Obtaining a Housemaid in Saudi Arabia

I always believe the best way is to follow the rules and do not circumvent them.  This also applies to obtaining a housemaid.  One can certainly find housemaids who are already in the Kingdom, usually illegally, having entered on an umrah or hajj visa and then staying in the Kingdom instead of returning to their home country.  These housemaids will usually be willing to live in and work at reduced rates because of their illegal status.  But at the same time, there are obvious great risks involved to both the housemaid and the family who chooses to employ an illegal alien.  There are also some housemaids who are in the Kingdom legally having found someone (majority of times a Saudi) who has agreed to sponsor them in turn to receiving a monthly payment each month from the housemaid in return for the sponsorship.  These housemaids are legal, can “freelance” but will typically request higher rates since they generally are living in their own quarters (usually an apartment shared by at least a dozen others in the same status).  Then there is the standard procedure to engage a legal housemaid.

 

There are many agencies in the Kingdom which specialize in identifying and facilitating acquisition of housemaids for their clients.  One simply goes to the agency and discuss requirements such as preferred nationality, preferred age or age range, preferred religion, what language must the housemaid speak.  Additionally the manager of the agency will want to know how many members are in the family, are there any pets and any other unique requirements or issues that should be taken into consideration when selecting a housemaid.  You can consider the managing agent as in a sense playing a role of matchmaker.  Once this application is completed and information obtained, the managing agent will then begin his search of candidates for the one who best fits the needs of the client.  The Managing agent will also process the housemaid’s airline ticket, visa and iqama.  While the managing agent may do the processing for the iqama, the client is the one identified as the sponsor of the housemaid.  And of course the managing agent will charge a fee for his services.  Depending on which nationality is chosen, the initial processing fees can range from 6500 SAR – 9000 SAR.  The contractual understanding between the housemaid and the client will be agreed upon prior to her arrival.  Therefore before she arrives she would have been informed (and agreed to) the terms of salary, hours worked and day(s) off.

 

Most housemaids in the Kingdom are from Indonesia and Philippines.  Housemaids from Sri Lanka, India, Niger and Kenya are also on the increase.  Housemaids from Indonesia usually have a good knowledge of Arabic before arrival due to Indonesia being a muslim country and many nationals learn Arabic through reading the Quran.  Housemaids from Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Niger and Kenya will likely speak English.  Some of them may also know Arabic.  In the cases of India and Niger, it depends on whether they may also have Arabic.

 

When going through an agency and sponsoring a housemaid one must be patient.  It can take from one to five months for the housemaid to arrive even though all associated charges have been paid in advance.  Housemaids from Philippines usually take the least time to arrive (one to two months) but it can take longer for those coming from the other “usual” countries.  The timeliness can depend on the supply of housemaids from the respective countries.

 

Some individuals may not want to wait for however long it may take for the housemaid to arrive but still want to ensure they have a legal housemaid under their sponsorship.  Some agencies may have housemaids already in the Kingdom available for work and sponsorship.  Be careful if contemplating this option.  It may sound like an immediate solution to a need but in most cases, these housemaids are available because there were problems wherever they had initially been placed.  I’m not going to say that every housemaid was bad or unsuitable who is in this circumstances and available but in many cases which I’m aware of, let’s say that the housemaid is not suitable to life and work in the Kingdom and likely better off to work in another country or return to her home country.

 

The monthly salary of housemaids varies depending on nationality and agency but not by much.  When sponsoring a housemaid who will come to you directly from her home country, the salary will be lower than one who is already in the Kingdom.  I reiterate that these housemaids are aware of and agreed to the proposed salary before leaving their home country.  However in a lot of cases they also know that if they can arrive and then run-away from their sponsor, they can usually double their salary working on the black market since the supply is unable to meet the high demands.  It is very common for the sponsor to retain the iqama of the housemaid.

