Saudi Arabia, For This Month

I would like to round up experiences of OFW bloggers in the Middle East and Africa who voted in the Overseas Absentee Voting last month but it seems that only a few made it. It doesn't mean though that we're really only a small number of OFWs and expats who went to the 'voting precincts' abroad. As a matter of fact, there were lots.

This update from the Middle East andAfrica will turn to an update from Saudi Arabia for this month because there are some pressing issues I'd like to bring up as an OFW in Saudi Arabia. Please don't think that I am disregarding the other Middles Eastern and African countries this month. It's just that it's pretty interesting here in the Kingdom these days that I can't help but share with you some oddities that are in the news lately.

An MTV True Life episode aired last week. It was titled "Resist the Power, Saudi Arabia." It features four Saudi youths who are making a difference. The lone girl in the documentary is making and selling colored abayas, and as seen in her video, she's not your ordinary Saudi woman who got married when she was in her teen. The first guy, Aziz, was looking for love through the Internet and he goes extra (uncareful) measures just to meet his chatmate. The third one is a Saudi who's adamant that women take part in the Jeddah city council meetings. He was successful at first but his fellow men continued barring the women from attending the meetings further. The fourth is a group of Saudi heavy metal musicians. After the show was aired, most of the Saudi people were outraged. Some youths were proud of the four but most were raging on the "shallowness" of the issues presented. It made me think how we Filipino youths (feeling bata pa daw ako, hehe) are very lucky to have the freedom that we have now. I wish we value it now more than ever.

Saudi Arabia expats have also been abuzzed lately on the news that expats are being targeted by Saudi youths. A stone-throwing attack on a set of Westerners were staged in Kingdom Mall just this week (though this wasn't covered by any newspaper here). Some believe that this is due to the ongoing outcry of unemployment among Saudis in their own country. Just because jobs here are mostly taken up by expats (and OFWs take a huge part of the employment pie).and their Saudization process has been ineffective and impractical. It makes you wonder if Saudi Arabia can really make it on their own, without the millions of expats in their realm. It makes me wonder if the world will make it without Filipinos. Maybe it can, but who knows?

And in another weird move by Saudi Arabia, the country is actually mandating a thorough 'screening' of OFWs to prevent "gays" from entering the Kingdom (still looking for a link from the TV Patrol news). Seriously, what are the grounds for this new rule? It's giving me a headache just thinking how discriminatory that is. Sigh.

It's a good thing my fellow OFW bloggers living and working in Saudi Arabia are still blogging positively about their lives. I'm proud of each of them. Despite this country's strict rules, we're still all optimistic and living and loving nang bonggang bongga!

I promise to go back to regular Middle East/Africa updates on the next issue of TKJ. Or maybe, I'll go and highlight other countries and concentrate on them too. I'm sure every country has its own quirks. Of course, I need the help of our bloggers in Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE for this. Email me please!

But because it's back to school in TKJ this month, here's an entry from Kiko on education.

PS. Happy birthday to Keith!

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