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Abu Dhabi: Recruitment agencies in Abu Dhabi have reduced commission charges for hiring housemaids, companies said.

Compared to 2016, agencies this year have lowered charges citing an overcrowded market, intense competition and general slowdown.

“The cost for a Filipino or Indonesian housemaid last year was around Dh15,000, whereas this year the price is Dh13,500,” said Ratnapriya Marapana, managing director at International Admirable Services.

“There are many factors behind the fall in prices, there is a lot of competition in the market with too many agencies. Another reason is that the market at the moment is also slow. The demand has not been very high over the last year and that has also played a role in prices going down,” he added.

Marapana said the practice of unscrupulous operators hiring housemaids on tourist visas has also negatively impacted the business.

“Unfortunately there are housemaids that are being hired while they are here on a tourist visa and this is bad for our business because we are losing customers,” he said.

Mohammad Elian, operations manager at Liberty Recruitment, shared the same view. “There are some companies that are unfortunately involved in this negative practice; they will receive the housemaid from abroad who has come here on a tourist visa. So while I am paying for the fees and requirements of getting an employment visa, you have these companies that simply hire housemaids on a tourist visa and this is not good for my business,” he said.

Elian said housemaid prices in 2017 would be down. “There are too many agencies, and the market is also less active. I don’t believe we will see prices go up this year.”

Jean G, who works at Al Watan Manpower, said the company also reduced its prices to accommodate the slower market and increased competition.

“Last year the price for a Filipino housemaid working in the UAE was Dh22,000, whereas this year the price is Dh17,500. There have been fall in prices for all nationalities, Nepali housemaids this year will cost Dh14,500 compared to Dh16,000 last year.

African housemaids

With Filipino housemaids still barred from coming from the Philippines, housemaids from African countries like Uganda and Kenya have filled in the gap. “Housemaids from Uganda are fairly new, we started bringing them last year because we could not bring housemaids from the Philippines. There has been a good demand for them because they can speak English, which is what a lot of customers are looking for,” said Diana Duenas, a follow-up clerk at United Manpower.

Duenas added that housemaids from Indonesia were the most popular. “Most of our requests are for Indonesian housemaids. They are popular among Emirati households because they can speak Arabic, and because they also share the same religion.”