 

A housemaid may arrive knowing very little about the Kingdom.  She will probably not have an abaya and it is usual for the employer to provide her with one.  Most homes in the Kingdom come equipped with a room known as a “maids room.”  The size can vary and it will generally have a room, some shelving units, sink and then a separate small room with squat toilet and shower.  The employer is expected to provide her with a bed.  I strongly urge the employer to also provide her with a small chest of drawers, floor rug, small tv and radio.  An employer should also help her acquire a mobile phone and teach her when to obtain and how to use pre-paid calling cards.  If the room does not contain a closet, the employer should also provide a pedestal made for hanging clothes from.

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55 Responses

  1. Yeah housemaids have pretty much become a standard member of any household regardless of class due to the low cost of hiring one. Ok now I’m about to throw in JUST my opinion on something I’ve noticed as a side-effect (could be seen as a side-effect… again my opinion) due to it being a standard within the typical Saudi (and non-Saudi) family to have a maid.

    Girls have become – what’s the word – reliant? dependent? incapable of fulfilling chores that a woman would have typically performed a couple of decades ago within the house? I’m not bashing women who have maids, my family has a maid, but at the same time we were all taught how to function without a maid present. I remember having conversations with Saudi females who would express fear – literally fear – when the thought of them possibly living without their maid arose. haha… Now maybe I’m generalizing too much, and please don’t think I’m bashing Saudi society, for those who know me I’m probably the most pro-Saudi guy you’ll find haha…

    Just saying that with everything there needs to be moderation, and thought I’d point it out to those who don’t have a maid and have young children, that they should always keep in mind that although it’s a nice luxury to have, be sure not to raise your children in a way that forms them to become dependent on the maid. That’s all :D

  2. Ali, you touched a point near to my heart as all. Due to my surgery I made the decision to engage and sponsor a full-time housemaid. However I am making sure that my stepchildren realize that having a housemaid does not mean neglecting on knowing some of the basics or expecting her to literally pick up behind them as a slave. Young women need to have discipline and responsibility instilled into them. I have heard horror stories of young Saudi couples leaving the Kingdom for schooling and having serious problems because of the lack of a housemaid — that’s sad!

    Although I have a housemaid, I have no qualms continuing and insisting to do certain items for myself and also helping her out at times. I believe knowing how to maintain a house is imperative for all women!

  3. Call me silly and old fashioned, it was the way I was raised–all women whether they work outside the home or not, is the queen of her home.

    She must know how to clean, cook and maintain and organize the home and the children. You can have 20 maids, and not have an organized home, if the woman of the home is not capable of running it.

    It should be a source of pride.

    MEN, you’re not off the hook either. We must teach our sons to be clean and organized as well, since they may live and study alone one day. Furthurmore, it is a blessing to any wife to have a husband who helps and contributes.

    Maids are a luxury.

  4. You said it well, Viking Daughter!!!!

  5. “days off”…lol. That was a good one…I have yet to come across a family here in Bahrain that allows their housemaid(s) a day off. Generally its a few hours here or there…and most often she is still there in the house somewhere…just not “on call”.

    Having a housemaid is such a dangerous and tricky situation that I cant imagine how quickly and with little thought so many families jump right into having one. On her side is the fact that she is entering a strange country…living with a strange family she isnt related too and maybe having culture issues she is not familiar with…and trusting and depending on these strangers to provide the basics for her…and pay her salary in a timely manner. We all know the horror stories that surround those issues…. From the families side theres the issue of having an unknown quanitity in the house…around your children…your valuables etc. Also becoming too dependent on her to do all and everything to the extent that even a glass of water becomes a burden best left to the housemaid to retrieve. Children grow up speaking her language better then their own…and unable to do even the smallest thing without a temper tantrum etc…not to mention not being taught simple basic respect for her.

    Since I divorced and started working people have suggested I get a housemaid to alleviate some of my burden…but the thought doesnt stay long wth me even if it would make certain things easier for me…too many things can go wrong…I would prefer to have a messy house and laundry to do when I come home…then worry about the million and one things having a housemaid can bring on…sheesh,…no thanks.

    sorry for the ramble

  6. carol said: ” I believe knowing how to maintain a house is imperative for all women!”

    And men!!! :D

  7. Cool red – yes, I do find having a housemaid in the Kingdom more challenging for the issues you mentioned such as bringing in someone unknown and from another country. I’ve had housemaids most my life but this is the first time where I’ve not either engaged them locally or engaged a local. Now at this point in my life with the various things going on, I greatly appreciate having one around.

