Saudi Arabia has allowed domestic helpers from new Asian countries, including Vietnam, to work in the kingdom, the head of the recruitment chambers committee has said.
The decision aims to reinvigorate the business of recruiting domestic helpers that was severely stalled following the ban imposed by Indonesia and the Philippines.
"The Saudi Recruitment Company, the first company to bring in recruited domestic helpers will start its activities on Saturday," Sa'ad Al Baddah told Saudi daily Al Eqtisadiya. "This means the end to the chaos in the labour market caused by bogus and fake companies."
The first batch of domestic helpers should arrive in the Saudi kingdom around two weeks before Ramadan that is expected to start on July 20.
Applications to recruit helpers will be received online once the company's website is ready, Al Baddah said.
"The company, with a capital of 100 million riyals is now operational and will work on obtaining visas for the first group," he said.
Licences for new recruitment companies will depend on the number of requests they receive to employ helpers, their readiness to have proper offices and to provide adequate accommodation, and their compliance with the conditions set forth by the labour ministry, Al Baddah said.
The committee chairman told the daily that he expected the fees to be paid by employers to be lower than those paid in the past. However, he insisted that the rights of both the employers and employees would be guaranteed.
The new company is expected to set up 26 offices throughout the Saudi kingdom within one year.
"The headquarters will be in Riyadh, but offices will be opened gradually in the country according to a plan drawn up by the owners," he said.
The company will recruit well-trained helpers and workers, but will also provide training on safety standards.
"We have a cooperation agreement with the civil defence on the necessity to train new recruits in order to ensure safety within the homes," he said. The training can also be held in the recruits' home country.
Saudis who will apply to hire recruits will have to pay a one-off fee to the company for its work and the visa, and fees for a medical insurance for two years, a return ticket, a two-year residence permit, a medical check-up and more training workshops.
According to Al Baddah, Saudis currently pay up to 20,000 riyals (Dh19,500) to hire domestic helpers or drivers who do not have proper training or medical insurance.
Hattab Al Enezi, the spokesman for the Labour Ministry, said that 12 companies have completed the first stage of the process to open recruitment offices in Saudi Arabia.
"The capital for a company that recruits domestic helpers is 50 million riyals," he said. "However, it is 100 riyals for a licence to recruit domestic helpers and employees in the public and private sectors," he told the daily.