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Saudis Tweet: Be Kind to Foreign Workers

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is an excerpt from Arabnews, an English language daily paper from Saudi Arabia:

JAZAN: A number of Saudis have launched a campaign on Twitter asking their compatriots to be kind to the foreign manpower living with them and to spread awareness in society about humanitarian treatment to foreign laborers.

They also tweeted that Saudis should congratulate them on the occasion of Eid, as they do their relatives and friends, and make them part of the local celebrations in order to help them mark Eid as they would in their homeland, Arabic daily Al-Watan reported on Friday.

I applaud progressive Saudis who take initiative when those in power don’t. It’s Saudis like these who are hopefully the future leaders of the kingdom. However, I think it’s sad that someone had to go and start a Twitter campaign to treat foreign workers with respect. I’m ashamed that the situation in Saudi Arabia has come down to this; to remind each other via messages to respect other people. This kind of issue is something one would expect to hear in a speech or Friday sermon. It’s not something one would expect to be the central cause for an awareness campaign.

Treating people with respect and kindness is one of those virtues like cleanliness and honesty that should be deep-rooted and nurtured in a person from childhood. This campaign hangs on the shoulders of parents and teachers; so they should always use an encounter with another person, whether a Saudi or expatriate, as an opportunity to set an example that would teach children to respect all people regardless of race, religion, or status.

A Saudi passing by an expatriate worker. Image courtesy of Galen R. Frysinger.

Samuel Johnson once said:

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

Many of my friends are skeptical about this campaign, saying that this is yet another PR exercise by the Saudi government in order to clean its image after Indonesia stopped sending maids to the country and the Philippines possibly following suit. Others are hoping the ‘campaigners’ would take to the streets as well, since Twitter alone cannot reach all the masses. But all are hoping that this campaign reaches every Saudi and expatriate and brings out the good in people. As for me, I’ve learned to take anything about Saudi Arabia in the media with a grain of salt, but I truly hope that this is the start of many positive changes in this beautiful country.

  1. Saudi Born & Sudanese National
    September 5, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    is nice to hear such a group of young people came up with an idea to stop what’s going wrong in their country, its a positive thinker’s idea! its someone who i can call “Green future’s builder “. people looking for equality of life with their guests living in their home country.
    i was more than happy to receive SMS from a friend of mine telling me that a group of smart Saudis has lunched a campaign seeking a brotherhood life with foreigners living in Saudi.
    I couldn’t wait to check this wonderful news to show up my feelings and interest on that.
    Saudis are the people we grow up with, they are the people we used to have them next door at the neighborhood. we share their happiness & sadness when its there, and they do the same in return.
    Is nice that some of these Saudis has a good behaviors, respect and attitudes through the foreigners living in their homeland, and its sad that some others they do the opposite.
    what i am seen here is this group of successful people or “leaders” are the group whom gonna lead this country one day and save everybody’s rights. i call them leaders because leaders always looks so for the errors and correct it and that’s what this campaign is all about.
    let’s wish them a gudluck .cheers!!

    • Sam
      September 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM

      The funny thing is, why NOW?! This kind of thing should be taught at a very young age. All we can do is be optimistic and hope for the best…

  2. Michael
    September 5, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Wow!! People need to be reminded by social media that foreign workers are humans like them and need to be respected? What kind of society is that? Is it April 1 already?

  3. Elif Salman
    September 6, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    At least its a start even tho this sort of quality should be taught to children and not adult people. But lets hope many Saudis know how to use tweets.

    • Sam
      September 6, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      They should have also started this in Facebook, as there are more Saudis using it than Twitter.

  4. Saudi born & Sudanese national
    September 6, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    TV also is an effective way! TV is strong tool to address something to the Saudi Society.
    It would be nice if they request for a TV show and discuss this subject. i know its gonna be difficult for them to get the approval for that show to be out but it worth a try.

    • Sam
      September 7, 2011 at 7:29 AM

      I agree completely. If this campaign is genuine, then they shouldn’t have trouble getting on a TV show.

  5. Nadia J
    September 6, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Only in Saudi Arabia can such a campaign take place today. I guess its better late than never. But if this is not a hoax or publicity stunt by the government then like the person before me said they should also address this on TV in various public announcements. Do they still have Saudi Channel 1 and 2 or did they die off?

    • Sam
      September 7, 2011 at 7:31 AM

      Hahaha you remember those channels? Yea, last I checked they were still running. But I believe they’re funded by the government, so they can outlive the most successful channels.

  6. Adittya
    September 6, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    This is a great initiative! There is no room for pessimistic people and I’m sure this is not a hoax by the government or anyone. This idea is from honest to god genuine Saudi people who want to improve life in their country for both expatriates and Saudis. But I believe this will be more effective if they take the awareness campaign to the mosques and schools and universities and any other institutions that can address the masses. All the best!!

    • Sam
      September 7, 2011 at 7:33 AM

      I’m glad you’re optimistic! And you have great ideas; schools and other institutions are a great platform for getting the message across.

  7. Saudi born & Sudanese national
    September 7, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    One more good step for them to start is “home”. most of the Saudi families have Foreign home-keepers and car drivers working for them and living within the same space they living in. here where the parents can get it as a good chance to show their respect to those people doing their job to get papers and send it to their poor families back home. from this point parents can teach their kids how to deal with foreigners starting from this lower level up to the high one.

    • Sam
      September 10, 2011 at 6:35 PM

      True. They mentioned house-keepers and drivers specifically in their awareness message.

  8. Manaf
    September 9, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    I am very skeptical that this will have much effect in the country. The youth are already corrupted by the ‘I am Saudi’ mentality and it’s hard to change in short time.

    • Sam
      September 10, 2011 at 6:38 PM

      Yeah, it seems impossible, but hopefully with time they will change. And let’s not forget the kids; this is the best chance for their elders to set a good example.

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