Muna Al Fuzai

Last week I raised the topic of animals that are abandoned on the streets by their owners or market vendors. This week, I feel obliged to call for ‘saving’ expats, after a Kuwait Times reader asked me a question over a situation he and many others face daily. He said and I quote: “We expats do not even know where to complain or what to complain about. I live in Farwaniya, where traffic police entered a dilapidated side street and ticketed the cars parked opposite a residential building. Where should we park our cars then? The cops are promised incentives to catch as many violations as possible. Who better to exploit than the expats?”

Parking has always been a problem in Kuwait, because for many years, the municipality allowed building owners to not allocate parking spaces for the tenants; or at least it was not compulsory to designate the basement of the building as a car park. So for many years, it was and still is a mess. Go to Salmiya, Hawally or Farwaniya at night and you will see cars scattered everywhere as if a tornado hit them.

We are exposing expats to a contradictory situation – between asking them to abide by the law and breaking it. We have expats who come from different countries, cultures and origins, and yet they will do whatever they are asked according to Kuwait’s laws, habits, customs and traditions, despite the difficulty of the matter. Isn’t this enough?

For example, a Kuwaiti friend went to a walking path downtown. He was wearing sports attire and driving a small and old car. After he finished his walk, he went back to his car. He remained stationary for 10 minutes before driving out of the parking lot. All of a sudden, a man in a dishdasha came up to his window and yelled at him, claiming he was slow in moving his car!

My Kuwaiti friend replied he was on the phone, and that’s why he did not move the car. He added he was not blocking anyone’s car or the road. Yet this man was screaming at him for no reason. The situation got absurd when the irate Kuwaiti man told my friend he was sorry because he thought he was expat and did not know he was a Kuwaiti too! So, if a person is an expat, does this justify shouting at him or her? Is that an excuse to humiliate others because they are not Kuwaitis? When you find out your adversary is a Kuwaiti, you apologize!

The reader is right, because he does not know what to complain about and to whom. Soaring rents are a problem, parking is another and rising prices are yet another problem. Moreover, sometimes there is the problem of discrimination, especially on the streets.

These people who target expats are insulting us in Kuwait and Kuwaitis in general. Such people are the cause of damaging our image as a civil and modern society. The reasons for such behavior are that they don’t consider their actions a mistake. I personally do not know any custom or any law that permits such discrimination or behavior.

Rejection of discrimination is a value and a culture of the community. It is also the role of good education and parents to teach their kids that this is a shameful act in any society. So if a child abuses the maids in the house and is not punished, he will grow up thinking it is OK to abuse anyone who in not from his community.

Well sir, you’re right. I do not know where to complain and to whom. It’s all about ethics and culture.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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