A Scots’ wisdom and the Zaafarani’s book
John claims to be 57 years old, though he looks much younger. He has been to over 90 countries since he started working in hotels over 32 years ago. He left Scotland without getting his school leaving certificate. He started working as a cleaner at a London hotel and within a few years, ascended to become a senior official working for a five-star hotel chain. With the hotel boom 25 years ago, he started moving from one hotel to another and from one country to another, until he realized that he had visited more than half of the countries on earth on five continents.
Asking him about his impressions about the countries he visited, the people there and the projects he worked on in each country, he smiled at me, saying: “You are from Kuwait...and there is the answer to your question.” He told me that Kuwait has all potentials to become a significant tourist destination not only in the region, but also on the entire continent. He added that we were hospitable in nature but our stiff laws and endless bureaucracy and paperwork were the main reasons for delaying most projects foreign investors might think of starting in Kuwait.
“In addition, political corruption can hinder any project including those in progress. These are things I noticed firsthand during my stay in Kuwait,” John added, noting that commissions paid to pass this or that project without any documentation were known to everybody and that although this particular problem is found worldwide, it is more evident in Kuwait and some Arab countries, and this scares investors away.
After taking about the bad side of his experience in Kuwait, he started talking about the bright side, by saying that three years ago, he went back to his town in Scotland where his friends asked about the Muslim and Arab countries he had been to and how he, as a Christian, managed to live amongst Muslims who considered him an infidel. He said that he did not answer them because they would not understand what he meant.
“Then I asked to go to the town’s only bar to spend the evening, but they said they preferred spending the evening at a friend’s house because streets would be full of drunkards and bullies after 10 pm,” John said, adding that he then explained how he could stay out until after 2:00 am when he was in Dubai and that he had never felt unsafe or threatened there, or in Kuwait, Tehran, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo and Damascus, before the Arab Spring uprisings. He told them that he lived in Muslim countries for over 20 years, and that now, he could not feel safe after 10 pm in his own town.
This was a practical and logical proof that Muslims’ problems lie in how the media portrays them to the West. Talking to me, John of Scotland sounded like the historian AlZaafarani mentioned in a play, acted by Abdul Hussein Abdul Redha, who said the following line: “The good thing about Al-Zaafarani is that he mentions both good and bad points!” —Translated by Kuwait Times