A brown American in Saudi Arabia

A Pakistani-American colleague wrote me this (I have his permission to cite):  "I just wanted to share my experience in Saudi with you. I had a long layover stay in Jeddah on my way back to Lahore, about 14 hours. The official Saudi policy, and as my travel agent understood it, was that US citizens were given on arrival transit visas, i.e. there's no need for getting a visa to leave the airport in advance. My travel agent had booked a hotel stay for the duration of this layover.   However the day before flying to Jeddah, I realized -- being the pious Moslem that I am! -- that I had more than sufficient time to perform umrah during this layover, that I could easily go to Mecca, perform the umrah rituals, and then come back to Jeddah well in time to make my flight to Lahore. So I made all the preparations and the intention to perform my umrah, and of course my travel agent said I would get the on-arrival transit visa granted to US citizens.  But I get there, and the Saudi authorities tell me I can't leave the airport. I remind them that their policy is to give US citizens a visa on arrival, but they stubbornly refuse to listen. Of course, I am completely crushed and irate that they are stopping me from performing umrah, so I let this (by now) group of about 8-10 Saudi airport security/immigration personnel (and their supervisors) have it. This is what I said:
"Why don't you guys be honest. Your generous visa policy is for the RIGHT TYPE of American, the WHITE American. It wasn't meant for the BROWN PAKI types like me, the ones you guys have (and certainly treat) as your slave labor."
And this is where you'll have to forgive me for unashamedly stealing a version of your line:
"And please tell your king that he is not the custodian/protector of the two holy mosques, but of imperialism, Zionism, misogyny, oppression, and counter-revolution in the region."
And then I just ran far away and hoped they wouldn't find me, and I was lucky. But this is the racist ideology of the House of Saud in practice. Their principal form of piety is worshiping the White Man." 

Posted on February 7, 2012 by As'ad