Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Indian Muslims Abroad


Go Slow.... Saudization Ahead!
"Muslim student drop-outs should be brought back to school and college"-M. S. Zahed, Chairman and MD, HMT Ltd


Go Slow.... Saudization Ahead!

All foreign taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia have been given six months to leave the country or find other employment. But the Saudi practice of sub-letting jobs may open new doors for the Muslim taxi drivers

By Mohammed Hanif

Saudi Taxi DriverA circular released by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last month might end the employment of thousands of Indian taxi drivers there, but man-power merchants who send workers to the Gulf claim the overall scene should not change much.

Primarily, not too many people have been going to Saudi Arabia to drive taxis of late, they say. Drivers have been going to operate private vehicles, which is still allowed. Also, the six-month grace period granted to existing taxi drivers is ample time for some modification to the Saudi law.

All foreign taxi and limousine drivers in Saudi Arabia have been given six months to leave the country or find other employment. Reeling under unemployment, the oil-rich desert kingdom wants to reserve jobs like driving taxis and limousines for its own citizens.

However, Abdul Jabbar, a business partner with Global Manpower Services, Byculla, noted, “Business in the taxi trade there has been bad anyway, unlike about seven years ago. For nearly a month, we have not sent anyone to Saudi Arabia to drive taxis.”

He added that the drivers can still work at private jobs. “Demand still exists for personal and palace drivers,” Jabbar said. Limousine and taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia are employed under one of the two contracts: either they get a commission and salary, or split the day’s earnings with the owner. “Many outfits who send manpower to Saudi Arabia have been concentrating on the palace and personal driver trade for months. So it is difficult to say how much our business would be affected by this circular,” explains Jabbar.

Mastan Shopping Centre at Byculla, home to many man-power providers to the Gulf, had the usual queues of people this week wanting to make a living overseas. But most were looking for jobs like electrical fitters. An officer at the Al-Samad manpower agency said, “We knew three months ago that the circular was coming from the Saudi consulate. Since then, we stopped sending anyone as drivers to the Kingdom.” The risk of getting thrown out after spending about Rs 50,000 to get there is too great, the officer added.

“At the same time, the six-month grace period is ample time to expect concessions in the law. So I am not expecting any rush of taxi drivers returning to India anytime soon,” said Jabbar. An officer at the Saudi Consulate in Mumbai, speaking on behalf of Consul-General Mohammad al-Ajlan, had only this to say about the circular: “It is Saudi law.”

Saudi Arabia’s total population is about 22.8 million. Of this, over 4 million are expatriate workers. Many Saudis are unemployed and to resolve that, the Saudi government has ordered ‘Saudization’ - replacing expatriates with Saudi workers. This is not popular, especially with non-Saudi employers, for many Saudi workers have a reputation for not being punctual and callous and in inefficient. Also, everyone wants to be a mudeer (manager). Few are willing to start from the bottom.

Till recently, Saudis were uncommon, working in low salary jobs. Even if some Saudi did work, it created news. One Saudi young man who worked as a waiter was so showered with appreciation from the government and the community in the form of money (and press interviews) that within a year, he quit his job and opened up his own business! Another, who worked for McDonald’s, was interviewed and his photo so plastered in the press that he became a celebrity!

But due to changing economies, many Saudis are forced to take low-cadre jobs. Where many work hard at it, some have devised unique and clever ways of getting the job to work for them. By sub-letting it to another!

An Indian taxi driver, Tahir Baig on a visit to India for Ramadan told Islamic Voice that he was also a muezzin at a local mosque near his house. “Oh, the real muezzin is a Saudi. I have been hired by him to take his place. I give the call for prayer every day, and he pays me to do it.” In other words, the Saudi had sub-let his job to the Indian.

