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An example of wasta 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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6 comments

Wasta in the Middle East is guanxi in China. In the UK it would loosely be translated as some kind ‘connection’ that enables you to obtain advantage that, strictly speaking, you don’t deserve: it’s all about who you know, not what you know. While – clearly – this principle works to some degree in all societies, it is rather blatant in the Middle East; witness the man sauntering to the front of the queue in, say, the driving licence office.

Wasta is similar to nepotism. When I was asking some Qataris about this they – well educated, bright, articulate students – couldn’t believe that it was illegal in the UK. They considered it a duty for someone, if they have the power, to get a member of their family or one of their friends a job. An interesting cultural difference.

I was emailed the brief article below. This is, essentially, wasta in action. This is but one miniscule example of a pervasive system of wasta that governs the Middle East and certainly the Gulf. Too strong a wording you may think…I’m not so sure, but am always willing to listen to counter arguments.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor said intervention by influential people has prevented the ministry from taking action against an unidentified sitting MP, reports Al-Seyassah daily, quoting reliable ministry sources.
The same sources said the MP has recruited 1,050 expatriate drivers in a trading and contracting company owned by him and his two sons.
The sources added the ministry had sanctioned the employment of only 10 expatriate workers, but the MP went on to hire 1,040 more workers. However, it has been reported only six people work in his company.

Hat tip: James E