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Housemaid Shortage Leaves UAE Homes in a Mess

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Good help is hard to find: expats in the UAE are complaining about the difficulties of getting reliable maids.
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Residents of the United Arab Emirates are reporting that they are having difficulties getting reliable domestic help due to a shortage of maids from Asia, who traditionally clean up in the market for home help.

In recent years some Asian countries have begun to impose restrictions on the emigration of domestic workers to the Emirates, leading to a shortage of maids from countries such as the Philippines, Nepal and Indonesia, who are popular among expats looking for help around the house.

In 2010 Nepal lifted a ten-year ban on domestic workers coming to the UAE, but again stopped approving visas for domestic help in 2014 due to concerns about exploitation of workers, while in June last year the Philippines stopped processing contracts for domestic workers in response to contract changes made by the UAE authorities.

One Emirati mother of five, Afrah Ozibi, told an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National, of her distress at the decision: "I have been trying to get a Filipina maid for months now and the office has told me that their embassy is not allowing it because they are unhappy with the conditions set by the UAE. What am I supposed to do now? The prices for maids from Indonesia have sky-rocketed."

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The Indonesian Embassy, in turn, confirmed in February that the country had imposed a ban on its citizens leaving for domestic work in the UAE and other Arab countries, after Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that he had asked his government to formulate plans to stop sending domestic workers abroad. "We should have some self-esteem and dignity," the president declared, according to Antara News.

According to recent reports, housemaids from countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Kenya are filling the gap, with African maids becoming increasingly popular due to their low wage demands and the ease of bringing them from their home countries, whose governments do not present obstacles to emigration for domestic work. 

One French expat told Gulf News that she is "hoping I will be third time lucky," with her new maid from Ethiopia, while many families complain that they miss their Indonesian maids, who enjoyed popularity due to their Muslim background and knowledge of Arabic. Mother of four Umm Khalid, who "cannot survive even a day without domestic help," explained that  housemaids from Indonesia are preferred "as they are also Muslims and there are minimal cultural and religious differences," but would now look elsewhere for a helper for her Indonesian maid.
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