18/01/2021 Driven to despair: Male domestic workers in Saudi | Migrant-Rights.org allow women to drive (from 1,357,228 in Q2 2018 to 1,945,672 at the end of 2020). A possible explanation for the sharp rise in the employment of domestic workers and drivers could be due to visa falsi cation. According to sources Migrant-Rights.org spoke to, Saudi businesses reportedly hire o ce assista accountants, and other o ce employees under domestic worker visas to sa on work permit fees. Since 1 January 2018, the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development imposed a monthly fee on private sector employers of foreign workers. Currently, employers pay SR700 (US$ 186) a month (SR 8,400 / US$2,239 yearly) for each foreign worker they employ, which can be costly for small businesses. A domestic worker visa, in contrast, can be obtained for a one time payment ofSR2,000 (US$ 533). And according to Musaned, recruitme costs for male drivers start as low as SR500 (US$133). Additionally, Saudi households also hire male domestic workers to run household errands and not to work as drivers alone. The combination of th factors might explain why the number of male domestic workers has increa by 35% since last year (1,918,424 to 2,598,566) while female domestic wor increased only by 12% (945,273 to 1,060,164). The number of female domestic workers have actually decreased by 9% fro 2019 Q4 to 2020 Q1 while the number of male domestic workers increased 3% for the same period. In a country where women were not allowed to drive until 2018 and social norms still exclude many from the option, almost two million male migrants work as full-time private chau eurs. Personal drivers make up more than 55% of the total domestic worker population in Saudi Arabia, and 70% of all domestic workers – which include security guards, cooks and gardeners, among other occupations – are male. Since lockdowns were implemented in late March across several parts of the country, job security and accommodation have become uncertain for domestic workers like Mohammed Dawood, an Indian driver working in Riyadh. According to Saudi’s domestic worker law, employers are required to provide accommodation to those under their sponsorship; due to the nature of the job, this accommodation is usually a worker’s quarter attached or in close proximity to the employer’s residence. “The family I work for has also been uncertain about their own work, as the husband is a partner in a business and his work was a ected a lot,” says Dawood. “But they are considerate employers so even though I wasn’t working for more https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/07/driven-to-despair-male-domestic-workers-in-saudi/ 2/5

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