Sri Lankan maid gets SR88,600 salary dues for 17 years of service in Saudi Arabia

Re-union -Kusumawathi meets her 19 year old daughter after 17 years
Updated 31 October 2017
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Sri Lankan maid gets SR88,600 salary dues for 17 years of service in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: With the help of Saudi authorities, a Sri Lankan maid received SR88,600 ($23,625) in back wages for the past 17 years.

This is considered the largest amount, around 3.6m Sri Lankan Rupees, recovered as salary arrears paid to a Sri Lankan migrant worker in the history of the island.

K.G. Kusumawathi, 44, came to the Kingdom in 2000 when she was only 27 and had a two-year-old daughter Hansika Sewwandi, and a son Thushitha Madusha, four years of age.

The sponsor kept her for this period without allowing her to go home.

According to Kusumawathi, the sponsor regularly paid her monthly salary of SR400 for the first eight years, and she had SR38,600 in cash in hand when the authorities tracked her at the workplace. The balance of SR50,000 was paid by the employer.

Speaking to Arab News, Susil Kumar Peli, the labor counselor at the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah, the mission tracked the maid based on a complaint made in Colombo by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and Justice and Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Atukorale six months ago.

Based on the information provided, he said the mission sought the assistance of the governorate in Taif which traced the sponsor, and the maid was promptly brought to the mission.

According to the diplomat, the maid had worked as a shepherdess in the remote village of Ateef, 40 km away from Taif on the Riyadh-Taif highway.

The maid had told the mission that there was no harassment by the sponsor except for the refusal to grant her permission to go home after the contracted period.

According to Saudi regulations, the sponsor is duty bound to send maids back home on completion of their work contracts.

The counselor said that the maid was sent home and she had a grand reunion in her hometown, he said, adding that she was very happy when she saw the two-year-old daughter she left had grown into a woman.

Nalin Rajapaksa, media spokesman of the SLBFE told Arab News that the minister was thankful to the Saudi government and the island’s consulate in Jeddah for their cooperation in sending maid back home with her paid-up salary.


Saudi play gets an Italian twist to round off Italian Language Week

The adapted version of ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’ was performed at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 24 October 2018
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Saudi play gets an Italian twist to round off Italian Language Week

  • The monologue was written and performed by Saudi playwright Dr. Maisah Sobaihi
  • Sobaihi explores in the play some of the complicated real-life situations that occur in the lives of married Saudi women

JEDDAH: Italian Language Week came to a close with an unforgettable, specially adapted performance of the play “Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia” at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday.

The monologue, written by and starring Dr. Maisah Sobaihi, a Saudi academic, playwright and performer who gives a contemporary voice to Arab women, tells the story of the complicated love lives of local women in an amusing and captivating way.

The evening began with a speech by the Consul General of Italy in Jeddah, Elisabetta Martini, to welcome the audience and introduce Sobaihi. The play was performed in English, with some Saudi cultural sayings, but was given an Italian twist for the occasion with the addition of some Italian words and phrases, which helped to make the whole audience feel connected to the story.

Marriage is a hot topic in Saudi Arabia and Sobaihi explored some of the complicated real-life situations that occur in the lives of married Saudi women. Even though the play is told from a female perspective, however, it is also a real eye-opener for men.

“These issues come up in every society,” Sobaihi told Arab News. “They are universal issues. It’s something we have to talk about and explore and then society comes together to provide different solutions.”

In a question-and-answer session after the play, Sobaihi expressed her pride in being a representative of, and voice for, modern Arab women.

“I’m always honored and happy to represent Arab women or to be a contemporary voice but I’m not sure exactly what that means,” she said. “What I can say is that I am an Arab woman and I have experiences that I’d like to share with the world, and sometimes I choose experiences from the Arab World. These experiences that I’ve shared with you here are particularly about Saudi women, so I choose experiences that are contemporary and I hope those voices come across.”

The audience certainly seemed to enjoy the performance and identify with the themes.

“I think she’s very talented,” said Saudi writer Ghada Aboud, author of the recently published novel “Bipolar.” “It’s extremely difficult to pull off an act such as this that depends on only one actress: the change of characters and how she was very capable of making the audience really connect with different controversial situations and really empathize and sympathize with the two different characters.”

Audience member Layal Turk said: “I loved it so much because it is purely talking about the situation in Saudi Arabia, especially from the women’s side. It was strange in the beginning because it is a one-women show butafter that I loved it. She’s really smart and a real artist.”

Consul General Martini said that blending cultures in such a theatrical way as Sobaihi had done was perfect for Italian Language Week.

“We really want to show how our cultures are similar,” she said. “Our cultures are similar in terms of content, but also when she was dropping some Italian words people could feel the meaning now. It was not like saying some words in a completely different language —she was keeping the attitude, even when speaking in Italian, so I really wanted to show that this, a theater performance performed in English and in Arabic, could even have Italian words and not lose the meaning. That was my main aim.

“Dr. Maisah is a great performer. She’s someone who can really speak to the heart of the people. and this Italian Language Week is dedicated to ‘networks.’ During the first part of the week, we discussed how the internet has changed our language, and in the case of Dr. Maisah we wanted to show how personal networks really can have an impact on the evolution of the language and the evolution of expression, how you express yourself.

“So we wanted to develop this Italian Language Week into two parts: how the internet and how personal networks can really make a language evolve.”