Again I ask: Why can’t I hire a good plumber in Barbados?
Long time BFP readers know that I (Robert) sometimes disappear for a few weeks or a month or two because I am what used to be called a “journeyman A&P” – in short, an aircraft mechanic for hire. (Aviation professionals around the world will cringe reading the word “mechanic” but I’m writing for a non-aviation audience and the gentlemen will understand I’m sure.)
There was a time when I made my living flying second and third seats on clapped out 727’s delivering cargo anywhere anytime but those days are past. Thank God I had my A/P, 727 and P&W tickets to fall back on because so many front office crew from that time (late 90’s) ended up selling life insurance or stocking shelves at the inlaws’ family fruit and veggie market. (No offense, but our old friend and Twotter pilot Jim Lynch is just one example of the industry carnage.)
I’ve done my share of work in the Middle East because it is lucrative – though stifling, boring and more than absurd in some respects. Try passing a tool or a part to an Arab with your left hand and see what happens. No wonder the Arabs are generally useless on the tarmac.
It’s a cultural thing, not racial, and anyone who’s worked in the Middle East knows about it. The Arabs are sitting on the bulk of the world’s oil, but if they didn’t hire outsiders to change the engine oil in their own equipment, every Arab Mercedes and Airbus would die within a year.
An old friend sent me this story because we’ve both “eaten sand” (worked the Middle East) – but as I read it I felt more and more uncomfortable. I’d never thought of certain similarities between the Middle East and another place, but as I read this piece I had to think about why I can’t hire a decent plumber in Barbados.
Maybe I’m carrying on because I’ve had a smash or two of Jack’s, but there’s just something eerily familiar about this article from Strategy Page. See if you can pick up on it.
Friends, you should go to Strategy Page to read the article, but just in case it goes down like the Nation, we’ll be reprinting it in full here.
Why Arabs Need Their Foreign Mercenaries
Saudi Arabia recently bought 72 Typhoon jet fighters from Britain. The manufacturer, BAE Systems, is energetically recruiting qualified maintenance personnel to keep these aircraft flying. Few Saudis will be recruited, most of these technicians will come from the West. Why is that? Continue reading