Abdulateef Al-Mulhim | SUSRISblog
When I was in elementary school in Al-Ahssa, Saudi Arabia, in the 1960s, I was taught by some Arab teachers from Arab countries such as Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. And it turned out that some of them are still in Saudi Arabia after all these years. Some of them have been living here for more than 45 years. And about 30 years ago my older brother brought an Indonesian nanny for his first child. It turned out that after 30 years in the Kingdom, she doesn’t want to go back to Indonesia. And more than once, she was paid extra money just to persuade her to visit her relatives. But, two days after her arrival in Jakarta, she turned around and made a reservation to return to Saudi Arabia. Now, she is part of the family and not a nanny any more.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine wanted me to join his father’s company as a consultant. The day I went to the company I met an Egyptian engineer who simply knew my cousins and friends by their first names. It turned out that this engineer has been in the Kingdom so long he didn’t want to tell me, because he didn’t want to reveal his age. There was an Indian in Dammam named Ali Koya who lived in the Kingdom for almost 40 years, and I can recall many more examples such as these.
All the expatriates mentioned above are more Saudi than they are Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Palestinians or Indonesians. The dilemma for those expatriates is very severe. They have children who are born in Saudi Arabia and all their friends are in Saudi Arabia. Their relatives and friends back home already forgot about them after years of absence from their countries. And if they were to leave Saudi Arabia, they would be foreigners and strange people in their own countries. These expatriates only know Saudi culture and the Saudi way of life. And they have very few friends back home. Some of them, especially the young generation born in Saudi, don’t know anybody in their native countries. And those young expatriates always ask the difficult question: What if my family had to leave Saudi Arabia for any reason? Those young men and women could suffer cultural shock among their own people back home, lost in their own native country and semi-strangers to the culture.
We do understand the rules in Saudi Arabia regarding the naturalization process, and it is very difficult to get the Saudi nationality. And as a Saudi, I respect the rules of naturalization. But, it is very important to study this issue on a case-to-case basis. Some of these expatriates have a lot to offer to the Kingdom. We saw some of these experienced and talented expatriates leave the Kingdom and go to the West, especially to Canada and America. And these countries accept them because of their talents, especially the physicians. I met some expatriates in Canada and America who had lived in the Kingdom and gained experience while they were here. However, they ended up leaving and giving the fruit of their experiences to other countries. We saw nurses and head nurses who worked on the most advanced medical equipment in our hospitals. And we saw technicians who worked in the most sophisticated industrial plants. However, they too, after years of working in Saudi Arabia, leave and take their families and their knowledge to the West.
We, in Saudi Arabia have to reconsider the rules for a number of expatriates with exceptional qualifications and skills. Besides, some of those expatriates consider Saudi Arabia as their home. Even some Western nationals feel the same way. Once, an American from New York, who works for Saudi Aramco told me he had been in Saudi Arabia for such a long time, that now Saudi Arabia is his New York. And finally, what would a Sudanese young man named Samer who was born and raised in Al-Hassa do if he was to be sent back to Khartoum, if all he has ever known is this country and its people?
— Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a Commodore (Retired), Royal Saudi Navy. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
Also by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim:
- Atlanta and the US-Saudi Business Forum – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Dec 6, 2011
- America Fired Itself From a Job – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Nov 17, 2011
- September 11 and the Longest Ten Years – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Sep 10, 2011
- Airline Diplomacy – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jul 17, 2011
- President Ahmadinejad: Iran Doesn’t Need Enemies – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jun 8, 2011
- Expats and Loytalty – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – May 29, 2011
- Improving Saudi Tourism Prospects – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – April 14, 2011
- What if Arabs had recognized Israel in 1948? – Adulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – April 5, 2011
- Reflections on the Foundations of US-Saudi Relations – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jan 22, 2011
- Is there a larger role for Saudi Aramco? – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jan 12, 2011