Maid works ‘without salary for five years’

Updated 07 December 2013
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Maid works ‘without salary for five years’

A Sri Lankan maid here was not paid a salary for five years and not allowed to go home for nine years, an official from the country’s embassy claimed recently.
“The Sri Lankan woman D. Gunawathie, 43, had been working for a Saudi sponsor and was kept a virtual slave inside the house for the past nine years,” a senior official from the embassy told Arab News on Friday.
He said the case was detected when her passport came up for renewal at the mission. “We normally ask the sponsor to bring the passport holder to the mission to ascertain whether the maid is working without any problems in the Kingdom,” he said. When the sponsor refused to do so, the embassy officials became suspicious.
“The whole thing came out when the sponsor was forced to bring the maid to the mission after a request was made through his recruiting agent,” he said.
He said the maid had claimed her employer and his six children tortured her regularly. The diplomat said there were scars consistent with torture on her body.
Gunawathie told Arab News she had asked her employer to send her home several times. “This fell on deaf ears,” she said.
The average contracted salary for housemaids is SR650 a month. However, employers pay illegal maids up to SR1,500 because they do not have to shoulder recruitment costs of SR10,000, which include visa fees, airfare and agency fees.
The Sri Lankan embassy gets around 10 runaway maids a day, while its consulate in Jeddah receives around two a day.
According to reports, some of the cases are settled at the missions through negotiations with sponsors, while other workers are repatriated home. There are sporadic incidents of death due to murder, suicides and industrial accidents.
Despite the contribution of maids’ remittances, the Sri Lankan government plans to replace them with semi-skilled and skilled professionals.


Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.