Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Discrimination at KAUST

Personal Freedoms

I value my personal freedoms, and as a privileged member of the KAUST community I do have lots of freedoms. I am free to go to the restaurants, the market, the library, or the gym any time I want to during business hours. I am also free to come and go from the KAUST compound any time I like. Really, I am free to do almost whatever I please (within reason), except to spend time with the Filipino and Bangladeshi guys who work service jobs at KAUST. This irks me. I don't care about adding one more privilege to the mountain I already have, but I do care for these men and women who have no privileges at all.

The Story of the Rich Man and the Poor Man

There is an old story about injustice - perhaps you know it - about a rich man who owned many sheep and cattle and a poor man who had nothing except for one little female lamb. The poor man raised her, and she grew up with him and his sons. She shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms.

One day a traveler came to the rich man's house, but instead of taking one of his own animals, the rich man took the lamb which belonged to the poor man and slaughtered her for his guest.

The Little Lamb

At KAUST, there used to be a weekly basketball game between students and recreation staff. The recreation staff members enjoyed this game so much that they rearranged their work schedules to participate... it was the one night a week they could have fun and get some much needed exercise after standing or sitting at their job all day.

Four weeks ago, a terrible thing happened. The students left campus for spring vacation, but many of the employees came for basketball anyway. On that unfortunate day, KAUST-Aramco manager who oversees Saudi Oger recreation was watching. He was furious. The employees had violated one of recreation's unwritten rules: no workers are ever allowed to use the community's sports or service facilities. When it was discovered that most of them were Filipino employees, there was talk of firing them all and deporting them back to their home country, but there was also one Lebanese employee amongst the transgressors, and management couldn't fire and deport an Arab.

The Filipinos and company were given a final warning and suspended without pay for 3-5 days. Now there are no more games between students and staff, no more exercise for the employees, nothing to break up the daily monotony of their lives between working at KAUST and busing to the work camp. Now their little lamb is gone.

The Meeting

I arranged a meeting with the manager thinking that it was just a misunderstanding, but the injustice and prejudice against foreign workers runs deep here. The manager told me that my Filipino friends are dangerous people and that if they are given half a chance they will lie, cheat, steal, and otherwise endanger the entire community. They are not allowed to use the facilities, not just because of crowding during peak hours, he said, but because they are not welcome at KAUST when they are not working. They have no rights to relationships or recreation inside the KAUST community, he said, because these might be an inconvenience to me. That is just the way Saudi Oger employees are controlled.

"What do they do after work then?" I asked.

"I don't know, it is not my concern," was his response

Apartheid at KAUST

At KAUST, there are more than 4,000 permanent contracted employees to serve only 1,000 residents. Most of these men and women are from Bangladesh and from the Philippines. They are bussed in every morning of every day from their work camps in Thuwal or Jeddah to wipe our windows, polish our floors, sweep our houses, wipe our toilet seats, and sit behind desks handing out tennis rackets and bowling shoes. Each employee works 10-12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, and is "not well paid," according the the manager.

There are four Filipino and Bangladeshi workers for every one KAUST student, professor, and staff member. Whenever one of the contracted workers greets me with a smile and a wave, he makes me both happy and sad. Happy because those gestures are genuine, but sad because as long as Saudi Oger's rules remain unchanged, this is the only interaction we will ever have. They are nameless persons without freedoms brought here for our convenience. Having contracted workers in this way is kind of like owning slaves, Arab News says, and it makes me sick to my stomach. It is difficult for me to live in a community which systematically separates and excludes so many people who work here.

Business Incentives

Why does KAUST need 4,000 services staff for 1,000 KAUST students, professors, and employees? We don't, but perverse business incentives have made the system what it is today.

Filipinos and Bangladeshis will work for almost nothing because the economic situation in their home countries is so difficult. Contractors like Saudi Oger negotiate contracts with clients like KAUST based on the number of employed workers and total work hours. If a company makes more money for providing more workers who are "not well paid," then the business incentive for Saudi Oger is to bring as many workers as possible. Unfortunately, having so many underpaid, overworked, and under-respected employees means that there has to be some extra rules to control the crowds.

The Problems

To keep control, passports are confiscated, walled compounds with crowded bunkhouses are constructed for sleeping and eating, and contracted employees are only allowed to be at work or to be at the compound. No fun, no other human interaction.

