Sunday, September 30, 2012

We bring the expatriates then complain about them

Saturday 29 September 2012
According to the general definition, expatriate is a person who has the nationality of a country, but lives in another, usually as a guest worker. But, what does the word expatriate mean in Gulf states and Saudi Arabia? It means a worker from an Arab country or South East Asia. In other words a young Western English teacher working in the Kingdom is not an expatriate, but a rocket scientist from South East Asia is one.
Expatriates' presence and their number in Saudi Arabia is the most talked-about subject. The irony is that the more we complain about their number in the Kingdom, the more expatriates we bring in. They arrive at our airports in the thousands everyday and we, the Saudis, are the ones who are asking them to come over and we are the ones who provide them with entry visas. So, why do we bring the expatriates to the Kingdom at night and complain about them in the morning?
During the economic boom in 1973, Saudi Arabia launched the biggest infrastructure projects in the world. These projects transformed the country and made it one of the modern states in the world. At that time, Saudi Arabia's population was small compared to the size of the country and not enough educated young men were there to do the amount of work needed to be done. Also, the Kingdom lacked the know-how and technology. So, Saudi Arabia brought millions of expatriates from different countries. Asian countries had the lion's share in the expatriate work force. The expatriates brought with them new habits, new culture and new food. Both the Saudis and expatriates learned from each other. As time passed, we became accustomed to the presence of the expatriates. We see some of them doing some work which should have been done by young Saudis. For example, there are many jobs at restaurants that can be taken up by Saudi students as part time jobs. But many Saudis have become used to having the expatriates do manual jobs. As for many expatriates, they learned from the best technologies the Kingdom brought. The Kingdom brought and is still bringing state-of-the-art gadgets in hospitals, petrochemical plants and many other places. But, at the end of the day, we should know that it is the expatriates who contributed the most to the development of the country.
Many of the expatriates enjoy being in the Kingdom and have stayed here for a pretty long time. Many of them consider Saudi Arabia as their first home and many of them have deep loyalty to the Kingdom. We have seen them stand by our side in many difficult times. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, all the expatriates stood by our side. But, nowadays we keep hearing how dangerous the expatriates are to our society. The expatriates are not a threat for us, because they are here legally and we are the ones who have asked them to come and work in the Kingdom. The real danger and real threats come from not teaching our youths how to respect others and how to learn from them. And what is more alarming is that we don’t teach our young ones the best work ethics. We must show our youths the best way to do the job and not put the blame on the expatriates.
For me as a Saudi, I would love to see every job filled and done by a Saudi no matter what kind of job or work it may be. The unemployment has not been caused by the expatriates. The high unemployment among young Saudis is due to our work ethics and habits. Our education system doesn’t prepare our young ones to be part of the work force. If we don’t teach our young men appropriate work ethics, we will continue to rely on the expatriates even for jobs that don’t require any experience.
There are millions of expatriates in the Kingdom and some of them have been in this country for many years. Many of them have spent years of their lives building this country. Some of them have children born and raised here and all they know is the Kingdom. They have their friends here. Some of the expatriates find it difficult to educate their children here. Most of the expatriate children born or raised here leave the Kingdom for university degrees, but we can take some of them and have them pay for their education. Most of our universities teach their subjects in English and the presence of some young expatriates is very important to have a mix of nationalities on the campus. Medicine and engineering colleges can take some of the expatriate students because having a multinational and multicultural environment is healthy for the education system. And I am sure many expatriates are willing to pay for their children's education in the Kingdom rather than sending them away. Many of the best schools in the world are the ones that have many nationalities among its students. America is an example. Expatriates all over the world have a tendency to be more serious about their education and this can have a positive influence on our students.
We shouldn’t think of the expatriates as dangerous people or a threat to the society. They are here to help us continue building our country and it is our duty to prepare plans to replace expatriates with Saudis. We should plan Saudization of various jobs without affecting our progress and development. Complaining about the expatriates, their number and their money transfer is not the solution. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We dream about a settled life where everything is perfectly alright. Good health, Good bank balance, Good home, Good vehicle, Good family, Good neighbours, Good fame etc. We dream of a surrounding which is lush green and peacefull from all aspects.....

We presume that we will be happy once we have all the above. And we work hard to reach our dream true.

As children we work hard to be among the toppers in the class. Once the education is finished we get exhausted with work load in a bid to compete with other professionals. We get exhausted by running after our own home, our own car, our own personal gadgets, good education of our children etc.

