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.


Experts eye Red Sea as top tourist destination in KSA

People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Experts eye Red Sea as top tourist destination in KSA

  • The project’s environmental standards will define the number of hotel rooms and housing units that will be built
  • The project’s first phase is due for completion by late 2022

JEDDAH: The Red Sea Development Co., owned by the Public Investment Fund and responsible for executing the Red Sea Project, has announced the formation of its advisory board, which includes 12 international experts in business, tourism, sustainability and environmental conservation.
The advisory board will help to develop the agenda and plan for the Red Sea Project, to develop and implement updated international criteria in environmental protection and the restoration of natural characteristics, sustainable development, innovation and luxury tourism, in the project situated on Saudi Arabia’s Western coast at a crossroad that links the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The project targets establishing an ultra-luxury tourist destination for nature, adventure, health and recreation and culture and it is considered one of the key components of Saudi Vision 2030.
John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co., said: “Seeking these consultants to guide the company is considered an important factor to execute the project on an international level, and these experts’ experience will help us exceed the ambitious plans of Saudi Vision 2030 for the tourism sector. The advisory board members will occupy multifunctional positions while working with the board of directors of the Red Sea Development Company and its executive team, and they will advise the company’s board of directors headed by Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
“They will use their broad expertise to suggest the best practices in a number of areas and specializations, present to potential investors and partners opportunities presented by the tourism sector.”
“The advisory board members met in New York for the first time in March 2018, to discuss their initial visions for the project. Their second meeting took place in Saudi Arabia in July when the team visited the project, its unique land and maritime environmental systems, and presented their views on the strategies of development and sustainability in the project.”
Pagano added: “The advisory board will play a vital role in the development of the project. The board members’ insights and ideas were extremely valuable in the assessment of our current plan’s effectiveness. That will allow us to create a unique tourism destination for our guests and the citizens of Saudi Arabia, as we work on setting new international standards to protect, preserve, restore and provide an exceptional experience for the next generations.”
The Red Sea Development Co. was founded on May 10, 2018, as a closed joint stock company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, to execute the Red Sea Project which is considered a luxury destination that brings together a beautiful landscape, adventure and culture and promotes a healthy lifestyle. It is situated along Saudi Arabia’s western coast and creates a center linking the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The Red Sea Project was launched by the Chairman of the Public Fund, Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on July 31, 2017, and the company will work on developing unique treasures, along a 200km coastline and more than 50 islands and lakes, coral reefs, marine environments, mountains and inactive volcanoes, and heritage sites with the authentic Saudi hospitality.
The project’s first phase will include hotels and residential units and an airport, along with unique landmarks, all of which provide a perfect environment for partnerships with the biggest international investors. The project’s environmental standards will define the number of hotel rooms and housing units that will be built.
A calculated number of visitors will be permitted to experience the place to protect the environmental system, enrich their experiences and maintain the project’s exclusive tourism destination. The project’s first phase is due for completion by late 2022.