Home > KSA, Life, Middle East > Why be racist?

Why be racist?

One of my old homeboys, AJ has just come back from abroad to spent time with his family on Eid. It’s been a little over a year since we’ve seen each other so he messaged me a month prior to his arrival to inform me of his trip.

Fully aware of the Eid shopping season having started already, I suggested we meet up in a quiet café and keep away from the shopping centers and malls. AJ suggested the Starbucks on the Khobar Corniche and I warned him that it’s pretty packed with people on Thursday evenings. Since he loved Starbucks, I recommended the branch in Doha since it was less likely to be full and since I knew the guys there.

Turns out we made it just in time since people started coming in large numbers. That didn’t bother us as we started catching up on old times. 15 minutes into our conversation, 3 guys sitting across us caught my attention. AJ had his back to them so I started observing them from the corner of my eye. Something about the way they were laughing gave me a feeling that we were the subject of their conversation.

The three guys, all in their early 20’s started laughing at a joke I’m sure was about AJ. They started getting louder, thinking we didn’t understand what they were speaking about. One of them cracked, “shoof hal 3abd wish laabis.” Having a bad feeling they were referring to AJ’s large 49ers jersey, I quickly looked around to see if there was another dark skinned person in the lounge…and to my dismay, there wasn’t one. AJ was black American, and doesn’t know Arabic except for the casual greeting.

They reminded me of the three stooges; one was pretty thin with teeth so messed up I got sick each time he laughed. Another was quickly hoarding cake into his mouth and made me think if any of it was actually going into his mouth, while the third, just like the second, could have done with more longitude than latitude on his body. Judging by the BMW and Benz they came in, I wondered what kind of upbringing they had. As the jokes went on, AJ and I continued chatting, and I kept him from knowing what they were talking about because it was a pretty sensitive topic, and knowing AJ, he wouldn’t hesitate to get physical and throw in the first punch. After half an hour, I couldn’t take the insults anymore so I told AJ to wait outside for me while I paid. On my way out, I passed by the three, and scolded them in their own accent to show them I understood what they have been saying for the past hour. Surely enough, they nearly choked on their cakes and tried apologizing, but it wasn’t worth it so I walked away.

Those guys were adults, knowing fully the difference between right and wrong. So was it their parents who must have gone wrong somewhere when raising them? Or is it the common case of being raised by nannies who could care less about what model citizens they turned out to be, while their parents tended to business? Or is it because they know their fathers will leave them a big inheritance and they’ll forever employ foreigners? Or maybe it was out of sheer boredom. Every once a while I see a parent, be it a father or a mother, insulting foreigners due to their skin colors or nationality in front of their children, and it’s no wonder we end up having such members of society… 

Needless to say, I had to tell AJ about it later, and he wasn’t all too happy. To my surprise, he said he wished I’d tell him at the café because all he wanted to do was go up to them and use his limited Arabic and say, “Allah yahdiikom…”

Categories: KSA, Life, Middle East
  1. Omar
    October 15, 2006 at 11:39 PM

    racists will always be racists man. u should have let aj know it would have been betta if he kicked dey asses man.

  2. MJ
    October 16, 2006 at 2:05 AM

    so u finally updated the blog. its sad that those guys are in their adult years and still be immoral enough to dsicriminate. its a good thing u didnt tell aj about it in the cafe otherwise all hell woulda broken loose.

  3. Areej
    October 16, 2006 at 3:07 AM

    i know how racist arabs can be. i have seen racist arabs in their own countries do bad things to others but cry when they were discriminated against outside their countries.

  4. Ali
    October 16, 2006 at 4:03 AM

    Yea i know how racist those guys can be. u havent seen anything yet. those guys were keeping it to themselves but some openly shout at others and some even openly hit and attack people just because they are racist. the police also have a habit of discrimination. its good that u did not confront them in a bad way and u showed them who is the adult.

  5. October 16, 2006 at 8:19 AM

    stumbled into ur blog thru sblogs. It pains me a lot to see most of the saudi kids/youth/men lack basic human values when it comes normal street behaviour. Its so pathetic that even a 3-4 year old kid on the street thinks anybody other than saudi is not worth respecting. How painful is that. by the way I too live in khobar and from the past 11 years. There are good upbringings but I think almost into extinction. By your post you seem to belong to that creed.

  6. October 16, 2006 at 4:41 PM

    sit guietly, close your eyes and relax your boday.you want the truth about how i feel.i’ll give you the truth ,i’m sick of racist and I think the three ‘bado’arab are stupid,Most of us agree that racism is far from dead.

