Wednesday, 20 June 2012

International Diplomacy 101

You can always count on the Argentinians to rock the diplomatic boat:

Exhibit A: Invading Falklands
Predictably: Don't Cry For Me.....

Exhibit B: Marradona's Hand of God

Exhibit C: Po faced Argie PM stirs it up at UN

Exhibit D: Newly arrived member of staff at my company

I wasn't there to witness the incident, but the person who defused it told me the story and it was confirmed by a rather shocked HR person today....

The scene: meeting room full of men, discussing some tediously dull project. The only woman present is one of the drilling engineers; very clever, western educated, Saudi girl - covers her hair but not her face. She's lovely.

At the end of the meeting there's all the usual shaking of hands between particpants. The protocol with a Saudi woman is you only shake their hand if they offer theirs first, you don't attempt to offer your hand. And you certainly don't go up to her, give her a big hug and say "what a beautiful lady".

Unless you're the new engineer, freshly arrived from Argentinia.

The poor girl runs off, visibly shocked,  the offender is left saying "but eet wassa supposter to bea compliment" (in a Manuel type accent) and has to be stopped from running after her to apologise.

My friend goes to see if she's OK and to explain about the new arrival, he finds her in her office , almost shaking. Being hugged by a fat, sweaty male stranger when you're used to absolutely zero physical contact with men can't be nice.

The land grabbing, world cup cheating, sex pest was lucky to learn about Saudi culture in the safe surroundings of the office. Approaching a woman in a public place, even to talk to her would bring him to the attention of the Muttawa (god cops) for a light beating and deportation - if he was lucky.

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