Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Our housemaid should resign."

An article that is in the print version of Arab News, but not on the internet version, written by Khalaf Al-Harbi says "Our housemaid has a face uglier than those of the rats in the Corniche. Her smell is dirtier than that of the Musk Lake. Her lies are worse than the biting of the mosquitoes that cause dengue fever. Her eyebrows look like two flying crows. She walks like a little car that has driven into a ditch in one of Jeddah's streets." What the _____?!!? I am absolutely appalled that the article was even printed. Just appalled. Is it supposed to be funny? It isn't. I certainly am not laughing. Sadly, Khalaf Al-Harbi's picture does not accompany the article so that we could all describe him. You know, something like, "His face is uglier than than a pot-bellied pig's ass. His smell is nastier than a dumpster in the heat of the summer. His nose is like the hook on a crane."

The point isn't that the maid is ugly
though, or that Mr. Al-Harbi is uglier. The point he tries to make [but fails - in my opinion] is that she should resign because she only works when she thinks she needs to. The whole article:

[I think if you click on the image it enlarges. It does for me...]

Mr. Al-Harbi says, "We have a traditional proverb that says, 'My generosity is for my mother and sisters.' This saying has... become obsolete." What exactly does that even mean? And what, exactly, does it have to do with his maid? "We are now in a very strange time in which a father cannot reprimand his own children, let alone his wife or even the housemaid, who is practically in charge of everything in the house. These days we are random guests in our own homes while the housemaid is the actual mistress." Hmmph. Just whose fault is that, I wonder. How is it that households in most other countries can have a family that consists of two working parents and children and NO maid? Don't even get me going on that issue. Oops. Too late. The reason that everyone here, in the Sandbox, has a maid is because no one wants to do any actual physical work. That is beneath most people here. It is not a secret. I am guilty, too. I have a houseboy four days a week. Although I have to say, I still do a fair share of the housework at our home. I just don't do the "big" jobs - like cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the floors.

"As a husband, I conceded many years ago that the evaluation of the housemaid's performance is the prerogative of the wife. Any suggestion by me to replace her or reschedule her duties would be considered an unwelcome intervention in the poliies of the house, a flagrant provocation to the wife and an agitation to the children who have become addicted to 'Indomi.' The children will show signs of withdrawal if the housemaid is absent for any reason." I think that is very sad. And I also think that it speaks volumes with regard to the upbringing that your children are receiving [or not], Mr. Al-Harbi.

Mr. Al-Harbi has "accepted the presence of [their] housemaid despite her numerous mistakes because it is difficult nowadays to find one who can put up with the trantrums of the housewife." I'd say it is about time that maid abuse trickled down and women from other third-world countries that come here to work as housemaids realize that they are going to be the target of "tantrums of the housewife." In other words, you can expect to be beaten. "I have had to be patient with her regardless of my conviction that her transformation from a slim Asian girl to a fat lady was due to her constant sneaking to the refrigerator, then blaming the children. She will also no hesitate to steal whenever she is not watched, put her ill-gotten gains in a box and shem them back home." I am calling B.S. on that. She probably steals food because she doesn't get fed. And the fact that you thought she was a slim Asian girl and is now a fat lady... You don't deserve a maid! Asshole.

Read the whole thing. And tell you you are not just as outraged by this as I am!


  1. Women obviously have no place in Saudi Arabia. It's sad. I thought it was a religion of peace!

    Now come to my blog and help me out! Steve Harkonnen is behind all of this!

  2. What is ironically funny is that the way things are going someone will develop a true alternative to oil. The Saudis will then have to do the work that they now have others do for them. Perhaps even send out their wives, daughters and sister to become housemaids for the new wealthy elite.

    And knowing the way karma works, it would be ironically funnier if the people who develop it are Israelis.

  3. Sounds to me like he's PO'd that she won't sleep with him. Then again, you know you have an ugly maid when she makes the headlines of the local paper.

    thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for sharing.

    Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I know the type of maid abuse that goes in there. There's a whole atmosphere of fear and lack of human rights of any sense whatsoever. This article repesents the prevailing mentality there. Many saudis studying abroad that I've met brush this with 'it happens in any society' argument.

    The outrageous thing here is that this filth and BS was deemed worthy of being published by a leading English language daily.

    I propose people should complain and write comments to the editor.

