Saudi Arabia: A Cinderella Type Story… or not?


Many housemaids in Saudi Arabia are viewed solely as a domestic servant available at all hours of the day to meet the demanding needs of the sponsoring family.  They are expected to cook, clean, do laundry, serve when there are guests and perhaps both raise and entertain the children.

Some housemaids are treated in a manner where they may have semi-regular hours, some personal time off and have formed a good bond of friendship with the sponsoring family.

However, statistics of runaway housemaids and ongoing labor disputes prohibiting housemaids from some countries to come to the Kingdom for work tend to negate the positive.

Therefore, the story on one Indonesian housemaid is quite unique.  She married her wealthy employer. Two years after their marriage, her husband passed away.  She received SR20 million as her share of his estate. Although it is not stated, she may have been a second wife since the article makes reference to the late husband’s estate being divided up among his family.


3 Responses

  1. Saudi Women: Challenging Impediments to Progress–Maids kill children

    CDHR’s Commentary: Due to a multitude of institutionalized discriminatory policies against women in employment, millions of educated and qualified Saudi women are unemployed. The Saudi private and public sectors imports over 8 million underpaid and overworked laborers to do jobs most of which can be done by Saudi women, but for better salaries, benefits and healthy work environment. Millions of the imported expatriate laborers are maltreated housemaids and family drivers or “Saudi Modern Day slavery” as described by Saudi and non-Saudi individuals and groups. Tragically, some of the maids are taking revenge in brutal manners.

    Working Saudi women are using these tragic instances to demand daycare centers where their children would be protected while they work. Presently the very small number of Saudi working women has no choice, but to leave their children with angry maids. Building private and public daycare centers by employers would allow women to work without having to worry about the well-being of their children. In addition, more women would seek employment to feed their families if they know their children are cared for in safe environment.

    In addition to having daycare centers for children of working mothers, other institutionalized impediments that prevent women from working have to be eliminated. The women’s right to drive tops the list. Currently women are not allowed to drive and are rarely allowed to take public transportation alone. In order for them to commute to work they must either get a ride from a male relative or hire a driver which most Saudi women cannot afford. Male relatives often have their own jobs and are not able or willing to regularly drive a woman to her job. As long as the Saudi system continues to forbid women from controlling their own means of transportation, the majority of women will be unable to find and maintain employment.

    Increasing employment opportunities for Saudi women and men are unlikely to happen soon. This is due to the fact that foreign laborers work for very meager wages, live in unhealthy and cheap camps and have no benefits. Furthermore, companies that tend to hire Saudis prefer to have men because hiring women requires employers to accommodate gender segregation requirement, separate work facilities. Preventing women from working and earn honest living force them into seeking government’s handouts. 85% of Saudi applicants for government unemployment benefits were women in 2011, according to the Ministry of Labor.

    Establishing daycare centers by public and private employers will prevent killing of innocent children by maltreated maids and enable mothers that need to earn living to work without having to worry about losing their children. This is a step that can help, but it’s only one small step in the scheme of what must be done to remove some of the unnatural impediments imposed on women by the Saudi state institutions.

  2. “the maid-turned-millionaire turned up with a new husband, a Yemeni man. And when the husband was asked about his bank account to transfer the funds, he insisted on receiving the money in cash.”

    I certainly hope she trusts her new husband…something already seems a bit off about the man!

  3. So what’s your point?

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