  7. Princess Haifa
    October 16, 2006 at 4:12 PM

    Those guys were cowards, insulting someone by their race in a language he doesnt understand. it was good of you to stand up to them but i doubt most people can hold back the anger.

  8. Abdullah
    October 16, 2006 at 3:43 PM

    Most saudis are nice but there are some very bad ones that insult other people just because they think they are above them. those type of saudis make a bad picture for eveyone else. good of you to stand up to them and show them what fools they were.

  9. May
    October 16, 2006 at 1:32 PM

    Being Saudi, I very well udnerstand how racist some can be. I get angry when I see my own people discriminate against others. But most Saudis are kind, loving people and don’t want anything but good for others, and those racist ones make it all bad for us giving us a bad name around the world. What did those guys do after you talked to them?

  10. Ahmed
    October 16, 2006 at 11:37 AM

    I am sure those guys won’t be insulting other people out loud next time. I can’t imagine the look on their faces when you talked to them sam, but it must have been priceless.

  11. Ashraf
    October 17, 2006 at 1:43 AM

    I have seen children as young as 5 being racist toward other people and that is the age children learn basic human values and how to interact positively in society

  12. Sarah
    October 16, 2006 at 11:12 PM

    I can relate to seeing parents talk down other nationals in front of their own children. What kind of example are they setting for their kids? Those guys were pathetic and stupid to talk like that about your friend and you showed them what fools they were.

  13. Ali
    October 17, 2006 at 1:59 AM

    You did the right thing Sam, even though it must have been difficult. AJ’s plan was wise and it would have been great if they were confronted by the same person they were making fun of

  14. Fahad
    October 16, 2006 at 11:54 PM

    That is what you get when parents have no time to raise their own kids and let the nannies do the raising. You are right, maids don’t care what the children will grow up to. Personally if it was me I don’t think I could have been so calm with them. It is different when you think of the situation and when it really happens

  15. Yousef
    October 17, 2006 at 12:37 AM

    throughout my stay in saudia I have seen so many saudis be racist against anyone not Saudi. They respected americans the most and even sometimes attacked asian workers physically. There are many good saudis but its hard for a person who is attacked to see the difference between a good and bad Saudi because of all the anger.

  16. October 17, 2006 at 2:13 AM

    The world already has enough hatred and we can certainly do without racism. I hope those guys learned from that incident and change their ways.

  17. Sam
    October 15, 2006 at 11:15 AM

    Note: People, I haven’t singled out Saudis as racists…and haven’t specified a nationality in my post so let’s not generalize…

  18. Sam
    October 16, 2006 at 11:22 PM

    Omar: You love trouble don’t you…

    MJ: Yea, finally updated this joint. If I had told AJ, Starbucks would have needed some renovating to do…

    Areej: True, it’s always a good sight to see racists have a taste of their own medicine.

    Ali: I know exactly what you’re talking about…I’ve seen the most horrible acts of discrimination myself…

    xpat: I know what you mean about lacking basic human values, and it pains me as well. The thing is, rarely does anyone try to correct those little kids before they grow into those discriminating characters…

  19. Sam
    October 16, 2006 at 11:57 PM

    Ahmed: I’m sure they’ll think twice about using racial slurs next time. The look on their faces was a hoot, and that totally made me forget how livid I was…

    May: No doubt Saudis are mostly loving people, but once a foreigner meets the insolent type, generalizing comes into play and all those good people are forgotten, and that’s what’s ruining the image.

    Abdullah: Thanks…and it’s sad that peace loving Saudis have their society messed up by these animals…

    Princess Haifa: Cowards is exactly the right term to use…and talking about holding back the anger, it was the hardest part, but thank God it worked out well.

    Mcshillin: I can’t disagree with you, racism is far from dead…and I doubt it will end anytime soon.

  20. Mahmood
    October 17, 2006 at 11:06 AM

    Since every Saudi/Khaleeji knows about their country’s wealth, they feel they have this god given right above all other races. those guys were a classic example of the ones that feel they are superior to others and you did a great job in letting them know their place in society

  21. Sam
    October 17, 2006 at 9:23 PM

    Sarah: I don’t understand the logic in a parent shouting racial slurs in front of their children. The definition of ‘adult’ needs to be redefined…

    Fahad: Exactly…tossing your children at a couple of nannies and showering them with money might keep them materialistically happy…but their shortcomings will be evident when they grow up…as is the case with many families.

    Yousef: You’re right; it’s hard for someone to think positively when suffering such attacks.