    Although most Saudis and Arabs do not believe in giving housemaids a day off, I believe it is essential.

  8. I read somewhere that there are also maids from Ethiopia in Saudi Arabia, but many of them are mistreated and some have even committed suicide (by hanging, for example). Is it true? Do housemaids have enough legal protection against abusive employers? Or has it more to do with unattened cultural issues?

  9. Yes; there are also housemaids from Ethiopia. I’m not sure if it is accurate to say mahy of them are mistreated. I’m not going to deny abuse happens for sadly it does. Some housemaids have hung themselves and others who are desperately unhappy seem to fling themselves out of windows or down stairs. As I write this, Saudi Arabia continues to put more legal rights in place in regards to protection against abusive employers. This is a complicated issue. In some cases a housemaid may be being abused and unable to get away where she can seek help or report the abuse. Most employers will retain the maids iqama and passport as well as severely curtail her movements or opportunity for movement. And yes, some of the problems are indeed caused by cultural issues too.

  10. Thank you, Delhi4cats, for your reply. The situation seems remarkably worse than in many third world countries. E.g. in Brazil, South America, housemaids earn about US$ 300,00 per month, but have weekends off, paid holidays and broad access to Justice as well.
    What you describe would be unacceptable and nearly unthinkable in any Western country: it would be considered a serious violation of some of the basic human rights.

  11. Yes; procedures in the Gulf, Mideast, Asia and Southeast Asia cannot be compared to what is norm or acceptable in the West.

  12. Zemaneu, I think maybe your figures on salary are off…this is more than the average surgeon would make in USD…the president makes $250,000 a year, when I was in school.

    Also, I 2nd the day off thing. I think this should be standard, for both parties’ sake. Can you imagine the attitude and outlook of someone who does the same thing every day for years? Why would you want someone in your house 24/7 anyway? Privacy is a very good thing. Leisure time is not a luxury, but a necessity with this kind of job, necessary for mental health, particularly in the heat of the Gulf in summer. And you are perfectly correct in the thought that this would be severely frowned upon in the West, if only from a labor power standpoint…

  13. Most of the abuse with housemaids goes back to slave ownership mentality…you can treat your slave however you want and nobody can say otherwise. Also, the judicial system is set up so that housemaids are under domestic law…not similar to employer/employee laws…but more like family members…in which case bad treatment of them is almost considered a family matter much like spousal abuse etc which we also know goes on while the court stands silently by for the most part.

  14. Soupprincess, Welcome to the blog. I actually interpreted Zemaneu to mean a salary of 300/per month.

    Yes; time off is essential for a variety of different reasons. Interestingly though when reading the complete and fine print of the contract the housemaid receives (and signs) from the agency, it does not say anything about days off. It really says clearly she is coming to work and expected to work daily for a two year period. The basic stipulations is that she will receive room, board and regular meals.

    You raise a good point Cool Red in regards tot hat housemaids issues will fall under domestic rather than labor laws.

  15. Thank you for this very informative entry. I am living in Saudi Arabia and am in the process of looking for a live-in maid for my family. Being new to the country, would you recommend any agenciies in Riyadh for finding a maid? Any information would be greatly appreciated!

  16. Hi Paul,

    Welcome to the blog. I will have to get back to your query after getting the number for the agency which we used from my husband. The agency we used specialized in bringing housemaids from the Phillipines and Kenya if that would be of interest. Being American and not fluent in Arabic, I wanted to ensure that I had a housemaid who knew English. Now in my case, I chose to engage a housemaid from Kenya. The reason for this is that in my experience at least, I have found that Filipina housemaids can be temperamental, sometimes vengeful and not always loyal. They would also be more persistent in asking for raises or a loan. On the other hand, they are very clean and hard workers.

    Thus far I am very pleased with my housemaid from Kenya. She reads/writes/speaks excellent English and has an excellent disposition. She took initiative to learn about the culture of KSA and is not shy in asking to learn more.

    Bottom line though in regards to engaging a housemaid, where one is from is truly a matter of preference of each family. I think most importantly one needs to be very clear from the beginning on expectations.

