Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saudi Arabia: General Misconception

Click to enlarge.

They were speaking in Arabic, but I did a transliteration since I can't write Arabic. This is what happened:

A Saudi man saw an African lady in front of a newspaper rack. She had a newspaper in her hand, which she was scanning. He was polite. He greeted her and asked her if she was a shagala (maid). She was angry, but she didn't show it. She thought of asking him whether every black woman on the street was a shagala, but then she knew it was pointless to say anything. This was not the first time that someone asked her that question. Usually when anyone asked her her nationality and she responded, the next question that followed was, "Inti shagala?" or "Are you a maid?"

She turned around and looked at him. He looked like he didn't mean any harm. After all, it is a generally belief that nearly all black women here are maids. She looked away and said, "No, I am a doctor." He was so embarrassed that his face turned red. He rapidly apologised, then went into the store nearby at the speed of light.

Why? It is life. Not that being a maid is an insult, but it is a pity that people do not know how to ask questions. It is only in Saudi Arabia that I witnessed people asking questions like, "Are you a maid?" instead of "What is your profession?" Sometimes it is, "Are you a muslim?" instead of "What is your religion?" or "Is Egypt in Asia?" instead of "Where is Egypt?"

If you are new to scenarios like this, then welcome to the club. 


  1. Once my sis in law was standing in line at a restaurant. She is dark-skinned and her daughter, who was an infant at the time, is very light-skinned. Another Saudi woman complimented her baby and asked who she belonged to. When my sis in law told the woman it was her baby, she was shocked! She thought my sis in law was the baby's maid.

  2. Oh my! I can imagine the Saudi lady's embarrassment. I hope she never makes the same assumption next time.


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