The story of the Prince of Taif.
One day my Foreman and his Pakistani helper drove out of our
compound on the Medina road and were hit by a minibus full of
pilgrims. The Pakistani helper sadly later died due to a complete lack
of medical assistance. Saudi law in these cases states that the last
person to touch the deceased is to blame for the death.
My Foreman who was Maltese, although badly injured, was put into
jail, which in Jeddah is an unimaginably bad place.
After taking medicine and food each day and trying every way
possible to get him out the only thing left was to appeal to the Prince.
So together with the head of our Maltese 'Partners' I drove to Taif
arriving in the early evening. I had left Jeddah with a toothache and
now it had got much worse so immediately after arriving we looked
for a dentist and found a very small studio and a quite old German
Dentist with an even older German wife nurse.
He said, 'Zee tooth kumen zi out. I vill giff you injection und tableten
fur zi pain und infekshun.' All the time the wife nurse fussing around
with dentist stuff that looked like it was as old as Noah.
Within a few minutes I was in the chair the tooth was out and I felt
better but had a very swollen face.
The next morning in the Palace my face was still swollen and looked
like I was wearing a wry smile as we stood in line with about 40
others who also had a request for the Prince. As we stood there,
sweating from having to wear suits and ties, the Prince walked slowly
along the line, sometimes calm and sometimes shouting.
Beside him was an aide but behind him was his body guard, dressed
as Aladdin, he was frightening just to behold with his hand always on
a big gold sword and a face full of hatred. The greatest difficulty for
me was having one eye on Body guard and one on the Prince.
'What' asked the Prince in a single word.
As humbly as I could I explained the plight of my Foreman.
The Prince exploded in Arabic, the body guard took half a step
forward, I thought about taking several steps backwards but didn't
move. The Prince then spoke in English, 'So you infidels think you
can buy the life of a poor Pakistani Pilgrim?' I mumbled through my
still distorted wry smile mouth, 'For the Pakistani's family'.
The Prince moved on to the next in line and his aide gave me a
paper saying request granted 40,000 Rials.
Once out of prison I had the Foreman smuggled back to Malta but
the poor guy would never be the same after the experience.
A few days later the toothache returned.
I turned out that the Dentist in Taif was in fact an ex Nazi who had
escaped to Saudi Arabia, perhaps the safest place he could be and
he had taken out the wrong tooth !
This experience of corruption had it's benefits but cost me 40,000
Rials and two teeth. Rials and two teeth.