What is a Haris?
If you’re in Kuwait, I am sure you have your own story to tell about this “King Of the Building “ ) man. Let me tell you my story ;
Haris ( or literally translated to Guard/ Janitor ) is a person in Kuwait working as a Guard of the Building, Flat Apartment or Villa. His main job is to guard the whole building and supervise in behalf of the Kuwaiti owner. He’s also the one in charge collecting the rent from the tenants. He receives the walk-in Expats who wants to view the vacant flats for rent. He is ever visible around the building. He is like a walking CCTV camera that watches all over the place and reports to the owner. They normally have a free accomodation within the building. If the tenants moved out, the Haris has the access to get all the remaining stuff inside the flat considering most flats are rented unfurnished.
I met Jamal when I was still living in the flat provided by my employer. He is a kind man from Bangladesh. He is also meek and very polite. He works as the Haris in our building. The owner has 2 Harris. One is Egyptian who takes care of the rent and overall person in charge, while Jamal is the runner. I see him mostly in the mornings where He does most of the carwashing in the parking area. He also collect the garbage from each floor. When I needed help, He is always there to volunteer. Like for example when I needed to bring heavy groceries up to the elevator. He speaks English so that was a relief. Many times, I tried to give him money as token of appreciation but He politely refused. Jamal is the typical “GOOD “Haris in Kuwait. His type is very rare here.
Now this is the type of Haris that you don’t want to meet. This other Haris whom I knew from the new place we want to check out is quite the opposite of Jamal, He has a very imposing character that I don’t understand from the moment I saw Him. When we inquired of the vacant flat, He immediately asks for the “Arboon” which is literally referred as Bribe. He frankly asked for 100kd, I don’t get it, I just can’t ! We transact the business directly thru the Real Estate agency and they never mentioned that there is such thing as “Reservation Fee “that we need to secure. From that time I knew he has dirty business , we become very civil while dealing with him. We continue to secure the place and totally ignore Him. His behavior totally changed. He become very uncooperative, rude & lazy. He refused to give assistance when we move. The lights and the shower was not working properly and He didn’t even care. We pay him 5kd every month for the garbage collection, He collects it even its only 2nd week of the current month, one time He rung the bell around 10pm at night, all for the sake of 5kd! crazy right? When you ask them to fix something, they tell you “Inshaallah “. If your AC had broken down, you cannot wait for their Inshaallah to fixed it.
You don’t have any choice but to fixed it or call the Technician yourself.
This is the typical face of the Haris here. They are untouchable. Most of them get on with their “dirty business”and go on with their routines saying “As Salamu Alaykum ” (Peace be upon You ! ) to you every morning. I just don’t get it.
Now this is the type of Haris that becomes like your 2nd Landlord. He acts as if He’s the owner of the building. He practically knows everyone in the building. He knows every single Tenant. He knows the Ins & out of the building more than the owner itself. The owner’s concern is only about the money & collecting rent. Most complaints doesn’t even reach the Kuwaiti owner.
This type of Haris doesn’t even clean the building and very rude. His face becomes so ugly because of his behavior. He believes that He has the power to control things such as bribing the tenants and continues to do so because some Expats are lured by this. Most Expats have busy lifestyles and in urgency to settle a place quickly ,and therefore give in to this. Worst is, this is the type of Haris that might intentionally turn off your electricity just to piss you off. Yes, they can do that!
In dealing with these type of people, Expats need to protect themselves. They need to be firm and don’t be a friend with them or else, they will abuse you. To clarify things, i wrote this post based upon my personal experiences and doesn’t have an intention to demoralize the Haris population in Kuwait.
Its sad but this is one of the shocking reality in Expat’s life here in Kuwait.
Where else you can find a 2nd landlord ? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? I tell you, It’s here, Only in Kuwait.
If you’re an Expat in K-Town, Do you have any stories about the Haris? How was your encounters with them?