We think once we have all this we can have a good living!

False, False, False............We are running after a false mirage.

There is nothing in this world as perfect life. One has to learn to LIVE happily with the situation he is exposed to. If you are a child LIVE happily with all the innocence of childhood. If you are an adult help your child to experience the happiness and love of this beautiful life.

ശോഭനയുടെ പതിനയ്യായിരം രൂപ

തിരുവനന്തപുരം തമ്പാനൂര്‍ സാവിത്രിഭവനില്‍ ആര്‍. ശോഭനയും ഭര്‍ത്താവ് പി.കെ. തമ്പിരാജും ചേര്‍ന്ന് 1984ലാണ് സ്റ്റേറ്റ് ബാങ്ക് ഓഫ് ട്രാവന്‍കൂറിന്‍െറ ചാല ബ്രാഞ്ചില്‍നിന്ന് 15,000 രൂപ വായ്പയെടുക്കുന്നത്. സമയത്തിന് പണം തിരികെയടക്കാന്‍ അവര്‍ക്ക് കഴിയാതെവന്നപ്പോള്‍ ബാങ്ക് കോടതിയില്‍ കേസ് ഫയല്‍ ചെയ്തു. കേസ് തീര്‍പ്പിനു വരുമ്പോള്‍ വായ്പാതുക പലിശയടക്കം 19,500 രൂപയായി ഉയര്‍ന്നിരുന്നു. വായ്പക്ക് ഈടായി നല്‍കിയ കടമുറി ജപ്തി ചെയ്യാന്‍ കോടതി ബാങ്കിന് അനുമതി നല്‍കി. വര്‍ഷം 14,000 രൂപ വാടകലഭിച്ചിരുന്ന ഈ മുറി പിന്നീട് കോടതിയുടെ നിയന്ത്രണത്തിലായി.

1996 ജൂലൈ മുതല്‍ 2006 മേയ് വരെ ഈ മുറിയില്‍നിന്നുള്ള വാടക ബാങ്ക് വസൂലാക്കി. ഇത് ഒന്നര ലക്ഷത്തോളം വരുമെന്നോര്‍ക്കുക. 2007 ജൂലൈ 10ന് ബാങ്ക് ഈ മുറി 10,10,001 രൂപക്ക് വിറ്റു. ഇതിനിടെ ശോഭനയുടെ ഭര്‍ത്താവ് തമ്പിരാജന്‍ മരണപ്പെടുന്നുണ്ട്. ശോഭനയുടെ മൂന്ന് കുട്ടികളുള്ളതില്‍ ഒരാള്‍ ബുദ്ധിമാന്ദ്യമുള്ളയാളും മറ്റൊരാള്‍ മാനസിക വൈകല്യമുള്ളയാളുമാണ്. അടക്കാനുള്ള തുക കഴിച്ച് ബാക്കി തനിക്ക് നല്‍കണമെന്ന് അവര്‍ ബാങ്കിനോടാവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു; അവര്‍ കനിഞ്ഞില്ല. ശോഭന ഹൈകോടതിയെ സമീപിച്ചു. ഈ കെട്ടിടം മാത്രമാണ് തങ്ങളുടെ ജീവിതവരുമാനമെന്നും ബാക്കി തുക നല്‍കണമെന്നും അവര്‍ ഹരജിയില്‍ ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു. 2012 ജൂലൈയില്‍ ഇടക്കാല ഉത്തരവില്‍ ഹരജിക്കാരോട് സഹതാപപൂര്‍ണമായ സമീപനം സ്വീകരിക്കാന്‍ കോടതി ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു. എന്നാല്‍, ഡയറക്ടര്‍ ബോര്‍ഡ് യോഗം ചേര്‍ന്ന് പണം തിരികെ നല്‍കാനാവില്ലെന്ന നിലപാട് സ്വീകരിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. ജസ്റ്റിസുമാരായ സി.എന്‍. രാമചന്ദ്രന്‍ നായര്‍, പി.എസ്. ഗോപിനാഥന്‍ എന്നിവരടങ്ങുന്ന ഡിവിഷന്‍ ബെഞ്ച് ചൊവ്വാഴ്ച കേസിന്‍െറ അന്തിമവിധി പ്രസ്താവിച്ചു. ശരിയായ രീതിയിലല്ല ഇക്കാര്യത്തില്‍ ബാങ്കിന്‍െറ ഇടപാടുകളെന്ന് വിലയിരുത്തിയ ബെഞ്ച് രണ്ടാഴ്ചക്കകം ഹരജിക്കാരിക്ക് 6.50 ലക്ഷം രൂപ തിരികെ നല്‍കണമെന്ന് വിധിച്ചു. 

