Recommended reading: Observations on Arabs.
My eyes lit up upon reading this sentence:
I went to live and work in Saudi Arabia in 1998, and I "made my year" as expats there put it.
Whoa! A blogger who hasn't simply read about Arabia but actually lived there...like myself! His observations are spot on:
The basic forms of work: making stuff, growing stuff and moving stuff around, is taken care of by a class of indentured servants, usually non-Arab Muslims from the Third World, and even today, by outright slaves.
I wrote on Nov. 21, 2005:
Non-Saudis were employed to maintain the apartment buildings where we lived. They would keep watch over the entrance, wash a car for 10 riyals (US$2.66) in the suffocating heat, bring drinking water to many apartments, and clean the floors. I don't think they spent less than 12 hours a day on hard labor.
[...] Yet, the Saudis treated them with contempt. The Saudis would rather bark at them than speak to them like civilized men. The squalid workers would never utter a word in protest because they knew that in Saudi Arabia it doesn't take much to deport a foreign worker.
From the excellent post:
“Of conjugal love they know nothing.” (Thomas Jefferson on the French aristocracy.) In a land of arranged marriages, where the whole society is geared towards a strict segregation of the sexes and women are at least semi-chattels, romantic love is rare – and greatly desired.
I wrote a (fake but accurate) story on June 10, 2005:
Silver lines were appearing in Faaizah’s hair. She had kept Saleem’s foul secret. Both their parents were happy with Saleem and Faaizah. No one, not even her mother, knew how Faaizah felt. She had all the material wealth she could desire. Yet, she would never know the warm touch and love of a mate. Her last years would pass by with a growing melancholy.
Again, from the excellent post:
A Palestinian friend of mine explained to me that even the weather forecaster will qualify his prediction, “It will rain tomorrow. Inshallah.” Or, “I will meet you tomorrow, inshallah.” (But God understands that I am a very unreliable person.)
I remember giving a pep talk to my students before a crucial exam, “You are all going to pass the exam, right?” “Inshallah teacher.” “No, no!” I shouted, “No inshallah. Study!”
I wrote on August 11, 2006:
Often, Muslims use this in a context where they don't want to offer a helping hand.
For example, say you are moving to a new place in two days. You ask a Muslim friend for help. He replies, "Yeah, I'll be there...Inshallah."
Damn it! He didn't show up. Allah didn't will it!
Inshallah has basically become code for you're screwed.
Okay, I'll stop with the excerpts. Go read the entire post by Stephen Browne. It conveys more information about Saudi Arabia than a hundred sugar-coated articles from the MSM.
(Click here to see all my 'Saudi Arabia' posts.)