43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

Updated 14 February 2014

43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

A total of 883 Filipinos died abroad and 3,154 jailed for various offenses, according to a newly released report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The figures have resulted in many Filipinos asking their government to create more jobs for citizens at home, while others have questioned the veracity of the data.
The DFA stated that 382 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) died in Saudi Arabia, 93 in the United Arab Emirates, 85 in Qatar, 47 in Kuwait and 30 in Bahrain.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor with about 10 million workers employed mostly as domestic helpers, construction laborers and medical personnel. Saudi Arabia accounts for more than a tenth of overseas Filipinos, surpassed only by the United States, say Philippine government records.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told GMA News Online that most cases of deaths and imprisonment are in the Gulf region — a key destination for Filipino workers. Common causes of deaths are illness and accidents.
The Middle East had the highest number of Filipinos jailed for various offenses followed by Southeast Asia and then China.
Another DFA official said common offenses committed by Filipinos in these countries are possession of liquor, which is banned in some Arab nations, theft or embezzlement, immorality, drug trafficking, murder and traffic violations.
A total of 634 Filipinos were detained for drug trafficking — 347 women and 287 men — in countries abroad, the DFA said.
Despite limited financial resources, the DFA was reportedly able to provide aid to 20,875 distressed Filipino workers in 2013, including 3,044 victims of human trafficking and hundreds caught in conflict in strife-torn nations.
Saidy Malic, a Riyadh-based community leader, has disputed the accuracy of the report. He said most of the data released by the DFA are unverified. He claimed that the DFA had also released incorrect figures on the number of Filipinos deployed in Saudi Arabia during the recent labor crackdown.
“The problem is that we cannot get correct information from the DFA much less from our embassy here. OFW’s have been crying for a single institution dedicated only to overseas workers but this was never granted,” he said.
“Information from non-governmental and other civil society organizations is more reliable. Unless we are recognized and given representation by the government we will continue to have the same problems.”
“We have actually been taken for granted and exploited as seen by the existence of more undocumented and un-repatriated OFWs.” He said many of these workers would be arrested before action is taken to help them.
Sigrid Matherson GoldSmith, an OFW based in Australia, urged the Philippine government to bring Filipinos home but said something must be done because they would be “returning to a country where they cannot earn anything and will have nothing to eat.”
A former OFW, Mods Abdullah, suggested that the government provide OFWs training on how to safeguard themselves abroad.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has recognized the need for the country to stop depending on remittances, according to reports. He would “create jobs at home so that working abroad will be out of choice, not necessity.”
A local media report said that every year hundreds of Filipino workers leave the country in search for better opportunities “Many have succeeded but some have come home in coffins in crushing personal tragedies that have become so commonplace they seldom make news at home.”
Their struggling Southeast Asian nation calls them “modern-day heroes” for the often meager earnings they send home that, collectively, keep the Philippine economy afloat and local businesses booming, the report said.


TheFace: Deema Al-Jaafari, Saudi entrepreneur

Updated 24 January 2020

TheFace: Deema Al-Jaafari, Saudi entrepreneur

  • I truly believe that if you set limits to your abilities you will never be able to exceed them
  • I founded Teak Woodwork in Alkhobar which has extended its services to cities including Jeddah and Riyadh

For nine years, I was the only child in my family. My father was a very independent, strong character and I learned a lot from him.

Having started from zero, he taught me to work hard, seek perfection and always believe that anything was possible if you set your mind to it. 

My mother was very easy going and encouraging. She really believed in me and was always supportive. There was a balance at home for me with these two different characters.

Some people might think that being an only child for quite some time, I was spoiled and dependent. But that was never the case and I have an amazing relationship with my little sister Maha; she is my best friend.

My father works in pharmaceuticals and is chairman of the board of directors at Al-Dawaa Medical Services.

My mother was a schoolteacher before entering the world of business, and my sister is a chemical engineer. Though we are a very diverse family, we all have an appreciation for art which is evident in our household. My mother is an artist and art collector too.

I do not have a role model; there are many people I look up to in the business world and in my social life. 

I studied software engineering and worked in that field for almost a year, but although I learnt a lot I wanted more from my career. Software engineering made me think and solve problems in a different way and it played a major role in how I operate in the field of business.

I worked at Al-Dawaa for almost two years and found that I was more attracted to business and marketing than the technical side of things. That is when I decided to take on the family business, Waleed Al-Jaafari Establishment.

I run PIECES, a retail store I founded in Alkhobar in 2012 and later opened a branch in Riyadh in 2014. Now, we are working to make it an online business too.

I noticed that there was a demand in the Kingdom for custom-made furniture, and although some stores offered the service there was little choice. So, I decided to provide high-quality furniture made in Saudi Arabia.

In 2015 I founded Teak Woodwork in Alkhobar which has extended its services to cities including Jeddah and Riyadh. My father has other branches dealing with different fields, but I opted to run the retail store and woodwork services. 

I truly believe that if you set limits to your abilities you will never be able to exceed them. Once you realize that there are no limits, all doors will open for you.