Black market for maids and drivers thriving

Updated 18 February 2015

Black market for maids and drivers thriving

There is a thriving black market for housemaids and drivers in the Kingdom, which should be blamed on both illegal expatriates and Saudi citizens, say experts.
Economist Fadl Al-Buainain said there has been a “boom” in the market for domestic workers but the demand is not distributed evenly across the country. He said there are many Saudi sponsors who obtain large numbers of visas for domestic workers and then send them out to work for other people, simply to make money.
“They get SR4,000 for each domestic worker they hire out to others, while the worker gets only SR700 or even less. These earnings are illegal according to Islamic and international laws,” he said. This is one of the reasons that some workers run away from houses where they are working, he said.
He said some domestic workers flee from their sponsors because they are promised higher wages by intermediaries. “However such jobs do not offer them any stability because they have to adapt to a different house and environment every month.”
“A greater danger for runaway maids is that they could be forced to commit immoral acts as part of their work or to earn more money. These women then find themselves trapped without anyone to rescue them,” Al-Buainain said.
He said that some domestic drivers may find themselves in great financial difficulty because they often have debts of up to SR20,000 owed to recruiters. If their sponsors do not have jobs for them, they are sent out to look for work. Under these conditions, they could become desperate and turn to crime, he said.
Saleh Al-Dobel, assistant professor of criminology at King Fahd Security College, said the government cannot solve these issues without the help of expatriates and citizens.
“In most other countries illegal workers do not find work because no family is willing to employ a man or woman who has run away from his or her legal employer.” He said runaway maids could get involved in immoral or anti-social activities.
He said Saudi families are also to blame for the growing black market. “Our families welcome these runaway maids, and offer them higher wages.”
If citizens do not cooperate then this problem would not be solved, even if fines are raised to SR100,000, he said.
He said Saudi families are also taking huge risks by hiring these workers because they could be criminals. “So we are basically creating the black market despite efforts of the government to penalize workers and citizens.”
He said it is the duty of every citizen to report runaway workers. Domestic workers should also “think twice” before running away from their sponsors because they could face being victimized without legal protection. In addition, the media should play its role in highlighting these issues, he said.


Saudi Arabia bans livestock imports from Sudan and Djibouti over RVF fears

Updated 14 min 45 sec ago

Saudi Arabia bans livestock imports from Sudan and Djibouti over RVF fears

  • Sample from one livestock shipment arriving from Djibouti was found positive of Rift Valley fever
  • Livestock imports from Somalia had earlier been banned, says Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has announced a ban on importing livestock from Sudan and Djibouti.

The ministry said the ban is a response to the announcement of World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) concerning documented cases of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Sudan. 

In addition, a sample from one livestock shipment arriving from Djibouti was positive and thus was not cleared.

According to the ministry, Saudi Arabia imported 5 million heads of cattle from Sudan and 700,000 from Djibouti during the last Hijri year, prior to the ban.

The spokesman for the ministry, Abdullah Abalkhail, said that alternative sources include GCC, Jordan, Uruguay, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Georgia, Portugal, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Romania, as well as Chinese Mongolia, Argentine, Brazil and the US.

These countries can hardly compete with African states, said Al-Jadani, due to prices, different weather and customer demand. 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Humaid Al-Jadani, a livestock merchant and a former member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce livestock committee, said 5 ships were about to arrive carrying up to 50,000 heads of cattle when the ban was announced, but were turned back.
  • He said that the Saudi market depends heavily on imports from Africa, specifically Sudan and Djibouti.
  • Prices have risen during the past two days by 30 percent and further rises are expected, said Al-Jadani.
  • Official reports from Sudan say that at least 135 cases of rift valley fever were documented in Sudan, in Kassala, Red Sea and northern Darfur. 

The domestic livestock, he added, covers the demand of a very low percentage of the market and the price of local sheep are very high.

All shipments are examined at their point of arrival and only healthy animals are allowed into the local market.

 

Regulations

The ministry has already banned livestock imports from Somalia.

“The ministry studies each country individually to put health regulations in line with the OIE and we follow up daily reports from the OIE to reduce the spread of the diseases among animals and people,” Abalkhail said.

Humaid Al-Jadani, a livestock merchant and a former member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce livestock committee, said five ships were about to arrive carrying up to 50,000 heads of cattle when the ban was announced, but were turned back.

He said that the Saudi market depends heavily on imports from Africa, specifically Sudan and Djibouti.

According Al-Jadani, prices have risen during the past two days by 30 percent and further rises are expected in the coming period.

The ministry has called on those working in the sector to contact officials on the hotline 8002470000 if they find any suspicious cases.

A fine up to SR1 million ($267,000) will be imposed on any company contravening the ban.

Official reports from Sudan say that at least 135 cases of RVF were documented in Sudan, in Kassala, Red Sea and Northern Darfur. According to the World Health Organization Sudan witnessed a huge RVF outbreak in 2007, while in Saudi Arabia RVF spread back in 2000.

The World Bank noted previously that six zoonotic diseases between 1997 and 2009 have led to a loss of $80 billion.

Officials believe that only through collaboration between various authorities in the health, biology and environment sectors the disease can be controlled.