OUTLOOK — By Majed Al Sulaimany — Starting from this week and at fortnightly sequence I will be writing about issues that some may consider as enigma and taboo, especially in English, because foreigners will read about us as if writing in Arabic there are no foreigners there! In actual fact, my own personal outlook is that the latter category is more dangerous because they know us inside out.
Tell that to the Palestinians in their meeting with those from the other side who are fluent Arabic speakers and also born in Arab countries! Of course people would like to push the ‘dirt under the carpet too for the very same reasons! As my readers know, I always write from my experiences.
Incident one: A long time ago when I was working in my last oil company there was a meeting that was going to be attended by one prominent high-profile public official together with the rest of us. After the usual courtesies and welcome our European boss with the usual axe to grind of ‘divide and rule’ started asking.
“In which language are we going to hold this meeting,” as if he was able to speak Arabic in the first instance! Though his history was that he was proud as an ex-army man of the bad things he ‘did to Arabs’ in Palestine! You can tell this man was carrying ‘a lot of excess baggage’ with him!
My colleagues and I were silent because we needed the money to feed our families and ourselves too! But then the shock was on us when the Public Official (PO) retorted and sarcastically said: “In any language so long as it is not Swahili!” To this the British boss broke into great laughter — it seemed clear to us that there was a meeting of minds here. Yet still the rest of us kept quiet because of our upbringing and our culture, customs, tradition and heritage of respecting guests and visitors, though the speaker was also Omani and should have known better!
PO thought he will make his foreign newfound friend laugh more, so he repeated what he said before. To which M being M retorted: “You will be very lucky if you were able to speak that language!” To which PO was angered ‘because I broke his respect’ and went off without the meeting taking place. My boss asked me to apologise in writing to PO — though ‘lucky for me’ English was accepted in my doing so! The unfairness and injustices in life! A few months later down the line PO was kicked out unceremoniously — so the system works!
Incident two: The boss — fellow Omani — quickly first scans the job applicants. He is looking at the place of birth more. The rest of the CV did not interest him! Despite his wastah he too lost his job — though he was able to kick me out first! This story is also there in both my Arab management books — www.myown-ebooks.com
Incident three: I hinted this in my last week article titled There Is Need For More Realism! So it is still new. This Omani GM of a National Prestigious Project called me to his office: “So we can chat.” Then he handed me a bombshell. Remember this project is national and supported too!
Initially I was at home quietly doing my own business — when he almost begged me ‘to set up the Human Resources’ system in this new company. He offered me a six months temporary contract.
After 7 weeks he calls me to ‘cancel the contract’ because he says the board is against me being recruited, even for temporary basis, because “I do not come from the region” where the company is going to operate! There is a manager who is foreigner in another function — but that is alright for the board (TB). TB do not see any issue in that, only to a fellow Omani, even though he is a manager and or consultant and temporarily employed even!
The GM (Omani) is a very sharp person and cannot handle pressures! I bitterly complain to the company — top management officials that supports and backs this project — and the place that I had worked for 25 years.
Nobody bothers or cares, even the public officials involved! Nobody bothers or cares because I am a trouble-maker with a big mouth. It would have been okay if it was only me, but the other two Omanis too resigned or were terminated! They too ‘did not come from the region’ the company was going to operate in!
Can these things happen now in our country after all the troubles that we had gone through?
I leave that to you the reader to decide, though I surely did complain in writing, perhaps because it was in English! I leave the rest to Allah because He is The Best Judge — Amin Amen