For those landing in the Middle East to start a new life, the idea of a “maid”, “babysitter” and “house maid” and “house boy” may be unfamiliar and daunting. If you are looking for some extra help in your family, there are two options for you: a live-in maid or using a maid service (part time) if it is legal in your new country. Below you will find a short explanation about maids in Middle East.
In Dubai and Qatar it is legal and quite common to find a maid who comes to your house weekly for a set number of days and hours to help with cleaning. The basic house cleaning service includes cleaning the floors, surfaces in kitchens, sanitizing bathrooms and replacing bed linens. If you require help with the children or your pet this is also possible, but will have to be specially requested. The advantage with a part-time maid is that you can decide on how many hours you want someone to come. But on the other hand this also means that there is little flexibility especially if you have signed a contract with an agency company or the maids are changed and you need to re-train them.
If you have children and you and your partner are both working full time, you may consider having a full time maid who lives together with you. This can be an uncomfortable concept for those newly arriving from Europe or the west, but for families with young children it may be a good childcare alternative, especially if your work hours are irregular. And many families have one or more full time maids to help with the children so you don’t have to feel like you are doing something special. Hiring a live-in maid means more flexibility on when and which tasks to assign as long as you are clearly outline the tasks you expect your maid to perform before she begins her job.
In case you are really uncomfortable with the concept of a live-in maid, you can consider to sponsor (always sponsor!) a maid who lives outside your home depending on local regulations. You will need to pay for accommodation and her transport. Do note that you are still responsible for her in case she runs away as she will be put on your visa.
Housemaid Sponsorship System
In Dubai all maids, both part time and full time, need to be on a valid visa. If you use part time maid service she will have to be sponsored by the company you contracted. In case you prefer full time help, she will need to be sponsored by you. Sponsorship should be taken seriously as you will be legally responsible for your maid’s welfare and behaviour. If the maid absconds you should report this, otherwise you may be liable. In case you terminate the house maid’s contract you will have to pay for the repatriation costs. If you find a maid from her home country, you can only bring her to your country of residence under your sponsorship. If the maid is already in the country, then you will have to transfer the sponsorship from her present employer to yours. This is also called “transfer maid”.
The Dubai, Qatari and Saudi authorities take the hiring of illegal maids very seriously and the fines for both employer and illegal house maid are steep. Don’t take the risk and only use credited maid services or sponsor a full-time maid who only works for you at the residential address. A practice that is quite common, but in fact illegal is having a sponsored maid coming to clean your house with permission from the sponsor. Legally, the foreign housemaid can only work at the home of the sponsor. Hiring an illegal maid can get you in quite some trouble though authorities claim not to inspect homes. If you are unsure if a maid is illegal, approach immigration or are on the lookout for these indicators: they describe themselves as part timers on someone else’s visa or they don’t have any visa at all.
There are not many maids who are instantly available in the Middle East, even if you approach a maid recruitment agency. There are various ways to find a legal maid: ask friends or family if they know someone that is available, go to souks and other places where maids meet or search online on HelperChoice. It is possible to find someone who is already in Saudi who is about to finish and with agreement of the previous sponsor you can transfer the visa. If you can wait for a short while, you can also recruit a maid from overseas, and do the paperwork with an agency (they don’t have to find one so it will be faster) or by yourself.
Maids’ countries of origin
Interested in hiring a helper from your own country of origin so that your children can practice your mother tongue with her? The chances are not very high as only a handful of source countries are allowed. In the United Arab Emirates legally employers can only sponsor a maid from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. In Qatar, there are also quite some restrictions on countries and most maids come from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Nepal. In Saudi Arabia most maids come from Indonesia, The Philippines, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Morocco, Cambodia, Egypt, Vietnam and Bangladesh (since April 2015). In some cases even though your country or residence allows a country as a maid source, these countries in turn may not allow their nationals to be employed as maids in Middle East.
In some Middle Eastern countries the authorities may request an affidavit from the embassy or consulate certifying a non-relationship, especially if the maid is from the same country as the employer. So if you are hiring a maid from your home country because your children can learn your native language, make sure your planned hired maid is not related to you.
The hiring process
You can hire a maid through an agency or by yourself. The advantage of going through an agency is that they will do the first screening for you and help you through the entire process. Some employers, however, prefer to find a maid themselves through recommendations of friends or an online platform in order to find the most trustworthy maid for their family quickly. We suggest employers to not rely too heavy on recommendations as each family has different requirements and expectations and because of the sponsorship system it may be difficult to change your maid. Our online database will help you to quickly find the right helper for your family.
And on a final note if you are unsure about maids in Middle East and any legal or employment related issues, always check with the Labour Department, Immigration or the local authorities.