നിയമത്തിന്‍െറ സാങ്കേതികത്വം വെച്ച് നോക്കുമ്പോള്‍ ബാങ്ക് നടപടി ശരിയാണെങ്കിലും ഭരണഘടനയുടെ 226ാം അനുച്ഛേദം അനുസരിച്ചുള്ള പ്രത്യേകാധികാരം ഉപയോഗിച്ചാണ് വിധിയെന്നും കോടതി പറഞ്ഞു.
പല നിലക്ക് ശ്രദ്ധിക്കേണ്ടതാണ് ഈ കേസും വിധിയും. വെറുമൊരു 15,000 രൂപക്കുവേണ്ടി പലിശബാങ്കിനെ സമീപിക്കേണ്ടിവന്നുവെന്നതുതന്നെ നമ്മുടെ സാമൂഹിക ബന്ധങ്ങള്‍ എത്രമാത്രം ദുര്‍ബലമാണ് എന്നതിന്‍െറ തെളിവാണ്. ഒരു താല്‍ക്കാലിക ആവശ്യത്തിനുവേണ്ടി ഇത്രയും ചെറിയൊരു തുക വായ്പയെടുത്ത കുടുംബം ഈ വിധം കുടുങ്ങിയിട്ടുണ്ടെങ്കില്‍ പല ആവശ്യങ്ങള്‍ക്കായി വന്‍ തുക ബാങ്കുകളില്‍ നിന്നെടുത്തവരുടെ ശരിക്കുമുള്ള അവസ്ഥയെന്തായിരിക്കും? അതോര്‍ത്ത് പേടിക്കുന്നവരാണ് കേരളത്തിന്‍െറ ആത്മഹത്യാനിരക്കിനെ സമ്പന്നമാക്കുന്നത്. 

ശോഭനയുടേത് ഒരു കടമുറിയെങ്കിലുമുള്ള കുടുംബത്തിന്‍െറ കാര്യം. സ്വാശ്രയ കോളജുകളില്‍ പഠിക്കാന്‍വേണ്ടി ലക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ വായ്പയെടുത്ത ചെറുപ്പക്കാരുടെ വലിയൊരു തലമുറ തന്നെ ഇവിടെയുണ്ടെന്നോര്‍ക്കുക. എന്നോ ലഭിക്കാനിടയുള്ള ശമ്പളത്തെക്കുറിച്ച പ്രതീക്ഷ മാത്രമാണ് അവരുടെ മൂലധനം. വായ്പയെടുത്ത് ഇപ്പോള്‍ ജോലിയില്‍ പ്രവേശിച്ചവരില്‍ പലര്‍ക്കും ഇപ്പോള്‍ ലഭിക്കുന്ന ശമ്പളവും അവരെടുത്ത ലോണിന്‍െറ പലിശനിരക്കും വെച്ച് താരതമ്യത്തിന് മുതിര്‍ന്നാല്‍ ഹൃദയം സ്തംഭിച്ചുപോവും. ഓര്‍ക്കുക, ഭാവിരാഷ്ട്രത്തെ കെട്ടിപ്പടുക്കേണ്ട ചെറുപ്പക്കാരാണ് ഈ വിധം പലിശക്കെണിയില്‍ ബന്ദിയാക്കപ്പെട്ട് നില്‍ക്കുന്നത്. കടക്കെണിയില്‍പെട്ട വിദ്യാര്‍ഥികളെക്കുറിച്ച് ഗൗരവത്തിലുള്ള ഒരു വസ്തുതാപഠനം പോലും നടന്നിട്ടില്ലെന്നതാണ് സത്യം.

