Saudi Aramco on Wednesday broke its deafening silence over the company’s use of a migrant worker as a ‘human hand sanitiser’, following a flurry of social media outrage.
In an overt admission of its guilt, Aramco issued a statement on the matter:
”[What has happened] betrays our values and commitment to high ethical standards and conduct”
On their official account on Twitter, the oil giant explained that the decision to go ahead with the stunt was a decision taken without the permission of the company’s ”concerned party”.
The company said that it had ”stopped the act” and would take necessary action to ensure ”it was not repeated again”.
The degrading images circulating on social media show a migrant worker wearing a face mask, with a hand sanitiser pinned onto a white box hanging over his shoulders.
In one image, a smartly dressed employee of the oil firm dispenses hand gel, as the visually dejected migrant worker turns away from him.
The incident prompted an angry backlash on social media, with users across the world condemning what they saw as a evidence of “modern day slavery” rife in the Kingdom
Other users drew attention to the “racist” and “classist” dimensions of the abusive behaviour.
Saudi Arabia has long been the target of harsh criticism for its appalling human rights record and treatment of migrant workers, who make a large proportion of the workforce in the country, as well as the wider Gulf region.
Yet some users have argued that there were double standards implicit in the chorus of criticism, as migrant workers also work as “advertising boards” in the West.
On Monday, Aramco increasing its crude production from 8.3 per cent to 13 million barrels per day, despite the slowdown in oil demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.