Though this apartheid may be acceptable in other parts of the KSA, it makes many of the foreign visitors at KAUST feel uneasy. We need a better model.

A Suggestion

Quality over quantity might be a better philosophy of hiring. What if we had 800 or fewer contracted workers instead of 4,000? Fewer employees means easier care and control, and maybe the salaries and standard of living could be raised a little bit too. Instead of busing thousands of workers in and out of the KAUST compound every day, perhaps a few hundred economy apartments could be provided for these skilled employees. With a better standard of living, better salary, better treatment than the average worker in Saudi Arabia, and membership in the KAUST community, there would be far less incentive for the imagined lying, cheating, and stealing which the manager is trying to prevent.

With fewer workers, maybe a few cash registers at the supermarket would remain unmanned, maybe a maid might not be available to clean my house within ten minutes of calling housekeeping, and maybe some of the windows on campus would remain smudged longer before being wiped, but increased trust and respect between people might be worth a few dirty windows. The janitor and I could shop in the same supermarket, use the same public bathrooms, send our children to the same school, and maybe even play a little basketball together. Does that sound too radical?

39 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you Nathan,this is wrong.I think we should put this issue forward to the community through the KAUST community site.I am sure not allowing them to play is against basic human ethics.

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  2. Dear Nathan,

    Welcome to the real world of Saudi Arabia and thus KAUST. You just broke the magic of the golden cage where you were living all that time. To put things in perspective, the friendly Filipino/Bangladesh/.. guy cleaning the toilet for you gets 850 SR per month (about $ 200). The construction worker that has build KAUST for you did get 300 SR ($80). And more than 100 of them died in accidents during the KAUST construction. Did you ever go outside the gate to Thuwal, the nearest village? Compare the shops and conditions there with what you see inside the cage.

    By merely accepting the invitation to become a student/faculty member/staff member of KAUST you decided to be part of this world full of injustice. Do not be hypocritical and try to negotiate better conditions for these poor guys: that would be as wrong as a plantage owner's son who would plead for better conditions for the slaves. Many of the faculty are there in the desert because KAUST salaries are a very welcome and sometimes needed supplement of the pension. Not so much difference except the numbers between those people and the Filipino servant who has to take this job in order to support his family back home. Many of these people -talk with them, show interest in them, do not only say hello- are very homesick but have no alternative but to work until the end of their three year contract. Remember, 90 % of the world's population has to live on less than $2 per day.

    You cannot change KAUST, you cannot change Saudi Arabia even with all residents united so if you are really honest you should vote with your feet and go study in a place that has equal rights for all involved. Get out of KAUST.

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  3. All this seems miserable.may the administration come to realize their self esteem and normal human needs.

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  4. Nathan - I agree with everything you said except the singling out of GCC countries.

    Yes, the GCC countries are amongst the worst, but there are quite a few others that treat their (legal) workers quite poorly (think sweatshops). And then when it comes to illegal workers being screwed, there are even more countries (I can cite you very recent examples of literal slavery in the US).

    But don't let that take away from your point - your anger at the situation is right on the mark.

    And I completely disagree with arjenrienks. Change is not binary, and is pretty much always incremental. I lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two decades, and I can tell you that things are a lot better for foreign workers and the locals than they were when I was there. The press has a lot more freedom as well. So much of the stuff published in Arab News could not be published a mere 15 years ago. Change does happen.

    arjenrienks approach reminds me of all those who criticize people who move to the US. The US has its own dirty sins (foreign policy), and does a lot more damage than what KSA does to its workers. However, voting with one's feet isn't going to change either KSA or the USA. Dialogue, negotiations, etc will. Slavery in the US did not end because people boycotted the US.

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  5. While I agree with arjenrienks that this is part of the reality of Saudi Arabia, I completely disagree that this is some kind of "cosmic constant" that can never be changed.

    The whole idea of KAUST is to be a spark of change in these rather static sand dunes. Is KAUST perfect? Hell no. Nothing is. But to assume that this very imperfection can never produce anything good is the height of hubris, and is really no better than what these racist people are doing to their employees. A tad too optimistic? Perhaps. But it's better than shouting negativities and staying at home.

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  6. KAUST's promise for change is the biggest reason I voted with my feet and traded life amongst the mountains and waterfalls in upstate NY for life among the sand dunes in KSA. Arjenrienks has some good points, but my optimism aligns much closer to Jawa's philosophy.