    Ashraf: I too have seen such children…and once they grasp that bad habit, it’s a tough job to change.

    Ali: True…had I known of AJ’s intention, I would have told him about it straight up. But there’s a difference between reflecting on what happened and being in the situation as it’s happening, which is why I doubted AJ would hold his temper.

    Bella: Unfortunately, bigotry is what’s fueling many conflicts we see today and I doubt it will in our lifetime.

    Mahmood: Nobility doesn’t come by itself. Being wealthy is a matter of chance, but being noble is a matter of choice; and those guys, like every other bigot, chose to be decadent.

  22. lightcontrast
    October 18, 2006 at 1:36 PM

    It seems that racism is prevalent wherever you go, that’s sad. What about love of humanity and respect for differences?

  23. October 18, 2006 at 7:42 PM

    I have been a regular in the Khobar Starbucks and will happily testify to the ignorance of much of the youth that frequent it.

  24. Omar
    October 18, 2006 at 5:23 AM

    Nah man I dont like trouble but if i were in ur place I would have beat the livign crap out of them. but ur right I wouldnt have gained anything from it the best way is to be calm

  25. Abbas
    October 18, 2006 at 8:34 AM

    Not all Saudis are like that. WHY does everyone say bad things about Saudi people these days? Are you even sure those men were Saudi or just other arabs???

  26. MJ
    October 18, 2006 at 2:44 PM

    Man sam ur too soft sometimes. But ur right u thought of the end results and it wouldnt have looked too good for u.

  27. Reem
    October 18, 2006 at 8:12 PM

    el mala3een those type if ppl piss me off the most. those cowards they didnt even have the guts to say it infront of ur faces.

  28. October 18, 2006 at 5:50 PM

    I have seen the ignorance rich snobby children show regarding other members of society and that’s what you get when they are grown up.

  29. Sam
    October 18, 2006 at 10:31 PM

    Omar: I too, wanted to respond physically to their verbal diarrhea…but what’s the use? Glad you understood…

    Abbas: Yes, as much as I hate to say it, they were Saudi. Not only were they wearing thobes, but their accent proved it as well. Don’t get me wrong though; I don’t want you thinking my blog is all anti-Saudi…

    lightcontrast: As I see it, humanity and respect don’t exist in such people’s vocabulary; unless the person they are dealing with is at their monetary level…

    MJ: It’s not a matter of being soft. This is the kind of situation that brings the man out in a man…(did that make sense?)

    Laura: True…sad that their parents don’t see what their kids are turning into…

    Abu Ilyas: I’m glad you haven’t experienced a similar situation though. Btw…I thought you were in Jeddah.

    Reem: More like…el masakeen. They are the ‘poor’ ones and they don’t even realize that. Cowards will always be cowards…

  30. October 19, 2006 at 10:02 AM

    Well I can’t really be sure if I’ve had a similar experience or not, as the language is still a barrier for me. There’s certainly been times when I suspected something was amiss but not having a translator to hand I couldn’t put my finger on it.

    I think the worst story I heard since I arrived was that there was an English teacher of Asian descent about to take his first class of adult learners, when one man in the class asked him who he was, as he hadn’t introduced himself yet. He replied that he was their teacher and was met with the response “Today we are being taught by a road sweeper!”

    But its the same wherever you go there is always some random bigot ready to feel superior to others at a moment’s notice. Plus you find people everywhere who are absolute gems and go out of their way to help and accomodate strangers irrespective of their race, social class, religion or whatever; and I’ve certainly met many of these individuals since I arrived here too.

    And even though there is an undercurrent of racism here at times, I can happily say its not as bad as what I used to face in the UK. I’ve been here two months and I haven’t had a single person shout at me “Hey, it’s bin Laden!” which was a daily occurence (amongst other sayings) in the UK. So for that I’m grateful.

    Yes, I’m in Khobar not Jeddah.

  31. October 19, 2006 at 10:09 AM

    what a great post! i don’t live in Saudi, so i don’t know how it is, but i do see racism here in Bahrain. i’ve been victim of it myself. i’m also american and feel that some locals like to run w/ the fact that i’m different and insult me w/out thinking anything about it… but it’s usually done when my husband isn’t around.

    i find this behavior a direct link to the way a person has been raised. if his/her parents taught them to respect other cultures/nationalities, i doubt if you’d see such behavior. i’ve seen the way some bahrainis talk down to others, thinking they’re better just because they have more money or because of their skin color. i’ve seen the way they call black ppl the “n” word w/out thinking a thing about it. i find it all disgusting.

    i also think, like you, that a lot of it comes from nannies raising kids and the parents being absent and not teaching the children properly. they get around their friends in school and are taught from them instead. it’s all a vicious cycle that continues to haunt society.

    one day i hope it will change for the better. sorry about your friend and having to experience this, but i’m really glad you stood up against it.

