Tell me something guys, if you were in a down-and-out situation and someone offered you a lifeline would you take it?
Of course you would, as most sane human beings. But if the situation is complicated with a sense of self-importance, of too much ego or with any of the plethora of psychological aberrations then even if you do take that lifeline, most would soon go into a usual self -destruct mode.
That’s unfortunately what seemed to what happened to Amor Setter. A person who is mired in debt, unpaid bills, theft of monies due to staff amongst other unsavoury things, given a lifeline to start a much needed film school in Bahrain with an almost iron-clad assurance of making money, has flushed this genuine opportunity and now – typically – is blaming everyone for not only the venture’s failure but herself.
The story, my friends, is that a Bahraini investor named Hijris Al-Shirawi has identified an opportunity to start a film school in Bahrain, especially that he already owns and operates a related media company, but as he recognised his own limitations, sought to employ people to run it for him and through his own research he thought that the best candidates to staff his venture with were available in South Africa. Through his research he fell upon a company offering training very similar to what he wanted to offer back home and found that its principal appeared to have all the right qualifications, so he set up a meeting to discuss the venture with it’s owner, Amor Setter.
The results of that meeting is that Amor Setter agreed to relocate to Bahrain to offer the same courses in Hijris’ new school on the premise that a partnership between Amor and Hijris might be considered in time should the business blossom and become self-supporting. In the interim, both prospective partners will pay out of their own pockets for their expenses. Hijris has agreed, as a matter of good faith, to pay for the transport of Amor’s equipment to Bahrain in order for them to be used in the new school. As it transpired, Hijris not only paid for the transport of her equipment, but also for whole wardrobes full of personal effects which more than doubled the initial agreed costs. That should have rung the warning bells in Hijris’ mind quite audibly on its own, unfortunately due to his naivety he let it slide.
That lapse of judgement resulted in him being mercilessly being taken advantage of: he ultimately rented and paid for her villa, car hire and various other expenses over the next 2 – 3 months, the last of which was a demand for him to pay for an exclusive membership in the Novotel resort, hair, manicures, pocket money for a young son in South Africa, school fees and various other just as fantastic demands.
In the mean time, Amor realised that particular well was running dry, creditors from South Africa were on her tail and have contacted her prospective partner with demands to settle unpaid invoices to extras and other talent in her native country, had taken it upon herself to find other local partners, and that was not too hard to do. It seems that gullibility is a mark of some Bahraini businessmen.
Believing to have secured another partnership and unbeknown to Hijris, both Amor and her daughter Gabrielle went to the school’s premises and removed all production equipment. Once that was done, both Amor and Gabrielle emailed their resignations to Hijris!
Hijris was bleeding money and nothing was coming into the business. Further, as his company already accepted students and received their money, Amor would not stand up to her commitment and teach those students beyond the first two lessons. On top of that, Amor changed the advert appearing in the GDN to her new coordinates without any authority from Hijris and without the conclusion of the transfer of sponsorship. Hijris wanted out.
Unfortunately in Bahrain, a citizen in most situations must sponsor a foreigner to come into the country. This sponsorship means nothing less that legal guardianship of the sponsored person. Therefore, the only way to absolve oneself off this responsibility is to either cancel the sponsorship and ask the foreigner to leave the country, or someone else has to step in by transferring that responsibility. That is exactly what I understand Hijris to have done, but in the absence of good will and the relationship turning sour, especially as Amor has stacked up debts and was blasÃ© about her responsibilities – she somehow moved from the rented villa to another one at the prestigious Amwaj Islands at a considerably higher rent while the lease on the first accommodation was still current and paid for – got Hijris to the end of his tether. He reported the unauthorised removal of equipment, the owed money and their illegal stay in Bahrain to the police.
The police called her in for questioning and did their thing which ultimately resulted in her being imprisoned together with her 21-year-old daughter who had some responsibility toward the removal of equipment and over-staying the visa etc.
I have spoken to a person authorised by the South African Embassy in Riyadh who corroborated all of the above; she further confirmed that the “report” posted on mideastyouth.com and now replicated on Amor’s own blog was full of lies and fabrications.
As a parent, I was acutely distressed that Amor said that her son was left alone at home for four days without any knowledge of his mother and sister’s whereabouts. It looks like that too was a lie; a British Embassy officer took him in to her home on the same day Amor and her daughter were imprisoned and was looked after throughout their incarceration.
I wouldn’t make excuses for the way they were purportedly treated in jail. I know that we have a long road to tread in human rights in this country, and I know that the human rights societies are involved in trying to better the jail situation in Bahrain and how police and other officials treat inmates, so I shall give them the benefit of the doubt in that, but judging by the other untruths permeating the published story above, I would take what they say there with a pinch of salt.
I also have no doubt that injustices do happen against immigrant labour. I also know the preferential treatment some sectors of society get in various situations, but a person like Amor “championing” migrant labourers and calling herself now a human rights activist is a bit rich. I suggest that she has thrown this in for nothing more than a convenient red herring and for garnering more sympathy for fleecing mugs out of their hard earned cash, especially as the post referred to above provides bank accounts in which she is the legal signatory.
This was a weird episode. When I got the link originally from a friend and read the post I was infuriated and was ready to rip Hijris another hole, probably several! I was determined to get to the bottom of this simply because I do not like such injustices and usury to go unnoticed and for their perpetrators to be brought to justice. At best these kind of situations really do affect the future prosperity of this county by sullying its people and business reputation.
After meeting with Hijris, looking over all the documentation he had in his support – and they appear to be solid, talking with a person who was liaising with the South African Embassy in Riyadh about this sad affair, and with one of Hijris’ business partners and others, I am now convinced that Amor Setter (to enunciate her name as it appears in her passport, rather than the pretentious Amour Elliott-Setter she chooses to use) is nothing more than a fraud.
Amor was given a lifeline by the naivety of Hijris. She could have used that immediately to better herself and put herself back in the black financially and professionally, but unfortunately her self-delusions have once again gotten the better of her.
The moral of the story is this: business partnership needs much more diligence than even marriage, it pays to invest time in the relationship before you consummate it. And let’s not just rally behind whoever claims to be a “human rights activist” just because they say so. Ask for the proof first.