    I agree with Beetle that no country is perfect, but I stick by my comment that the numbers in the GCC are unreal. I do not know of any other region where countries import as much as 1/3 of their workforce from poorer nations.

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion so far!

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  7. KAUST is changing a lot of things that are considered social norms in saudi arabia. one of those things is simply walking or using busses to get to places. maybe changing the status of foreign workers would be one of those things that can change slowly, or maybe even employ young Saudis instead. it's a long road, and what students may be able to change about their way of life at KAUST may not be as easily adjustable in the rest of Saudi Arabia.
    and as you said "he injustice and prejudice against foreign workers runs deep here"

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  8. To add salt to the injury , those Bangladeshi workers get around 100 $ a month , which can not sustain any body in Saudi Arabia ,hence, what those people tend to do (to support them self and send money home) is that they find a second job” illegally”. The government and people know that their income is not sufficient , so every body tend to turn blind eye on the mater. Nevertheless as a result of low salaries some of them turn to crime to make money.

    The best solution is to replace them with locals even if it means higher cost but at lease the money will stay on our system

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  9. I completeley agree with Beetle that changes in society occur gradually, almost unnoticed. My sister and her family lived and worked in KSA (Al Khobar) for 8 years from 1980 onward and even she is surprised to see the photo's I took while at KAUST and Jeddah. Mixed classes!
    Nevertheless, the point I tried to make is that Nathan and all Kaustians should be realizing that being there, using the "slave labor" of the Filipino's (though there is no alternative) makes you sustain the system you essentially dislike or at least want to be changed. For me as postdoc (see the story at www.chronicle.com, Middle East forum) there was no alternative as "voting with my feet", no time to wait for changes at KAUST to happen without putting my career (and marriage) in jeopardy. I hope that it will not require a war like the American Civil War for the slavery to come to an end.

    The story of so many young Saudi's (I spoke to quite a few of them while staying in Jeddah) that simply cannot get a job because the cheap foreign labour (and the easy where these people can be dismissed) is sad in itself. Why is so much talent of young people wasted in KSA? They really would like to visit KAUST but even they cannot get in. Wandering on the campus of Stanford/Berkeley/Harvard/MIT/... allows youngsters to dream to become a student or even scientist. Why is KAUST closed as a cage?

    I really hope that KAUST can survive long enough (what will happen if its founder King Abdullah passes away?) for us to see the changes.

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  10. "Welcome to the real world of Saudi Arabia"

    but good changes will come!

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  11. Nathan,

    The way the workers are treated in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries became an integral part of living here. People do not see how awful this is anymore. You should see how little kids treat their nannies and house maids. I believe you and the other scholars were chosen to join KAUST to help in the change the country is promising. It is your duty to point out injustice. Yes "Welcome to the real world of Saudi Arabia" because we want you to help us see our mistakes.

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  12. It's all human society's tragedy. I cann't see any good solutions to clear the injustice between rich and poor.
    Your 'quality over quantity philosophy' could not help the poor but just make the poorest much poorer cause in that case many of them are going to lose their jobs. They will hate you instead of being grateful.

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  13. Hi Nathan,

    Thank you for mentioning this issue, Nathan. It's true that the current Saudi society is plagued with racism.

    However, I also believe that there a number of things you should consider.

    The amount of pay the Filipino and Bangledishy expatriates receive is competitive compared to what they receive in their countries. You might see it as minimal but they don't need to pay $500,000 for a house over 30 years.

    Also, to compare to apartheid is a bit much considering how bad apartheid was. Blacks were massacred in the street and white people and black people could not walk on the same side of the road.

    I would also like to mention that the States is still not the perfect model for the accomodation of race. In rural areas and small towns, which makes up most of America, racism is still rampant. Blacks or African Americans get pulled over all the time. As we speak, Arizona has passed a law that legalizes stopping people if they are brown or have an accent.

    However, I don't want to shift the conversation to far away from Saudi Arabia.

    Did you know, that the highest number of converts in Saudi Arabia are Filipinos?

    Despite the existence of racism, there are many decent people in Saudi Arabia who give the expatriates someone positive to look to.

    I think that in order for you to have a better idea, you should go to the home countries of these expatriates and see the living conditions they are under there. I'm not saying this justifies racism...but I think we have a leg up over American corporations that leave them to rot in their countries.