  32. Mariam
    October 19, 2006 at 11:14 PM

    That’s why when the rest of the world thinks of Saudi Arabia, the first thought that crosses their mind is rich snobby families who care for nothing else. If only those busy ‘nanny-dependent’ parents could just spend more time with their children and suprevise them a bit more to see how they behave socially and correct them before they grow into bad citizens, the nation as a whole would be better off.

  33. Ifrah
    October 20, 2006 at 1:59 AM

    Racism is one of the things that will be the longest lasting on earth. There’s no more humanly love anymore and everyone is bad mouthing the people around them. It doesnt surprise me that those men acted like that.

  34. Sam
    October 20, 2006 at 8:56 PM

    Abu Ilyas: I don’t think you’d experience such a thing here though. Here in Saudi Arabia, bigots tend to talk down those of a darker complexion and those whom they believe are inferior in terms of nationality/ethnicity and money based on their personal scale; so I think you’d actually be more respected due to your nationality. Nationality is a big thing here…and the more western a passport, the less likely that person will be caught up in such a situation.

    What that English teacher experienced is a typical response he’d get in many institutions. What makes me wonder is the rarity of someone actually correcting such people. It’s as if there is an untold taboo on correcting a fellow national when he’s talking down to someone else.

    Life is pretty hard for a Muslim in the west, especially those adhering to the Sunnah by having beards and wearing the mandatory hijaab or optional niqaab. Relatives and friends I know have been suffering anti-Islamic threats in Denmark for years and have moved to more tolerant nations like England, and are now suffering the brunt of those recent comments by Straw in the UK. Living here will hopefully be easier for you, aside from the iqama and the ‘bukracy’ that we all suffer from.

  35. Sam
    October 20, 2006 at 8:59 PM

    tooners: As hopeful as we all are for racism to be extinguished from our societies, I doubt we’ll see the last of it in our lifetime.

    Racism is everywhere, and each place has its own standard. Here in KSA, those that suffer from bigotry are those of darker complexions from poorer nations; and in Bahrain, simply being different can show the double standards and true colors of those you’re dealing with, as you’ve seen.

    What annoyed me the most about those guys was that they were speaking thinking we wouldn’t understand them. I’d much prefer it if someone says something straight to my face than use cowardly means and spread it like gossip.

    Children learn how to interact in society mostly from friends when parents aren’t around, and treating certain expatriates like second class humans is one of the first things children learn from their peers. That’s the reason I usually spend time with my 11 year old brother and observe how he interacts with all members of the community. A child needs certain factors as building blocks to grow up as a contributing citizen, and parent supervision and guidance are dynamic factors in that process…and sadly, many children in this corner of the world lack that, leading to much un-needed hate and discrimination.

  36. Sam
    October 20, 2006 at 9:00 PM

    Mariam: Exactly; not only would the nation be better off, but the whole region as well.

    Ifrah: Whatever little humanly love there is left on earth is extinguished by the hatred and violence that has consumed most of the world…

  37. October 20, 2006 at 9:39 PM

    No one’s born a racist. You’d think in this century people would raise their kids colorblind but apparently all too many don’t.

  38. October 20, 2006 at 11:24 PM

    “shoof hal 3abd wish laabis”

    Ouch. oh the number of times that word made me cry. I certainly don’t miss those days. I remember being kicked out of the girls bathroom at school because “y333 3abdah ma nishteheeek”, I also remember being mistaken for my sister’s maid/playmate “5owyah”. (yes my sisters are white.. one odd genepool, eh?). I remember struggling as an adolescent with fair and lovely and Loreal white (or as baba calls them, skin cancer in a bottle) and being so disappointed because “WHY AREN’T THEY WORKING? WHY AM I NOT WHITE?” heh.

    You see, I am Saudi but I am also a woman of color, something alot of people have a hard time acknowledging, I guess. It took 21 years and about 5 boyfriends to get it thru to me that I may be a little attractive despite my slave girl status, and that I’m maybe kind of desirable.

    Saudi for you.

  39. October 21, 2006 at 5:22 AM

    I once saw a guy laugh and yell, “You’re so black! Ehhh, you are ugly!” to an African woman in a souk. They guy was Arab, by the way. I don’t think she understood Arabic, but you could tell by her facial expression that she kind of figured it out. I was soo mad and soo digusted. How could you say that to another person? I guess some people are just a-holes.