    I suppose there would be no outrage expressed by muslims as this is a 'trivial' issue as opposed to the fury over ban of minarets.

  5. Absolute filth and BS ! period.

    I suppose we should write/complain in the letters column.

    Lets see if theres an outrage expressed by the paper's local readers over this 'trivial' issue.

  6. I remember reading about this man who was amused by racism in Saudi Arabia. His comment was in response to one of their own Ministers calling "Saudi's the most racist" people in the world. This man said how his Saudi friend called a black bedouin woman a good-for-nothing woman who deserves nothing but cleaning streets. It's ridiculous how racist they are especially when the first man to ever give the call for prayer was a black man. He was also one of the first to have ever converted to Islam. There is a quote that says even Angels were stunned by the beauty of his voice and he was for a long time the poster-child for racial equality since racism and slavery were a very important part of Saudi culture. I reckon things haven't changed still!

  7. Dear all
    I understand where all of you coming from and I also understand the discrimination against Housemaids in Saudi Arabia, But I want all of you here to know that the author' article is misinterepreted and this has led to the massive attack.I wish I did have the time and the ability to do better translation so the metaphoric meaning is better serve the notion.

  8. By all means, salem, please find a moment or two to enlighten us and tell us what we've missed. The personal attack against this poor maid? The fact that she only cleans when she thinks she has to? The fact that the man has no say-so in his house? What? What did we miss in this article that requires "metaphoric" translation?

  9. well, as this article has stunned me as well, I hurried to email the author and asked him to explain. Mr. Alharbi said that his article was misinterpreted and his main notion is Jeddah Municipal after the flooding two weeks ago. he metaphiorically used the maid as a person _ which is jeddah government-- that you trust and she is in charge of every thing in the housse-which is Jeddah-- and it turned out to be the one who betrays the responsibilities and steals the money and uses it to start her own businesses. he also mentioned that he didnt even has a maid in his house.
    maid is Jeddah Municipal and governor
    The wife is higher authority
    the kids and the father are the jeddah residents
    as a native arabic, I understand this metaphore that always is used to explain the notion
    I hope i did good job and you got the idea

  10. I understand what you are saying, salem, and thank you for taking the time to translate this "metaphor" for us. Surely Mr. Al-Harbi could have come up with something MUCH, MUCH better than using a maid. [No wonder this wasn't put in the on-line version of AN. Can you imagine the uproar?!!] However, that said, he still doesn't get a pass.

    Using the scenario he did to try to blame the Jeddah Municipality and governor is a big, huge, utter and complete total FAIL! If he feels the way he does about those entities, why didn't he just have the cahones to come out and say what he wanted to say.

    Something just isn't passing the "smell test," here.

  11. P.S. Mr. Al-Harbi doesn't have a maid working at his house? Please. I have yet - YET - to meet a single Saudi that does not have a maid. Many of the Saudi families that live near me - next to me, directly across the street from me, down the street a block or so, have TWO maids!

  12. Time to Admit, I mean most of em are Queers here..I dont blame them..Not only the housemaid but they feel that everyone who is not a local here..Got a *#@!#%^at my work place..The guy is like thin as a paper and one one punch mite even take his life away..and yet he goes about saying what ever he wants..Wonder where is HUMAN RIGHTS now...I pity this country..KInda Sad

  13. I know my comments come in quite late, a month or so since the whole discussion, but I was just introduced to this blog and was interested in what its got to offer.

    As for the article and Mr. Al-Harbi's use of the "maid" metaphor" for the Jeddah debacle, that on its own goes on miles to show how down maids are looked at in this society and that people would freely use them as a cornerstone of jokes to say the least.

    The problem is, there are generations after generations of kids being raised within the household by “maids”, literally. And the result is these so called privileged kids are not getting the privilege of being raised with the right upbringing by caring parents but by unprivileged expat workers who are mistreated, overworked, underpaid. Result: Little attention to actual developmental needs, excess TV, sugar, junk food, and chocolates, with little parental guidance. End result, people like the author of the article who has not been taught right from wrong, has not been told off by his parents when he made slurring racist comments or jokes growing up let alone writing an article about it, regardless of metaphors.

    That said, not everything within the Saudi society or behaviors are representative of Islam or Islamic teachings as suggested by some of the commentators. There are plenty of common behaviors with society that are culturally influenced and have nothing to do with Islam for those of you who are less informed about both.


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