Wednesday, 21 February 2018

9 Types of expats you'll find in KSA

I've been having a rough few weeks and work has been kicking my butt. So I decided to do the one thing that always allows me to purge - write. These are the thoughts that have accumulated in my mind ever since I moved here. Disclaimer: I apologise in advance if this offends anyone. Hashtag sorry not sorry.

In general, and without a doubt, there are many types of people that come here from all over the world. Far from the Hajj and Umrah fairytales and the odd story you'll hear from a relative or on an online newspaper, living in the KSA is unlike anything you will ever experience if you come from a "Western" country. To some, it is so much more than they could have ever imagined, and to others, it's just an underwhelming nightmare. Safe to say, very few people have come here and got what they expected. Typically though, most expats fit into one of the categories below:


The Experience Seeker
What they want: 
Quite common, the Experience Seeker is your average Jane or Joe that came from country X (usually some first world dig) looking for something new and interesting. And at first, everything is new and interesting. So much so, it's difficult to tell if they're genuinely in awe by what they see and experience - or is it all an act and there's a hidden cam somewhere while they're patronizing the shit out of everyone. So they walk around, smiling and talking to the stray cats, saying "hello" really slowly and loudly to the ladies at the souks, because it never occurs to them that these people are not deaf, they just don't speak English. They're super enthusiastic about everything. There's a Sandstorm? Oh wacka-doodle-doo! Grab on to your hats and hijabs!
What they get: 
They usually get the odd spiffy female walking past them, saying in Arabic "look at this stupid American, she wouldn't even know what I'm saying if she even tried" ~ true story. If they are true to their course, they usually do achieve that oriental experience, however by being slightly (and to their credit, unknowingly) condescending and supercilious. And if they were careful enough, they'll have even saved a few pennies. Well gosh darnit, ain't that swell.


The Martyr
What they want:
To die of course, on holy land. Because to them, the idea of living here and dying here somehow equates to a get out of Jahannam free card, and automatically entitles them to a space in Heaven. Sometimes they may believe that being here will make them better Muslims and bring them closer to God and His Messenger.
What they get:
Endless beauracracy and a Khafeel that overcharges them on their sponsorships, making life very difficult and expensive. Sometimes, the ideal meets their expectations and they are happy here. For others, it is not at all what they expected and the dream soon turns into a nightmare. They discover that the Arab youth are no different to the youth all over the world and they are no more religious than they were in the country they left behind.


The Traveller
What they want: 
Freebies and money. Lots of it. So that they can... well... err... Travel, obvs. So they're just here to get whatever jobs they can get their hands on while they live offsite eating those 2 Riyal egg sandwiches from the Indian hole-in-the-wall - just so that they can save that extra 700 Riyals every month and put it towards their next trip to Tajikistan or the Andes.
What they get: 
The odd interim holiday to Georgia and the cheap flights to Sri Lanka. Sometimes they get lucky and get promoted, and then for 6 months they're wondering if they should stay another year - until the summer comes and they all happily eff off to the next live-in destination.

The Sycophant
What they want: 
Power. And they don't care who they have to tramp on, or what they have to do to not only to get it, but to keep it. There's something about the desperation of a sycophant that makes them utterly insufferable and unbearable. They are keen social climbers and can often be found baking brownies up management's ass. I find that this category is almost always reserved for three types of individuals:
1. The middle-class from of the Indo-Pak region who have to prove to everyone back home that they've made it,
2. Levant Arabs who can't return to their homeland, some of whom are fleeing war and therefore need to get enough money to buy residency elsewhere... so their lives literally depend on the job hence the savageness that ensues (disclaimer: I have tons of Arab friends, none of them are like this, but I've met tons more that are like this),
3. The older generations among native English countries that are close to retirement so they generally can't find employment in their home countries and are desperate to ride the wave for as long as possible.
What they get: 
Fired or deported, usually both. Eventually. The lucky ones end up at a rival company. Until they're fired or deported from there too. And such is the cycle of their lives.


The Free Agent
What they want: 
They don't know. They have nothing better to do with their lives - so hey, why not move to the desert and live in partial obscurity where they can work, travel, study, party, travel some more, do everything at once, or do nothing at all. Why not book into the Sheraton just so that they can order random items like diapers and socks off the list of available goods and services, before they ransack the cocktail lounge and go mall hopping or to the best sheesha bar in the peninsula.
What they get: 
Fun times and great memories that will unlikely pay the rent but nevertheless keep them warm in those two weeks of winter.


The Convert
What they want: 
They want some meaning in their lives. A true spiritual experience. They often come here from whatever society has rejected them, looking for an identity.
What they get: 
This almost always ends up two ways...
1.) They fully embrace and immerse themselves in the society - however, some take it to extremes (meaning, even the Arabs think they're nuts). Want to sit on a couch? Why? Haraam. Must sit on the floor like the Prophet (pbuh) did. Deodarant? Come on, don't disrespect the sweat glands that the Good Lord gave you. 
2.) KSA is nothing like they imagined it would be and they are utterly disappointed and bereft and feel like God has betrayed them yet again and maybe Islam is not for them, and these people are savages and they don't ever want to put their foot here again ~ true story.


The Camper
What they want
They come to visit a spouse / friend / sister / daughter / son for a month or two and usually end up on some compound where they only meet British, American and European Expats and eat Laban for breakfast thinking they've unlocked some major cultural achievement.
What they get: 
Endless shopping in one of the Kingdoms 4000 malls, compound life and if they're Muslim, a trip to Makkah or Madinah. And let's not forget, the Laban experience.


The Saver
What they want: 
A house or yacht or some other big purchase that requires hefty installments and binds them to some or other major commitment. They are the ones usually clogging the internet because they basically live online, downloading movies and sleeping on Skype with their kids/ friends/ pets that they never get to see because they rarely go anywhere that they don't absolutely have to go to.
What they get: 
The tedious monotony and mundanity of a routine that never changes because, why not? It costs SAR7 to go to Nesto with Careem or Uber, but they need to save every penny before those debit orders go off.


The Psycho
What they want: 
This is yet to be determined. Honestly. And I don't mean psycho as a matter of opinion. I mean P-S-Y-C-H-O. Certifiable. Utterly, and uncompromisingly BONKERS. Like, having really loud conversations with the Devil at 3am until the entire building wakes up, kind of crazy. Like, seducing the Landlord to get him to raise the rent on public enemy number one, kind of crazy. Like, watching cartoons every single day for the entire duration of the day and forcing colleagues and peers to watch them too, kind of crazy. Like, taking off all their clothes in the middle of a restaurant and screaming profanities, kind of crazy. They are not only Psychopaths and Sociopaths in that entertaining and amusing kind of way, but they can become very dangerous if not dealt with swiftly and promptly. The problem is that most people are too terrified to do anything to them. Their only saving grace is that there is almost always a story or account of something they did that would make you howl hysterically with laughter for years to come.
What they get: 
Alienation and sometimes Jail time. And like the Sycophants, they tend to be recycled and end up at rival companies or organisations creating all kinds of havoc there too.

If you're wondering which one am I? Well I have to say that maybe, just maybe, I'm a little bit of everything :)

3 comments:

  1. Nice insights. I had thought you'd be the Free Agent.

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    Replies
    1. @dreamlife - I am, mostly :) I forgot two add "The Professional" to this list.

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  2. Love this post. Does it make me sound biased and arrogant if I tell you this post sounds like, well ahem, me me? Hahaa! "Don't disrespect the sweat glands that the Good Lord gave you", sure, but cut off part of my dick because that would improve its design. I know the type. I know the ones baking those brownies, too.

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