Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saudi Arabia: Only for My People!

I have the habit of visiting free classified ad websites in Saudi Arabia, and to be honest, I am shocked by the degree of discrimination shown by some people on these websites. Not by the website owners themselves. Oh no! By the people who post the ads.

Normally, one would expect an employer to post a job offer and request for particular nationals because they can only obtain or have work visas for workers from this country. But what has nationality got to do with buying a car, renting a house, buying a piece of furniture or jewellery?

This is my story:

It was 1 a.m, but I couldn't sleep. Everyone else was asleep. I was so bored and nothing on TV was captivating. I turned on the PC and decided to browse. I saw a nice looking kitchen cabinet and decided I would contact the seller the next day to ask about the price. Then, I saw a nice jewellery set, and I also wrote down the number. The next day, I called the seller of the Kitchen cabinet. Ring, ring, ring...
"Allo." A deep male voice said.
"Good morning," I said.
"Min?" He asked.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I am calling regarding the ad you placed yesterday. I wish to purchase your cabinet," I responded.
"Inti Pakistani?" came the deep voice.
"La. Tatkalam engilizee yaa ustaaz?" I was getting impatient now because he asked me whether I was Pakistani.
"Maleesh. Ena abgha Pakistani baas." Then the line went dead. The guy had dropped the call after telling me he wanted only a Pakistani buyer. "Mean you!" I screamed, but stopped when I realised I was in my office.

Now lets try the second vendor. Maybe this one might be nice, and by the way, who wouldn't want to sell off her 18 karat gold-plated jewellery set as soon as possible? Ring, ring...
"Allo," said a nice gentle voice on the other end of the receiver.
"Allo. Good morning Ma'am. I am calling because I saw your ad yesterday. I would like to buy your jewellery set please,"  I said.
"Oh, that's good. I live at Aziziyah District. Are you far from here?" she asked.
"No, my home is about 10 minutes drive from Aziziyah," I replied, quite confident that I was getting somewhere.
Then came the chilling moment when she said, "Are you from Kerala?"
"No, I am not. I just wish to buy your jewellery set," I responded.
"You are not from Kerala?" she said.
"No," I repeated.
"मैं केरल से ही बेचते हैं," she said. I didn't understand a word of whatever she said.
"What? Could you say that in English please?" I calmly said, trying not to sound irritated.
"I'm sorry Ma'am, I don't speak English. Sorry. Bye" That was it. She had dropped the call. "Bad you!" I screamed. What was that? I was angry. Yeah, I was really mad. I had never ever heard of anyone wanting to sell only to a particular group of people--not even in my own country where we have over 200 tribes.

I have come across typical ads that said something like, "Two-bedroom house for immediate rent. Reason: We are going out on final exit. Please only people from Hyderabad should contact."

Kidding me? Why not just transport the apartment from Saudi Arabia to their country or village where only people of their tribe would live in it? Is it just me, or do you think that there is really something wrong with expats in this country? Does this happen in Western countries as well?

NB: I am just relating what happened to me and expressing my views in this post. My aim is not to target a particular group of people, and I believe that we all learn to tolerate each other in this multicultural world.


  1. i don know your nationality an Indian and when i first came to KSA....i was searching for accommodation....and i found many of my fellow Indians try sell their used furniture along some possible affinity....that is from which place am from India........are you muslim....are from Pakistan....are u from Kerala....... which company you work......what is your position......I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT ALL THAT INFORMATION HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH LEASING A PROPERTY OR BUY SOMETHING FROM SOMEBODY....I GOT USE TO IT.........I FIND SAUDI NATIONALS ARE MORE POLITE AND DECENT IN THESE ISSUES........I HAVE SEEN SAUDI NATIONALS OFFERING THE USED FURNITURE AND APPLIANCES FREE TO EXPATS ! WHERE WE EXPATS SELL USED IN HOPELESS CONDITION TO FELLOW EXPATS FOR UNREASONABLE PRICE..........APPALLING ATTITUDE

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mr. Ananth. I also do not understand why people behave this way. I could understand someone who gives something (for free) to a fellow countryman, but wanting to sell only to a particular group of people...??? As you said, Saudis are truly generous when it comes to giving away property even though they are usually willing to give only to fellow Muslims (of any race or colour).
    This is the world we live in today, and there are even more deplorable things that happen worldwide.

  3. très étrange. on appellerait ça du racisme là d'où je viens et on pourrait porter plainte ou avertir une ou deux associations pour faire un peu de bruit autour de ça.
    perso je donne tout ce que je n'utilise plus gratuitement. il y a tellement de pauvres gens qui en ont déteste accumuler des choses qui ne me servent à rien ( jouets, livres pour enfants, meubles, vêtements....) et ça fait des heureux. peu m'importe qui en hérite. l'essentiel c'est que ce soit des gens qui ont des petits moyens. et mon assistante en travaux domestiques ( elle déteste être appelé homme de ménage, elle a raison)connait pas mal de personnes qui ont besoin d’être aidés. je me doute bien qu'elle privilégie les gens de sa communauté, mais bon c'est un peu normal.
    par contre j'ai remarqué qu'on vendait beaucoup de choses d'occasion qui en principe devraient être jetés vu leur état. et on en demande des prix qu'ils ne méritent pas.

  4. C'est fou ce que les gens veulent vendre pour quelques riyals. Je voudrai bien croire que c'est a cause de leur situation financiere qu'ils vendent de choses qui devraient etre jetees.

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