By Claire Valdini
Gulf state’s interior ministry refuses to lift nine-year ban on domestic workers from Thailand
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has rejected a request to allow Thai domestic workers to return to work in the Gulf state in a bid to help ease the shortage of maids, it has been reported.
The kingdom’s Labour Ministry reportedly requested that a nine-year ban on domestic staff from Thailand be lifted but the Interior Ministry denied the application, Arabic daily Al-Watan said.
The decision comes two days after authorities refused to sign a draft deal with Indonesia that would allow domestic workers from the country to look for work in the Gulf kingdom.
Like many Gulf states, Saudi Arabia relies heavily on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy but protection of migrant workers has become a serious issue following reports of poor working conditions and low pay.
The Gulf state has temporary bans on recruiting workers from several countries including Philippines and Indonesia after those countries sought to impose stricter employment conditions.
Diplomatic relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia have been strained since 1989 when a Thai janitor stole nearly 100kg worth of jewellery from a Saudi Prince. Saudi citizens are not allowed to travel to Thailand without official consent from the Ministry of Interior.