July 6, 2012

My Take This Week: Back to the Olympics


My Take This Week: Back to the Olympics

ABDULLAH AL ALAMI

Friday 6 July 2012
• Recent reports indicate that US imports of oil from Saudi Arabia climbed 45.7% from a year earlier in April to the highest level since July 2008. Regardless of regional circumstances, I am convinced that we need to maintain good relations with the US. The two nations have encountered enough obstacles in the path of a successful relationship since it first began.
• An interesting question was raised in my “Expats in Saudi Arabia” Group; could a mall fire happen here in KSA (like in Villagio, Qatar)? I am not sure the malls throughout the country are evacuation-friendly with clear exits. In many malls in big cities, it’s time-consuming to find an exit at the best of times. If a fire were to break out there — God forbid, there might be mass confusion as people try to find exits. I’m not even sure these malls have public safety equipment in place such as fire extinguishers, water sprinklers, etc.
• Where do you go for currency exchange? Different shops will probably give you different rates. I don’t have anything against banks changing currencies, but I found out that little shops give you better rates. I also make sure to change Saudi riyals to other currencies before I leave on a trip. 
• Did you hear about the Saudi family who invited friends and neighbors to a party to honor an Indonesian housemaid for completing 25 years in service with them? I was really moved. Family members and relatives lavished presents, including money, on the maid, who they said is considered a member of the family. How many of us consider their maid as a member of the family?
• In a move aimed at helping laborers avoid the midday heat in Saudi Arabia, a government law is reinforced barring work outside during the hottest part of the day. I am concerned that in previous years the ban had not been fully enforced everywhere. These laborers are human and not illegal aliens and I wish we could enforce the ban in a more serious manner such as imposing fines on companies who violate the rule. 
• I read two interesting articles in Arab News this week; Mohammed Al-Saif wrote about the issue of women driving in Saudi Arabia. I have been working with a group of people on this initiative for over 18 months and I am certain it’s just a matter of time. In another article, Abdulrahman Al-Zuhayyan addressed the issue of Saudi women participating in the Olympics. Well, it’s about time we join the rest of the world. 

Tweet: Initiative is taking the first step rather than waiting for someone else or a “better time.”

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