Filipinos organise 'Maid in the UAE' beauty contest

The low-paid exptriates, mostly maids, are launching a beauty pageant in a bid to boost the morale of Filipino household workers in the Emirates.

DUBAI // A group of workers is launching a beauty pageant to boost the morale of low-income Filipino expatriates. Mary Chaly Arcao, 32, a housemaid who works for a Danish family in Dubai, said the provisional title of the contest was "Maid in the Philippines, UAE 2010". "Men and women who have low salaries but are not yet members of our group can join the pageant," she said. Ms Arcao, the president of the Philipino Nationalistic Association (Pinas), said more than 200 workers had signed up as members.

Pinas is a Filipino slang word for "Pilipinas", or the Philippines. The members are mostly housemaids, gardeners, family drivers, salon assistants, security guards, office assistants or tea boys, car mechanics and labourers working in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Apart from the pageant, planned for June, there is a serious side to the association. "We may have different salaries and jobs but we are here for the same reasons - to develop our personality, enhance our relationship with our employers and foster unity among Filipinos," said Nelson Tarala, 39, a maintenance mechanic in Dubai and one of the organisation's founders.