Torture of six Ugandan maids an isolated incident: Official

Updated 27 January 2016
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Torture of six Ugandan maids an isolated incident: Official

RIYADH: An isolated incident against six housemaids has led to a ban of Ugandan maids coming to the Kingdom, according to an official from Saudi recruiting offices here.
Uganda last week announced that it has stopped sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia, violating a deal between the two nations to send workers to the Kingdom, amid complaints of poor conditions and mistreatment.
The ban will remain until working conditions in Saudi Arabia are “deemed fitting,” the Ugandan government said.
A spokesman for the recruitment offices, Majed Al-Haqqas, said that the ban came as a shock to Saudi Arabia since the Ugandan government embarked on the ban without proper notice. Thereby, he said, many households are suffering from an absence of maids.
Explaining the circumstances that triggered the ban, Al-Haqqas said that six Ugandan maids came to the Kingdom for employment and their local company intimidated them to go to a certain household following ill-treatment. In a way of addressing high unemployment rate among young people in Uganda, its government signed a deal with the Kingdom in July for the deployment of university graduates to work for households in Saudi Arabia.
According to the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Uganda, the cost of the recruitment fee should not exceed SR7,000 and the monthly wage of the housemaid was fixed at SR750. Al-Haqqas pointed out that now the recruiting charges have shot up to SR14,000 and the monthly stipend has risen to SR900.
The spokesman commended that Ugandan maids are educated and well-oriented to the local culture and fluently speak English.
The demand for housemaids was created following a ban on Indonesian maids who were present in large numbers in the Kingdom.
The Ugandan ban also came after an audio recording was widely circulated last week on social media of Ugandans in Saudi Arabia who said they were being tortured and imprisoned.
According to the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Welfare, it has received complaints of workers being treated inhumanely by their employers in Saudi Arabia.
According to official Ugandan figures, some 500 housemaids have already come to the Kingdom for employment since the deal took effect.


Misk forum connects global youth

High-tech passes allow participants to connect and swap contact details at the touch of a button.
Updated 41 min 58 sec ago
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Misk forum connects global youth

  • It was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most
  • More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world

Young leaders, entrepreneurs, students and inventors mingled in innovative ways at the Misk Global Forum, with name tags that sent delegates’ connections to an app at the press of a flashing button. 

But at the end of the day it was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most.

“I’m seeing people from all over the world gathered here in Riyadh, which has become the center of opportunities,” said Jomana Khoj, a 26-year-old animator from Makkah, before the forum wrapped up on Thursday. 

“Thanks, Misk, for helping us, the youth, gather here and connect with other youth from around the world.”

The forum included “Skills Garages,” workshop spaces with whiteboard tables that could be written on during group brainstorms, with sessions on “The Art of Persuasion” and “Landing Your Dream Tech Job.”

Top left: Paintings displayed in a 360-degree fashion. Bottom left: Participants had a chance to learn about every aspect of the Misk Foundation’s work. Right: Young people exploring their skills, potential and passions during workshops.

The workshop spaces served as a hub for visitors from North America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with many attendees commending the amount of innovation the forum provided. 

“I feel this year’s content is well chosen,” said Faisal Al-Sudairy, a 24-year-old participant. “We really need to prepare ourselves for the future, especially in this fast-changing era, and to know more about what skills we should acquire.”

The workshops catered to developing youths’ skills for the future economy. More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world. 

It was the third annual forum organized by the Misk Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 2011 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

In the main hall, called the “Skills Factory,” Thursday’s opening session included a speech by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, the UAE’s minister of state for higher education and advanced skills.

“Misk Majlis,” another designated area, provided a relaxed and informal setting that focused on helping delegates build their personal brands. Traditional floor cushions and couches represented traditional Arab social gatherings. 

In the majlis, Misk Innovation held a talk to publicize its new brand and partnership with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups. 

The accelerator program for tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa will last 16 weeks starting from Jan. 27, 2019. Applications close on Dec. 15.

The Misk Art area introduced visitors to works by many renowned Saudi artists, such as Taha Sabban and Safia bin Zager. 

The vibrant hall displayed a large image of a sophisticated woman from Hijaz wearing the traditional Hijazi headdress and sitting on a beautiful ornamental wooden chair well known in the Saudi region. The image provided a transcendence between the past and present.

The Misk Art Institute had a unique section at the forum that was divided into two rooms. One was to showcase paintings and drawings of four pioneering Saudi artists. 

The other room had huge LED screens that gave people a 360-degree experience. The screens displayed paintings in an interactive way and synchronized with tailored music.

The halls were lined with inspirational quotes and the faces of well-known figures. It should come as no surprise that the most popular one was of Misk’s founder, with delegates taking selfies alongside the crown prince’s smiling face.