September 18, 2006

Nationality based professions

And I used to foolishly think that the term "مصاروه" as a shortened acronym of " Egyptian foremen/workers" back home was racist & repulsive; welcome to Saudi, where one's nationality decide on one's profession.

Take for instance this signboard just off our office at a petrol station, it reads "Eyad Carwash, trained African labours", Needles to point out that the only benefit from stressing the nationality of the carwash labours is enforcing racist stereotypes, as if Saudi with its explosive mix of expats needs further segregation.

Or in another one, a mechanic workshop make it proudly-clear on its main signboard that their technicians are "trained Filipino mechanics", not only so; hospitals & clinics festively announce "the arrival of the Syrian/Jordanian Dr. Ibsar Meen".

So what exactly does one nationality (yet alone ones race) have to do with the profession he/she do? In my humble perspective, this trickles down to a more serious issue, it’s the flawed yet comfortable practice of generalising and profiling others, "Oh Africans are good in car cleaning, while Filipinos are good in F&B and craftsmanship", "Jordanian doctors are very professional, Lebanese are good in sales & marketing while Egyptians are only good for teaching in elementary" or "Pakistanis make good accountants but don't trust them in warehouse keeping, hire Hindu Indians for that".

These are fictional statements, yet they have strong resonance even at the upper professional circles, so it comes as no surprise that you'll find professoins & nationalities being demographically distributed as outlined above, financial departments are mostly from the Indian subcontinent, Egyptian teachers are dominant, Jordanian & Syrian doctors are more common and carwashes mostly hire Africans (frankly, dark skinned; it seems like a sick statement of elegance unfortunately).

In our organization, there are two colleagues of mine who are managers and they have serious issues with insubordination chiefly due to the fact that they are from nationalities that typically work in "lesser" capacities, McDonald cashier, foremen or tea-boys, not managers!!! And mind you, the insubordination is not coming necessarily from notoriously typical elitist Saudis; No its from Saudis and non-Saudis alike, despicable in all counts…

It sounds like an impossible endeavour to differentiate between common circumstantial situation that has its effect on a certain group and hence their attributes and thier nationality) which is irrelevant to what they are!

For instance, in the telecommunication sector, you'll find Jordanian expertises littering every other Middle Eastern market and in all capacities, from CEO to financial managers, from IT based expertise to the utmost technical gurus, why? Is it because we have some telecom tendencies in our genes that bring the best out of us when we work in this sector? obviously...

No, my take is that Jordan pioneered the introduction of mobile telephony (the major driving force in this industry), implemented a telecommunication regulatory that catalyzed the industry and matured it and privatised the incumbent operator (the backbone of this industry), add to that the more generic credentials of the Jordanian work force related to the huge investment we tend to make in education among other things, not to mention the ad-hoc chain effect of hiring from the same pool of people whom usually share the same nationality.

So the madness must stop as its highly contagious, I have a Jordanian colleage who typically have no issues with others but found himself gradually agitated by the fact that he's dominantly surrounded by Asians in the financial department, I even fill for looking for a "good Filipino carpenter" to put together the complex iKEA piece of furniture I bought the other day.

Especially with our cultural luggage and heritage that's notorious for its shameless self-pride and notions of elitism by means of ancestry achievements! How can we undo the engraved profiling of Egyptians for not merely being "مصاروه" entailing the flawed description above or the Sri-linkian and Filipino women not to be of lesser cast dedicated to serving others.

If south East Asian cultures graciously have humbleness as a dominant attribute to it, this shouldn't be abused or exploited by assuming that the people belonging to this culture are petty! In contrast with our culture that is engulfed with egoistic tendencies stemming from absolute deceitful illusion of superiority for what we used to be in the distant past, mind the self-bashing here, I became addicted on that one (as the few avid readers of my blog may notice).