    You might want to also swing by South Africa to ask the people there what Apartheid was really like. We definately have racism in Saudi, but by no means are we as evil as those who set up apartheid nor the founding fore-fathers nor the current elitists that control the States.

    Also, you might want to reevaluate the treatment of race in the rest of the world, starting with the United States.

    I sincerely appreciate your comments, Nathan.

    As if it were a Saudi saying negative things about KAUST, he would be fired by now.

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  14. Thanks Khalid,

    The scope of this post was not to discuss racism in the whole world, just to point out an issue which is a moral burden for some of the students and professors who come to KAUST.

    Foreign worker treatment is not only troubling for current residents, but academic partners might also feel a moral dilemma when visiting KAUST to discuss collaborations, because of what is going on around us. Virtual slave labor is a pretty big turnoff.

    Money and fancy equipment isn't everything.

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  15. Hi Nathan,

    There are 2 issues here. One I agree with you on, and another I don't. So let me get the latter out of the way first.

    Do the labourers of outside contractors have the right to use KAUST facilities? No, they don't. If I'm a window cleaner and I was hired to clean the windows of a country club, does that give me the right to play golf there?

    It can't have escaped your notice that KAUST isn't exactly an open campus, with the high walls and secure entrance. The campus and its facilities are exclusively for the use of the University's students and faculty. I, a Saudi, am not able to see this wonder in our midst in the flesh.

    Of course on the general point of discrimination, particularly against foreign labourers I agree with you. Their treatment is wrong and immoral, and even more shameful is how many locals when discussing the topic twist things to make it sound like they are victims.

    But it's not apartheid. Race isn't the driving force here (although there is racism in the country). There are many Saudis of Javanese and Indian origin, and they're not treated like the foreign labourers. The driving force here is a paranoid sentiment stoked by nationalists that foreigners are out to swindle the country out of it's riches leaving nothing behind for the locals yada yada. It's garbage, but it hits a nerve. There's also a bonded labour mentality, where people think that because they paid to bring in these foreign labourers from abroad they are owed by them.

    Going back to the KAUST incident. I think the best way forward is to create some liaison committee and have these sports events (and some outreach programmes etc) organised under its auspices. Done that way, I'm confident the management will be on board.

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  16. The wealth gap here is crazy. I am glad we no longer have door-openers because it felt weird. Were they skipping work? At the very least, when they played with us they were training us. I think the saddest thing is that this job may be better than the situation in their native land. With all the money they give our worthless professors (up to a million bucks), they could give the workers some spare change.

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  19. Hi Nathan;

    thank you for your post, but i would like to state one point that this is Saudi Oger Cluture and other big contractors even Saudi laboure are not getting the chance to be employed by Oger excepte as Security Guard. If you visist Saudi Oger headquarter in Riyadh you will think that you are in Beriut not in Riyadh becuase of the huge number of lebanease employees and managment I say this because Iam Saudi Aramco employee dealing with Oger.

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  20. I agree with Beetle that no country is perfect, but I stick by my comment that the numbers in the GCC are unreal. I do not know of any other region where countries import as much as 1/3 of their workforce from poorer nations.

    Well, you can always tailor your criteria to make a given country look worse ;-)

    I could argue further, but I feel it would take away from your bigger point.

    @Arjenrienks:

    For me as postdoc (see the story at www.chronicle.com, Middle East forum) there was no alternative as "voting with my feet", no time to wait for changes at KAUST to happen without putting my career (and marriage) in jeopardy.

    I'm not saying you did wrong by voting with your feet. I'm just disagreeing that this is the only appropriate response.

    As for Saudis complaining about not being able to get lower paid jobs, there are two sides to that coin: Many employers have complained that when they hire Saudis, they have an entitlement mentality and simply don't want to do certain tasks that are required for the job. Having lived there all these years, I know what they mean. Foreign labor is not the root cause of unemployment in KSA - it's being raised in an environment where you feel you are superior to others and deserve better.

    For example, I can send you an Arab News article where a lot of Saudis (including women) opposed allowing Saudi women to work as maids because the job is too degrading - (so let's just leave that to the Indonesians)

    @Khalid:

    I think that in order for you to have a better idea, you should go to the home countries of these expatriates and see the living conditions they are under there.