  17. Thank you so much for you quick response! I read your blog daily (RSS) and find it very informative. We too are American and not so great in Arabic (me at least), so the search for an agency can be tricky..

    We are looking for the same nationalities that you have mentioned, and have heard similar opinions that you mention. We are definately interested in this agency that you have used.

    Currently we are using a woman from Ethiopia that cleans some of the villas in our compound. We have found her to be expensive, rushed, and not very detail oriented. Although this is definately not a generalization on the nationality, I think that using maids that are already living in the country that work part time to be a good temporary alternative, as they serve as good transitional help between moving to the kingdom and getting settled.. but as one becomes more accustomed to the lifestyle of KSA, a full time maid seems to become more and more of a priority in the home.

    Thanks again

  18. My pleasure Paul! Please email me privately: american_bedu (at symbol) yahoo (dot) com and I’ll be happy to get the info to you.

  19. I always believe the best way is to follow the rules and do not circumvent them. This also applies to obtaining a housemaid. One can certainly find housemaids who are already in the Kingdom, usually illegally, having entered on an umrah or hajj visa and then staying in the Kingdom instead of returning to their home country.

  20. Hi Delhi4cats.

    I read ur blog and found it very interesting.

    Can u plz mention the agency name on this site.

  21. We went through Fast Track Recruitment. We completed our application on 9 May and our housemaid arrived on 1 July.

    Mohammed is the manager and his number is: 461 1499. Fax: 461 7453

    The agency is located in Olaya on Musa bin Nussiar St., Cercon Building, No. 11

  22. am real time domestic and house maid slave. i have no limit sir.am honst, hardworking and caring slave. amsingle i have no kid. am not into drug and drunk sir. am healthy, i have no disease.. am seeking honest and caring master. a free drug and drunk master to serve, a godly master sir am just finished my contract here in london .am in london right now sir

  23. Thai Le, I am going to take your comment as a joke. No domestic worker should ever refer to THEMSELF as a slave and seeking a master.

  24. i am interested in sending house maid to saudi arabia from indonesia…..please let me know if we can do some tie up.

    hope to hear from you soon

    regards
    kannan

  25. I need house maid suppliers in Indonesia and Ethiopia. If you are the one pls let me know your interest, we are the major supplier in United Arab Emirates.

    For your information comparing to Saudi i think less problems we are facing in UAE, its nothing.

    Pls note the contact details.

    nirozamuthaliff@yahoo.com

    MONALIZA LABOURS RECRUITMENT
    AJMAN,
    UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.

  26. I am interested in indonesian maid in Sudan, who can supply?

  27. mummy – you should contact an agency in khartoum to assist you.

  28. I want to send maid from Ethiopia.
    I would like to know monthly salary and any other detail. Please send detail information

  29. Hello everybody!!
    I’ve been in KSA for almost 3 years…I had a Filippina maid and treated her very very well…how ever she brought me men home so I sent her back home. Now I want to bring in a Inidian girl. As I know they are quite good in English and are not so fashional as the Filippinas. I know a girl in India and I want to bring her in. Has anybody ever brougth in a housemaid from India?? Any Experience about Visa, Contract…..

    Please send me some informations!!!

    Brigitte

  30. I am looking forward to bring an housemaid from India. She is ready to come abroad to work for us in Saudi Arabia. Can anybody advise on the procedure to apply for her visa?

    I am an Indian national working as a computer engineer in Saudi Arabia.

    Thank you.

  31. Hi Thomas,

    I’m not sure on how you as an individual directly sponsor a specific individual. My husband and I arranged for our housemaid through an agency who in turn organized her visa, travel arrangements, etc. Perhaps you can ask one of the agencies? Or if someone else can advise differently?

  32. Thank you for your reply.

    Saudi nationals were able to bring a specific individual as a housemaid/housedriver etc… In the application process, we do not specify any individual name.

    The following link also states that it is possible to recruit house-labor.
    http://mol.gov.sa/en/ServicesGuide/Pages/service2.aspx
    Although the link states in the context of Saudi national, I was told by few of my friends that it is applicable for the expatriates also.