  40. October 21, 2006 at 9:27 AM

    I would suggest that ‘racist’ attitudes are deep seeded in this country. Not to the point of insulting behaviour like the ones you ran into. But the whole “whiter is better” thinking runs deep here. My husband has run into such people here, and he is pure 100% Arab and tribal to boot.. add in black. There are times its almost come to blows. And this isn’t just with Saudis, but also Indians who assume Mr. Man is my driver and they can insult him. That gets even uglier!!

    And this isn’t really about nannies or maids raising their children. The lighter child in the family is often times treated better. The darker one recieving more negative comments, at times less affection and they have to deal with much of society and their racist attitudes w/out the strong support of their families.

    Its sad all the way around.

  41. October 21, 2006 at 1:42 PM

    Racism is learned and therefore if stopped early on (as a child) we wouldnt have so many occurances. I remember when I lived in South Dakota for a couple years. My mother was scared for me cause the campus looked entirely white. I loved the place and most people left me alone. I met a couple colored folks and those I kept close. The most fascinating instance of teaching kids early on happened when I got invited by one of my friends to her parents home for the weekend. They lived abt an hour from town in the middle of nowhere. Her child was about three or so. As we sat on the couch talking he turned to his mother with a solemn face and asked, “Ma, why is she dark? did she get burned?” I was shocked till I remembered where I was. She looked at me and asked me if I wanted to answer the question or should she do it. I was pleasantly suprised to hear her explain racial difference to her son and how color is not important but the person is. That child from that day onwards treated me like an aunt. 🙂 We just got to get to them when they are young.

  42. Hana
    October 21, 2006 at 7:00 PM

    When I was a little girl in school, girls would stay in groups according to wealth and skin color. I remember a certain group that would always bully other girls because they weren’t white and would call them all sorts of names to embarrass them. This was never done in front of teachers so no one would be there to scold them so they always got away with it. Their parents never suspected them of course since they were always busy with work and they ended up growing like that. One or two might have matured and now respect others for who they are, but most of them still regard themselves as a superior race.

  43. Sam
    October 21, 2006 at 10:20 PM

    Agent KGB: All children are born innocent; you’re right. And as they grow, they lose their innocence and sadly, parents choose not to be around to teach them.

    Lipstick Wahhabi: It’s sad so many children have to experience what you went through in school. I never studied in a Saudi school but my sisters tell me about what they see, and those stories never have a happy ending.

    Living in Saudi Arabia can be racially challenging. I myself am not white, and although I’m bold and never care what people think, I can’t help being conscious about people when sense the slightest bit of racism, whether coming my way or someone else’s.

    Btw, you should sue the makers of those ‘cancer lotions’.

    YemeniMe: I never cease to be amazed at how low someone can go by insulting a person in a language they don’t understand. I’ve seen it many times, and it just shows how cowardly they can get.

    Nzingha: You’re right; racist attitudes really are deep seeded in this country. When I was young, I used to wonder why my friend’s parents would treat their children with fairer skin much better than their darker siblings. Being young, I never made anything of it, but as I grew, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place.

    Even when hiring employees, it’s the same. You’d be amazed at parents who would go as far as inquiring about a prospective teacher’s race before saying yes. I know many Saudis lack excellent English skills and understand parents’ concern about who’ll teach their children, but that’s not the way to go about it. How about assessing the potential teacher’s skills before crossing his/her name based on their race…?

    Sleep Depraved: Ouch…that must have hurt. I’ve been in similar situations. You’re right though, and I can’t stress it any more; children have to be taught early while they’re at the learning stages before it’s too late. That child revered you as an aunt, but some I’ve seen over here will respect that single person and go on to insult others. Some parents here just tell their children not to disrespect that particular person instead of teaching them why it’s wrong to be acting like that in the first place, regardless of who they’re talking to.

  44. October 22, 2006 at 12:07 AM

    Growing up as a little girl must be one of the worst things in life. As a girl, I grew up with rich snobby girls that would point out the slightest thing they hate about you. Whether it was me boyish pants or the way I had my hair or skin color, they would always say something and they never kept to themselves until I punched one of them one day. The worst part was hearing them insult this little girl because of her skin color. We grew up and they would still make fun of her especially when they bumped into her in the bathroom. Sadly they are still the same. I blame it all on their parents who were always away from their children who learned nothing under the care of the maids.