To sum up, one must be able to differentiate between people's circumstances, cultural attributes and its inherent nationality or race. if many Filipinos work as maids, it may affect their culture and may add new common attributes to them and create a "Filipino maid sub-culture", but this doesn't mean that one can drive conclusions such as : all Filipinos are ready to work as maids, all Filipinos are hard workers or all of them will steal before they leave or all of them like/dislike our food or eat fish!

Related topics:
The Man-made maid delimma

September 13, 2006

Getting techy with it

Blogger platform help. How can I upload AND place a JPEG banner instead of the one in the template? Please help, it'll be rewarding, rewarding I tell you (visually at least)

September 06, 2006

Batelco Jordan CEO joins XPress

Once again, another episode in the Jordanian telecommunication sector, notorious for its plentiful surprises, Marwan Juma an old-school figure in the IT & telecommunication scene in Jordan resigned from Batelco and joined the ranks of XPress as the CEO, taking over from Mr. Suleiman Ma'ani whose been the latter's CEO since its establishment back in late 2002.

The drastic changes in XPress is taking place after a new shareholder beefed up XPress's capital and became the managing shareholder, which usually entails sweeping management changes.

Good luck to both men wherever they settle for they both hold high credentials, bright track record and a credible reputation.

I have worked during Mr. Maani's reign, and beside stating his charismatic personality and thorough leadership felt through the organization, Mr.Maani was loved (or at least respected) by most employees even after he left, i have not encountered a single negative resentment or hard feeling felt by any of his x-employees, even by those who think (from a professional perspective) that they were let down by XPress as a hall.

As for XPress, I hope that along with such changes, there'll be some serious revision of their marketing strategy, for they do offer a genuine addition to the Jordanian telecom sector with their services but they seem to be badly communicated in the market place.

Read more here:

Al-Rai report (Arabic)
Addustour (Arabic)
Al-Ghad (Arabic) with really more info than the official Batelco statement.

September 05, 2006

A glitch in the Matrix? The windowless houses of Riyadh

The photos speaks for themselves, but mind the awkward angles they're taken at, they were shot in a drive-by fashion as I thought to myself that those who put too much effort "covering" up their houses will probably be really pissed-off if they found someone –a foreigner especially- taking photos of the very entity they're "covering" away from voyeuristic intruders!



Let's start with this one, the owner of this house decided to have some windows but with an angle to cut any line of sight! people inside probably suffer from a stiff knick when looking outside the window.



Your average apartment building comes in two window fitting flavours to fit your lifestyle: noisy "window" air-conditioning or a blinded window.



The guy decided to artistically & permanently place a metal sheet in front of the windows adjacent to the main street.



No need for air-flow, single-sided darkened windows.



To be fair, this is how the majority of houses have their windows done, fair enough I assume!



This is from the inside of an apartment building, to come and think about it, methinks the reasoning behind such practice is not to detour nosy neighbours but actually to prevent whose inside from looking outside!



At least this one is different, L-shaped, very very original, remember these are not see-through glass, they're all darkened or "امبزر".



A wall was porpously constructed to hide away the window and block any chances of sight in either direction.



This is another typical in-the-box boxed house.



The little window is for the toilet probably.



Keep the window arches to maintain the architectural visual harmony (if such thing exist) probably; but do with glass! I swear I didn't touch any of the photos with Photoshop, this is sheer reality.



Another creative use of metal sheets in shading one's windows.



One must be fair, this villa have a huge lobby area to the right side covered out with glass, but the rest of the house (especially the sleeping & living quarters) is hidden away as it seems.



Another typical setup, notice the metal shading to the left, this is very common in between most adjacent houses.



Had a change of heart? This one inspired the "glitch in the Matrix" title, from the trap scene when the Machines changed the attributes of a building in order for it not to have any exists (doors, windows ..etc) causing a "glitch" Dejavu.

So… a visual account of a strange phenomenon here in Riyadh, I used to find the huge concrete fences around house to be repelling, but these are nothing compared to being stuck in one of them houses for days & days without a hint of sun shine or allowing a breathe fresh air to replace the AC-intoxicated & rotten air in the house (if you don't mind the desert dust).