A Scots’ wis­dom and the Zaa­farani’s book

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS - By Thaar Al-Rasheedi

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

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