  45. Laila
    October 24, 2006 at 11:42 AM

    I studied in a Saudi school in my elementary years and I have to admit, the atmosphere there where the white girls dominate and teachers refusal to correct them is one of the main reasons we have such people. Those little children grow up hearing their peers insult other races and think it is ok since they are doing it and no one stops them. Personally, even though I am Jordanian and as white as them, they still used to insult me because i used to hang around with ‘darker’ classmates. I thank my parents who tought me how to respect others no matter where they are from.

  46. Asma
    October 25, 2006 at 1:46 PM

    I am surprised you didn’t get angry Saudis attacking you because of this article. Saudis have a tendency to attack anyone who insults their ways even when the other person is mostly right.

    This racism is deeply rooted in Saudi Arabia and until parents supervise their children and teach them the right way at an early age, they will learn from friends who are usually a bad influence. Sadly I have to say there are also many parents who insult other people in front of their children and that is another bad example because the children learn frm their own parents actions.

    unless children are taught at a young age, they will go on the wrong path and become bad citizens

  47. Abu Adam
    November 1, 2006 at 3:12 AM

    It is a shame that mature people act so foolishly. That is why much of the rest of the world thinks of Arabs the way they do. They are not to blame but these kind of people are to blame.

  48. Mona
    November 3, 2006 at 3:08 PM

    Growing up anywhere as a child has its own challenges and I am sure that one of the things many children face is discrimination and sadly, some children aren’t shown the right way to deal with strangers.

  49. November 5, 2006 at 4:05 PM

    yo man once in oman, in my high school i was coming out of the mussalah after praying dhuhr and this kid passing by stops and starts staring at all of us and then he starts pointing at us so he goes to each person and says “muslim”..then the next “muslim”…then the next “muslim”…then he comes up to me and says “hindi”! I was like wtf???? and that was a little kid…Allahul musta3an. This is just one of the very few instances of racism/blatant discirimnation ive had to face…and i can go on and on…

    …and yeah another one..back in the days like we used to play ball so i had this basketball and this arab chrsitian kid (jordanian to be precise) started messing about and snatched my ball and wouldn’t give it back…so i got into a brawl with him. All the arab kids muslim/non-muslim alike (egyptians, sudanese, jordanian and what not) ganged up on me and started pumping him by saying ” beat the shit out of this flithy indian”…now when I think about it I can only laugh lol….

    and that’s just me…my freind got chased by these omani fag boys all through al-khuwair (a place in capital city area) and he had to hide in a shop to get away, heh. Man so many incidents; it isn’t even a coincidence. SubhanAllah.

  50. Sam
    November 9, 2006 at 12:54 PM

    Brook: Growing up as a child in such atmospheres can prove to be quite hellish, especially with richer kids around. Many children put up with this kind of treatment…and some choose to ignore them, others would rather become like them, and the rare ones would throw in a punch…like you.

    Laila: We all thank our parents for teaching us right from wrong, even if it had to take a few slaps on the back of the hand. Here, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re white or not; it’s usually about being Saudi or from a certain tribe or region.

    Asma: There have been a few angry Saudi comments flying around, but that’s why I moderate comments, so such comments don’t appear without my approval. This moderation has annoyed some, but it’s a must since several people have posted many derogatory comments aimed at other. Discrimination is deep rooted here…true…but it usually stems from negligent parents and kids hearing what elder peers say, thinking it’s alright. Many parents can’t grasp that fact…

    Abu Adam: I agree; the image of Arabs suffers from this.

    Mona: I couldn’t agree more…as children grow up and their curiosity takes them places…adults should show them right from wrong before they learn from others.

    nuqtah/sleeplesslonging: It’s the little kids that surprise me every time with unexpected acts that kind. If he’s like that…I wonder how his parents are. I usually associate the behavior of kids with their parents…even though not all parents of ‘bad’ kids are awful themselves.

    It sure isn’t a coincidence…enduring all that while growing up. Arabs can be a pain in the rear sometimes…especially when they’re kids. Have you met those kids now that they’re all grown up?

  51. November 10, 2006 at 9:03 AM

    LoL akhee I must admit some of those kids are now much better…infact even freinds with me now- but this I have found to be an exception to general trend. Wallahu a`alam.

  52. Saudi Mom
    January 10, 2007 at 9:35 AM

    Being a Saudi mom, that is one of the things that worry me the most. Children will always play together and learn certain habits from each other and since I can’t supervise my little boys and prevent them from having bad habits rubbed on them, all I can do is educate them at home on how to deal with people. I’m sorry you had to go through that Sam, it just shows how shallow people can still be even at such an age but you showed them who is the grown up.

