The value of remittances that foreigners annually make in Saudi Arabia is about to reach 160 billion riyals and it is increasing every year.
It’s normal for foreign workers in the country to regularly transfer money to their families back home. This is one of their most basic human rights, especially in a country which has an open economy. However, it’s unreasonable for the country not to have recreational facilities where this money could be spent.
We have no right to blame people for transferring their money when we don’t have facilities where they can spendTurki Al-Dakhil
What makes brotherly countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman capable of having such facilities? Expatriates in these countries can spend the money they earn there instead of transferring all of it back home. This is significant considering its value is almost equal to state budgets.
We have no right to blame people for transferring their money when we don’t have facilities where they can spend.
I have met dozens of taxi drivers and employees who had worked in Saudi Arabia and have now moved to work in other Gulf countries. When I ask some of them what they thought of Saudi Arabia, they express a sigh over the time spent while working there and remember the money saved during their stay.
I wish Saudi Arabia builds facilities that make them spend money like they do in other Gulf countries. These are innocent questions, but if we don’t answer them, we have no right to condemn foreigners for annually transferring 160 billion riyals or even 610 billion riyals!
This article was first published by Okaz newspaper on Feb. 7, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.