Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
In a relatively short span, Filipinos have become an important part of the Saudi society. People from the Philippines started coming to the Kingdom during the economic boom of the early 1970s. Within a few years, they captured the Saudi labor market with much ease and adapted to the Saudi lifestyle very quickly. They could be seen in almost every sector of the Saudi economy.
Filipinos are hardworking people who have earned respect for their highly professional approach and skills. It is a community known for its unity and for the respect they show toward their host country and its laws and social norms. Before I proceed further, I would like to clarify one thing that I have the utmost respect for all the expatriates living and working in the Kingdom. It was a recent incident that caught my attention and forced me to write these lines about the Filipino community.
Just a few days ago, the Filipino community decided to volunteer to clean an area by the seafront in the Eastern Province. The area, known as Al-Murajan Island, is located in Dammam and is a favorite haunt of Saudis and expatriates. It was not the first time that the Filipinos voluntarily did such a noble thing in the Kingdom. The bottom line is that the Filipino community does care about the environment and like to be part of the society and help keep it clean.
Filipino community since the 1970s has contributed to the development of the country. They have been part of almost every important civic project in one position or the other. Their technical skills and professional approach have greatly helped Saudi Arabia. But their volunteer work in the Kingdom made me write this article. I am happy to see that the expatriates do care about the environment and care about their host country. We all need to emulate this example. It is the responsibility of Saudis and non-Saudis to help keep this country clean. Keeping public places clean and tidy is not only healthy, it also helps save a lot of money later on and increase the beauty of our cities and neighborhoods.
It is true that we have seen many Saudis and volunteers of other nationalities clean places around the Kingdom but the professionalism of the Filipinos caught everybody’s attention and won the respect of all. This respect for the Filipino community is not confined to the Kingdom. They enjoy a very good reputation around the world. They form a very vital part in the American health care, which is the most extensive and most advanced in the world.
The Filipinos learn and adapt fast. Undoubtedly, Saudis have learned a great deal from the communities their country hosts. There is an increase in the number of Saudis who are registering for volunteer works and activities. Volunteer work is an essential element to teach our youth the meanings of taking responsibilities.
I would like to say that there are many other expatriate communities who have done a lot for the Kingdom and their work is very highly appreciated. It is important to know that volunteer work by expatriates adds a lot to the flavor of living together for the good of the Kingdom and its prosperity. Saudi Arabia was and still is a home away from home to a large number of expatriates.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Hats Off to Filipinos reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.