Bahrain: Are Gulf Arabs Lazy?

Earlier this week the Bahraini Labour Minister Majid Al Alawi was interviewed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, and in the interview he said that the Gulf was facing an ‘Asian tsunami’ because Gulf nationals are ‘lazy’ and ‘spoilt’ and depend on imported labour to do even simple tasks. He said that that the nearly 17 million foreign workers in the Gulf, mostly Asian, represented ‘a danger worse than the atomic bomb or an Israeli attack’. What do Bahraini bloggers think?

A Commonwealth of India?
Mahmood is looking at the broader political ramifications of the so-called ‘tsunami':

There you have it. It’s official. We – the Arabs – are lazy, greedy and incompetent. Said by the sitting Minister of Labour. The same minister who had his plans to limit the expatriate entry-level worker’s presence in the Gulf to a maximum of 6 years thwarted…is now passionately warning of another ‘Asian Tsunami’ which will result in a complete demographic change in these countries. … Mansour Al-Jamri, the editor of Al-Wasat in Bahrain agrees with him. … Al-Jamri suggests that foreign labour we customarily have and as their visas suggest, should not be classified as temporary due to their semi-permanence in our communities. He contends that what we really have is full-scale emigration. And this, denotes the possibility of them soon demanding their human and political rights. Whether we like it or not, international conventions give them those rights. After all, quite a lot of them have already surpassed the requirements to gain the citizenship in the country they chose to work in even by using local constitutions and laws. […] Without a real intrinsic structural and courageous change, the situation might spin completely out of control and the Gulf Arab will be completely marginalised. As Al-Jamri suggests, it is not too far fetched to have India exerting its major power in our countries by proxy. It will apply inordinate political and cultural influence by virtue of the millions of its citizens gaining citizenships, or even just continuing to live and work in our countries without any measure of control and without investing in the local population’s education and rehabilitation. Al-Jamri suggests that India’s political influence might well develop into making our countries a part of a “Commonwealth of India” soon, as its former citizens will gain positions of responsibility in both private and public sectors, even rising to ministerial positions within the Cabinet.

Commenting on the post, Eyad says:

the most important part of the solution is to be honest with our self, we have to admit our weaknesses and why do we need so many people working for us … we lack so many professionals in a lot of areas specially the technical side of anything, there are many ways to fix this issue and none of them come fast, cheap, or easy, we have to fix our educational system once and for all, there must be a law forcing every company to train QUALIFIED Bahrainis and replace the foreigners in a set period of time.

Johnster comments:

If GCC Arabs are “lazy” and thirdworlders are industrious, then that is the reason to hand out as many passports as possible and the GCC nationals will become, on average, semi-industrious.

Indian worker in Bahrain

Photo credit: Manal

Leave behind the lazy life
In a post on the same subject, Ammar points a finger at the easy life many people have got used to:

Although I don't always see eye to eye with our Minister of Labour, Majeed Al Alawi, I have to admit that on occasion he does speak a lot of sense. … Yesterday Dr Majeed spoke about our laziness as a people, as a country, as a region. … It's true though. We have become accustomed to the lazy life; we have maids hired to get us a glass of water because we can't be bothered to walk to the kitchen, or to tidy our beds because, well, it's too much work for us to do. We have workers at supermarkets and cafeterias who walk to our vehicle to take our order, just because opening the car door and walking in to get what we want sounds like too much effort. We have people hired to carry out the simplest tasks from making our tea, washing our cars, cooking our food, to ironing our clothes, just because we are the elite who have no reason in life to lift a finger. […] But sooner or later you're going to need to know how to do something. This lifestyle isn't going to last for ever; one day all of this is going to go away, as the Asian countries start regaining economic strength, and the workers find it much more attractive to head back home. One day when this lifestyle becomes too expensive to maintain, and your superior self won't be able to afford it. One day when you head to a different country where this sort of thing isn't the norm, and you're going to have to do things yourself. One day when this over-the-top lifestyle fades away, and you're left in a mess, not knowing what to do, or how to act. One day.

In a comment, Evil Odd says:

When you lot stop relying on everyone else to do your work for you, I'll pack my bags and head home. Until then, I'm happy putting my own curtains up, changing the shower-head, cleaning my car, polishing my shoes, fixing the buttons on my shirts, installing a video card on my computer, making tea, cleaning the toilet, cooking, making my bed, and many other little things I've come to enjoy and would dearly miss should they be taken away from me. Oh, I also happen have a full-time job…

And Redbelt says:

I'd rather spend on technology than exploit poor souls with a monthly wage that equals two dinners.
Thank you.


  • I’d rather spend on technology than exploit poor souls with a monthly wage that equals two dinners.

    That’s nice but how much better are the wages of the people making the technology?

    Very interesting post.

  • Jenkem Jones

    Yes they are. Detroit brought in Arabs because they thought they worked hard and would work for less pay than African Americans. They don’t and won’t.

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