Saudi airport offers maid transportation service

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, Riyadh Airports/Twitter
Image caption,
Riyadh Airports is offering to smooth the way for foreign nannies

A Saudi Arabian airport has launched a new service that takes female domestic workers arriving from abroad straight to their employers' houses - apparently to save them from having to go there themselves.

The Riyadh Airports Company, which represents Saudi Arabia's King Khalid International Airport, posted an image on its official Twitter account of the inside of a plane opening straight into a family home.

It reads: "With the Tawsalak service, we receive your [female] domestic worker from the airplane and bring her to your house."

The service's name loosely translates as "she will come to you", and users can access the service by phone and pay a fee to have the worker dropped off.

Poor record on workers' rights

It has been met with a mixed response among Saudi Twitter users. While some say the company saves them from having to search the busy airport for their new employee, others ask whether it objectifies domestic workers.

"Are they to be treated like cargo?" one Twitter user asks, while another hints the service may be to prevent new arrivals from "running away".

The Gulf Kingdom relies on hundreds of thousands of domestic workers from abroad, many of them from South Asian countries like Bangladesh.

All foreign workers in Saudi Arabia require a sponsor's permission to both enter and exit the country, and it can take up to six months to arrange visas.

Rights groups complain that foreign workers often suffer poor conditions, and are unable to switch jobs or leave the country without the permission of their employers.

There is a thriving black market in runaway migrant workers who have fled their employers, but find themselves unable to leave the country due to the country's exit visa law.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
A Saudi woman and her maid in a mall in Riyadh

Reporting by Alistair Coleman, Victoria Bisset

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