Daughters of expats in Saudi Arabia want to work

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Daughters of expatriates, many of whom are born and raised in the Kingdom, expressed disappointment at a recent decision that prevents them from working in Saudi Arabia.

Daughters of expat workers cannot transfer sponsorship unlike their brothers and mothers while under the sponsorship of their guardians.

Nada Bakri, a Yemeni girl who has turned 25 lately and studied at a Yemeni university through a distance learning program, said: “I have received my education here at a public school and I even completed my bachelor’s in Arabic Studies here. I treat Saudi as my own country, but such decisions leave us isolated, marginalized and simply unwanted in this society. We need something similar like the amnesty (for illegal workers to correct their status) that would enable our cases to be examined as well.

Rasha Iyad is a Syrian teacher who has been living with her family in the Kingdom since the late 1980s.

She was under the sponsorship of her father, but after his death she moved to her brother’s sponsorship.

“On my iqama I am not listed as a wife and not as a daughter either, so what should I do?” she asked.

“If there was an exemption for us sisters and daughters, we can at least be productive and benefit Saudi society better than new workers who are not familiar with the country,” she added.

The concern about staying at home and doing nothing has placed many expatriate daughters in a worrying situation.

Farah Murad, an Egyptian school employee, said: “With this simple decision, I am being told to stay at home. After completing my education here and getting a job as an administrator I am simply asked to stay at home. I cannot go anywhere else as my family lives here and there is no way I can go outside the country by myself.”

Hind Al-Harbi, owner of a beauty salon in Jeddah, said that she has relied for years on female expatriates living in the Kingdom because they are familiar with the demands of her customers.

Hiring female expatriates, she added, is “easier” than waiting for a new visa and paying all related expenses.

She said: “I used to depend on the daughters of expatriates because they are young and are willing to work long hours. However, to avoid any violations I started to look for Saudis and wives of expatriates, mainly Ethiopians and Indians.”

The Ministry of Labor has stated that daughters of expatriates are not allowed to work.

While wives can work if they are under the sponsorship of their husbands, sons are being asked to transfer their sponsorship.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.