(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatari women have reacted with disappointment at media reports saying that the first batch of 30 Saudi housemaids has begun work, entering an occupation which has been the domain of mostly Asian women in the oil-rich Gulf state.
According to newspaper reports, all the 30 Saudi women who have been roped in as domestic help, are aged between 20 and 45 years and none of them has a primary school certificate.
They earn salaries up to 1,500 riyals which is roughly equivalent to 400 per month, slightly more than what their Asian counterparts get. At least one newspaper quoted an official from a manpower agency saying that the 30 women have been selected after a series of interviews and intense training. And another 100 women have applied and are awaiting interviews, said another Saudi newspaper.
The manpower agency official said the demand in Saudi Arabia for local women to work as maids is going up sharply because of widespread fear in local communities that foreign women practice magic.
The Saudi Labor Ministry moved two years ago to allow local women to work as housemaids and they were to be officially known as 'Saudi home arrangers'.
Reacting to the reports, Moza Al Malki, a prominent Qatari psychologist, told this newspaper yesterday: "It breaks my heart to know that Saudi women are venturing out to get involved in such a pursuit."
"Imagine that this is happening at a time the GCC countries are witnessing immense economic prosperity and among these countries Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves."
In principle, it is okay if a woman has to do a job as long as it is decent work and not in violation of Islamic tenets, she said.
"But in the end it is the job of a maid… The women will be exposed to all kinds of humiliation." Al Malki said she hoped that the trend would be restricted to Saudi Arabia and not spill over to other GCC countries. Another Qatari woman who did not want to be identified said the development should be treated as an exception and she did not expect the trend to spill over to other GCC states.