Why Weren’t Saudis Accused of Racism when Demanding End to Naturalized Bahrainis?

2019-02-16 - 1:13 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): About a year ago, the ruling family in Bahrain was struck with fear when Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud came to reprimand them for granting citizenships to Yemenis, who worked there in Saudi Arabia, competing with Saudi citizens.

At the time, the Bahraini Interior Minister warned "Bahraini passport holders who take advantage of the facilitations offered to citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in a way that harms the interests of Saudi citizens."

The Saudi society then spoke out against hundreds of Bahraini naturalized citizens who were competing in the labor market, and launched a campaign on social media platforms under the hashtag "Bahrain naturalizes at the expense of our unemployment." This prompted the Saudi leadership to make a move.

The Saudis did not make a move when the labor market welcomed doctors and employees of both the Sunni and Shia faith in banks and telecoms companies. They only protested when an element sudden and odd to the GCC countries entered the market.

No one accused the Saudis of racism against the "new or naturalized Bahrainis" - their fears were for their future in the labor market. They expressed it with utmost boldness and force, based on the ‘logic' that the Saudis are more entitled to the investments, work and national resources.

The Bahraini Interior Minister did not say that these Bahraini citizens have the right, like others, to work in Saudi Arabia under the GCC agreements, but rather ordered "an urgent investigation into this matter in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior in order to reveal the facts and take the necessary steps."

In Bahrain, although the issue is not limited to the labor market but also extends to all opportunities to have a decent living, the ruling family does not address the competition of naturalized Bahrainis with indigenous Bahrainis in employment opportunities, housing, training and scholarships, why not the same reaction from both Bahraini and Saudi sides?

We do not assume here that Saudi Arabia runs Bahrain directly, but Saudi Arabia is one of Bahrain's main supporters. On the financial level, for instance, Saudi Arabia has provided over a period of 8 years more than $5 billion to Bahrain so it could face financial difficulties and fund infrastructure projects.
Why didn't Riyadh ask Manama about the disbursement of these amounts and the beneficiaries, especially with the damage caused by the naturalization process? Doesn't Saudi Arabia know that naturalized citizens will benefit from  a housing project such as that in the southern area, the Khalifa Bin Salman town?

Even if Bahrain stripped those Yemenis who entered the market to compete with the Saudis of their Bahraini nationalities, who would ensure that new generations of them and other nationals such as Syrians and Pakistanis would not leak into the Saudi market to compete with their citizens again?

Who will assure Saudi Arabia that Bahrain will succeed in meeting its commitments that it made with Gulf supporters to rebalance the country's financial situation by 2022? Will the financial balance program succeed while these funds are being strategically spent in order to change the demographic makeup of the country and marginalize Bahrainis?

If the countries offering support, including Saudi Arabia, share Bahrain's aspirations in this direction, they must prepare for pumping more funds and turn those amounts to grants, not soft loans. For Bahrain will never be able to fulfill its commitments.

Pushing Bahrain towards this policy will not yield results similar to what happened in another Gulf state. Bahrain does not have natural resources that could help it meet its obligations to the current large population.

This policy has harmed Bahrainis of various tribal, ethnic and religious affiliations, and they have the right to raise their voices against this dangerous project. What is happening in areas known for their loyalty to the ruling family in Bahrain is beyond what they bear.

The ruling family and Gulf supporters need to be prepared to hear more voices calling for restricting national resources and closing the labor market in the face of "new Bahrainis" as the case in Saudi Arabia. So then it would be unfair and illogical to accuse these voices of "racism."


Arabic Version


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