    Partly yes, partly no. Arab News is ridden with examples of foreigners who have not been paid for longer than 6 months. Furthermore, they cannot leave the country nor switch their job. This is not an issue for most people in their own country, or in the US (evil corporations included).

    American corporations have done bad things to workers in other countries and manipulated foreign economies that have messed people up. But preventing them from changing their jobs and leaving the country? Nope. I do know of a case here and there, but they all ultimately got justice in the US courts - unlike in KSA.

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  21. I'm really sorry that all the expatriates are seeing this. But then again, non-KAUST employees are not allowed to use any of the facilities because it is reserved for KAUST only. KAUST is private property and not public property. So, I don't see what is wrong with that. You wouldn't go to somebody's private home and start shooting hoops in their backyard now, would you?

    You wrote: ""What do they do after work then?" I asked. "I don't know, it is not my concern," was his response". Well to be honest, in my 3 years in the job market, if you ask any of my managers what I do after work, you would hear a similar answer, whether it is in the companies here in Saudi or in my job in Switzerland. I think this article is exaggerating it a little bit.

    This policy which is not only the Oger way but KAUST way as well, is sad. But in the end, its company policy, and I am very much sure that it is not an "unwritten" rule as you mentioned. It is just like a "Authorized Personnel Only" or "No trespassing" rule, we just have to abide by it.

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  22. To arjenrienks:

    It is thought provoking and scary not knowing what will happen after King Abdullah "departs this worlds". And the reason KAUST is closed like a cage is because of what happened when an email was passed around which had pictures of life here in KAUST. The 80% of conservative Saudi is not ready to see the gender mixing and smiling faces. According to a news article today 04th of May, a Muslim scholar said "Don't back the modernists". you can read the article in Arab News. This is the reason KAUST is closed, and its for our own safety.

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  23. I wanted to avoid politics but...

    80% of conservative Saudi is not ready to see gender mixing? Really? Nobody asked me or any Saudi for their opinion. Even if asked, in public you have to be careful not to stray far from the line. The poor Saudi citizen is always scapegoated for what he has no say in. It's a political decision, and it always has been.

    Just like they enforced segregation (and other extremist demands) after Juhayman, they can allow mixing with the stroke of a pen. Mixing was normal in the past, even in places today associated with extremism like the farming communities in Asir and even Qasseem. They all worked in the fields together.

    Juhayman wasn't that long ago. What you take for granted today wasn't the case before then. Some scenes from the recent past you don't see today:
    A farm in the Sarawat- http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/5263/5551l.jpg
    A National Geographic photo from 1980 showing highschool girls in Jeddah - http://media1.pikeo.com/images/server26/upload/W6MVQSC9V2FF4KI2UZ0PGZ2YMV2X0FF8.jpg


    The reason for the high walls, and the country's schizophrenia in general is simply the lack of political will. There is the desire and the will for progress but it doesn't extend as far as dealing with the extremists. In fact, they go out of their way to skirt around them. Anything not to deal with them head on. Hence despite repeatedly getting stabbed in the back by them, from the Ikhwan to Juhayman and finally alQaeda, they still appease them. No wonder if you consider that breaking out would involve lots of awkward questions.

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  24. It's lazy and irresponsible to do nothing because you think that things can't change. We do have a divide between the rich and poor here, and it's based on Saudi's exploitation of people's poverty in countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines. (I'm defining rich as a stipend >= SR70,000/year +housing +insurrance +perks, which puts you in the top 10% richest people in the world)

    If enough of the rich were willing to vote with their feet, things might change. I for one can honestly say that this is an issue that will influence my decision to say at KAUST. But it's definitely unrealistic to think that we're going to have perfect equality overnight, and as Khalid pointed out no country in the world has experienced that. I think what we need to do now is to come up with some realistic first-steps that we can start to pursue with KAUST and Oger (and other contractors) leadership. Nathan, I think you're right that part of the solution is to hire only as many people as can be properly taken care of. Here are some other thoughts:

    1) Remove rules that force workers to leave the campus when they're not working. Provide flexible transportation options so they can come and go as they please. The fact that they're kept in their own dirtier compound on their day off does make this like slave labor.

    2) Facilities that are not being used to full capacity, like the so-called "public" beach on weekdays, could be opened to all members of the KAUST family, not just us rich ones.

