GCC plans unified recruitment system for housekeepers

Updated 27 March 2013

GCC plans unified recruitment system for housekeepers

A unified GCC system that governs household workers’ recruitment and work would strengthen the position of member states in negotiations with labor-exporting countries, said Saad Nahar Al-Baddah, chairman of the Foreign Recruitment Committee.
He added that such a step is needed, “especially after the issues that took place recently. Having a unified system would prevent exploitation (in countries negotiations).”
Among the “recent issues” Al-Baddah indicated are the housemaids on death row after killing their employer. A local news report on Saturday cited an unnamed GCC official stating that GCC ministers of Labor and Social Affairs intended to agree on a unified law to govern the recruitment and work of household labors in member states during in their next meeting in October in Bahrain. The official said a joint committee of member states would propose a unified recruitment contract that the ministers would discuss in the meeting.
He said articles of the contact would be announced after ministers approved it in the meeting, where amendments to it may be requested.
Sahar Al-Kabi, chairperson of the human resources committee at the Federation of GCC Chambers, said it is necessary for the ministers to form regulatory decisions to tackle the increasing number of issues related to household workers in the region and deal with exporting countries’ attempts to impose their conditions. She called for regulations that guarantee the rights of both parties.
“Only having a law to govern the recruitment and work of all labor instead of one specifically for house workers is a big problem in Gulf countries given the large number of household workers in the region.”
Fadhel Ashkanani, chairman of the Kuwaiti Association of Household Labor Agencies, told a local newspaper that regulating recruitment among member countries would eliminate 60 percent of domestic-worker-related issues. “Regulations, like a minimum wage law for example, must be implemented in each country. It is the responsibility of officials in charge of legislation and applying such laws,” he said.

“Relevant ministries at the GCC have to work together to tackle common problems. Domestic workers’ issues in all member countries are similar: Stealing, escaping and abuse (of the employer against the worker).”


Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

The growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, are some factors that help the authorities combat qat abuse. (SPA/Supplied)
Updated 10 min 22 sec ago

Turning a new leaf: Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region ditches qat crops for coffee trees

  • The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list

JAZAN: Efforts to draw the younger generation in the Kingdom’s Jazan region away from the harmful and addictive substance qat are succeeding, with even the crop being replaced by coffee trees to support the booming coffee business.
Qat, a plant that is native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, is a stimulant that triggers excitement and alertness. But it can also cause anxiety, insomnia and aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions.
It grew in the Jazan region along with coffee trees. But the strength of the coffee industry, combined with an increased awareness about the harmful nature of qat, has led to its gradual disappearance.
The governor of Al-Dayer, Nayef bin Lebdah, said the people of Jazan were proud of the Khawlani coffee bean. He also said that coffee beans were much more economically beneficial than qat.
“All newly planted qat trees have been completely uprooted,” he told Arab News. “All the people have found that planting coffee beans is much more feasible and rewarding than qat. Attempts to smuggle qat have also dropped thanks to the security efforts along the border with Yemen. Add to that, young people themselves have concluded that their future will be in coffee beans.”
Teacher Yahiya Shareef Al-Maliki viewed qat as an “intruder’’ and said the coffee tree was the region’s indigenous product.
“In 1970, there were only four people who used to chew qat in the entire governorate,” he told Arab News. “It then started to become common among the people here in 1995 due to opening the borders that caused importing qat from abroad.”

FASTFACTS

• In 2014, people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate.

• Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.

• The governorate replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.

The increase in qat cultivation affected the planting of coffee beans, he added, but in 2014 people reconsidered coffee as an alternative crop and young people started to grow coffee beans with the help of unlimited support from the governorate. “Some 50,000 seedlings were distributed and farmers began to restore the profession of their fathers.”
People in Jazan used to waste their time and money on qat, he said. They would gather and chew qat for many hours, he added, hours that could have been spent working. But the growth of the educational landscape in the region, in addition to the success of the coffee industry, was a factor in combating qat abuse, as young people were able to access more opportunities and improve their prospects.
The Khawlani coffee bean is being offered to UNESCO for inclusion on a heritage list.
“The preparation of the file related to the skills and knowledge pertaining to the cultivation of Khawlani coffee in the Jazan region has been completed before presenting it to UNESCO,” the Kingdom’s Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah said. If listed, he added, it would be the Kingdom’s fourth intangible cultural heritage and eighth among the total heritage items included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Saudi columnist Hamood Abu Talib said the Jazan region was the only place the beans were grown. “This festival (Coffee Beans Festival), which is being held in collaboration with the governorate (of Jazan), the farmers themselves and Aramco, is an important national economic investment,” he told Arab News.
“Many countries’ economies, such as Brazil and Ethiopia depend mainly on this product — coffee. It needs professional marketing through the media to attract visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom. This is an essential strategic transformation.
“We know that the Faifa Mountains Development and Reconstruction Authority’s strategic goal was to uproot the harmful trees of qat and replace them with profitable crops that are beneficial to the farmers as well as the whole region. These were also intruding, invasive trees. We replanted more than 10,000 genuine Khawlani coffee seedlings and gave them to the farmers.”