കഴുത്തറുപ്പന്‍ പലിശ ഈടാക്കി, മാനുഷികമായ ബന്ധങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് വിലകല്‍പിക്കാത്ത ബാങ്കുകളുടെ സമീപനത്തെ ജസ്റ്റിസുമാര്‍ രൂക്ഷമായി വിമര്‍ശിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു. പൊതുമേഖലാ ബാങ്കുകള്‍ ബ്ളേഡ് കമ്പനികളാവരുതെന്നാണ് കോടതി പറഞ്ഞത്. പല സ്വകാര്യ ബാങ്കുകളും പ്രഫഷനല്‍ ബ്ളേഡ് കമ്പനികളാണെന്നറിഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ടായിരിക്കും കോടതി ഈ പരാമര്‍ശം നടത്തിയത്. ശോഭനയുടെ പതിനയ്യായിരത്തിന് പിന്നാലെ പോയ ബാങ്കുകള്‍ ഒരിക്കലും വന്‍കിട കമ്പനികളും കോര്‍പറേറ്റുകളും നല്‍കാനുള്ള ബഹുകോടികളുടെ കുടിശ്ശികയെക്കുറിച്ച് ഒരക്ഷരം മിണ്ടില്ല എന്നതാണ് ഏറ്റവും വലിയ വിരോധാഭാസം.
ഇതിന് അത്രയെളുപ്പമൊന്നും പരിഹാരമില്ല. കാരണം, പലിശയെന്ന കാഴ്ചപ്പാടുതന്നെയാണ് അടിസ്ഥാന പ്രശ്നം. തികഞ്ഞ ഭൗതിക, ലാഭാധിഷ്ഠിത ലോകവീക്ഷണത്തിന്‍െറ സാമ്പത്തിക ഉല്‍പന്നമാണ് പലിശ. 

പലിശരഹിതവും ചൂഷണമുക്തവുമായ സാമ്പത്തിക ഇടപാടുകളെക്കുറിച്ച് ഗൗരവത്തില്‍ ആലോചിക്കാന്‍പോലും ആര്‍ക്കും കഴിയുന്നില്ല. ഇനി, ആരെങ്കിലും അതേക്കുറിച്ച് പറഞ്ഞെങ്കില്‍ മതമൗലികവാദം, തീവ്രവാദം എന്നൊക്കെപ്പറഞ്ഞ് വീരശൂരദേശഭക്തര്‍ ബഹളം സൃഷ്ടിക്കും. പലിശക്ക് മുന്നില്‍ അന്ധാളിച്ചുനിന്ന് ജീവന്‍ വെടിയുന്നവരുടെ കാര്യത്തില്‍ അവര്‍ക്കെന്ത് ചേതം?
പലിശക്കെണിയുടെ കാര്യത്തില്‍ ബാങ്കുകളെ മാത്രം കുറ്റപ്പെടുത്തുന്നതിലും അര്‍ഥമുണ്ടെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നില്ല. നിസ്സാരമായ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ക്കും അനാവശ്യമായ ആര്‍ഭാടങ്ങള്‍ക്കും പൊങ്ങച്ചപ്രകടനങ്ങള്‍ക്കുംവേണ്ടി പണത്തിനാവശ്യം വരുമ്പോള്‍ നേരെ ബാങ്കിലേക്കോടുന്ന പ്രവണത വ്യാപകമാണ്. കാര്‍ഷിക വായ്പയെടുത്ത് വീടിന്‍െറ രണ്ടാം നില നിര്‍മിക്കുന്നവരും, പണി പൂര്‍ത്തിയാവുന്നതിനുമുമ്പ് കയറില്‍ ജീവനൊടുക്കുന്നവരും നാട്ടില്‍ ഒട്ടുവളരെയുണ്ട്. 

കാര്‍ഷികവായ്പ, സ്വര്‍ണം വാങ്ങാന്‍ വേണ്ടി വ്യാപകമായി ഉപയോഗപ്പെടുത്തുന്നതിനെക്കുറിച്ച് ‘മാധ്യമം’ കഴിഞ്ഞയാഴ്ച വാര്‍ത്ത പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിച്ചിരുന്നു. ജ്വല്ലറികളും ബാങ്കുകളും ചേര്‍ന്നുള്ള ഒത്തുകളിയിലൂടെയാണ് ഈ ഏര്‍പ്പാട് തിടംവെച്ച് മുന്നേറുന്നത്. ഏതാനും വര്‍ഷം കഴിയുമ്പോള്‍ ഇവരും ആത്മഹത്യാ മുനമ്പിലേക്കായിരിക്കും പോകുന്നത്. ജ്വല്ലറികളും ബാങ്കുകളും ഷൈലോക്കിന്‍െറ ചിരി ചിരിക്കും.