    3) Here's an easy one: Remove signs on things like drinking fountains or elevators that say "Construction workers and Saudi Oger workers may not use this (fill in the blank)." Is that everyone who works for Saudi Oger, or just the ones from poor countries? Last semester (before the big Tamimis opened), a manager of the small Tamimis put a sign on his front door: "Construction workers not allowed inside store." It was taken down on rebuke from a community member.

    3) Remove rules that prevent the "lower class" from accepting invitations from the "higher class." Many people are told by their managers that they cannot accept invitations to something like a BBQ at a friend's house if they are poor and the friend is rich.

    4) Stop defining the "KAUST Community" to exclude maids, gym trainers, maintenance, etc. If you mean "Faculty, Students, and Staff," say that. If you mean everyone, say "community." This might just be semantics, but I think it's important.

    And yes, I understand that these new rules would be a inconvenience for many of us rich people. But I think they only way to convince yourself that you deserve 5-star treatment and that Filipino guy deserves to clean up after you is to dehumanize him. And that is evil.

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  25. I hear what you're saying to a certain degree, but...

    Welcome to the vast majority of the world.

    Your proposal to have 800 employees instead of 4,000 would deprive 3,200 employees of a job.

    Whilst those hired should be treated with dignity, paid what their contract states they should be paid and given the benefits they were promised, it's a reflection on their home countries that they are there in the first place.

    I would say that if you want to help in some way, you could go to their accommodation and brighten up their day, rather than have them use KAUST services that aren't theirs to use and which have got them into unnecessary trouble.

    Helping some of the guys improve their maths and English and getting some kind of relevant certification or qualification is a good way forward - not suggesting cutting back the numbers working there or playing basketball on university property.

    You might also consider how their home countries could improve, negating the need to travel to Saudi in the first place.

    If you think back to even one generation ago in the US, you would see lift boys, toilet boys, door openers - a lot of people struggling and doing menial work. With the right attitudes that will change, over time.

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  26. It is unfair to the filipino workers. During the interview, I was told that there would be no any discrimination against foreigners.

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  27. I agree, Nathan, the numbers should be reduced and I believe they should be KAUST employees rather than subcontracted through Saudi Oger. From what I have seen of Saudi Oger employees I believe that KAUST could surely have better training programs and, with better supervision and management, could increase productivity and improve employee morale by giving them privileges on campus. KAUST should lead the country in recognizing that nationality is not an issue and that expertise, capability and merit should be the dominant factors in determining remumeration and respect.

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  28. SNIPES:
    hi nathan! Im snipes from phils. ill be going to work for oger company maybe ill be assigning also to kaust community. Could you give me the latest news about the kaust. is there any changes with regard to the treatment to the employees? I decided to grab the job offer just to experience to travel & work other country. were not a poor country as u consider. if you could try to visit our country you will be surprised because we are blessed with a good nature. Our country just experiencing a slow/delay movement to a technology system. right now. However, just want to thank you for your concern with all the employees working for the kaust. We filipino peoples are very dedicated with our job no matter on what your position is. But, for me were building a community like this for what reasons asides for earning money? all of us will consider a tourist/visitors/client trying to learn something different/new to other countries they represent. for us also as a worker only we need to do a lot of things during our free time just to stay our body/mind fit & also to consider interaction with others like a basketball on your story. if those things to happen we could prevent ourselves into a stressful things. That community is to all the people like you. if you feel your money is not worth what feel inside that community you do have the right to ask question because you also have a different expectation each other & it could help also to promote it to others with your experience inside the community. to avoid reducing the workers as u request? Expectation is the key word to develop this kind of future plan for all. workers like us is the key to achieve what is the goal/future plan of the community & you & the others is the key to a long term what a future plan will go thru. all the direction is coming from what you want to see,feel,& etc. Hope you & other people out there could established a organization that could support like me as a worker to stay free & stress free. thank you!

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  29. hi SNIPES good to hear your comment. Are you heading to KAUST, and your employer is SAUDI OGER LTD, right?

    what position did you applied for? and AGENCY who assist you....

    by the way, discrimination is everywhere, just BE TRUE to your work and to the community.
    GOD BLESS

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  30. sir nathan, are you enrolling this coming september?

    I read some of your blogs, and it really interest me a lot.

    hope to continue your ideals in life.
    GOD BLESS.

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  31. Dear very enthusiastic guys,,

    I have an idea, instead of changing the whole system how about we start with our selves and devote 10% of our stipend to those unfortunate workers. 

