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The Problem with Arab Talents

Updated: Jan 27, 2019


Photo by Annie Spratt

I’ve always been doubtful about myself.


My abilities. My ideas. My self-worth.

In the classroom. At work. On stage.


For a long time, I was convinced that being an Arab was a curse, that being an Arab meant less opportunities, less potential, and less respect.


I’ve surrendered to the notion that my ideas and work cannot reach world-class success.

I’ve created doubt about my ability to impact the world.

Just because I’ve lived my entire life in the Arab region.

Just because I studied and worked in the Middle East.

Just because my parents are Arabs.


Just because I am an Arab.


Similar to me, most Arabs have been inflicted by a strong and dangerous belief… The Khawaja Trauma عٌقْدَة الخَواجة


Khawaja is a word used in the past to describe a foreigner, which translates into "master" or "lord". This word is rarely used today, but the meaning of it is still bound in the back of our minds


We live the Khawaja Trauma in our daily lives.


We’ve been conditioned as Arabs to believe that those who come from the west are smarter, more talented, and more capable than us.


Western job candidates are usually more favored over Arabs.

Foreign startups are more trusted with business deals over Arab startups.

There is a masked assumption that Western talents can deliver more value than Arab talents.


This has created a generation of youngsters who are too scared to believe in themselves.. As a result, many Arabs are trying to overcome this by building the “Khawaja Credibility”.


Just like westerners, it’s also believed that Arabs who studied, worked, lived abroad or with western nationalities are more appreciated than Arabs.


Therefore, many Arabs attempt to gain this Khawaja credibility by chasing professional certifications and educational degrees from western institutions and even immigrate abroad, with the hope that, one day, they will come back to the region freed from the Khawaja Trauma.


This solution, or dare I say, this disguise secures them the “Khawaja” credibility, as if it’s making them immune to the “Khawaja Trauma”.


It’s undeniable that the road to success being an Arab without the “Khawaja Credibility” is relatively much more challenging than it is for others.


It’s a disappointing fact!

It took me time to have peace with it.

A lot of people around me are not in peace with it, yet.. It slows them down, discourages them, victimizes them to this external circumstance.


Sometimes, I wonder when this will end. Sometimes, I feel like I am about to lose my motivation. I feel like packing my bags and chasing the Khawaja credibility, and maybe not even come back.


But then I slip through the depths of my mind, it doesn’t really convince me.. I don’t think chasing the Khawaja Credibility is a solution. It’s a temporary solution. With it, we will still be slaves to our self-limiting beliefs that Westerners are more talented than us.


I don’t have a solution for this. I wish I did!


All I know is that we need to see more and more Arabs without the “Khawaja Credibility stepping up and believing in themselves.

More Arabs seeing their full potential despite all external and internal limiting beliefs.

More Arabs who lead brave and purposeful lives.


We need to see you in no disguise hiding your identity.

We need to see the real you.


Show us, show the world, who you really are.

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© 2020 by Naser AL