തമ്പാനൂരിലെ ശോഭനക്ക്, ഒത്തിരി കഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടാണെങ്കിലും നീതി ലഭിച്ചു. ഇതിനുപോലും സാധ്യതയില്ലാതെ പലിശക്കെണിയില്‍പെട്ടുഴലുന്നവരെ ഓര്‍ത്ത് ദു$ഖിക്കുകയല്ലാതെന്തു ചെയ്യാന്‍?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plastic reduction - A humble contribution

In the name of God Most Gracious and Most Mercifull

Yesterday I attended a meeting where there were about 25 attendees. As usual drinking water bottles were supplied by the tea boy along with the tea.

While the meeting was going on one of the attendees said, "This is my humble contribution towards plastic reduction in the world". He showed the water bottle without opening.

Yes he decided not to open the bottle and return it back to the tea boy. What a fantastic message!

Let us explore what impact we can make if we all decide to make simple rejections like this.

- In the grocery shops and supermarkets we take so many plastic bags every day. Most of the time we put only one item in a plastic bag! Most of the time it is possible to greatly reduce the number of bags.
- How about using a public transport instead of individual car, at least ocassionally?
- How about closing the water tap while brushing / shaving?
- How about avoiding a PEPSI or COLA?
- How about using the backside of A4 papers for general use in your office?
- How about avoiding an email from printing?
- How about avoiding a plastic toy?
- How about buying a more durable product than the short life Chinese products?

If you look around there are a lot of things each one of us can do in this regard in our daily life. Practice this in your life and spread the message among our circle, specially among children. This is the need of the hour.

Please do share your suggestions / feelings in the comments column.

Related Posts:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Emerging Kerala Program

A lot of debates are now going on "Emerging Kerala" the program launched by the UDF government.

All the newspapers and visual media in Kerala are now discussing the pros and cones of the program. These debates might lead us to a totally different discussion on development and growth, is my humble expectation.

I was in Kerala for my annual vacation this July and August. Kerala is really EMERGING! It is no more the state which I used to live as a child / student twenty five years ago.

Today there is a lot of money in there. Here is a simple statistics about my village:

The village I belong to has, say, around 200 homes. The main income of the village now is from selling sand of our beloved river -Chaliyar, which is flowing beside the village. The villagers have 15 boats to collect sand. Together they make an income of around Rs. 2 Lakhs per day.

Assuming they get 175 to 200 work days in a year our village is making a very attractive income of 3.5 to 4.0 Crores per year! Sand price is increasing exponentially. If I assume a minimum increase of 20% every year, our village can make at least 100 crores in the coming ten years! I AM NOT JOKING!

This is the shining / emerging present of our village. People are rocking.

Let us go back twenty five years in history. When we were children we used to play football on the sandy banks of Chaliyar. After the football we used to jump in to the river and drink its sweet water (cleaned by the sand we sold by now)!

Please click below link to see an old video of river bank football. Our childhood had a lot of memorable moments from this sand beach. These sand beaches are not seen by the new generation including my children.

With lots of money from selling the sand, people have avoided farming in the paddy fields. Most of the fresh water fishes like Karuthala, Varal / Bilal, Chereen, Moyyu, Kadu, Poosan, Aaral etc. are rarely seen today! My God they are all extinguishing in my short life time!

Look at the comment of our Planning commission vice-chairman in the emerging Kerala program:
These are the sort of people planning for us! What hell he knows about a paddy field, I wonder.

Let us come back to Chaliyar river. There is a water supply system from the river supplying water to the nearby villages. When the sand level in the river went down, this filter tank is now no more. As of now the pump operator is pumping from the single well at the river bank, I should say, almost directly from the river! I wish somebody make a test on the potability of this water, knowing that all the biological waste like chicken parts are thrown to Chaliyar!

This story is applicable to so many other villages in Kerala. Very soon our history books shall have to write "Kerala once had 44 rivers"!

Now what is the link between this story to the Emerging Kerala Program?

Yes - there is.

Both are creating money, jobs and bringing prosperity (short term?) to Kerala. But AT WHAT COST is the question.

In a state where people are running away from paddy fields and other farm lands, such programs shall bring temporary prosperity, fore sure. People will get few more jobs for the coming FEW YEARS and they will be able to "happily" buy their food and other needs and wants.

But the question is: Is this development sustainable?

Kerala, for that matter the whole world, want projects which are sustainable. Projects which will not affect the already endangered nature, flora and fona. It is not an easy task -I very well know.