    I don't totally agree with Saudi Oger policy, but still they are in business for long time and know how to deal with their workers ( who agreed to work with them in the first place ).

    I some times like to watch ignorant people criticizing my country knowing that racism initiated and still active in their countries. ( like low paid Mexican workers for example )

    you cannot take a company policy and enforce it on the whole country.  Almost every Saudi Family have a Maid and a Driver with higher salaries than Oger workers, all living expenses covered,  have their own vacation to go to their country and come back with tickets and expenses covered, accompany us in outings and traveling,, so basically they are part of the family and some of them choose to stay for 20 years or more!
     
    Our problem is that we don't like to criticize or talk about other countries that have a lot of social problems to deal with than "segregated schools" !!

    So I wont waste my time on some one that does not acknowledge that not all countries have to fallow their system, that is why USA failed to enforce their policy in Iraq.

    so you may say anything you want, but we believe that world diversity integrate us..

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  32. Hi Nathan,
    I completely agree with you. I liked your post. thumbs up for your post. But this is the situation here in saudi. I am here for last 20 years. I saw,heard lots of storys like this. Cleaners and construction workers are treated very badly here. At least we can behave with them as a human.

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  33. Hi Nathan,
    The labour market is broken. while it is certainly unfair to our fellow foreign workers , it , considerably, affect Saudi employment too. Hundreds of thousands of very cheap labours compete for low skill work.

    The main reason for this apartheid is labour market regulations. We should fellow the footsteps of Bahrain and Kuwait to fix our labour regulations.

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  34. I came pretty late but want to add something but I totally agree with Nathan except the solution.
    Why people from poor countries tend to leave their homeland. I am Muslim and being a Muslim I am strong believer that Allah promised us Food no matter how all we need is to do some effort. This is the basic necessity to live. We humans are greedy creature who never satisfied on few and everybody want to be a rich. I know Saudi's like many other countries treat people same way as describe in this writing but who is responsible for that. labor should realized those rich misers by declining their request to come and work for them. Be united all the workers put little handwork in anything they can do back in their homeland and ask God to help them further grow. I am sure they will get much more they want, most importantly Respect.

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  35. Wow this is really of great concern. I am an incoming/admitted student to KAUST this coming fall semester. I too am a Filipino and reading about these kinds of things is kinda bothering. But thank you to everyone who has expressed sympathies to those workers treated in such a manner.

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  36. as a indain nationality doing job in saudi oger is right step for my engineering carrier?

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  37. Saudi Arabia has a long history of injustice toward its workers and its female population too. If you see what their princes do when traveling in places like Morrocco you will be disgusted by the hypocrisy. I was often asked to write letters of recommendation for people who want to go there and I explained that I could not do it because - I would be helping sustain the injustice. You cannot create a place of higher learning in a desert of ignorance.. The leaders must understand this. sorry

    damazigh

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  38. Hello all,
    I'm a highly educated person (Ph.D.) living in the US. Two years ago, I was offered a job by KAUST, signed a contract and was supposed to move to KSA shortly after. However, when the Saudi authorities realized that I did not hold a US passport, but a passport issued by a developing country, they refused to issue me a KAUST work visa. Such experience was so painful for my family since we had made all the needed arrangement to move, and then had to put our live back together in the US.

    Here is what I'd like to suggest: You as a group can make a change to the KAUST system. The KAUST administration will respect your collective demands because they simply need you there. In the meantime, you can decide to ignore things and accept the statuesque, and that's where the danger is. If you're willing to take the challenge and do something about the wrong things you see around you, then by all means stay there. However if you find yourself giving a blind eye to the injustices being committed in order to make your KAUST experience more enjoyable, then I'd say that you should strongly consider leaving ASAP since your presence may be contributing to the problem.

    By the way, do you know that many Saudis lock their live-in maids inside the house when they leave (fearing that the made would run away with stuff)? This is despite the fact that the maid's passport is held by the family, and hence she can't just leave the country. I was actually told about an incident where a locked-in maid was found dead by the apartment door when the family returned from an extended visit to relatives

    Good luck in making the right decision!
    P.S. For those who compare injustices being committed against workers in the US and workers in Saudi Arabia, please do not make such comparison because the gap is so huge that would make the comparison invalid. Supporting details are too much to include here.

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  39. Hi all, How are things now at KAUST? How is the job opportunites after completing MS from there?

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