A maid at work in Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: Saudi domestic worker recruitment agencies estimate that 25 per cent of the 1,620 recruitment offices across the Kingdom have completely stopped business as a result of restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sources said although the negative impact of the pandemic has affected 100 per cent of those firms, it raised the demand for hiring domestic workers by 80 per cent compared to before the pandemic, which contributed to a 30-50 per cent increase in recruitment fees.They expected that the conditions of recruitment agents would improve as the the pandemic is resolved, hoping they would have some support in light of these difficult circumstances.

The former head of the recruitment committee in the Riyadh Chamber, Mohammed Al Talib, told Al Riyadh: “The domestic workers recruitment sector in the Kingdom has been greatly affected by the restrictions that have been imposed on travel, in addition to the complete stoppage of businesses that lasted for several months last year , to stem the spread of COVID-19.”

He added the situation will not return to normal until the pandemic is controlled, with losses offset in conjunction with the gradual return to normal life.

Al Talib estimated that the number of offices that have completely stopped operating due to the pandemic is about 25 per cent of the total operating in the Kingdom.

He said stopping recruitment has greatly raised the demand for domestic workers.

The number of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia during the first quarter of 2020 reached 3.66 million, including housemaids, cleaners, cooks, drivers, house guards, housekeepers and a number of professions related to housework.