The Indian was being paid SR600 for the job, a fraction of what the other man made. But he was happy. Between prayers, he dropped off children to different schools and also ran a private taxi for ladies with transportation problems. Tahir revealed that such sub-letting of job by Saudis are very common. He narrated about one of his Hyderabadi friend who got a cleaner’s job sub-let to him by a Saudi. “In Riyadh, there is a private accountancy firm which employed a native Arab, handed over the keys and instructed him to open the office every morning and clean the entire place and arrange the things as directed. The man does not like his job and hates cleaning the place, so he has hired my friend privately to do the job. For this, my friend gets SR 200, where as the Arab gets the whole salary many times more.”

Another Indian expatriate Shamim, narrated that after he lost the regular job, he was introduced by a common friend to an Arab youth who was delivery man for a courier company. “In the first meeting he offered me the SR 500 job of deliveryman. Everyday he goes to office, picks up his consignment for delivery and meets me at the appointed place. There he hands over the consignment to me and I do the delivery,” said Shamim.

The practice of sub-letting jobs is very unusual and perhaps unique to Saudi Arabia. Usually, properties are let and sub-let. It seems like a sinister practice, but some of it appears to be quite harmless and is one way to beat unemployment.

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Hi-Profile

"Muslim student drop-outs
should be brought back to school and college"-
M. S. Zahed, Chairman and MD, HMT Ltd

Mr.ZahedWhat began as a teenager’s dream many decades ago is a reality today. “I always wanted to head an organisation or be an Army chief,” says M. S Zahed, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd (HMT). “Even as a student of P.E.S College of Engineering from where I graduated as a mechanical engineer, I had clear dreams of heading an organisation”. I would constantly think about what it would take me to reach the top of the corporate world, and this sub-consciously helped me make the right decisions which have brought me here.”

Zahed’s career graph is anyone’s wish list. He has been rising with each successive step that he has taken. He was among the youngest engineers to graduate at the age of 20. Then he took up a job with BEML, ITI and then finally HMT - which he joined in 1970 as a Management Trainee. In 1974, he joined the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore to do his MBA (First Batch) and was subsequently involved with international business of HMT, travelling the whole world. He has handled positions as Regional Director in Algiers, North Africa. “Travelling can be the best education a person can get,” he says.

In this exclusive interview with Islamic Voice, he shares his thoughts on education and professionalism with Sabith Khan.

How important is a Management degree for any young graduate to enter the field of management and administration?

Management education of any kind - be it from the prestigious institutes like the IIMs or any small time institute is a must. It helps you hone your skills of analysis and scientific thinking. The scientific principles taught in management education can be applied in your entire life - even personal life, it can help you be a better husband\wife, a better father \mother, a better citizen and a better professional. So I think management education is a MUST in today’s context.

What is your advice to youngsters wishing to pursue a career in management?

Develop skills, have clear defined goals which you can visualise each day of your life and drive yourself. Good skills - technical, managerial, inter-personal are a sure passport to success in the corporate world. In the business world, all people care for is performance. If you can perform, you are a successful person. Above all, youngsters need to value education and intellectual achievement more than money. Money is a very transitory thing, whereas your education stays with you.

What do you think about the education scenario in India, with reference to the Muslim community?

I have seen practically the entire world and frankly I think Muslims in India are very fortunate. We have such good infrastructure, it is so easy to be an engineer or a doctor here as compared to many Islamic countries, simply because of the great infrastructure we have. But as a community, we seem to be overlooking this advantage to our own peril. I think our community leaders must form a blueprint for the next 10-15 years at a macro - level to see to it that the drop-outs of schools, colleges enter college back. There must be an effort to help youngsters pursue higher education and all this must be done to help them become better human beings, and better Indians. Muslim youngsters are the ones who would create the right image of Islam across the world.

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News| Community Roundup| Editorial| Readers Comments| Men, Machines and Methods| Globe Watch| Political Diary| Issues
Breaking News| Indian Muslims Abroad| Book Review| In Focus| Face To Face| Reflections| Children's Corner| Quran Speaks to You
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