Letter from an expat

Dana Al-Rashid

I am nothing; a nobody. I am but a supporting actor, playing a minor role in lives that are deemed far more important than mine. I am nameless and faceless – you can’t recognize me, because we’re all the same to you. I’m just here to serve. I am the one who sweeps dirt -along with my dreams – under your feet. I was promised this dreamland, where there is clean water, electricity, and plenty of money to feed my children. But as soon as I arrived here, I was left on the streets with no work for several months, under heavy debt, and with no ability to travel back home, as my passport is no longer in my hands.
My humble salary is around KD 100, more or less, usually less. Despite that, some people say it’s too much, and reminisce about the “good times” when it was no more than KD 60-70. I sometimes receive my pay on time, but other times I don’t get it for many long months on end. I survive in those months on tips from kind and charitable people by washing their cars or carrying their groceries. I realize that I am but few rights away from being considered a slave.

I am your fellow human; your brother. I am an Arab, a Muslim; just like you. I thought that moving here would make me feel closer to home, but I was very mistaken. Every day I face various forms of racism, discrimination and even ridicule. I am the teacher you mock, and the doctor you insult. I am the employee you disrespect. I take it all with a smile; for I have no other choice.

You say I upset the demographic balance, yet you refuse to do laborious jobs and even some office jobs – you barely even do your own job! I do the same work, but with around a KD 400 difference. In contentment, I overlook the sore difference and remind myself that locals deserve the privilege and encouragement from their own country. But what’s truly shocking is that some wish for this gap to increase even more by enforcing strict, biased laws against us, followed by public statements that stir hatred and separation from one another in an “us vs them” mentality.

You demand that we work tirelessly for your comfort, yet you don’t want to see us in the same shops and public places. You have implicitly created separate malls, parks and even hospitals that segregate expats from locals. After decades of hard work and lifting the country on our very shoulders, are we now considered unwanted? And can you truly make do without us?
The “Expat”

By Dana Al-Rashid

This article was published on 01/06/2017