Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

Updated 27 June 2015
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Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

RIYADH: Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has asked the Sri Lankan government to stop maids running away from their Saudi sponsors soon after their arrival in the Kingdom.

Al-Haqbani told Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohamed Hussein Mohamed that several maids have run away after spending barely three months in the country. This was costing each affected Saudi sponsor SR25,000, he said.
The minister said that while this was only a small fraction of the Sri Lankan maids in the Kingdom, the situation had to be nipped in the bud. There are about 400,000 Lankan housemaids in the Kingdom.
The minister also complained that some maids were arriving pregnant in the Kingdom with false medical reports. In addition, he asked the Sri Lankan government to reduce the recruitment costs for housemaids.
Responding to the minister’s concerns, the Sri Lankan envoy said that the Association of Licensed Foreign Agencies has already decided to reduce the recruitment charges to SR12,000, which would be discussed at the next bilateral meeting in Colombo after Ramadan.
Mohamed said that maids obtain medical certificates six months ahead of their travel dates and become pregnant during the waiting period in Sri Lanka. He promised that arrangements would be made to deal with this situation.
To prevent maids from running away, he said that the Sri Lankan government has organized an intensive orientation program for those seeking work in Saudi Arabia. “This will put a stop to this problem because it prepares housemaids mentally to work in the Saudi environment, which is alien to them.”
According to a pact between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka, the parties have agreed to review the labor agreement once every six months. The next meeting would be in Colombo in July, he said.
The accord, which protects employers and employees, allows workers to keep possession of their passports, and have salaries paid into their bank accounts. “Under the pact, domestic workers can be assured of a safer, more decent and problem-free working environment,” Mohamed said.
The labor agreement covers 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners, and waiters employed by individuals. It also stipulates that contracts should be in a language understood by the worker.
Ahmed Al-Fehaid, undersecretary for international affairs, was also present during the discussions.


Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on August 15, 2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

  • A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030
  • We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions

MAKKH: In a breakthrough initiative for Tawafa institutions, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has completed the training of 135 male and female Tawafa guides — religious guides for Hajj pilgrims — who have obtained tour guide licenses.
The training is the first step in a program that will enable national Tawafa establishments to obtain tour guide licenses. The ceremony for the first of the tour guides to graduate from the training course took place in Makkah on Tuesday, at the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Arab Countries (ARBHAJ).
SCTH Director-General Dr. Hisham bin Mohammed Madani said the commission has honored more than 135 male and female “Mutawwifs,” or guides, from ARBHAJ under the partnership between the SCTH and the ARBHAJ to train Tawafa guides to obtain tour guide licenses.
Madani said this is the first phase of an initiative to train guides at all Tawafa establishments, introducing pilgrims to a new concept by helping them visit all historical and archaeological sites and museums in Makkah after performing Hajj rituals.
“Tour guides are more and more dynamic and effective in the tourism industry, and have become an important and effective source of historical information,” he said and added that the tour guide now also functions as an ambassador for the authentic culture of the Kingdom, reflecting its cultural, natural and historical heritage.
Licensing Tawaf guides as tour guides, Madani said, will enrich the tourist experience in the holy capital.
The SCTH chief noted that the city is rich with myriad cultural treasures that need someone to showcase them for tourists.
“We at SCTH presented our experience in qualifying accredited tour guides and we look forward to improving tourism outputs to match the reality and requirements of the new phase,” he said. “In order to reach this goal, we are collaborating with all partners to reach satisfactory results to deal with all nationalities, tongues and cultural backgrounds from all parts of the world with satisfaction, love and positivity.”
“We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions. Makkah is the holy city that every Muslim looks forward to visiting after hearing about its great heritage. Our role is to provide knowledge and keep abreast of the tourist vision by qualifying and training tour guides, equipping them with the necessary skills and qualifications and honing their skills through required training programs. To this end, all partners must join their efforts and collaborate together to reach the desired goals.”

Initiative
Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that the ministry is implementing an initiative to provide a professional license for everyone working at Hajj, not just in Tawaf.
He said: “A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030, to focus on enriching the pilgrims’ experience, and not only on increasing their numbers.”
Mashat said it was important for pilgrims’ journeys to be coupled with trips to historical and archaeological sites. “We rely on male and female Tawaf guides to organize well-thought-out trips for the pilgrims so that they can enjoy all the historical and archaeological sites and landmarks in Makkah,” he added.