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.


A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

Updated 15 min 36 sec ago
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A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder
  • Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom

RIYADH/JEDDAH/DUBAI:  It was a day that captured the heightened spirit of a nation.

In a year of remarkable changes, Saudi National Day on Sunday took on an exuberance like no other celebration before it, with enough fireworks to break a world record, people celebrating together outdoors across the land and landmarks around the world illuminated with the flag. 

In a speech marking the Kingdom’s 88th National Day, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised the nation’s growth under King Salman, saying that while Vision 2030 “looks forward to the future,” Saudi Arabia “will remain committed to the principles” of Islam, “the religion of tolerance and moderation.”

The crown prince said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, and his sons. “On our National Day, we take pride in our country’s position on an international, Islamic and Arab level.” 

His sentiments were echoed by citizens, who gathered last night in 20 cities to watch more than 900,000 fireworks light up the sky.

Laser light show at a Jeddah stadium Sunday night as part of National Day celebrations. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“I am so happy with all the changes going on under the visionary leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi women are happy to join the National Day parades, this year behind the wheel,” said Saudi actor and presenter Khairiah Abu Laban.

“We went around the city to see the lighting and the fireworks,” said Saleh Al-Omri, a pharmacist in Riyadh. “Green and white balloons fill either side of Riyadh streets.”

Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom over the weekend, culminating on the day. 

The Burj Khalifa was illuminated with the Saudi flag, while the Nasdaq Tower’s digital billboard in New York’s Times Square was lit up with photos of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

In Lebanon, Pigeon Rocks, in Raouché off the coast of Beirut, were lit in the colors of the Saudi flag. 

The UAE’s airlines got in on the game. Emirates operated a special one-off A380 service on Sunday to Riyadh, and crew handed out scarves emblazoned with the countries’ flags.

Not to be outdone, Etihad said it was using the only Saudi A380 pilot in the world, Wesam Sameer Al-Najjar, to fly its Year of Zayed plane to Jeddah with the UAE’s Captain Ahmed Almalood. 

And if all that wasn’t enough, King Salman added an extra day, Monday, to the holiday.