Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Philippines has eased conditions for the recruitment of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia as demand surges ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, despite continuing strains over the execution of a Filipina maid in late January for murder.

Saudi recruitment offices will now be able to deal with four manpower exporting agencies instead of two, in a move that is also expected to reduce the costs of bringing workers into the country, Saudi Gazette reported.

Hakeem Al-Khinaizi, owner of a recruitment office in Dammam, said Saudi recruiters can start setting up offices in the Philippines and open contract talks. He said it will cost about 17,000 Saudi riyals (US$4,629) to import a domestic worker from the Philippines, plus 2,000 riyals ($533) for the visa fee and 850 riyals ($226) in taxes.

Al-Khinaizi said the changes will help overcome recruitment delays that occur when a maid refuses to board her flight to Saudi Arabia at the last minute or is found to be carrying an infectious disease.

“In such cases, the recruitment offices in the Philippines will have to start the procedures from the beginning, which will require more time,” he said.

About a quarter of the estimated 2.3 million Filipinos working overseas are based in Saudi Arabia, which most employed as domestic workers. A maid earns a fixed monthly salary of 1,500 riyals (US$400).

Despite the importance of the Saudi employment market to the Philippines, relations have been strained by accusations of maids being mistreated  by employers and the execution of a 39-year-old Filipina in January for murder after her family was unable to pay so-called blood money under traditional Sharia law.

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