  33. The link
    http://saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2009032232893

    lists the procedure/requirements for bringing a house maid to Saudi Arabia.

  34. @Thomas,

    I do know of expats who have gone through an agency but I do not know any expats who had a specific person they wished to bring. But it sounds like you have done good research and if your question is not answered, I suggest following up through the resources you have cited.

  35. Hello,
    we are a european family living in a compound paying high prices for bad service. So we decided now to bring a housemaid. As our house is not equipped with a maid area like Saudi houses, she will be living amongst us, so it is crucial that she fits into the family.
    We decided to take a housemaid from Asia, due to the asian smile. As all our compound maids are Filipinos, we will go for an indonesian maid, as there are only limited number of maids coming from Vietnam and Nepal. So choice is less. According to our ranking, Indonesia has the best kitchen, followed by Vietnam…., but english knowledge is limited.
    If you compare Saudi agencies to Singapore agencies, there is a big difference in service. In Singapore you can find profiles and biodata on the web and even arrange a webcam interview. (Search on internet: netmaid singapore or maidcity singapore)
    I tried to bring one from Singapore, but only agencies that have an official licence to recruit for Saudi Arabia can supply in this country. These agencies, you only find in Indonesia. I contacted some of them, but they are not interested to supply 1 or 2, they want to supply large volumes.
    So I have to go to a Saudi agency and will will try to get biodata and a webcam interview before I choose. If you are interested, I will keep you informed.

  36. @Satissa,

    Welcome and thank you for sharing. I wish you luck in the ability to interview the housemaid prior to acceptance and arrival. We specified a muslim housemaid over 35 years of age from an agency and we were provided with a 20 year old Christian housemaid. The agency will tell you they will meet your needs and requests but basically it seems like they process in turn whose available and which family is next on the list to receive a housemaid. I would be very interested to hear how your efforts go.

    I am sure you are prepared in bringing a housemaid from Indonesia that the chances are limited she will speak English? I have also had an Indonesian housemaid who spoke no english but thanks to knowing the Quran, her arabic was very good…it also accellerated my own arabic too since that ended up our common language.

    Good luck to you!

  37. @ American Bedu
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Just to give a short follow up of my efforts:
    Following this link http://alwarbah.com/recruiting_agencies.html I contacted the Riyadh based agencies with email contact and received 2 feedbacks. I sent them my requirements and wait for some suggestions.
    I contacted also Fast Track Recruitement and asked for Mr. Mohammed. No english skills at the operator. I was several times passed through and then I got an english speaking person. I asked for Mr. Mohammed concerning the request of a housemaid. The person made me understand that Mr. Mohammed does not take care of the request of an unknow person just asking for 1 housemaid.
    I should talk to Mr. Sulaiman. As he was not available, I should phone again in 30 minutes after prayer. (remark: Singaporian agencies call back even if you give them a Saudi mobile)
    I phoned 45 minutes later and instead of Mr Sulaiman I had again this english speaking person that told me: Why do you call now after 5 minutes? I told you after 30 minutes. Finally he remembered that I phoned before prayer but a customer service like this you experience only in Saudi Arabia or in Russia.
    Then he told me that Mr. Sulaiman is on urgent leave. I requested the email and asked him, if he is interested to supply me with a maid and if I can send him the profile, Since 4 days I have no response. I don’t know if I will ever get an answer, but in any case, Fast Track Recruiting should be renamed to Slow Track or may be Dead End Track Recruiting.

  38. Satissa,

    I am really sorry that you had a bad experience. I hate to say it, but I think FastTrack is very oriented for the Saudi families more so than expats perhaps. My husband knows Mohammed so they were always able to connect easily (via mobile) and speak arabic. honestly I am not aware of an agency in Ridayh which is oriented more for expats seeking housemaids. I’m sure there is a brisker business with the demand from Saudi nationals.

  39. I have a lot of domestic servants, how to be employed to saudi?
    anyone interested?

  40. if anyone is interested in recruiting Indonesian workers …. please contact me … thank you.

