Saudi Arabia: Just Call Me the Housemaid


I’ve written a number of posts since starting this blog about housemaids.  This can easily be an ongoing topic of itself.  In most cases in the Kingdom, a housemaid is not a luxury but more of a necessity.  The homes in KSA are considerably larger than ones in the West (North America and Europe).  Then factor in the routine dust and sand that makes it way through all the cracks and gets into the house requiring daily dusting and mopping.  Of course there are also all the daily household chores too.  And if a woman works in the equation as well, the time is very precious and the household tasks can easily pile up and become overwhelming.  The homes (and culture) are also conditioned for the majority to have a housemaid.  It is not typical to have a residence with a dishwasher like the majority of homes in the West.  And I’ve even noticed at the grocery stores, it is virtually impossible to find a ready-made veggie tray, cold cuts tray or fruit platter because it is expected that women will make their own and have help in the kitchen.


I will continue with a future post stating more views (and tips) about housemaids but thought this was also a good time to revisit an article which I wrote earlier when I was mistakenly identified (at least by voice) as a housemaid!

  Just Call Me The Housemaid… 

While there are neighborhoods with villas and apartment buildings, in Saudi Arabia it is typical for many residents to live in compounds.  These compounds are generally gated and maintained with security checkpoints.  At the moment, I am residing in such a compound. 


Women in Saudi Arabia are prohibited by law from driving.  As a result, many families will have a driver.  Otherwise the man of the house is easily performing triple duty so other non-driving members of the family can run their errands and do business.  I do not have a driver at the moment and rather than solely depend on the good nature of my husband, especially if I happen to have appointments during his business hours, I will rely on the services of a private taxi company. 


The private taxi company I happen to use has a competent staff of individuals from India who have been in the Kingdom for a number of years.  They all speak fluent English and Arabic and can be relied upon for dependability and professionalism.  I’ve been using the services of this company for the past five months which also coincides with my time in our present compound.  The security officials are aware of this service and typically would let the car and driver enter without further ado or delay.


Recently a driver was stopped and questioned in greater detail by the security as he attempted to enter the compound to pick me up for an appointment.  Just stating that he was coming to collect madame for an appointment was not good enough today.  The security official advised he must speak directly to madame to confirm the information.  I answered my phone when it rang and although my Arabic is fair where I can usually hold my own in a basic conversation, I could not follow one bit of the conversation coming out of my phone.  After my queries on first stating that I did not know who was calling and did they know English, the caller hung the phone up in exasperation.  I learned later that he then turned to the poor driver who was patiently waiting through this ordeal and told him “There is no madame at that number.  You are trying to abscond with a housemaid so I am not allowing you to enter.”


To cut to the chase and make the long story short, the security official, on hearing a female voice speaking non-Saudi accented Arabic determined that the only woman he was speaking to had to be a housemaid.  Because we live at the moment in a conservative Saudi compound there were no foreigners residing except for housemaids – according to the Security official’s point of view.


Fortunately a phone call from my Saudi spouse to the security official cleared up any misunderstandings and the driver finally was allowed to enter to pick me up for my scheduled appointment.  However it should be noted that while it may have initially been an annoying experience, the security official should be commended for his vigilance and close attention.  It is a serious problem in the Kingdom for housemaids to either receive visitors during the working day if they are typically left alone in a house or for a housemaid to go off with someone unrelated to them for either a good time or an attempt to leave one employer for what they may believe to be a better opportunity.

  Ahhhh, life in the Kingdom.  It teaches one patience and the ability to always see the humor in any frustrating situation!

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