43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

Updated 14 February 2014

43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

A total of 883 Filipinos died abroad and 3,154 jailed for various offenses, according to a newly released report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The figures have resulted in many Filipinos asking their government to create more jobs for citizens at home, while others have questioned the veracity of the data.
The DFA stated that 382 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) died in Saudi Arabia, 93 in the United Arab Emirates, 85 in Qatar, 47 in Kuwait and 30 in Bahrain.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor with about 10 million workers employed mostly as domestic helpers, construction laborers and medical personnel. Saudi Arabia accounts for more than a tenth of overseas Filipinos, surpassed only by the United States, say Philippine government records.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told GMA News Online that most cases of deaths and imprisonment are in the Gulf region — a key destination for Filipino workers. Common causes of deaths are illness and accidents.
The Middle East had the highest number of Filipinos jailed for various offenses followed by Southeast Asia and then China.
Another DFA official said common offenses committed by Filipinos in these countries are possession of liquor, which is banned in some Arab nations, theft or embezzlement, immorality, drug trafficking, murder and traffic violations.
A total of 634 Filipinos were detained for drug trafficking — 347 women and 287 men — in countries abroad, the DFA said.
Despite limited financial resources, the DFA was reportedly able to provide aid to 20,875 distressed Filipino workers in 2013, including 3,044 victims of human trafficking and hundreds caught in conflict in strife-torn nations.
Saidy Malic, a Riyadh-based community leader, has disputed the accuracy of the report. He said most of the data released by the DFA are unverified. He claimed that the DFA had also released incorrect figures on the number of Filipinos deployed in Saudi Arabia during the recent labor crackdown.
“The problem is that we cannot get correct information from the DFA much less from our embassy here. OFW’s have been crying for a single institution dedicated only to overseas workers but this was never granted,” he said.
“Information from non-governmental and other civil society organizations is more reliable. Unless we are recognized and given representation by the government we will continue to have the same problems.”
“We have actually been taken for granted and exploited as seen by the existence of more undocumented and un-repatriated OFWs.” He said many of these workers would be arrested before action is taken to help them.
Sigrid Matherson GoldSmith, an OFW based in Australia, urged the Philippine government to bring Filipinos home but said something must be done because they would be “returning to a country where they cannot earn anything and will have nothing to eat.”
A former OFW, Mods Abdullah, suggested that the government provide OFWs training on how to safeguard themselves abroad.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has recognized the need for the country to stop depending on remittances, according to reports. He would “create jobs at home so that working abroad will be out of choice, not necessity.”
A local media report said that every year hundreds of Filipino workers leave the country in search for better opportunities “Many have succeeded but some have come home in coffins in crushing personal tragedies that have become so commonplace they seldom make news at home.”
Their struggling Southeast Asian nation calls them “modern-day heroes” for the often meager earnings they send home that, collectively, keep the Philippine economy afloat and local businesses booming, the report said.


Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2020

Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah destination provides a taste of Japan with anime, comics, desserts and films

JEDDAH: Japanese comic books, known as manga, have captured the hearts of some Saudis so much that a 31-year-old citizen decided to give the genre’s fans a specialist Jeddah cafe so that they can pursue their passion as well as meet others who share it.

Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer who spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
Manga cafes can be found in most cities across Japan. They are a place where people can spend hours reading manga, and they are also considered to be a cultural space where people can relax and have conversations about manga.
He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in the Kingdom. As an urban planner, he was able to grasp the Japanese concept and implement it in Saudi Arabia with a few tweaks and changes to suit the local audience.
“Manga cafés are all over Japan, albeit executed differently,” Baghlaf told Arab News. “They’re a little like internet cafés where people can spend the night. Of course, recreating that here doesn’t go along with our culture and traditions, so we recreated the concept in a way that accommodates that.”

Signature drinks
Akiba has only been open for a few months but, by the time Arab News visited the manga hotspot, people have already been flocking to the cafe to try out its signature drinks and read their favorite comics.

We have contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.

Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, Urban planning engineer

Friends and families can be seen relaxing together on the ground floor flicking through the pages of a comic book, or delving into a more accessible e-reading option as manga is still in short supply in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales.
Akiba also airs popular anime and animated films throughout the day, uploading their schedule on their Twitter and Instagram pages.
Baghlaf is an avid gamer, but watching anime and reading manga is definitely on his list of favorite things to do. Keeping up with popular stories also helps him to figure out what manga volumes to acquire and which anime films to screen.
The urban planning engineer noticed the Kingdom’s approach in linking many objectives in the Vision 2030 reform plan to entertainment and, as cafes continue to draw large crowds in Saudi Arabia, he felt encouraged about going for Akiba.
“Specialty cafes are very popular here nowadays, so how am I going to be special? I went for a manga or anime cafe,” he said.
The cafe’s target audience are those who are interested in specialty coffee, manga and anime. For people with a sweet tooth there are Japanese desserts on offer, including cheesecake.

BACKGROUND

• Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer.

• He spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

• He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in Saudi Arabia.

• The name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers.

• It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.

• Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.

Baghlaf has to make frequent trips to Japan to discuss screening rights with creators in Tokyo. “We’ve contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.”
Due to the deals Baghlaf has made with distributors, he receives the episodes prior to their airing date to green-light them in terms of translation accuracy and censorship, in order not to air anything that goes against the Kingdom’s culture.
The same goes for manga. “I would bring in a story with 70-something volumes and, out of those, one book could end up with something inappropriate and I’d have to shelve the whole series.”


Baghlaf believes that the market for Japanese storytelling is massive in Saudi Arabia and continues to grow each day.
“It’s definitely popular and it’s why you see major events happening like Comic Con and Anime Expo, which I’ve been to myself with 200,000 others. It was so crowded,” he said.

Friendship
The Saudis have grown up with Japanese stories for decades, as well as slapstick US cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and the Loony Tunes that lack storytelling or arcs, according to Baghlaf. The Japanese stories have taught generations of Saudis about friendship, brotherhood, integrity and how to deal with others.
“There’s also a huge likeness between Japanese and Arabic culture. Within families, respecting those older than you whether through language, which has levels of formality where elders deserve the most respectable form when talked to and they have a lot of respect for familial bonds as well.”
The cafe owner revealed that the name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers. It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.
Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.