Saudi Arabia bans word ‘maid’ in job adverts as derogatory

'Servant' also banned when advertising jobs in the kingdom

Filipina domestic workers carry shopping bags as they walk out of a mall in Riyadh. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Saudi Arabia banned the word "maid" as derogatory under new regulations aimed to uphold the rights of foreign workers in advertisements for new jobs and in the recruitment process.

The Saudi Ministry of Commerce said job adverts should not include terms such as “servant” or “maid”, and instead advertise for “workers”.

The new directives stipulate that workers will not bear any financial costs "under any circumstances" for exchanges of work permits or similar paperwork changes.

Such alterations can be made only with the workers' consent and employers cannot refer to such payments in job advertisements.

Advertisements cannot publish personal photos, identity card copies, residency permit or any other personal data.

The kingdom is home to 10 million foreign workers, including 3.7 million domestic workers, and has taken measures in recent years to boost employment protection and prevent abuse.

Saudis and expatriates living in the kingdom praised the changes.

Zainab Yusuf, a photographer from the Philippines who lives in Jeddah, told The National that she was pleasantly surprised by the news.

“In today’s age, we cannot have room for racism and discrimination," Ms Yusuf said.

"We cannot raise our children to believe those who work in our homes are lesser than us by using terms like ‘khadama’ [female servant in Arabic].

“It is time to change our mindset and this can be done by changing our vocabulary and actions.

"Give everyone dignity of labour. Domestic workers or CEOs, we are one and the same."

Saudi salary guide – how much you can expect to earn 

Parents also welcomed the news, saying such values must be instilled in children at a young age.

“I am so surprised to hear this because I have raised my kids the same way,” said Madiha Khan, an Indian living in Dhahran. "We have always called them helpers, not maids.

"I think it’s important for the society to reflect and encourage good manners and respect every member of society, although I believe the disparity is much greater in India.

"I wish we could have such laws back home that would teach society how to treat people regardless of status.”

Amal Zahrani, a Saudi artist in Jeddah, said it was right to show due respect to people who travel thousands of miles from home to work in the kingdom.

“I think this was much needed," Ms Zahrani said. "They are human and deserve to be respected.

"Thousands of domestic workers leave their families and children to come work for Saudis and it is not easy on them. It is their right to be respected and loved.

“They play a huge role in households and helping us sustain them. Our helper is my child’s second mother and he proudly says it.

"She is part of our family and it would be wrong to think of her as anything less."

Since March 14, expatriates no longer need their employers' permission to change jobs, travel or leave Saudi Arabia, as part of the National Transformation Programme under Vision 2030.