Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim
Updated 18 April 2017
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Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

RIYADH: Reports of a hefty rise in recruitment fees for Sri Lankan domestic helpers, including maids, are misleading, said Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim on Sunday.
“The Sri Lankan government is not involved in the hike of recruitment fees because business transactions are done by private Saudi and Sri Lankan agents,” he said.
A report published in local Arabic press said Sri Lankan recruitment offices have raised recruitment costs of domestic workers from $1,560 to $3,000, representing a 92 percent hike.
The report added that Sri Lankan agents have been delaying or suspending travel permits of workers waiting to be deployed in the Kingdom “to put pressure on Saudi recruitment offices to pay the hefty amount for hiring domestic aides.”
Thassim said: “The Kingdom and Sri Lanka will be holding talks soon to address the grievances of the parties concerned, and will hammer out a solution to the problem.”
The Saudi Embassy in Sri Lanka earlier issued an instruction for Saudi recruitment agents to pay $1,560 to hire a Sri Lankan housemaid, he added.
In the run-up to the holy month of Ramadan and Eid festivities, Saudi Arabia requires more household workers.
Both governments are keen to talk and solve the issue, but “private business transactions between Saudi and Sri Lankan recruitment agencies cannot be stopped by the government until Riyadh and Colombo reach a settlement,” the envoy said.
The report quoted Hussain Al-Mutairi, head of the recruitment committee at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as saying: “Sri Lankan recruitment offices have played with recruitment costs, which were at $1,560 as stipulated by an agreement signed between the Saudi and Sri Lankan offices.”
He added that the Sri Lankan offices “have also hiked other related charges including the monthly salary, which was raised and fixed at SR1,300 ($346) by Sri Lankan agents last February compared to SR1,100 as previously agreed.”
Al-Mutairi accused Sri Lankan recruitment offices of exerting enormous pressure on their Saudi counterparts.
He called on Saudi offices “not to respond to these pressures ... A unified position from the Saudi side will make the Sri Lankan offices work in line with the unified price agreed upon by both parties.”
Saudi Arabia is home to about 200,000 Sri Lankan workers, about 50 percent of them domestic helpers, mostly housemaids.


TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

Dr. Lama S. Taher (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 20 April 2018
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TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

  • Lacking in financial assistance but armed with grit, perseverance and passion, a young Saudi woman fashion designer launches her own brand while pursuing further studies, and succeed in both

I was born and raised in Riyadh and moved to London in 2004 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.

Eight years ago, when I started on my Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt compelled to go into fashion design. Armed with grit, perseverance and passion, I took the plunge and launched my own brand, LUM, in May 2010.

I had no financial assistance and no fancy business plans — but I believed in it. No one else did, except my older sister who stood by me.

In spite of its humble beginning, the brand was well-received in the Kingdom and the Gulf region. But my father, a physician, was not convinced. I placed a bet with him, vowing to make substantial sales and revenue within one month. On July 1, 2013, I won that bet, making him my number one supporter.  In 2016, I achieved my academic dream, obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology at City University London.  

But it was not easy. Enduring sleepless nights and homesickness, I persevered to meet high academic demands. Meanwhile, the LUM business continued to flourish.

People asked why a successful fashion designer would pursue a doctorate in psychology. I was constantly asked to pick one — but my heart was in one and my mind was in another. 

Few believed I could achieve both. At times, I too doubted myself.

Today, I am an assistant professor at Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, supervising award-winning researchers. I am also a Saudi designer and manager of a successful fashion brand sold in the GCC, New York and Los Angeles.  I share my story to empower women to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves, to fight for what they want.

People still ask: “Why both?” 

I reply, smiling: “Because one dream was not enough.”