  53. Silent Knight
    January 10, 2007 at 11:07 AM

    Racism and discrimination is something very prevalent in this region. Because the local people see all different nationalities lining up to apply for visas to their countries, they feel they are superior to those others. And it’s not a surprise when I see parents backing their little kids when they badmouth low class workers and that’s how the kids grow up doing the same to their kids.

  54. Jamal
    January 13, 2007 at 1:28 PM

    It doesn’t come as a surprise that those guys did what they did. I’m black and although I don’t know how to speak the Arabic language fluently, it doesn’t take much effort to recognize someone mocking you or making fun of you. I used to study at Dhahran High and would sometimes find a couple of men making a joke about me when outside at coffee shops or the mall or simply in Aramco. Picking a fight with them isn’t the best idea so I usually brush it off since they never come up to me and insult me face to face. The sad part is that the few bad ones ruin the whole image for the rest of the friendly Saudis.

  55. Rima
    January 14, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    I know its sad some of those that act like this ruin it all for the rest of us Saudis. What irks me the most is that when they are insulting someone, they feel so right and confident. Which makes me wonder if the Saudi nation wasn’t so rich and has never found oil, where and how would those people be acting then.

  56. Sam
    January 16, 2007 at 3:34 PM

    nuqtah/sleeplesslonging: I agree…many of them chage when they grow up and turn out to be good friends.

    Saudi Mom:I understand your concern…and it’s almost impossible to supervise your kids 24/7.

    Silent Knight: True…and although it’s rare to see a father backing his kid up against a foreigner, it hurts me to know that it does happen.

    Jamal: You’re lucky you used to brush their jokes aside…some of my friends learned it the hard way after getting beaten up by a whole gang of Saudis. But what people don’t see is that those bad ones are a few and the rest of the good locals get a bad image.

    Rima: I feel ya…and sometimes wonder the same thing myself.

  57. February 28, 2007 at 12:11 AM

    Hey Sam,

    Imagine though, that if they are doing this to a black American, how do you think the situation with South Asian workers is?

    People make me feel awful when I have South Asian friends, saying “shitsaween ma3a hal hnood il waskheen?!” as if they weren’t worthy of the friendship of an actual Bahraini citizen. They really treat them like 2nd class citizens who have no rights whatsoever, and what bothers me is that rarely do you ever see human rights activists working in this field. They’re largely ignored.

    This is why I am so into migrant rights and tackling racism against South Asians which is something many of us have come to accept. Children are being socialized in our societies into thinking that this is how it should be, and that these people were born to be dirty slaves and workers to begin with. I refuse to live in a society where slavery is ignored and thus it is my duty as a citizen to do something about it.

    Please, whenever you are free, e-mail me about the campaign if you are still interested in partnering with me in it. I really believe that it can make a difference.


    PS – Sorry, I know this is somewhat irrelevant. But the whole time reading your blog entry I was just comparing my experiences with yours, and I have to say that South Asians go through worse because they are not only humiliated in our societies, but sometimes even physically abused without being able to do anything about it. And their lifestyles are just horrid, entire families living in rooms where there’s no electricity and running water. Imagine how that is like in the scorching weather of the summers.

  58. Khaled
    March 1, 2007 at 11:05 AM


    Even though this article is a bit outdated, I still feel I need to give some input because I can relate to what you faced. I grew up with rich friends who find any excuse to spend some money at the mall every week. They are the usual bunch who believe they are above everyone else except whoever they know comes from a richer family. Growing up, I would sometimes joke with the Asian shop keepers or even throw a few balls with them when they play cricket and my friends would try to convince me to stop giving them attention because they are not worth it. To be honest, I always felt my best when I was with them and wished my father put me through an english school so I could have learned about other people and their cultures. One day I had my final draw when they drove through the field they were playing football in and started ruining the game, taunting the men so I confronted them and had a fight with them.

    Now I am much better off without them and have since traveled outside the kingdom and learned english from the very foreigners we Saudis look down upon. Many Saudis are raised by hypocrites who brainwash their kids into believing they are the best in everything, but I am glad I learned things before I went out into the world and learned them the hard way.

    Now I’m raising my children to love others and respect everyone whatever their culture or religion may be.

