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Ministry studies work permits for wives, daughters of expats

Last updated: Friday, April 26, 2013 3:43 PM
A tweet on says the Labor Ministry is evolving a mechanism to issue work permits to working housewives and daughters of expatriates in the Kingdom. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor is studying the prospect of issuing work permits to wives and daughters of expatriates in the Kingdom, according to a ministry source. “Work permits will be issued only for those jobs in which Saudi women are not interested or are not qualified. There is an acute shortage for Saudi women in certain jobs for which women from other nationalities could be considered,” online daily reported Thursday quoting the source as saying.

The source indicated that the new move would benefit dependents of expatriates to work mainly in international schools, especially to teach foreign languages such as English, and French, as well as science subjects in addition to some other professions like that of beautician.

At present, wives and daughters of expatriates are not allowed to work in the Kingdom except those who are under the sponsorship of their employers.

If the ministry takes a positive decision in this regard, it will help rectify status of thousands of housewives to work as teachers in hundreds of private and international schools in various regions of the Kingdom. This is mainly because of the shortage of Saudi women to teach foreign languages and science subjects.

Earlier this month, several schools had closed down or suspended classes following rumors of inspection raids by the Ministry of Interior. Subsequently, the Ministry of Education intervened to allay the fears by sending text messages to school authorities asking them not to give in to rumors of raids and suspend classes. The ministry also informed them that procedures were under way, in coordination with the concerned agencies, to allow housewives to work as teachers.

Muhammad Al-Dokhaini, spokesman of the ministry, emphasized then the ministry’s keenness in ensuring smooth functioning of all educational institutions in the Kingdom so as to serve the interests of students and not to affect them in any way. The move has relieved private school authorities as well as expatriate parents.

This is the first time that daughters of expatriates have also been given hope that they could find a place in the Saudi job market, especially in the education sector.

Reacting to the report, several Saudi business owners and expatriates heaved a sigh of relief. 

“Finally good news to look forward to from the Labor Ministry,” said Majeed A. an MD at a local hospital. “My wife and daughter have been English language teachers until recently. They can now look forward to resuming work soon, insh’Allah,” he said.

“Hopefully this would also mean that a wife and a daughter can also open bank accounts for themselves too,” said Farhan S., a senior engineer employed in a Saudi company. “This will duly allow them some financial independence.”

Saudi women, who are owners of local spas, beauty salons and schools expressed relief while unanimously agreeing that this step was “realistic” and “practical.”

“I’m yet to meet a Saudi woman manicurist,” said one beauty salon owner who preferred to be named as Umm Ahmad.

“This is a step forward by the Labor Ministry which is realistic. We need to recognize and accept that there are jobs Saudis still refuse to fill not because they’re demeaning but because of our culture,” she said.

Another Saudi woman who owns a school said: “It is common sense and more practical that the Kingdom makes use of potential workforce among the women and daughters of men already employed in the Kingdom.”

She said most Saudis who are native English-speakers don’t work as English language teachers “but are snatched up” by other industries such as banking, communication etc.

“Why does the Labor Ministry have to ‘study’ the process when there are neighboring GCC countries that have already undergone this step?” asked Saudi businesswomen, Maha A. “We don’t have time for studies — we need the Labor Ministry to think fast and act even faster.”

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