Saudi families find most maids unskilled

Updated 27 August 2013
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Saudi families find most maids unskilled

A study conducted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue has revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed in the domestic workers sector lack suitable labor recruitment fees. The findings come at a time when the Ministry of Labor is looking at reducing prices for hiring domestic workers from abroad.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Labor Wednesday, agreements entered into between the ministry and a few countries mandated that they send domestic workers with required skills. Additionally, these workers should have no criminal record in their home country, should be well trained and well-informed about Saudi regulations. The ministry is working to expedite the arrival of these domestic workers to the Kingdom.
The survey also revealed that 69 percent of people feel that domestic workers in Saudi Arabia do not possess training to be able to work in Saudi homes. A survey on domestic workers in Saudi homes showed that Saudi households prefer workers from Indonesia, with 27.5 percent of respondents seeing Indonesians as ideal domestic workers and another 17.3 percent viewing Filipinos as best suited to work in Saudi society.
“Indonesian maids usually speak Arabic, which makes it easier to communicate and teach them,” according to Bayan Rashid, a stay-at-home mother. “Indonesian maids are Muslim, so we share the same traditions and beliefs. This makes it particularly easy for us to trust them with our children and our homes because they are raised to be respectful and loyal to other Muslims.”
The study also revealed a lack of trust among community members toward the level of training provided to domestic workers prior to their arrival at the Kingdom, with 69 percent stating they were dissatisfied by the training provided to workers, while only 18 percent of people believe that domestic workers are trained well enough to efficiently carry out duties.
“They are clueless; they don’t know basic cleaning methods,” said Lamya Hammad, a stay-at-home-mother.
“As soon as we receive a new maid, I know I will have to spend at least three months teaching her how to clean and cook. I sometimes wonder how she's even called a maid when she doesn’t know how to be one,” she added.
The study ensured covering a diverse array of respondents in terms of region, gender, education level, age, and number of family members.
In all, 1,000 people were surveyed as representatives of the majority of society. Participants stressed the impact of domestic workers on the education of children in the family, indicating the dangerous impact of youth employment and the impact of such employment on the habits and behavior of the community in future.
Seventy-six percent of respondents agreed that domestic workers had a huge impact on raising children and 70 percent of participants expressed that the majority of Saudi families have become too reliant on household workers, while 46 percent attributed this increased use of household labor to increase in the number of housewives going to work. About 23 percent of participants felt the large size of Saudi families was also one of the reasons for hiring house-help.
“Many Saudi families trust their maids and nannies with their children and leave them alone for hours. Little do they know that those maids are capable of teaching the children bad habits and words that is not acceptable in our religion and our society,” said psychologist Huda Hussien.
“Parents should know better than leave their children with strangers, because maids are supposed to help the mother and not be the mother,” she added.
Around 42 percent of respondents were neutral in their views about the improvement of recruitment companies, as they felt they did not have enough information to agree or disagree, while 20 percent saw that recruitment fees are somewhat acceptable and 57 percent responded that salaries of domestic workers were given on time and without delay.
Thirty-one percent of respondents felt housemaids were deprived of their one-day weekly off.
Ethiopian maids are the least favored among Saudis after the series of incidents reported in local media, according to Abu Omar, a manager at a recruitment office in Jeddah.
“Saudis have stopped requesting maids from Ethiopia in the last three months after hearing about the disturbing incidents that have been filling the newspapers,” he said.
“We also have people returning their maids to the office asking us to take them back in exchange for maids from other countries,” he added.
The King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue has allocated an exclusive unit to conduct such surveys at the headquarters of the center. The center frequently launches and conducts such polls, seeing that they are crucial in measuring public opinion and views about issues that affect society and that are of interest to community members.


Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 38 min 58 sec ago
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Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

  • From the age of three, Hisham Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art

JEDDAH: When it comes to royal connections, Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi can truly claim to have made it an
art form.

During a lifetime at the easel, the unassuming Jeddah-based artist’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings.

And it all began at the age of just 14, when Binjabi painted a portrait of King Faisal and ended up presenting it in person to the late king of Saudi Arabia.

Further commissions were to follow, which resulted in Binjabi producing works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too.

Today he owns two galleries in Jeddah from where he exhibits artwork and sculptures from around the world. 

Binjabi revealed his incredible story to Arab News while at work painting on canvas at a recent Jeddah book fair.

Hisham Binjabi made works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too. (Photos/Supplied)

From the age of three, when he painted the walls of his family home in black, Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art. His talent was recognized at school where he was known as the “boy who paints,” and although he chose to major in science, a teacher spotted his artistic skills and taught him the basics of mixing colors.

Binjabi said: “After that I started to practice, and whenever I didn’t need to attend a class, I would escape to the painting room. As I became stronger with the use of colors, my teacher suggested I pick a subject to paint and I chose to do a portrait of King Faisal.”

After framing his picture, Binjabi was spotted carrying his creation down the street by the then-minister of education, who was so taken by it that he invited the teenager to present it to King Faisal himself. 

On the right track

The young artist continued to paint in his home and later studied English literature at King Abdul Aziz University, where again his talents were spotted. 

The dean of the university asked him to produce a painting to display in a tent, and this time the subject was to be camels.

During a visit to the campus, the then-King Khaled saw the painting and asked to meet the artist. “Before I knew it, I was standing in front of King Khaled,” said Binjabi. 

“The king asked me why I had painted camels, and I told him that camels were the friends of Bedouin people.”

The king invited Binjabi to go to Riyadh and attend the first ever Janadriyah Festival, and from then on his works became highly prized by royalty. The then-Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asked him to produce a painting of his guests, a French prince and Sheikh Zayed of the UAE, watching camels through binoculars. 

As a result, Binjabi was invited to stay at Sheikh Zayed’s palace in Abu Dhabi, where he spent four months painting a family portrait for the leader.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to be another of Binjabi’s distinguished clients, and even while studying for a Master’s degree in Lebanon, he painted for the king of Lebanon.

He said: “It did get overwhelming. I never asked to be associated with royalty, it just happened. Something in my heart kept pushing me along and telling me I was on the right track.”

Today he still represents the Kingdom in many different countries. 

“My life is full of stories about art which I find inspirational,” Binjabi added.