  41. Dear Sir / madam

    We are PT. Mardel Anugerah Internasional (a legal recruitment company in Indonesia) which based in Jakarta. Our branch office is located in Lombok and according to the agreement with head office we are authorized to do recruitment and marketing all over the world with any agencies. We would like to offer your office male and female biodatas either formal and non formal workers (housemaid, plantation, construction, general worker, factory worker, welder, driver, and other skilled worker.
    As we know that West Nusa Tenggara Province (NTB) has two islands they are Lombok and Sumbawa Island. And this province is the 2nd largest island and highest population after Java Island which provides a surprising and spectacular amount of worker candidates for years.
    Finally we hope there will be a good respond and a reply back by email from your good office.

    Thank you for all of your attention

    Best Regards

    MR. HARDI WIRAWAN (WAWAN)
    Mobile : +62-8175701893
    Email : wawanganteng72@gmail.com
    Y/M : wg_lombok@yahoo.com
    Telp/Fax : +62 (376) 22200
    Address : Hotel Bunga
    Jln Raya Masbagik Pancor Lombok Timur NTB Indonesia

  42. I want to know the requirement to keep house maid, i am an Indian and like to have house maid female,

    1. What are the requirements
    2. what is the monthly salary range
    3. Documents required from my husband or his Spenser ?
    4. Can foreigner have female maid servant ?

    Thanks
    Nelofer Khan

  43. want to know the requirement to keep house maid in Saudi Arabia,

    i am an Indian and like to have house maid female in Saudi Arabia,

    1. What are the requirements
    2. what is the monthly salary range
    3. Documents required from my husband or his Spenser ?
    4. Can foreigner have female maid servant ?

    Thanks
    Nelofer Khan

  44. Hello Everyone, I am looking for a sponsor from Saudi Arabia who is willing to work with us obtain jobs in Saudi Arabia for house maids and drivers. Our office is based in Mombasa Kenya. You can reach us on

    el_eunmack@hotmail.com

    Cell phone: +254 734 987 792

    Office line: 202120171

    P. O Box 452-80400, ukunda.

    We are good and our services are more valuable.

    Thank You

  45. Please send me an trusted agency here in riyadh who can help me to be legal.i run away from my employer last yr.i want to request a released and im willing to pay.i want to be a freelancer also.pls help me.thx

  46. @Hunie – you still require a sponsor even to be a freelancer. However, since you did run away from your original sponsor I’m sorry to say that the chances are slim for you to receive your wish. As a runaway your best option is to contact your embassy.

  47. American Bedu et al, we’re a familynrelocating to Saudi soon and currently living in Dubai. We have a helper who has become part of thebfamily, having twins boys 18 months letting her go is not a comfortable option.

    Do you know if I can find a reliable agency to bring her in all legal?

    Any help is highlybappreciated. Thamks

  48. @Vidal,
    You may want to first check in Dubai or even the Saudi consulate in Dubai on what you need to do to sponsor her coming with you.

  49. I am looking for a job. I am kenyan, age 21. I like the post and i got interested in working there

  50. we are from Ethiopia and wants to work with maid agencies from Dubai and Saudi Arabia. If you are interested please contact us by the following e-mail address.

    sheka.employment@yahoo.com

  51. am from Ethiopia and wants to work with housemaid agencies from Saudi Arabia. If you are interested please contact us by the following e-mail addres rudwanbabikir@hotmail.com 00251911632603 abdi

  52. I’m a business man living in the capital city of Ethiopia I’ve worked on many fields but i see Saudi Arabia needs 45k maid from Ethiopia so I’ve started a maid recruitment agency so if you are interested on working together contact me with michaelaraya12@gmail.com i can supply any number of demand with the cheapest price. looking forward to work with you,

  53. How can I buy visa for my sister in the Philippines who is willing to work as housemaid here in Saudi Arabia. Can you please help me.

  54. we are looking for a sponcer from Saudi Arabia who is willing to work with us our office is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia you can contact us with the following address.

    tareliable@gmail.com or +251 911 201462

    many thanks

  55. [...] When these tasks are taken into consideration over an individual’s time and value plus factoring in the regulated wages of a housemaid, it makes it common sense and practicality to engage a full or part time housemaid. [...]

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