by M.S.Shah Jahan
“The Saudi sponsor, who is over 60, suffers from heart conditions. The sponsor’s doctors have advised him to do only 25 percent of his normal work because of his weak heart.
How can a person in such poor health be able to do a strenuous activity like hammering nails into a woman’s body”?. This was the outburst of Saad Al-Baddah, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee (SANARCOM), which is responsible for the recruitment and management of foreign workers in the Kingdom.
He further said “the maid did not go to the doctors straight from the airport, only after a few days. A woman with so many nails inside her could not survive for weeks. These allegations against the Saudi employer are baseless and the whole episode looks like one big drama.”
Al-Baddah described the torture allegations as a figment of the maid’s imagination, adding that Saudi authorities are wondering how the nails and needles were embedded into her body. He said, 49-year-old L.T. Ariyawathi has signed a letter acknowledging her last salary and said that she did not experience any problems with her sponsor before she left Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Embassy in Colombo also issued a statement casting doubt on Ariyawathi’s claims. “The important factor is that this housemaid cannot pass security checks and sophisticated machines at Riyadh and Colombo International Airports with these metal things inside her body,” an embassy spokesman said. He added that the Saudi ambassador was giving his personal attention to the matter and constantly being updated by officials from Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry.
Now it is obvious that, as usual, the Saudi authorities are trying to wash their hand redirecting the matter by accusing the victim as offender. This has been the system in the country of ‘Kahba’ – towards which Muslims all over the world pray five times a day and the place of birth of Prophet Muhammad who compassionately treated his servants with kind and honour.
Prophet Muhammad’s slaves were well respected. Under him there was no two system in one country. A rule applied to all whether he is Arab or non Arab, a slave or his master. He said all were equal before the Almighty Allah. He made the African black slave Bilal as the first person to recite “Adhan” a call for prayers in Madina. This is an historical event in Islam.
A reader’s comment, given below, in the Gulf News of Dubai gives the true position of Saudi Arabia. “In Saudi Arabia expat is always at fault. If there is a car accident, the expat is arrested, if an expat tries to take his money out, then at airport he is arrested for being a thief. There is one law for Saudis, one for Americans and one for browns and blacks. Poor people get caught by sweet talk of agents and their life become hell. Knowing what I know, nothing will happen to the person who did that”.
When the female servants are concerned sex exploitation is also rampant. In some cases “Madam” herself encourages her husband to do so with the notion that these “slave women” can be put into any act. A sad fact to note here is, even in the point of departure some women become prey to the sex wolfs under the guise of recruiting agents or VIPs. This too must be stopped.
In addition to the cruel treatment to the foreigners, in many cases Arabs do not pay the agreed wages to the workers. A woman from Ampara district was virtually jailed in the house she worked for 16 years and finally returned with empty hand to the land of her where she did not have even a hut to sleep.
Al-Baddah’s version of ‘Aariyawathi signed a letter acknowledging her last salary and said that she did not experience any problems with her sponsor before she left Saudi Arabia’ is unbelievable and unauthenticated. First of all in what language the letter was written? It could definitely have been in the Swabhasha of Arabic. Was the content of the letter conveyed to her? Was there an Arabic/Singhala translator?
There is room for such questions to arise but never an answer will be forth coming. Because they are rich, we are poor. They are masters, we are slaves. For good or bad, in the Middle East, Sri Lanka has a nickname – “a country of house maids”.
Saudi Arabia or other Gulf countries before a century was not as wealthy as they are today. In latter part of 1940, to meet a famine in Saudi Arabia, Saudis visited Indian subcontinent to collect money. In Sri Lanka late Doctor Khaleel was the Chairman of such fund raising committee.
Today their entire wealth is derived from oil. Oil was first discovered in Persia [Iran] in 1908 and it became a much needed commodity in the World War I [1914-1918] for tanks, ships and planes. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia spotted their oil in 1938. In World War II [1935-1945] oil played a crucial part in the conflict and decided the victory to the allies. Cutting off the oil supply to Japan considerably weakened Japan’s position in the war.
In1971 Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Iraq negotiated price increase from $2.55 to $3.45 per barrel. Arab oil embargo on oil exports to the US for siding with Israel in the Yom Kippur War found another oil prices rise from $2.90 to $11.65 in 1973. In 1979-1981 again the price was put up from $13.00 to $34.00. Since then it is like an ascending moon that never descends.
In world economy, such phenomenon rise of oil price made many poor countries poorer. Had the oil price stayed below $10 per barrel, the world history would have been much different. A century ago “the country of house maids” was in a much better economic shape than the country of Bedouins who run today in Mercedes Benz and Rolls Royce, and fly in private jets. The luxurious life style the Arabs enjoy today is unimaginable.
An article by Simon Mills in the Daily Mail on the 9th August brings out many interesting information about the ostentatious Arab tourists’ lavishness in London ;
The cars circling Harrods need to be seen to be believed. Million-pound Bugatti Veyrons - normally a rare sighting are around here, about as common as Ford Fiestas. In the cafes surrounding the department store, every single table is taken by people from the Gulf States and the Middle East — Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Dubai.
A young Arabic man leaving his vehicle outside the Berkley Hotel in Central London
Around the corner from Harrods, I saw one Veyron with every inch of its bodywork coated in gold; another, chromed all over. Behind it, I watched a Veyron in pearlised white with shiny chromium wings making a noise like a scalded Rottweiler. The Saudi number plate on this car was ‘999’. The driver was around 25. I complimented him on his car and asked how he got it over to London. ‘In my plane,’ he said, grinning.
The number plate on a Rolls-Royce Phantom customised with a stainless steel bonnet is simply ‘1’. I discovered that a couple of years ago its Dubai-based owner paid £9 million for the registration number alone.
A long Maybach limousine, painted in distinct orange and matt black, had the letters ‘RRR’ are picked out on the vehicle’s boot in a diamond-studded font. The owner is Crown Prince Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the incredibly glamorous and fun-loving son of the multi-billionaire HRH Sheikh Rashid Bin Humid Al Nuaimi of Ajman.
There were a£1.2 million Koenigsegg CCXR (one of only six ever made) and a £350,000 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce illegally parked outside Harrods.
During August, whole floors of hotels around Hyde Park are block-booked for Middle Eastern oligarchs, while staff up their game by flying in topnotch Arabic entertainers for private shows in the biggest suites, adapting restaurant menus and parking the guests’ flashest cars out in front.
One wanted a personal shopping experience requesting that two designer stores be closed for their private viewing.
‘During August, we will often be asked to take a selection of our most expensive diamond necklaces, rings and bracelets to a suite at a hotel in Knightsbridge,’ says jeweller Stephen Webster, whose shop is on Mount Street, in nearby Mayfair. ‘Arab customers like to shop late, but our store isn’t permitted to have late-night opening . . . so we are happy to take the store to them.’
Another famous London jeweller, who would not be named, said: ‘They like big pieces and coloured stones. The sums they are prepared to pay for them are incredible. It is not unusual for Middle Eastern customers to spend £20 million in a single visit.’
This extravagant life style is quite contrast to the simple living of Prophet Muhammad. Is it oil that makes the Arabs spendthrift and rude to the small? Oh, Allah it is said the tear of the poor like Aariyawathi’s is sharper than any double edged sword.