Abdul Rahman Al-Sheikh • Al-Riyadh
Publication Date: 
Sun, 2004-01-25 03:00

I think the most difficult moment that anyone could face is seeing their domestic servants, whether maid or drivers, run away. It becomes even harder seeing a servant, who has just arrived in the country or who has spent only a few months here, disappear in mysterious circumstances when his or her sponsor was providing both a good living and good working conditions.

It becomes even more bitter and frustrating when the servant accompanying a family on a foreign trip suddenly disappears without telling anyone of his or her intention to do so. Many Saudi families have experienced such difficult situations, suddenly finding themselves without a servant when they are in a foreign country. Workers tend to run away, not appreciating the trouble their sponsors have gone through in arranging for visas, air tickets and accommodation.

The problem is more acute when Saudis travel to Europe and the United States during the summer. Maids and drivers usually choose the last minute to carry out their plans when everyone is preparing to head home. Sometimes a servant disappears a few hours before the family heads for the airport, leaving them no time to track the servant down or report the disappearance to the host country’s authorities. Last summer and the year before, many Saudi families returned to the Kingdom from their annual vacations minus drivers and maids.

Despite the fact that the disappearance of servants has become recurrent, no serious efforts have been made to study and research the problem and find solutions. Not only that, there are still no plans to educate and enlighten the public about this matter. The problem is the bad impression that such a thing leaves in the countries where the runaway servants chose to stay illegally without the knowledge of their sponsors. The authorities in those countries may think Saudi families come to their countries, accompanied by drivers, maids and servants only to allow them to run away and stay behind without a reason or justification.

Do the servants run away because they wish to live in Western countries and enjoy the freedom there? Do they run away because they are badly treated by their sponsors? Is it because of the blind trust the sponsors put in them and the unpleasant behavior of some Saudis when abroad? In addition to the experts, the solution should also be sought from the families who should understand that not everyone working for them can be fully trusted, especially when outside the country.

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