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‘Maid’ to suffer: Sans help, Saudi families foresee tough Ramadan
JEDDAH: Many Saudi families are complaining that they are facing Ramadan this year without domestic help. The crisis began three years ago when several countries stopped sending workers to the Kingdom, and have demanded certain terms that families feel are “prohibitive,” a report published in the local media stated. They complain that a black market is flourishing, with some maids asking for up to SR5,000 for Ramadan, equivalent to the salary of a university graduate. Despite warnings from the Ministry of Labor and the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) that maids can only be hired through recruitment firms, many families have started seeking alternatives on the black market. Ameena, a nurse, said that she badly needs a maid for her family of four, which includes her 12-year-old son. “During Ramadan, one tends to pray and socialize more than other months. It is almost impossible for a housewife to spend the day cleaning, cooking, praying, reading the Holy Qur’an after breaking fast, socializing and then watching some television programs. It’s kind of mission impossible,” she said. She said her Indonesian maid left 10 months ago and that this would be her first Ramadan without a domestic help. Sumaiha Ahmad, a teacher, said that while the school year ends a week before Ramadan, this would not help her. She said the Ethiopian maid she hired, after her previous Indonesian worker left, threatened to kill herself after working for two months. “So I let her leave. I also had a Filipino maid who found the house too big for her to handle and refused to work. She left after four months,” she said. Saad Al-Badah, chairman of the national recruitment committee at the CSC, said the decision by the Indonesian authorities to stop sending workers to the Kingdom would not negatively affect Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia is able to recruit and attract foreign workers from other countries so the private sector will not be affected,” he said.