Yesterday my friend E. had a car accident in Saudi Arabia. It is sort of scary because when something happens to a friend in Saudi, most of us can not cross the border.
I heard about the incident and called him, to find out if there was something I could do. I live very close to the Saudi border, at least I could go and pick him up on our side, if he could make it there.
I call. He is not hurt. The car is still running and he tells me the story:
He was coming along the round about when a car decided to enter the round about. Out of the blue, this guy cuts in front of E.'s car and the cars colide.
At the police station, they tell the story, exactly as it happened and the policeman says to E.:
- It is your fault. Whoever is in the round about has to be aware of people trying to get in.
Unbelievable, but to create a scene could make things worse. E accepts it. The policeman then noticed E. did not have a copy of his annual insurance and questioned him. He seemed satisfied when E. told him, the insurance was done and the receipt was at the office. He would bring it the next day.
E. was released from the police station and was ready to travel back to Bahrain, when his Saudi friend, who had been translating the conversations whole time, noticed E. was given a fine.
E's friend could not help it. He turned around and went back to the police station:
- Why did you fine him? You are doing all of this because he is an expat.
E. was desperately trying to make his friend shut up. It is Saudi Arabia, after all.
The policeman asked for E's passport and decided to keep it there until next morning, when he would check the insurance policy.
Now E's situation was much worse. He was considered guilty, he was fined and now he could not travel back to Bahrain, because his passport was apprehended. And to top it all up, Brazil was going to play in a few hours. World Cup game. Who wants to miss it?
E run back to the office, got a copy of the insurance policy, managed to be released, watched the game at a coffee shop in Saudi and arrived home almost 2 am.
Moral of the story: In Saudi, the law is made up on the spot. And the Arabs are always right.