Abu Dhabi: With three Asian countries no longer sending housemaids to the UAE, families in the UAE are looking for other nationalities such as Africans, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis to fill the gap.

And among these nationalities, housemaids from African nations are becoming more popular due to several reasons, according to some recruitment agencies in the capital.

When it comes to filling the void created by some countries, it is easily achieved they say, as the market adapts and moves on to domestic help that is more readily available from other countries.

Rudi Holean, client relationship manager at Maid CV [maidcv.com], a prominent recruitment firm, said there was an ongoing issue with Indonesian maids for the past several months, so the ban did not come as a surprise.

He said maids from African countries are becoming popular in the UAE.

“People are moving on; the new favourites are Africans. They are picking up really well because they receive training. And procedures to hire an African maid are easier and less complicated than that of other countries. There is no issue with their governments, and their monthly salaries are in the range of Dh850-Dh900, which is cheaper than maids from some other nations.”

Holean also said that some of the factors that made Indonesian maids popular, such as the ability to speak Arabic and cooking Arabic food, were being picked up by maids from other nationalities,

“Arab families want an Arabic-speaking maid for easy communication, and this was a big plus because Indonesian maids could speak some Arabic and this gave them the upper hand.”

Holean says there is also a high demand for maids from the Philippines, “followed by maids from India and Sri Lanka, who collectively make up about 20 percent of our candidates and finally, from African.”

Most clients, Holean says, looking for skill sets that suit their requirements. “Emiratis, for example, look for a maid who is Muslim. Most of the time employers are looking at specific skill sets. They want a maid with higher secondary education, basic communication skills, and also cooking skills.”

Holean was hopeful that the Indonesian government may withdraw the ban, as previously done by Ethiopia.

“There used to be ban from Ethiopia, but that was overturned after they checked the issues, and put new laws. Maybe the same thing can be done here. The Indonesian government can make new regulations and then overturn the ban.

“It’s important for developing countries to export, be it human resources, because it has a lot of benefit for the maids who are going to work abroad. It allows them to send money back,” and provide for their families.

Holean, advises employers to thoroughly investigate their potential domestic helper before making a choice.

“Maids are not a piece of furniture,” he says, “they can’t be simply changed every few months. We insist that employers first conduct an online interview with each candidate. Employers need to be mindful of cultural inconsistencies. There have been cases where an Arab family hires a Filipina, who does not speak Arabic and as a result their child grows up speaking Tagalog.”

Holean said all the candidates on the website are staying in the country, most of them on tourist or visit visas. This is, he said, so employers would avoid the cost and risk of bringing someone from her home country.

“We have nearly 300 online CVs,” he said, “we interview the candidates before posting their profiles online. We try to make the expectations of the candidate as transparent as possible and to make their conditions explicit as to avoid any problems at their workplace. There are CVs of nannies, drivers, nurses, housekeepers etc…”

According to Holean, the website finds jobs for around 20 domestic workers per week. Seventy percent of whom are from the Philippines.

Beyond the issue of employers’ requiremnts is an important issue - their mindset. Employers, says Holean, need to change their way of thinking about the role of doemstic help. “There have been many horror stories regarding maids,” he said, “it is important that they are treated in a humane manner. There needs to be transparency and sensitivity between the sponsor and the employee to have a functional relationship between the two. After all, it is a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Another recruitment executive, from Wilson International, a recruitment agency in Abu Dhabi, said that many clients want English speaking maids.

Maids from the Philippines were also in high demand according to the executive who did not want to be named.

“Most of the clients always asked us for maids from the Philippines, they are known to be trustworthy and hard working. They speak good English, and they are very clean and hygienic, which made them a popular choice.”

Sami Zaatari is an intern at Gulf News.