the street.  This isn't good.  It would take a royal decree and 1 year of NO lights or sirens and an education campaign to turn things around.  Think about it.

Number 2:  The animal issue...
Money isn't a problem here, it hasn't been for a long time.  Unemployment of the emerging Saudi Middle class is however a problem.  Well, where there's a problem, there's a solution.  Stray animals, especially cats, but dogs also can be found everywhere.  How about putting some of these unemployed folks to work as workers in animal shelters.  This would help encourage and improve the "kind Saudi Arabian" image that the Kingdom is trying to push and at the same time make one or more groups in the "international commentary business" smile and write some nice things about the Kingdom.  I'm willing to bet that you could even get expats to do most of the work while the new Saudi employees served in indoor roles as "supervisors, managers and directors".  It breaks my heart to see so many stray and starving animals around the streets, especially the way the locals treat them.  Isn't there an important book in both of our cultures that says something about respecting all life....Hmm maybe I'm just crazy.

Number 3:  Stop the racism
Yeah, you heard me.  The racism here makes the US deep south look like a beacon of shining light.  Highly qualified Filipinos and Indians are forced to be subservient to the stupidest Arabs out there.  Once again "yes, you heard me correctly".  A Filipino who speaks 3 languages should not be subservient to a Jordanian manager who can barely speak proper Arabic.  I'm going to leave it alone for right now, but I plan to have a long talk with some Arabs I know when I get back to the states...I'm going to ask them in plain language, if after a year in the US they still think they're better by birth than the Asian races...if they say yes, I'm kicking their asses American style.    On a funny note, people here commonly refer to themselves as Arabs...weird, in the US calling someone an Arab would be in pretty poor taste, in our culture it would be better to identify the actual country and or region they were from, such as Saudi, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, etc...

Number 4 Lines are Lines
They're called Queue's in Europe, lines in the US, they're the things we stand in while waiting to get things done.  They apply to everybody.  Here in Saudi though, they apply to everybody but the Saudi's and the Yemeni (Ok, Ok, I know I just bitched about racism, but so far, I hate these Yemini guys, and dammed if they don't all look like Osama Bin laden.  I know how bad that sounds, and its probably just my untrained eye, but damn people!).  Whats worse is that the store clerk will sometimes say something to the man, and the man will begin shouting and screaming and pointing his finger, the few words I do pick up include "wasta", "Pakistani", "Bengali","American" etc...The way these nationalities are spoken is with a true hatred and disgust.  I actually spoke up once about 2 months ago and said "hey where do you think you're going" did I get an ass chewing from this guy, he got right up on me with his finger flying, to which I returned the favor, the other Arabic speakers in line helped me out and told him to leave me alone and then forcefully yet gently pushed me back into line.  I quickly realized the wisdom in this and let the man buy his juice first as is his birthright for being Saudi (that last statement is called sarcasm).  So how about we turn the tables...I'll go home to the US, cut in front of all lines and then when somebody tries to stop me, I'll start screaming at the top of my lungs: "oh hell no, I'll be dammed if I'm going to wait with a bunch of smelly damn flips, punjabs, chinks, limeys, camel jockey a-rab assholes.  I fucking know people!"  Ugly huh?  You should hear it with the Arabic "ack"!  It's actually a crime in the US to do such a thing, and wouldn't be tolerated in any way shape or form, in fact so far the only place I've ever sen it here.  CHANGE THIS!  And by the way, the bank is even funnier, because in the bank, the teller is Saudi also, so the line jumper can't pull this shit, so no kidding, he begins to beg, and cry--yes to CRY!!!, about how he is Saudi, and he has "wasta".  Crying is only manly in certain situations, this isn't one of them, but I'm going to try and get it on film next time I go to the bank...look for it on YouTube.  

Number 5 Lanes are lanes
Bowling is popular here, you know how you're supposed to roll the ball down the lane without going in the ditch?  Well the same applies to driving a car.  You're supposed to keep your car in the lane.  Enforce some basic traffic laws, make drivers ed mandatory and quit killing so many of your young people on the road.  This one isn't even mean or funny, this is the worst driving I have ever seen, which means the Americans, the British, the Germans, the Japanese and the Mexicans all do it better than you...if for no other reason than not wanting to be inferior to all those groups, can we please think about improving the driving situation?

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