  59. Munira
    March 1, 2007 at 3:32 PM

    I studied in USA as a little girl and after 9/11 my family decided to come back so i continued my studies in ksa. I remember the first things that shocked me was how as a society we were racist to others. I was shocked to see girls in my school get taunted by others just because of their skin color or nationality. I remember how some girls would talk about other people as if they were dirty animals. And everyday when going back home from school my driver would take me on a route where they were building this huge skyscraper and I would see all those poor less fortunate men sweating like hell at noon trying to finish off as much as they can so they could spend less time in the sunlight. I remember little kids would come and throw stones at them or simply do obscene stuff just to intimidate the men but the men never did anything because if they ever laid a hand on a child, they would simply be sent back to their countries. As much as I love my country, I can’t say the same for some of my people. I really hope things would change for the better.

  60. UMAiR
    March 28, 2007 at 10:39 PM

    THERe is a reason why the PROPHET Mohammad PBUH pointed out something that is embarrasing i you think about it. THis was during his final sermon..LOOK it up the part were he talks about arabs being equal to nonarabs…I myself am of arab/afghan decsent from all the stories ive herd from my gramms..neways I do remrb being the subject of racism..all cuz i spent too muhc time in the sun… and as funny as it seems THe lebanese smallbrain had no clue dat he was talkin to the wrong guy..so he was making fun of me as beign sumone i wasnt..wtf PPL cud go on living their lives like dat but everyone shud b aware dat we are all individual grains of sand individualy compared to every singele human beign dats ever been given birth since the beginning of time..BEING humble is what brings u closer to GOD

  61. Aisha
    April 4, 2007 at 1:09 AM

    It must have been a priceless look on his face when you spoke to them before you left. It is really amazing how people never think of the consequences of their actions and how they change toward you when they realize you are a better person than them. I remember once at work when a certain lady working with us came up to me and started mocking my accent and making fun of my race. I never complained before that day, but she went too far this time and I wasn’t going to let her go. Just before I wanted to meet my superior, she instead called me to ask me if I was having any problems with anyone and I decided not to mention that lady’s name so I don’t have people starting rumors. But just as I wanted to leave, my superior told me that she overheard what my colleague had been saying to me earlier and said she admired my kindness in not reporting her but it was for the best that I report such things if they happen because it could affect my work. Then she proceeded on to make the other lady apologize to me and fired her without a word. Ever since that day when the other lady found out I never told on her and actually tried not to get her fired, she has become a good friend of mine.

  62. Tammy
    April 8, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    That’s sad. really sad to see grown men behave like that. And you would think they would grow out of that bad habit. I have seen lots of racism in during my stay in Saudi Arabia, but most of it was aimed at inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. They rarely speak ill about Americans or westerners and it was quite weird to read about them doing that to your friend. But nonetheless, you showed them who was more mature. I just can’t imagine what they would have done if your friend went up to them and spoke to them in Arabic. That would make a good film.

  63. Raf
    April 17, 2007 at 3:28 PM

    Hey I study in Malaysia too! I totally understand what your friend went through. In the UAE, the nationals sometimes tend to be over patriotic and spew hatred toward the foreigners living there. I grew up in Abu Dhabi and studied in some international school. That is not where I had my problems though. It was when simply walking to the grocery store to buy simple ingredients for my mother when those hooligans who always hang at the corner would try to bully me and call me names insulting my origin and people. Its really sad come to think about it how those same people would later emply foreigners and continue with that same treatment unless by a mircale they change and see the wrong of their ways.

  64. Hakim
    April 18, 2007 at 8:07 AM

    I think jealousy played a part in their actions toward your friend. People sometimes show their jealousy in certain ways, and one of the ways is insulting those whom they are jealous of.

  65. Malzy
    September 18, 2007 at 3:59 PM

    That was a sad incident and a common one in the region as well. They might have kept their racist jokes to themselves but often they are more blunt with some of the foreign workers. In fact too often that it has become a norm as well. I have noticed sometimes that parents discriminate against low wage workers openly in fornt of their children. What kind of thinking is that?

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    November 28, 2007 at 3:38 PM

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  69. Lee J
    October 5, 2008 at 1:26 AM

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  70. Abdallah
    February 17, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    Yup, saudis are the most racist creatures on the planet….

  71. wsidekrys
    August 20, 2010 at 3:30 AM

    i hate racist people im 12 and at school there alot of racist people and im doing a project about it and i have a friends like your but i whould lay the first punch and once someone was being racist to my best friend and i asked them and they said what ever ann i whent cyco on there ass’s my friend ask’s me why later and i say they where racist and he say thanks and they got suspended not me 😀

  72. mohammed
    August 23, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    h8 h8 racsit ppl cause all they do is bullyim 13 and ppl r rascit 2 me cause im arabic and a muslim

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