A housemaid working in Dubai said she is eagerly waiting for her annual vacation since her last visit home more than two years ago but she is in limbo now. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of Nepalese domestic workers in the UAE are not going back home for emergency purposes or vacation to avoid getting stuck in Nepal.

They reached the UAE legally before the Nepalese government imposed a ban last year on emigration of all domestic workers to countries that have not signed a bilateral labour agreement with Nepal.

Due to this blanket ban, domestic workers who visit Nepal cannot leave the country to continue their work abroad.

A housemaid working in Dubai said she was eagerly waiting for her annual vacation since her last visit home more than two years ago but she was in a limbo now. “I was looking forward to celebrate Dussehra [a Hindu festival on October 19] with my family in Nepal. But if I go, I have to leave this job,” said S.M, 45, who has been working with an Indian family for more than five years.

She said she wants to continue working in Dubai as her employer has been treating her well.

 I was looking forward to celebrate Dussehra [a Hindu festival on October 19] with my family in Nepal. But if I go, I have to leave this job”

 - A Nepalese expat | Housemaid 


There are hundreds of housemaids like her who are in a similar dilemma.

A senior Nepalese diplomat told Gulf News that the Nepalese government imposed the emigration ban in April 2017, which was applicable to both male and female domestic workers. “The government felt that a bilateral agreement regulating the recruitment of domestic workers will be good for both labour-sending and -receiving countries. That’s why the ban was imposed on the emigration to countries that have not signed such an agreement with Nepal,” said Sagar Prasad Phuyal, charge d’affaires at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

He said Nepal’s negotiations on an agreement with the UAE are progressing and he was hopeful about its conclusion in near future.

A senior UAE official told Gulf News that the UAE is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and an agreement with Nepal on the recruitment of domestic workers in the first quarter of 2019.

“We are studying the issues related to the Nepalese domestic workers and negotiations are going on with the Nepalese government,” said Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, assistant undersecretary for Communication and International Relations at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

He said the UAE and Nepal enjoy excellent relations and the proposed MoU and agreement will further improve the ties. “Nepalese are good workers and we appreciate them. The proposed deals will be advantageous for both parties,” said Al Nuaimi.

The Nepalese envoy said his government was aware of the existing domestic workers’ dilemma. “The government is looking into the matter and doing the needful to solve this issue,” Phuyal said.

He suggested that it is better for those who want to continue working in the UAE to wait for a while. “If they are happy with their job, it is better they continue here. They may leave only if they don’ want to come back.”

Sources in the recruitment industry said some agents are bringing Nepalese domestic workers on visit visa and getting them an employment visa upon reaching the UAE. However, they cannot go back home and come back on domestic workers’ visa in the present circumstances.

Phuyal said the embassy does not have any official figures of existing domestic workers in the UAE. The embassy had told Gulf News in December 2016 that around 3,000 housemaids were legally working in the UAE.

As Gulf News reported earlier, Nepal had restricted the emigration of housemaids, especially to the Middle East, for more than a decade except for a brief interval during 2011-2014 and 2016- 2017.

-With inputs from Abdulla Rasheed, Abu Dhabi Editor.