Chelsea Handler, did you ever lose your passport?



Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Published — Monday 7 January 2013

Last update 7 January 2013 12:09 pm

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The worst nightmare for a frequent flier is to lose his or her passport. But it gets worse if someone else steals it and then uses it to cross the border. In the United States, the most important ID document is the driving license. In other countries, including Saudi Arabia, the passport is the most important official document. I am not sure if Chelsea Handler has this piece of information.
Also, I am not sure if Chelsea Handler ever knew, met or talked to any Saudi man. And I am not sure if she ever visited the region. But she might be surprised to know that a lot of people in the area know her very well. American stand-up comedians and talk-show hosts are always popular, but there is a difference between comedy and jokes of bad taste, especially when the joke is cracked just to make fun of other people or has racial overtones in it.
I love American stand-up comedy and my favorite is Jerry Seinfeld. He is the most popular even in this part of the world. Ironically, his popularity increased on two occasions and none of them was about jokes. One time was because of the hit movie (Bee Movie). And the other time was when he showed the world his respect to others.
In 2006, he showed the world that it is wrong to pass any racial comments about other people. His friend and co-star comedian Michael Richards, widely known for his portrayal of Cosmo Kramer, used the N-word when he was talking to three African Americans. And even though Richards talked back in anger not in a prejudiced tone and it was the three African Americans who were the ones who started it all.
Jerry Seinfeld showed the world, yes, you can be a comedian without offending others and he indicated that his close friend Richards was wrong. I will not talk about Jerry Seinfeld’s episode about dentists because I simply hate going to see a dentist.
Just a few days ago, Handler made a pathetic joke about Saudi men. In the comment she used the F-word. And I am wondering, did she use it just to be funny or she is a racist. And did she do her homework about the passport regulations before using the F-word in her joke or it is her style in comedy.
I am someone who is very liberal about what people think or how they think. I think people have the right to act or say whatever they want to say as long it doesn’t offend the others. The Saudi women were more offended by her joke than their male counterparts.
Handler is very popular figure and I have seen some of her shows. She is a comedian and a talk show host. For myself, I wasn’t surprised by her comment about the Saudi men, even though she made a comment about something she had no idea about. Apparently, this is her style. But, before we talk about her comment, let us ask who is Chelsea Handler?
Handler was born in the town of Livingston, New Jersey. I have been to this town many times during my school years. And in her early years she was pregnant and had an abortion at the age of 16. This means she was sexually active at the age of about 15. And please don’t get me wrong, I know it is her life and she is free to do whatever pleases her. And I do understand that she is raised differently from the people in this area. But was it right or wrong to a have an abortion? Is it because she knew that she would not be a good mother or she knew her life would not be the same? Being a mother at an early age is not an easy job and it is a big responsibility. Now my question is: Why did she really make the pathetic joke about the Saudi men?
I think she was trying to be funny. Not about the Saudi men, but about her own relations with men. Because if we look closely at her personal life, she is having a very hard time keeping a steady relation with men she dates (dated) and I am sure none of them is a Saudi. Now let us talk about some of the rules and regulations about the Saudi passport.
I am a Saudi man in my 50s, and when I crossed the Saudi border two days ago while going to Bahrain, I received an SMS saying, you have left the Kingdom from King Fahad Causeway. And this is done for my own good. Because my passport could be missing and someone else is using it. Also, if my wife and daughter or any son under the age of 21 is traveling, then they would send the same message to my mobile if I want to.
The SMS message system was introduced short time ago and was introduced as a trial and could be suspended at any time by the Passport Department. Also, one of the reasons is that in Saudi Arabia most people have passports and not many of them travel that often, and because the passport costs about $ 80, then the Passport Department allows the Saudi family to combine five family members in one passport.
In other words, you can have an $ 80 passport for five people instead of paying $ 400 for five passports. This means the mother will be using her passport with four children as accompanying family members. Children above the age of 15 must have their own passports, male or female. Each country has different passport system and as far as I know US citizens are still not allowed to go to countries like Cuba. And, for the information of the readers, the passport control procedure is done electronically.
And as for women traveling in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi women are one of the most frequent travelers in the world. There are about 30,000 Saudi young women studying in the US and the same number in the UK and many in other countries. The percentage of Saudi women traveling to foreign countries is higher than the US. Finally, I could elaborate more information about the Saudi passport system, and I hope Handler understands that different countries have different rules because if she still didn’t understand, then I will explain it again using actress Sandra Bullock’s way of teaching. I am sure Handler remembers the shower lesson.

— This article is exclusive to Arab News.

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