Court orders sponsor to pay maid SR68,000

Updated 19 March 2015

Court orders sponsor to pay maid SR68,000

A high court judge has ordered a Saudi sponsor to pay his Sri Lankan housemaid SR68,000 in back wages owed for the past 13 years.
The high court in Hail, about 400 km from Riyadh, ruled that the sponsor must pay Seda Cader Ismail Asia Umma, 59, the money and her airfare home to Colombo.
She is currently staying at the Women’s Welfare Camp in Hail, under police protection. The Saudi sponsor, Mubarak Al-Qahtani, has launched an appeal against the judgment at the final court of appeal in Riyadh.
Umma, from Beruwela in Sri Lanka, had come to the Kingdom for an agreed wage of SR400 a month.
An official from the Sri Lankan Embassy told Arab News that she had sought work in the Kingdom to help her three school-going daughters.
The mission, he said, spotted the case when the sponsor came to the embassy to renew her passport in 2014. Following formal inquiries, the mission’s officials found that the maid had been kept as a slave and not paid her salary from the time she arrived. The embassy registered a complaint with the police.
The official said he hoped the appeals court would reject the sponsor’s attempt to overturn the verdict. He said the embassy would transport Umma to Riyadh where the appeal would be heard.
The official said Umma had been in the Saudi household for such a long time that she has forgotten Tamil, her mother tongue. Now she only speaks Arabic. She is determined to go home and has thanked the embassy officials for helping to free her, he said.
The Sri Lankan Embassy is open round-the-clock for distressed housemaids seeking emergency assistance. It deals largely with cases of non-payment of salaries and breach of contract.
Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Mohamed told Arab News that the embassy makes sure it only handles genuine cases. It does not accept illegal Sri Lankan workers under its welfare program, he said.

Tanween festival: Seeking the unusual? You’ll find it at Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), which organized the Tanween festival, is a creative feat in itself. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 15 October 2018

Tanween festival: Seeking the unusual? You’ll find it at Ithra

  • Tanween encourages people to see something in a new way, try something they had not done before and explore their relationship to disruption

DHAHRAN: “Beyond Unconventional” is the subtitle of Ithra’s first Tanween creativity festival, and it is true to its word from what the Arab News team witnessed on its opening weekend at Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, aka Ithra, in Dhahran.

Running from Oct. 11 to 27 with talks, workshops, performances and installations, the three weeks are divided into themes: this week is “Humanities’ Response to Disruption,” in art, science and technology; the second week is “Manufacturing and Communication,” including disruptive technologies such as AI and big data; the third and final week is “Fashion Technology/Adventures in Disruption.” Curating this year’s festival is Robert Frith, the creative director of Ithra’s Idea Lab, who has worked as head of exhibitions at Christie’s and as a senior exhibition designer at the British Museum.

As it says in the program: “Tanween encourages people to see something in a new way, try something they had not done before and explore their relationship to disruption.” Many of the installations and speakers addressed the theme of disruption, including Adam Savage, who visited Saudi Arabia for the first time.


Heart Catherization

Abdullah Al-Othman

One doesn’t need to visit Ithra to experience Tanween. Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Othman wrapped a building in Al-Khobar entirely in tinfoil “in a symbolic gesture to its frozen state, making a statement about the absurdity of thinking that the cycle of change could ever be stopped.” We found it driving through the narrow streets near the Corniche, glinting in the sunlight, mosque-goers passing it by with barely a raised eyebrow.

Silent Fall

Studio Swine 

Founded by Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves, it presents an “interactive intallation and multi sensory experience” consisting of “delicate mist-filled blossoms that disappear on contact with skin and surfaces.” It’s like a waterfall of durable white bubbles continuously falling from above making random patterns as they slowly drift down. Likely to be one of the festival’s Instagram hits.

The Drifter

Dutch Studio Drift

A block of what looks like concrete floats slowly along “a controlled 3D path.” “The Drifter creates a performance in its space, calling on the viewer to reconsider the relationship with our living environment, which is often accepted as static and lifeless,” the creators Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta said. There was nothing static or lifeless as visitors here laughed in delight as they pretended to lift it.


• AN photos by Ziyad Alarfaj