At Eskan Village the Saudi government set up a cultural center. Every so often they would provide a traditional Saudi dinner, give lectures on Saudi society, and even give people camel rides. One of the lectures I attended was given by a colonel in the Saudi military, someone well-connected to the Saudi royal family. The colonel gave an interesting slide show of life at his farm.
The lecture was a revealing look into the Saudi mind. As he showed us slide after slide of his farm, with the date orchards, the waterworks, the processing plants, etc., it became clear that he did nothing on the farm except collect the money. Foreign workers kept the water works functioning. Foreign workers hauled the water to the date palms. Foreign workers climbed the palms and collected the dates. Foreign workers processed the dates. What did the Saudi colonel do? He took his family on picnics.
The colonel showed us slide after slide of foreign workers slaving away in the desert sun, and slide after slide of all the places he took his family on picnics. Evidently the life for the Saudi colonel consisted of going home, taking his family on picnics to various cool and shady locations, and collecting the profits. And here's the thing---he thought this was normal. In our country we have a great divide between corporate officers and the workers, but no one of any sense believes the corporate officers don't work hard. On the other hand, no one of any sense thinks the Saudi people work at all.
Manual labor is dishonorable. The Saudi people shun manual labor. Until this century, all manual labor was performed by slaves. Today it is performed by foreign contract workers, also known as indentured servants, who are contractually obligated to serve for a period of years. They foreign worker is hired at a given rate of pay, but once they arrive in Saudi Arabia some are forced to sign a new contract at a lower rate of pay or else risk being sent home and owing the cost of the travel plus the fee they owe the agent. Sometimes their papers are taken so they can't leave. They are virtually slaves.
The Saudi government has been trying, without much success, to move the Saudi people into jobs currently performed by foreign workers. With the exception of banking, this has been unsuccessful. The Saudi people are so arrogant that they refuse to take entry level positions. They believe themselves to be entitled to managerial positions, and will accept nothing less. So they live off their government stipends, plus the monies they are able to extract from their foreign workers.
Last edited on December 31, 2005