A Saudi official has scoffed at fears by local women at plans to turn to Morocco to recruit housemaids following a dispute with Indonesia and the Philippines, saying there will be no ban on domestic workers from that Arab country.
Talal Al Bakri, a member of Shura council (appointed parliament), was reacting to reports that Saudi women have asked the Shura to enact legislation to ban the hiring of Moroccan housemaids on the grounds they are attractive women and could snatch their husbands off them.
Maid from Morocco? No thanks, say Saudi wives
Al Bakri, a member of the social and family commission in Shura, said the council would not discuss such demands, which he branded “irrational.”
“We should not distinguish between housemaids from Ethiopia, the Philippine, Indonesia and Morocco….women are women wherever they come from,” Al Bakri said, quoted by the Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq.
“I wonder why Saudi women feel tense and worried by women from a certain country….don’t we have maids from many countries…the Saudi market is open and can import labour from any country as long as laws allow it…there is no justification for the Saudi women’s fears….they should be rational and realistic and they should have a national feeling instead of suspecting others.”
According to the Saudi Sharq newspaper, the Shura has been deluged by demands from Saudi women urging it to act against government plans to open the door for the import of Moroccan domestic workers.
“Many Saudi woman have objected to plans to import domestic workers from Morocco…they say the Moroccan women are beautiful and this will cause continuous anxiety and concern in Saudi families,” 'Sharq said.
“Some of them said Moroccan women are so attractive that their husbands could easily fall for them…others said Moroccans are good at magic and sorcery and that this could enable them to lure their husbands.”
Al-Bakri said Shura would not debate any requests by women to stop the recruitment of Moroccan maids, adding:” The council has much more important issues to discuss and does not need to waste its time on such matters.”
In comments last week, a Saudi chamber official said Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s top oil exporter, could turn to Morocco and other countries to get its domestic workers following the dispute with the Philippines and Indonesia, the largest suppliers of housemaids to the Gulf countries.
“We are considering turning to countries which allow their domestic workers to move to other countries without preconditions…these include Morocco, east Asia, and some south African countries,” said Saad Al Baddah, director of the labour recruitment committee at the Saudi Chambers Federation.
“For the time being, we face a problem regarding Moroccan domestic workers as there are no official recruitment centres…temporarily, Saudis can travel to Morocco and bring in housemaids directly.”
Riyadh’s plans to turn to new domestic labour sources followed the suspension of recruitment of housemaids from the Philippines and Indonesia in June over disputes on wages and other terms.
Officials said last month they could soon lift a ban on maids from the Philippine once a final deal is signed between the two countries.