Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 10:53 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 10:53 | SYDNEY

Maid in Saudi Arabia


Rodger Shanahan


5 August 2009 11:40

A feature of all Gulf states is the preponderance of foreign (normally South Asian or Filipino) guest workers who tend to the needs of local nationals and well-to-do expats. But in a regional first, reports from Saudi Arabia advise that 30 Saudi women have begun working as housemaids (or 'Saudi home arrangers', to be more correct), with another 100 Saudi women waiting to start.  If this reaction from a Qatari psychologist is anything to go by, there is little chance of this experiment being replicated in other Gulf states.
Unlike the other Gulf states blessed with large oil and gas reserves however, Saudi Arabia has a large population (25 million) and unemployment is officially over 11% (over 26% among women), although unofficial figures are likely much higher. The challenge of female employment and the need for high qualifications to gain prestigious jobs is also the reason why Taif University in Saudi Arabia faced a recent sit-in from prospective female students who refused to believe that they weren't accepted into university courses, despite not receiving the requisite marks.