Alhamdulillah. Today was one of the better days I've had concerning the 'administration experience' in this part of Saudi. Together with another two of my friends, coupled with sheer determination, help from above and perfect timing we managed to complete the admin process for registration for admission to a driving school within one day! Yes one day!!
Masya Allah.. haza shai' 'ajeeb.. this is something extraordinary! Let me explain. Firstly, we didn't have any background information regarding the hows, whats and what nots about the registration process. This itself could cause us all sorts of problems. All we knew was the location of the driving school and that we have only the weekdays from morning till around noon to register. This also meant that we had to skip a day of lectures.
So off we went, and after 15 mins by taxi we reached the place. We became lost for a while as there were no clear signages to direct us to the registration area. We tried to locate it for a while but finally gave up and asked one of the officers there. Then we found a small poster listing the things needed for registration process. One of the things that is needed is to complete a medical assessment form of health, blood type and eye vision. This can only be done at one of the many polyclinics or health centres. Which meant that the chances of completing registration within in a day looked bleak as that would require a one-day completion of the medical assesment form which is rarely possible.
We headed for the admin counter to get the the medical assesment form. One of my friends asked the admin officer how to register? The officer asked back whether he had six photographs. And then said that he will only give the medical assesment form if we have the photographs. Two of us only had 3 photographs.
But just to try out the "system", one of us with six photographs went to register while two of us observed. The officer took only 1 photograph and he gave him the form with the photograph clipped to it. So we asked again requesting for the form as he only used 1 photograph. Thankfully, he obliged and passed us the forms as well.
Now, we can't do anything till we get the medical assesment form filled up. It was still early, so we headed for our University Clinic hoping that it would still be open and all the doctors that we needed for their assesment of our health would be present. Miraculously, all the doctors were present and we managed to get the form completed within 15 mins. How do you get to complete a medical assesment within 15 mins? It's called a 'verbal Q and A medical assessment'. Thats it. Go figure.
After that we went to get more scans of our photographs and had some forms and our identity card photocopied just in case the admin process required them. Seeing that there was still an hour before the driving centre closes, we decided to try going back to complete the administration process within the day. Barring any hiccups such as a crowd similar to the one we witnessed earlier, it was possible, insya Allah.
So we made a trip there again and we managed to complete the admin process 'smoothly' after going through 4 different counters with all our forms and photographs. Our photocopies proved useful as we found out that one of the admin officers required them as well. Finally, we received a receipt and form indicating the date and time to the start of our first driving lesson. "kholass?.." we confirmed one last time. And the officer nodded.
As you have observed, this is just one of the many "admin processes" that we have to go through during our stay here. Be thankful that back home in Singapore, this kind of process can be completed within half an hour or even lesser! There is generally no system in place here.
Picture this.. A process that could be completed within minutes at just one admin counter in Singapore. Here, that same process may require more than one staff member in charge of a small part which could be done by one person. If just one of them is not available or worse(but something common) the officer felt lazy and decided not to do his work that day, you'd have to return another day! During my first year trying to register a bank account, it took me one and a half months! Imagine that! Something which could be done within 5 mins at Singapore. I've heard all the simple reasons that they gave at different banks I went to.. "bukrah insya-Allah"(tomorrow, God Willing) or "ba'da usbook"(after a week) and once "ba'da shahr" (next month).
Thats why something which could be completed within a few minutes, be it at the bank or the school or others could take days, weeks or even months to complete! And don't even think about complaining. It won't work and may even cause you more problems. The rule of thumb is to persevere, ensure all documents needed for the process and hope that the admin officer is in a good mood or felt a little hardworking that day and hope for the best.
Alhamdulillah. Reflecting on the scenario this morning, imagine, what if just one of the doctors is absent? What if, we didn't find the all important poster? What if the admin officer had refused to pass us the medical assessment form? What if we didn't take the initiative to photocopy the important documents? And so on.. With just one of these factors missing, that's it for the day..come again..
For us here, in these kind of situations, we always have keep in mind that it's the way things work here and to exercise patience, lots and lots of it and not to let our emotions overcome us. Anyway, this is actually not the worse case scenario. The admin processes in Saudi can still be considered quite ok as compared to other arab countries like Egypt. Ask the students there of their admin experiences. You'd be shocked!
Anyway, this is something that the Arabs should place priority in improving. One of the top priorities. To perform their duties proficiently and professionally.
For now, for those experiencing this faulty part of Arab culture.. Fasobbrun Jameel.