MidEast sees boom in demand for British butlers and Mary Poppins-style nannies

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The Bespoke Bureau British Butler and Housekeeper Academy’s top earning butler is based in Saudi Arabia, where he earns £150,000 (US$240,487),

The Bespoke Bureau British Butler and Housekeeper Academy’s top earning butler is based in Saudi Arabia, where he earns £150,000 (US$240,487),

The Middle East has seen a surge in demand for British-trained butlers and Mary Poppins-style governesses, with some staff earning up to US$240,000 a year, a London-based agency has revealed.

London’s Bespoke Bureau British Butler and Housekeeper Academy said it placed 430 butlers so far this year around the world, a 100 percent increase in last year and four times as many as in 2010.

“Demand is growing in the Middle East at a similar ratio but the demand is bigger than the supply. It is a fine balance as we don’t want to just churn out numbers,” Sara Vestin Rahmani, director of the agency, said in an interview with Arabian Business.

“It is a niche market but it is booming so we have seen a lot of interest… It is a butler and domestic staff agency for celebrities, high net worth individuals and royalty,” she added, but declined to reveal any of the names on her client list.

Training takes place at The Grosvenor Hotel in London’s Victoria and at Hatfield House, the 400 year-old ancestral home of the Marquess of Salisbury. It includes valeting, silver service, cooking and flower arranging.

The agency said it has also seen demand from five-star hotels in the region. “The hotels come to us and look for us to train their household staff or want their staff to be British butler trained. That is the sort of thing I do in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Rahmani, who had just returned from a visit to Dubai, where she spends nearly half the year.

“There is huge demand and we have a waiting list from private houses and hotels in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” she added.

Training courses for staff start from £800 (US$1,282) for two days and up to £6,000 (US$9,619) for a six-week course.

In addition to butlers and housekeeping staff, the agency also places governesses in Arab homes to educate and discipline children.

“In the Middle East we have been placing Mary Poppins-style nannies for many years and we have seen a similar market, it is the people who want their children to speak a certain way and be educated a certain way,” Rahmani said.

The agency’s top earning butler is based in Saudi Arabia, where he earns £150,000 (US$240,487), she revealed.

“It is a trade where you can earn a lot of money without being very academic and there is not many professions in the world you can earn that kind of money without a [third-level education].

“These people are very service minded and well mannered. People we place overseas earn around £65,000 and the top end at £100,000. We have people who earn more than that but that is unique.”

The agency has also introduced one-on-one etiquette training for Arab businessmen, “so when he travels to Europe he knows how to dine and greet people,” Rahmani said.

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Posted by: RBH

This would be possible amongst the rich in this region. However, what I advise everyone here to do is to remember that whatever is being offered doesn't mean that it applies for everybody. I hate to state this as it is cruel, and please don't get me wrong and don't get offended: if you don't have enough money, don't put yourself in the equation. So, wake up and smell reality. There is a sizable amount of people in this region who cannot afford that stated amount of salary in this article for a given maid or nanny, and certainly they wouldn't need to have any butlers at home. For God's sake, why would I need a butler in my two bedroom apartment?! What I suggest that arabianbusiness.com could do is to setup a magazine only for the rich and include such articles in it, and make another magazine for those who have a low-income or salary in this region that have articles that suit their needs and talk about issues within their own financial reach as this article is giving me a heart attack!

Posted by: Julian K, Abu Dhabi

Jay, I read your response with interest. It is a career which I had considered going into for the last 30 years but never took the final step, although I have been living all over the Middle East during that time. Ivor Spencer, who may have been considered the butler of all butlers was what I aspired to but at 56 I doubt that I should consider a career change at this time of my life. I wish you luck and I am sure you could write a fascinating book (in years to come of course, with no names mentioned) of your interesting life and employers.

Posted by: Benson

Says a lot about the current maids that are being paid scraps.
Let's hope that these ones are taught self-defense before being hired.

Posted by: Anonymous

This is ridiculous !! Maids and Butlers earning approx AED 38,000 to AED 87,000 per month ?? This is unreal !!!

Posted by: Jay Harber

I would like to hope that you are familiar with these type of work.
You know being a Butler myself I can assure you, it is very very demanding. Considering that you are always away from your own family, you only see your kids on Skype, you spend 60-70 hours on your feet every week, you must always smile and look happy the wages don t seem to be that unreal.
With our hard work we make a lot of people s life much easier and confortable and I am very proud of it.
Yours sincerely

Posted by: nastyrunner

Umm, Entertainment Industry..Sports Industry... all of them earn in Millions without even being through high school.

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