Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

In over two decades as editor of two English papers and a long experience interacting with the expatriate community, I came across many people who had the wrong assumptions and lacked a proper understanding of the Saudi mindset. Not many people are aware of the innate giving nature of the average Saudi. Unfortunately, during many discussions with expatriates on local, social and political issues, our conversation always seem to touch on the negative aspects of Saudi society. Admittedly some of their points were valid and as a society, we do have our own share of mean characters; however, many expatriates fail to recognize the other Saudi who is a giving and a caring person by nature. Charity and the art of giving are a part of the Islamic tradition. In this country, there are men and women who are unsung society heroes. They are caring and more humane than many other people in the world. These people live among us but no one is aware of their good deeds. I have met many amazing people who give but do not wish to be in the public eye. I remember meeting a Saudi Arabian Airlines captain who when not flying went from one city to another encouraging young boys to learn how to play tennis. He collected used tennis balls from courts across Jeddah, repaired damaged tennis racquets, and guided and coached young people and worked to instill discipline in them. I was also introduced to a group of young college women who visited the sick and elderly and catered to their needs, held their hands and offered hope. Another Saudi opened a center to assist children of expatriates who have autism and are impaired. He went out with a bowl in his hand and finally initiated a system for sustainability. Yes, he catered to expatriates! And there are similar voluntarily projects done for them by other Saudis. Then there are those Saudis who try to make a difference and enhance the quality of life of needy people without any exception. In Hail and Qassim, I met a group of people who were very concerned about the safety of laborers who work under the heat of the sun and showed great compassion for those cleaning the streets. If we scratch the surface, we will discover that among us there are many men and women who through their initiative, courage and determination have been able to spread happiness. They have empathy for the less privileged and translate it into effective services. Bureaucracy and old age are obstacles that have frustrated many and discouraged them from contributing to serve society. However, there are many others who put extra effort into overcoming bureaucratic obstacles and are determined to serve. They are social change makers and role models and they exemplify a new breed of Saudi youth. Today, there are many Saudi youth who feel the need to contribute. They work quietly and diligently and the only reward they seek is to make a difference in someone else’s life. These are the other Saudis that many do not know about. To them we offer our salute. — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena