Important Notice

It is not my intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia or its people. It’s like everywhere else, there is good and there is bad. I would rather focus on the unusual and the humourous. Offence is not intended.

“The country is not perfect. The media cannot be trusted, mistreatment of religious minorities is common and there are some that live in fear.” You can decide for yourself whether that statement is about Saudi Arabia, the UK, or any country for that matter.

To quote the Joker, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

That is all I will say about either subject.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

International Exposure

When I was young(er) a close English friend believed that England was the best place in the world to live. I was convinced he was wrong. Our argument was as pointless as it was heated because our opinions were uninformed.
We grew older. I moved abroad and found that (in my opinion) I was right and he was wrong. I took great delight in telling him so. He didn't believe me. He had never lived anywhere outside England, but still he insisted that England could not be bettered.
A few years ago he moved to another country. So was England still the best place in the world to live? No! He confidently told me that his new home was the best. This seemed incongruous. I took great delight in telling him so. He didn't believe me.
This friend is an intelligent man but this opinion of his was not (sorry mate!). How can you rate your home when you have no comparison? Our governments love to declare or imply that ours is the best country and we are the best people. We want to believe it so we accept the flattery. If we haven't travelled how can we question it?
Everyone deserves a good education and this should include travel. The only Saudis that have approached me to introduce themselves had all lived overseas. They were articulate, confident people. Diverse experiences open our minds, but unfortunately we are not all so privileged.
Governments can help those that cannot visit the outside world by allowing the outside world to come to them. It's no substitute, but it's better than nothing. Think of Dubai with all the recent international acts: the Rock festival, the Jazz festival, Shakira, Bob Geldof and others. Think of Bahrain and the recent Formula 1 Grand Prix. Think of Saudi… for the privileged the world beckons, but for the rest there is nothing. This is a great shame.
I wonder what they think of their country and their culture. Is it the best in the world? Is it the worst? Until they have some international exposure a surprise is waiting for them, just as it was for my old friend.

Speaking of international exposure, whilst we were in Dubai it was the (Daily) International Spitting Tournament. Teams of highly trained athletes from all over the world gathered together to compete for the coveted trophy by spitting the farthest in the loudest, wettest and most gruesome manner.

Dubai International Spitting Tournament

Gentlemen, I salute you! From a safe distance, obviously…


Anonymous said...

Hey Margrave, just bumped on your blog after some googling, and was really happy to hear ur comments abt KSA since I can relate to them myself, from the "weavers" to "toilet conditions" to "visa medicals". I'm a Sri Lankan (yea one of ur old colonies) computer programmer and this is my first taste of working in KSA (me in Riyadh too.) and it has been a challenging experience adjusting (I miss the trees, wildlife and beaches back in SL, not so much the occasional blast though), looking forward to bringing my wife and kids over soon. Just wanted to thank u for ur insightful bloggin, added ur blog to my favourites list as well.


Saudi Jawa said...

Saudis in general know their country is flawed and will discuss these problems freely amongst themselves. But woe to the outsider who dares criticizes our country or our people!

This refusal to "air our dirty laundry" is a huge hurdle against reform here in Saudi.

Margrave said...

Hi Rif,

Thanks for the nice comments, good luck getting the family out here. We all know this can take time!

Margrave said...

Saudi Jawa,

I think we can all relate to that. No one really appreciates it when a foreigner starts criticising the country of our birth.
This is compounded further in Saudi because the society is designed in such a way as to keep us foreigners at an arm's length. Therefore when we're passing judgement over KSA we're doing so from a position of ignorance.
If I was Saudi I would certainly get annoyed by foreigners criticising my country, whether I agreed with them or not!

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