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Kuwaiti Model Sondos Al-Qattan - an example of prevalent hubris and indifference of the rich against the poor
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."…. Eliezer Wiesel, a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent.

He was the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is NIGHT, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

It’s the indifference and callousness of rich against the poor and weak, around the globe, that has made this planet as a suffocating place for lesser human beings.

The Arabic language has one the richest vocabulary in the world. However, the money counting there had reached only to ‘Thousand’ which is called ‘Alf’ in Arabic; 'Hundred' is ‘Miyan.’ They were trotting in 'Alfs' only. Then prosperity sneaked into their life and they climbed to 1000,000.  They had no name for this much of wealth. So they borrowed the word ‘MILYON’ from English ‘Million.’ As the Americans helped them in their own interest of PETROL and got out the Black Gold from earth for them, it was surprise and quick jump from donkey to Mercedes-Benz. ARAMCO (Arab American Oil Company) became the harbinger of prosperity of the Middle East. Sooner, the leather tents, the camels and the goats went into their festivals and folk lore and Falcons, Casinos in the West, buildings like Burj Khalifa, Faisalyah Tower and Al-Hamrah Firdous Tower etc became the new realities of Arab world - the new benchmarks of their luxury life.

But the new found prosperity, power and pelf, with little effort of their own was more like the windfall and it made many of the Arabs arrogant, indifferent, intolerant and heartless. Most of the times their Labour treatment of Asian and African workers was humiliating and they revered the Westerners will awe and gratitude. The Asians were “RAFIQUE’ and the Westerns were “Siddigue” – a more respectable term for a friend. That is against the spirit of Islam.  

However, this is a universal phenomenon. The culture of comfort makes many of us insensitive to the cries of other people. In this globalized world, most of us have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others. It boils down to - it doesn't affect me; it doesn't concern me; it's none of my business.

And the latest example of this arrogance, hubris and indifference is shown by a Kuwaiti model who must recall the days when Saddam Hussain had taken over Kuwait and many of them found refuge in KSA and other countries. People conveniently forget their own past. The snobbishness of Sondos Al-Qattan, a make-up artist of Kuwait who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram has sparked a world-wide outrage over her controversial comments about the domestic workers in Kuwait. She criticised a new Kuwaiti law that granted Filipino domestic workers one day off per week. The provisions of law also removed the employer’s right to withhold their passport and required 22 days annual leave for workers.

In s video Al-Qattan expressed her resentment in the following words:

“The new laws that have been passed are like a pathetic film. For her (domestic worker) to take a day off every week, that’s four days a month. Those are the days that she’ll be out. And we don’t know what she’ll be doing on those days, with her passport on her.”

The world was quick to respond. Several popular and prestigious beauty brands rushed to disassociate themselves from Sondos Al-Qattan. Earlier the global and regional fashion-product giants that were eager to enlist Al-Qattan, the region’s most prominent fashion iicon as their brand ambassador to tap into the lucrative Middle East market, are rethinking now to dissociate with the disgraced Kuwaiti model. Cosmetics companies, including Max Factor Arabia, MAC Cosmetics, Chelsea Beautique, Anatasia Beverly Hills and French perfume brand M. Micallef have all cut ties with Al-Qattan. The credit goes to social media in Arab world as it focussed the sentiments against the haughty model.

However, she had still got some big backers also. A Bahrain-based family conglomerate Kanoo Group’s Chairman, Mishal Kanoo, one of the Gulf’s most prominent businessman, told Arabian Business that Al Qattan should be able to express her opinion. Kanoo disagreed with Al Qattan views but he believes laws surrounding domestic workers should be made ‘clearer’ as a household cannot be compared to a regular, corporate business environment. Sondos Al Qattan has a ‘free right’ to her opinion,

Reacting to world-wide condemnation, still unrepentant model, took refuge in religion and nationalism that is the normal subterfuge for of all bigots, demagogues and hate-mongers.

She responded in the following words:

“Here sounds off the azan. I trust in God. He will deal out every single person who is trying to defame another. I trust in God. He will deal out all the enemies of Islam.

I've been reported by 90 press agencies, and 90 people inquired [about me], 90 magazines, 90 newspapers, these keep talking about the same subject. There are a couple of things I need to say to you, because all the people here support the people in the Gulf, most people, even Arabs who have maids, are supportive of me.

Of course I did not have to offer any apology because I was telling the truth, but this was only to make things clear.

After seeing all this, I felt there's an attack on Islam, [with those people] saying, look she is wearing the hijab, look at the Muslims, of course [look] at the Kuwaitis in particular, and similarly the people of the Gulf region, look at the Arabs.

Keeping a domestic worker's passport is deemed an enslavement and racism. Why judge me [this way] when I keep my servant's passport with the aim to ensure my safety? Where are the humanitarian people? These express more outrage over my remarks than they have over humanitarian crises and massacres in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. Are these humanitarian values?

Humanity [for them] was busy focusing solely on the passport? We say that this is intentional in order to damage Kuwait, and Kuwait is known for its humanitarian values, and we do not need anyone's testimony.

In the name of God, I call on my followers to boycott the brands that have severed relationships with me via their messages on email.

This is not a personal issue. No! They intend to target hijab-wearers, the Muslima, the Gulf nationals.”... End of Al-Qattan remarks.

It’s in the backdrop of about 60 percent of the 250,000 Filippinos in Kuwait who are domestic workers. The government of Kuwait has been under pressure from the international community to improve a system that human rights groups have described as a breeding ground for poor working conditions.

According to Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, founder of TishTash Marketing & Public Relations -“If Sondos had come out with some humility and remorse, apologizing for her comments and explaining maybe why they were out of context or showed some lack of judgement, then we could be in a different situation today than we are.

“I have rarely today seen any influencer so vilified and not just on a regional level, but globally too and this is a very tricky place to come back from,” she said.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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