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Published On:30 April 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

An apology from the rest of us

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

I was going through comments from expatriates when I came upon a story that turned my stomach upside down. In the comments, an expatriate executive working for one of the leading banks in Jeddah described an incident that happened to him and his wife at the hands of a Saudi couple while they were out shopping for groceries at a supermarket in Jeddah.

In his own words to the supermarket management (edited): “We regularly visit this supermarket for grocery shopping and on this particular date we had completed the grocery shopping and my wife, with the kids, went to a checkout counter while I was getting the vegetables tagged. After that I joined my wife who was already in the queue and was putting her stuff on the counter for checkout.

“Behind her was a Saudi lady who pushed her cart forward preventing me from putting the tagged vegetables in my hand on the counter. My wife politely told her ‘I am in a queue and he’s my husband and this is our stuff,’ to which the Saudi lady replied, ‘shut up and leave, this is our country’. My wife replied, ‘Sorry, we are not leaving, we are already in the queue.’

“There was a heated verbal exchange between my wife and her after which the Saudi lady grabbed my wife’s wrist and told her: ‘Hit me, you will hit me?’ to which my wife, slightly taken aback by this reaction, replied, ‘Sorry, why should I hit you?’

“Meanwhile, the Saudi woman’s husband who was standing behind her also jumped into the argument. I told him that if ‘the women are arguing, why are you jumping into it? Instead we should try to solve the problem and get going.’ He then started quarreling with me unnecessarily. During the loud exchange of heated words, no one from the superrmarket management or security came to resolve the issue.

“We were finally able to complete our checkout and I was about to complete the transaction by taking out my card to pay the bill, but again that lady for no reason at all started shouting, ‘quickly, quickly’ in Arabic. I asked her to be patient as we are doing it as quickly as we could, but again the husband jumped into the situation and started quarreling with me.

“My wife grabbed my hand to say let’s just go, and at that moment the Saudi man pushed my wife which really was too much to bear. I was angry with him and shouted at him, ‘How dare you touch my wife!’ At that moment two or three other men, apparently all Saudis, grabbed and restrained me while the Saudi husband was still shouting at my wife. My wife told the man, ‘How dare you push me?’ and he shoved her again and this time so hard that my younger son fell to the floor and my wife’s foot was injured and sprained badly.

“During the whole scenario nobody from the supermarket came to our rescue and I was loudly pleading for security or the police as that guy was now getting openly physical. My wife was all tears. Finally someone from the store called security who took us to their offices. I demanded that either the police are called to see the CCTV footage of the incident or this man apologize to us. After some time, the security let the man and his wife go while his wife continued yelling at us that this was her country. I asked the security officer if he had taken the man’s ID details to which he shrugged and replied ‘why?’

“We then went back to the supermarket to speak to the management and asked why they did not interfere as the whole episode happened on their premises. To this the manager explained that they had the whole footage of the incident and if we requested the police or their higher management then they could provide us the recording. However, he implied that it would be futile as everyone will favor Saudi’s version rather than give a fair hearing. I was devastated.
“I feel that the management owes us an apology for the unnecessary humiliation. We are bringing this to your notice as now we are somewhat traumatized to go to any supermarket as there is no guarantee that such an incident would not happen against the expat community. Signed — A.K.A.”

A similar incident befell an American lady married to a Saudi last year in Riyadh, and at the hands of Saudis.

The comments by the expatriate said that “all the negative press over the past few months in the local news has escalated this problem and Saudis feel more hostile to the expatriates. The expatriates have become Saudi Arabia’s scapegoats! Maybe this hatred is also an indication of underlying issues and a way of people expressing their frustrations.”

Perhaps it is so, but that in itself is no excuse for such despicable behavior. The expatriates are our guests and should be treated with utmost hospitality. There was no justification for such unprovoked behavior on the part of the Saudi couple, or on the other Saudi males who just stood by watching.

And if the supermarket management fails to apologize to this expatriate and to his wife for the trauma they went through, then let me be the first among many Saudis to offer my personal apologies. Such rude behavior is certainly not within most of us.

[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com and followed on Twitter @Talmaeena.]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 30, 2013. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 30, 2013. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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