What we need is to turn back to our traditions. A tradition where people to live in direct touch with the soil and fields. If the debates on "emerging Kerala" lead to such a direction, we will be doing some justice to our next generation!

Related Blog Posts:

Key words: Oommen Chandy, Kunhalikutty, KM Many, Yusuf Ali, Ravi Pillai, Galfar Mohammed Ali, Asad Moopan, Alungal Mohammed, Ahluwalia.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jeddah: Abdo Khal on a maternal metropolis that’s nurturing—and coveted.

Can anyone claim to live inside a song?

I can make such a claim, because Jeddah is a song whose existence rests on the melodies of the Hejaz, the western coastal region of Saudi Arabia. Everything about Jeddah exudes emotion, as if she were a word of love breathed by a lover. History records that our mother Eve was her first resident. When, over the years, her offspring spread throughout the world, they may have remembered the woman who had caused them to leave Eden and settle in this place north of Mecca. They named it jeddah, meaning grandmother.
I came to Jeddah as a small child from a village on the coast in the far south of the Kingdom. I would cling to my mother’s little finger as she made her way through groups of people clustered around a majestic dome. They came in various sizes, colors, and clothes, and were all intent on reaching the same place. Among them, I caught glimpses of the vendors hawking their sweets and street food. I longed for a piece of fried dough or a bag of candy floss, but my mother’s pace pulled me along. She pulled me whenever my steps slowed.
Once she settled on a spot, everything about her calmed down. She stopped at a large tomb that was five and a half meters in length. Its white marble dome rested on four pillars. My mother would recite the Fatiha, while my imagination struggled with the dimensions of the grave, so I would try to engage her with an innocent question. “Whose grave is it?” She squeezed my hand as a sign to be quiet. Once she had emerged from the reverence of her devotions, she drew close to me, noticing the wonder in my eyes, and said, “It’s the grave of our mother Eve.”
“Who’s this Eve that’s taken up the whole tomb?”
“Eve is the mother of all humanity.”
Since that distant childhood, I have lived in the city and she has lived in me. Every day Jeddah gives birth to a story that is passed on by the inhabitants. They say that Jeddah is the mother both of ease and hardship. Everything about her has two sides, expressing either fortune or misfortune. Jeddah wears a frown when drinking water runs short and turns salty. This saltiness is explained in popular imagination by a legend that says that the prophet (peace be upon him) did not pass through Jeddah when he fled Mecca, and that, if he had, springs and rivers would have burst out.
As a child I lived in one of her neighborhoods that had escaped the city whose wall surrounded it as the wrist encircles the hand. The memory of this wall goes far back in time, bearing the name of Khosrau, son of Fairuz, son of Yazdegerd, son of Anushirvan, the Sassanid emperor. Khosrau knew that the city was a magnet for greedy hearts, and he wanted to protect it from those who passed by. From that time on Jeddah has been the aspiration of all the world’s conquerors who have eyed her in search of a foothold on her soil. We might not have lived through those efforts to occupy her, the cannon bombardments fired by the Portuguese, the French, or the English. We just know that many blue eyes out at sea have taken aim.
Jeddah’s attraction defied the invaders, but she became a desirable place to live. The throngs of people who come from all over to perform the rites of the Hajj pass through on their way and again when leaving. Many of them find the place pleasing and linger awhile, forgetting their countries. Dozens of races, languages, and cultures have combined to form the unique cultural mishmash that every inhabitant of Jeddah, a jeddawi, is so proud of. Every one of these ethnicities has left its mark on Jeddah, whose culture is a mingling of such deep, diverse cultures as Indian, Chinese, Persian, Kurdish, Indonesian, African, Greek, Albanian, and Turkish, plus the presence of those from every Arab land. She houses construction workers, carpenters, doctors, and merchants. In this diversity an amazing richness has grown, forming a common well for the people of Jeddah to drink from. Discrimination on the basis of race, faith, or creed is something totally unknown to them.
Jeddah, as the city of our mother Eve, feels that she encompasses and embraces all her children who pass through. They remain beside her, honoring their mother. Perhaps one dark evening you will hear her singing a plaintive ballad in search of her lost children who have yet to arrive.
Abdo Khal is a Saudi novelist. His book Throwing Sparks will be published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing in November. This essay was translated from the Arabic by Raphael Cohen.